NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Since 2009, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has recognized influential members of the local community under the age of 30. In mid-November, the Middle Tennessee Chapter released a list of 30 individuals they believe have made significant impacts in the community through leadership and volunteer efforts.
Among that list is a doctoral student from Tennessee State University who has been selected as one of Nashville’s best professional and philanthropic community members for 2015.
Kelli Peterson, who is pursuing her Doctorate of Education degree in Teaching and Learning, Focus in Curriculum Planning, will be honored early next year as one of the most “prominent, influential and successful young professionals in the community.”
“I am truly blessed and honored to be named as one of Nashville’s Top 30 under 30 by such a wonderful organization,” said Peterson, who has served for the past two years as the assistant principal at East End Preparatory School. “I was surprised when I found out because I had worked extremely hard on a compelling essay to express my qualifications and passion for being a servant to Nashville through education. I knew the competition would be extremely competitive.”
According to Peterson, the recognition is important to her for two reasons. First, along with the other 29 professionals, Peterson will be given a chance to make an even bigger impact in the lives of others. As a member of Nashville’s Top 30 under 30, she will be campaigning to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Second, and most importantly, this is an opportunity to be a positive role model for her students.
“It is my goal to shed light on this disease to the African-American community, as well as children so that in tandem we may fight together,” said Peterson. “Although Cystic Fibrosis occurs less in African-Americans, it is important that we come together as Americans to help support this movement.”
According to Peterson, each recipient of the Top 30 Under 30 has to raise a minimum of $2,500 through ticket sales for the April 10 gala, donations and sponsorships. One way, she said, is to get her students involved.
“I plan to get my students involved as the leaders of the fundraising effort to show the power of children, and ask that the community show children ‘if they lead, we will follow,’ by donating as well,” she added.
Along raising funds for the organization, Peterson said that being named to the Top 30 Under 30 list was also important because it is an opportunity for her to show her students that anything is possible and nothing is out of reach. When she left Flint, Michigan, at age 17, she vowed that every accomplishment she made in life would not be for self-notoriety, but to show “all the little brown girls and boys sitting in a classroom they could move past the glass ceiling.”
“I walk the hallways at school everyday so that my ‘little brown children’ can see a brown woman as their assistant principal and thus, dream beyond it,” Peterson said. “I am in the second year of my doctoral degree, not for my personal gain, but so that my students can call someone that looks like them ‘doctor.”
Peterson, through her nomination to the Top 30 list, wants to show her students that someone that looks like them and that serves them on a daily basis, can be recognized not for the amount of money they are able to give, but the service they provide to the community.
“I want to be able to prepare all my students for a brighter future,” added Peterson. “I want my students to know that anything is obtainable.”
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Middle Tennessee will hold its 7th annual “Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30” event April 10, 2015 at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville. Visit the Top 30 Under 30 website for more information or to donate.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was founded in 1955 with the mission of supporting research and education over the genetic disease. Cystic fibrosis attacks the lungs and digestive system and affects about 30,000 children and adults in the United States.
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
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.