3-Day Honors Conference Highlights Academic Achievement; Exposes Students to Career Opportunities
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover has challenged educators to do more to help students who are lagging behind. At a gathering of more than 400 students during the annual National Association of African American Honors Programs conference, Glover questioned why some students do well, yet many more are failing or dropping out.
“It is time to look at the service we provide,” she said. “Our institutions of learning are full of Ph.Ds., but still many of our students are lagging in achievement. We have issues that need answers and it is going to require our very best effort if we want our children to succeed.”
The three-day NAAAHP conference, hosted by TSU and Fisk University at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, brought together students and representatives from 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Under the theme, “The Audacity of Vision: Dare to Dream,” the conference features a debate, quiz bowl, model U.N., and scholarly research presentations, as well as a career and recruitment fair with representatives from medical schools, the pharmaceutical and food industries, and manufacturing companies, among others. Representatives from institutions such as Harvard University and Stanford were also at the conference seeking potential recruits for their graduate programs.
Glover called on the honor students to help bring along their fellow students who are struggling. “As our best and brightest, you too have a responsibility to encourage your fellow students. You represent excellence. You have set for yourselves a path to success, and I encourage you to continue to run until you have reached your God-given destiny,” Glover said.
Addressing the question of why many students are failing while others succeed, one educator at the conference said the problem was the lack of drive.
“If lagging is in relation to academic performance, what I have seen is not a decrease in intelligence but a gradual decrease in drive,” said Dr. Sabin P. Duncan, director of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College at Hampton University, who accompanied 29 students to the conference. “Perhaps it could be generational or perhaps socio-economic, but the students I see as lagging often lack drive.”
TSU honor student Mikayla Jones said many students have what she called “this grandiose dream” of making it big in life, but they forget that to reach their goals it requires hard work.
“Many students don’t understand that they are the biggest barrier to their own success,” said Jones, a junior Health Care Administration and Planning major with a 3.9 GPA. “What you put in is what you get out, and if you really want it, then you must be ready to work hard.”
Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering at TSU, co-moderated a faculty panel on “Navigating Academia for Women and Minority Faculty in STEM.” He said students are motivated by opportunities and goals.
“There is a greater chance of success when students know of opportunities complemented by an environment that nurtures and promotes students success,” said Hargrove, who has co-authored a book on the topic.
The conference also included faculty presentations on such topics as “Innovative Math and Science Courses in Interdisciplinary Honors Core,” and “The Pedagogy of Diversity in the Entertainment Industry: Teaching the Business of Jazz.” Among other TSU presenters were Dr. Lesia Crumpton Young, Dr. Martens Stanberry and Dr. S. Guha.
The NAAAHP conference also attracted major corporate sponsors such as Kroger, as a Premier Platinum Sponsor, which invested more that $30,000, as well as The Ryman Hospitality Properties Foundation, ARCADIS Design and Consulting, and PSAV.
“The success of this conference has been beyond my wildest expectations,” said Dr. Coreen Jackson, president of NAAAHP and Interim Dean of the Honors College at TSU. “Having it at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Conference Center has been a wonderful experience. Our staff and administrators, including Dr. (Douglas) McGahey, the students and organizers from TSU, Fisk and all of our other institutions helped to make this all possible.”
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.