Tag Archives: Honors Convocation

Honors Convocation Speaker Obie McKenzie Challenges Honors Students to make wise decisions, ‘dare to dream’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Honors Convocation speaker Obie McKenzie challenged TSU students to make wise decisions, and “dare to dream.”

McKenzie, named by Black Enterprise magazine as one the 75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street, is managing director of BlackRock, Inc., the largest publicly traded investment management firm in the United States.

Obie McKenzie-2
Honors Convocation speaker Obie McKenzie, TSU President Glenda Glover, and TSU Presidential Scholar Jaquantey Bowen

McKenzie joined TSU faculty and staff, as well as students’ family and friends, in honoring the university’s best and brightest in Kean Hall gym on Tuesday.

McKenzie, a 1967 TSU graduate, reflected on his younger days, noting that he enjoyed college life, but also took his course work seriously, which helped him gain success in the workplace. He also said he took control of his thoughts, and advised students to do the same, because that’s where their “destiny begins and where their dreams are actualized.”

“Be careful of words that come out of your mouth and take control of your thoughts because (they are) your most important possession,” said McKenzie, a former TSU Student Government Association president, who is currently on TSU’s board of trustees.

He also encouraged them to be bold.

“Please dare to dream,” McKenzie said. “Your dreams begin today.”

More than 3,330 students on the Dean’s List, or students with 3.0 GPAs or higher, were honored at the convocation. Of that number, 287 made the President’s List. These are students with perfect 4.0 GPAs.

Presidential Scholar Jaquantey Bowen, who graduates in December, was among those honored.

Bowen wants to put an end to heart disease, which has killed many of his relatives and is responsible for nearly 610,000 deaths in America each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He plans to become a cardiovascular surgeon, and he’s well on his way.

With a perfect 4.0, Bowen has set his sights on Harvard University. He has been accepted into the highly competitive Harvard BWH Stars Program for Summer Research, an intensive, eight-week program in research methods and practice for underrepresented minority college and first-year medical students.

During Bowen’s freshman year at TSU, just around his 18th birthday, his maternal grandfather died from heart disease, the same disease that claimed his paternal grandfather’s life and several others in his family.

“From that day forward, I vowed to put an end to heart disease,” said Bowen, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in biology with concentration in cell and molecular biology and a minor in chemistry. “I solidified my career choice to become a cardiovascular surgeon. I have strived for excellence and maintained nothing less than an ‘A’ in every course I have taken.”

Also honored were members of the University-Wide Honor Societies, Student Leadership Awards recipients, the Top Graduating Seniors, and recipients of private scholarship awards, such as the Dr. McDonald Williams Scholarship, named after the founder of the Honors Program.

“Today we are honoring honors students and recognizing you for your academic achievement,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Honors classes are difficult and require a lot of research and time. For 53 years, TSU has been committed to mentoring and motivating students to pursue academic excellence through the Honors Program. We thank you for excellence.”

McKenzie told the students that current geopolitics and technological changes demand that they remain focused to be successful.

“If your mind is messed up with a whole bunch of thoughts that are not going to contribute to where it is that you are trying to go, your destiny is being messed up by what you are thinking,” McKenzie said. “Remember, your word becomes your action; your action becomes your habits; your habits become your character; and your character becomes your destiny.”

Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College, thanked McKenzie for inspiring the students, and lauded them for their achievements.

“These students are an example of what hard work is all about,” she said. “We are excited to give them this well-deserved honor.”

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

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, 25 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.

 

Honors Day Convocation Recognizes TSU’s Best and Brightest Students

HonorsNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Room) – Tennessee State University recognized its best and brightest students when the university held its annual Honors Day Convocation on March 22.

The convocation in Kean Hall  recognized distinguished undergraduates from all disciplines, top graduating seniors, Honors College participants, outstanding members of the various honor societies, and students on the President’s and Dean’s Lists.

More than 2,350 students with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher were honored.

Up to 120 students on the President’s List received special recognition. These students have maintained 4.0 GPAs throughout their matriculation. They include four seniors, two juniors, 16 sophomores, and 98 freshmen.

This year marks the inaugural convocation of the TSU Honors College, previously called the Honors Program. The 51-year-old program was elevated to a college in 2015 on the recommendation of TSU and the approval of the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, director of the Honors College, said “the elevation raised the bar” for academic excellence, mentorship, and professional development of exceptional students.

“When a university elevates its honors program to a college, it positions itself to attract, recruit and retain academically brilliant students,” Jackson said. “The elevation offers greater visibility to the university, creates a high level interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares the next generation of leaders for academic and vocational success, scholarship, achievement and service.”

Ashley Parmer, a senior communications major, and Jaquantey Bowens, a sophomore biology major, were among the student honorees with 4.0 GPAs. They said their academic success is due largely to the support and nurturing they receive as members of the Honors College.

“The Honors Program has been a great tool and added bonus of my college matriculation,” said Parmer, editor of The Meter, the student newspaper. She has been with the program since her freshman year.

“Everyone in the college wants you to excel,” Parmer said. “If you are lost, they will help you find your way. If you need advice, they will be there to give it to you.”

Added Bowens: “Not only has the Honors Program made me a better student, but it has also brought forth lifelong friendships. The atmosphere of the program is like a second home – it is always there to support you.”

Jackson thanked TSU President Glenda Glover for her support, which she said made the Honors College possible. A TSU graduate, Glover was a member of the Honors Program while a student at TSU.

“This high honor could not have happened without the full support of President Glover,” Jackson said. “She has made the Honors College a top priority in her presidency. Her commitment has been unwavering and resolute.”

Beverly Bond, an actress and president and CEO of Black Girls Rock!, was the special guest lecturer at the convocation.

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

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.

Tennessee Titans Safety Chris Hope Says Education, Not Football, is the Pathway to Success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It sometimes takes one bright student who has been through the “trenches” to get the message across to another smart student about the pathway to a successful future.

Chris Hope
Chris Hope

That’s what happened at Tennessee State University today when the University’s Honors students got a message they will not soon forget. The “unlikely messenger” – Tennessee Titans Safety Chris Hope. Although the Super Bowl winner and former Pittsburgh Steeler has amassed wealth, fortune and recognition as an NFL player, he was not at TSU to talk about football.

“Education is what I am here to talk about,” said 12-year NFL veteran and Pro Bowler with the Titans, who was asked to make a statement at the Honors Day Convocation. “I have always loved playing football, but I never forgot about the importance of a quality education as something to fall back on. The average span of an NFL career is three years. I always knew I was just one hit away from permanent injury. I have been fortunate to play for 12 years, but what if my playing had been cut short and I did not have the education to cope?”

That question left Jaquantey Bowens, of Indianapolis, to rethink his approach in preparing for the future. Although the freshman Cell Biology major with a perfect 4.0 grade point average said he is not much on athletics, Hope’s lecture on education and success hit a nerve.

“I study hard and meet all of my course objectives, but listening to him (Hope) makes me want to work even harder,” said Bowens who wants to be a cardiologist because heart disease is prevalent in his family.

When it comes to educational preparedness as something to fall back on, Hope knows what he is talking about. Considered a proven leader and instrumental in the development of young players in the Titans defense, the Rock Hill, South Carolina native was a top honor student at Florida State University, where he graduated in three and half years with a 4.0 GPA.

“Even though I loved football and was a top player in college, I took my education very seriously and I am glad to see you all doing that. Football has made me millions, given me fame, but when I can stand before great people and speak without feeling intimidated, that’s because of my education,” Hope said.

IMG_2926
President Glenda Glover, right, assisted by Dr. Coreen Jackson, director of the Honors Program, presents the Dr. McDonald Williams Scholarship to Lauren Wiggins, a Health Sciences major with a 3.7 GPA from Atlanta.

TSU President Glenda Glover thanked Hope for his words of encouragement and congratulated the honorees for their academic excellence.

“Thank you for speaking to these exceptional students,” President Glover said. “As an honor student yourself when you were at Florida State, these students can relate to you.” She congratulated the more than 2,400 students with GPAs of 3.0 and above for their “outstanding achievement.”

“As honor students you are defined by your aptitude, and your achievement demonstrates pride in TSU,” she added.

At the start of the convocation, President Glover led a moment of silence for former TSU Honors student and SGA President, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., who died Friday of a massive heart attack and stroke at age 70.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331
About Tennessee State University

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 42 undergraduate, 24 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.

National Award-Winning Newswoman Challenges TSU’s Best and Brightest to Seek Excellence In Spite of Hurdles

Former CNN anchor and now Al Jazeera America special correspondent Soledad O'Brien, addresses the student body and faculty March 26 during the University Honors Convocation in Kean Hall. Earlier in the day, O'Brien was the featured speaker at the Honors Program 50th Anniversary Luncheon honoring Dr. McDonald Williams, the first Director of the Honors Program. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
Former CNN anchor and now Al Jazeera America special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, addresses the student body and faculty March 26 during the University Honors Convocation in Kean Hall. Earlier in the day, O’Brien was the featured speaker at the Honors Program 50th Anniversary Luncheon honoring Dr. McDonald Williams, the first Director of the Honors Program. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Saying that the pursuit of excellence requires the desire to forge ahead in the face of obstacles, a prominent American journalist has told students at Tennessee State University that success comes with “finding out what you are best suited for” and going after it.

“Decide what success would look like for you and pursue it, but always with the thought to say, ‘what can this do for me,’” multiple award winning documentarian, news anchor and producer Soledad O’Brien, said Wednesday at a convocation in Kean Hall marking the 50th anniversary celebration of the TSU Honors Program.

Drawing from her own experience as a reporter earlier in her career, O’Brian, known for such documentaries as Black in America and Latino in America, said becoming a journalist after a Harvard education was not the route her parents expected her to go after paying so much to educate her.

“My first job was at a TV station, where not only was the pay small, but I was assigned to proofing copies and removing staples,” she said. “Eventually I got assignments doing sound, and in the process, I would include myself in the story, something that helped get me extra pay once the story was aired.”

This is where the woman who would become an anchor for NBC and CNN, two of the nation’s leading news organization, found her niche, she said.

“I love being part of the story that would help enhance someone’s life, and knowing that I have influenced something spectacular,” she said.

Telling the students that nothing good comes easy, O’Brien talked about the struggles of her own parents as mixed couple in America when interracial marriage was illegal in many parts of the nation including Baltimore where they lived.

“My father, a white Australian, and my mother, a black woman from Cuba, faced discrimination on all fronts, with my mother at times trying to hide her Hispanic identity because she wanted to blend in. To get married they had to go to the District of Columbia but came back to Baltimore and kept their marriage a secret,” she said. “When my mother had her sixth child in 1967 that’s when the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage. That means that we were all illegal children until 1967.”

Driving home her story of perseverance in the face of opposition, O’Brien told the students that had her parents given up, lots of dreams, including hers, would probably have been lost.

“They did not give up; they understood the importance of moving ahead because they believed in what they wanted, and that’s leadership,” she added.

O’Brien, now a special correspondent for Al Jazeera’s America Tonight, has won multiple Emmy and Tony awards for her reporting on issues in America. She was part of the CNN team that won an Emmy for the 2012 Election Coverage, and another Emmy for her special report Kids on Race.

She urged the students to emulate examples from people who did not give up but showed true leadership to accomplish what they set out for.

“Martin Luther King Jr. was a regular person who stayed when others ran. He decided that he would use his voice to lead …that’s leadership. What are you going to do to leverage what your parents have invested in you,” she added.

O’Brien, who earlier joined TSU President Glenda Glover, alumni, special guests, faculty and students at an Honors Luncheon in the Gentry Center, congratulated the University for celebrating 50 years of recognizing the achievement of the best and brightest of the institution.

“We thank you for coming to join us for this very special celebration in the institution and for inspiring our students and all of us today,” Dr. Glover told O’Brien. “We wish you all the best as you continue your journey of excellence.”

Dr. Coreen Jackson, director of the University Honors Program, who also thanked O’Brien for accepting their invitation to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration, followed the President.

In addition to recognizing the year’s top honor students, the University paid tribute to the former Director of the University Honors Program, Dr. McDonald Williams and his wife, Dr. Jayme Coleman Williams, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The tribute included the presentation of the Dr. McDonald Williams Scholarship to Laurena Thomas, a junior Mass Communication major from Memphis with a 3.65 GPA.

 

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.

Distinguished Lecture Series Welcomes Soledad O’Brien March 26

Al Jazeera America special correspondent featured speaker during Honors Program Convocation

 

 

Award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien will be the featured speaker March 26 during the Honors program Convocation.
Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will be the featured speaker March 26 during the Honors program Convocation.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer Soledad O’Brien will the featured keynote speaker Wednesday, March 26 during the Honors Convocation celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Honors Program at Tennessee State University.

The convocation is part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and will take place in Kean Hall located in the Floyd Payne Campus Center beginning at 1 p.m. The convocation is free and open to the public.

O’Brien will also be the featured speaker at the Honors Program anniversary luncheon honoring Dr. McDonald Williams, the first Director of the Honors Program. The luncheon is $50 per person and begins at 11 a.m. in the Gentry Complex.

Soledad O’Brien joined Al Jazeera America in 2013 as part of a deal with her new production company, Starfish Media Group. She will contribute short-form segments as Special Correspondent to Al Jazeera America’s primetime current affairs magazine program “America Tonight,” and Starfish will produce hour-long documentary specials.

O’Brien most recently served as an anchor and special correspondent for CNN. She joined CNN in 2003 and was the co-anchor of CNN’s flagship morning program, “American Morning,” and then the anchor of “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien.”

O’Brien distinguished herself at CNN by reporting from the scene of such stories as the London terrorism attacks in 2005, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011. In December 2004, O’Brien was among a handful of CNN anchors sent to Thailand to cover the disaster and aftermath of the tsunami. O’Brien also produced and hosted the widely acclaimed “In America” documentary series, including “Black in America” and “Latino in America.”

Soledad went to CNN from NBC News where she had anchored the network’s Weekend Today starting in July 1999. Prior to that, she had anchored MSNBC’s award-winning technology program The Site and the MSNBC weekend morning show. O’Brien had originally joined NBC News in 1991 and was based in New York as a field producer for Nightly News and Today.

In 2011, O’Brien won her first Emmy Award for “Crisis in Haiti” (on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360) in the category of Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story – Long Form. She was also a member of the teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody award for coverage of the British Petroleum oil spill and of Katrina, and an Alfred I. du Pont Award for its reporting on the Southeast Asia tsunami.

In 2010, the National Association of Black Journalists named O’Brien its Journalist of the Year, and the Edward R. Murrow Awards recognized her with the RTDNA/UNITY award for Latino in America. She received the 2009 Medallion of Excellence for Leadership and Community Service Award from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

In 2008, O’Brien was the first recipient of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Goodermote Humanitarian Award for her efforts while reporting on the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the Southeast Asia tsunami.

O’Brien was awarded the NAACP President’s Award in 2007 in recognition of her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence.

For more information on the anniversary luncheon or Honors Convocation, contact the Honors Program at 615.963.5731.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.

University’s Honors Program Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

Former CNN news anchor and award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien featured speaker March 26 during Honors Program Convocation

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This academic year the Honors Program at Tennessee State University will celebrate 50 years of positive and life-long learning, scholarly inquiry, and a commitment to service.

Award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien will be the featured speaker March 26 during the Honors program Convocation.
Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will be the featured speaker March 26 during the Honors program Convocation.

The yearlong celebration will commemorate the program’s journey throughout the years, and will be capped by a visit to campus on March 26 by award-winning broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien. The former CNN anchor will be the featured speaker at the Honors Anniversary Luncheon at 11 a.m. that will honor Dr. McDonald Williams, the first Director of the Honors Program. O’Brien will also be the featured keynote speaker during the Honors Day Convocation beginning at 1 p.m.

The Honors Convocation in Kean Hall is free and open to the public. The Honors Anniversary Luncheon is $50 per person and takes place in the Gentry Center.

O’Brien’s appearance is sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs as part of the Distinguished Lecture Speaker series.

At the convocation, notable Honors alumni will address the student body, Honors societies, Honors alumni and community members.

According to Dr. Coreen Jackson, director of the Honors Program, the primary goal of the program is to create and maintain a community of academically bright and talented students who serve as campus leaders and role models.

“The key objective is the academic enrichment of our students and working with them to achieve their goals,” she added. “We have the opportunity to teach students who are excited about learning and have the freedom to explore issues from multiple points of view. The program not only impacts the students but also the entire University.”

Other events planned for the celebration include an Honors Research Symposium to coincide with the University-wide Research Symposium March 31 through April 5. During the fall, the celebration will culminate with a special 50th Anniversary cake-cutting ceremony and an Honors Week observance.

Jackson added that the jubilee celebration kicks off with an “Honors 50 for 50” campaign to raise funds to help the program transition to an Honors College. The new college, she said, will encourage interdisciplinary programs, enhance undergraduate research in all disciplines, advising for prestigious fellowships and scholarships, develop a mentoring program to make our students more competitive, encourage lifelong learning, including a global perspective through study abroad.

“We are attempting to raise $500,000 to offset the cost of transitioning the program to a full-fledge Honors College,” added Jackson. “As a College, we will be able to highlight the importance of offering an enriched honors curriculum and to increase the University’s ability to recruit and retain high-ability students. We have a program that has a national reputation that has exceeded the basic characteristics of honors program and already meets the characteristics of an Honors College, as recommended by the National Collegiate Honors Council, the recognized leader in undergraduate honor education.”

In 1963, Dr. Walter S. Davis, then President of Tennessee State University, appointed a committee that was charged with studying honors programs and determining the feasibility of establishing one at the University. The committee recommended that TSU keep pace with other institutions throughout the country. As a result, an honors program for freshman students started in the fall of 1964. Sophomore through senior level course work was added yearly throughout 1968.

During the years since 1964, the Honors Program has continued to develop and grow, moving from a converted classroom in the Agricultural Building to the present Honors Center, located on the first floor of the Student Success Center. The center includes study areas, a computer room, conference room, classroom, multipurpose /lounge, and offices of director, associate director and the administrative assistant. Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key and Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Societies are also housed in the Honors Center.

More important than the physical changes that have taken place, according to Jackson, are the increasingly large number of students entering the program and the achievements they are making.

“They come from many different states and countries and have a variety of majors,” she said. “Consistent with honors objectives, honors students continue to be admitted to prestigious graduate and professional schools.”

For more information on the anniversary activities or Honors Convocation featuring Soledad O’Brien, contact the Honors Program at 615.963.5731.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.