Tag Archives: Meharry Medical College

National Science Foundation representatives educate local faculty, researchers about funding opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Representatives from the National Science Foundation were in Nashville to tell faculty and researchers at local higher education institutions about research funding opportunities.

NSF-6
National Science Foundation representative Dr. Laura Namy talks to faculty and researchers about research funding opportunities. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College hosted the event that was held Feb. 19 on Meharry’s campus. Participating colleges and universities included American Baptist College, Belmont University, Fisk University, Lipscomb University, Trevecca Nazarene University, and Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, who spearheaded the event and is TSU’s chief research officer, said the main purpose of collaborating with Meharry was to “strengthen the knowledge base about research funding opportunities among the various faculty members at the different institutions,” particularly historically black colleges and universities.

“In order for faculty members to be successful in attracting research dollars to support what they’re working on, they have to know what’s available to them,” said Crumpton-Young. “And one of the things that’s not commonly shared among HBCUs, or among small institutions, are the opportunities that are available.”

The conference focused on research related to social behavior and economic sciences, “the set of sciences that are related to the human experience,” said Dr. Laura Namy, program director in NSF’s Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences in the Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE). The three research divisions within SBE have a total annual budget of over $200 Million.

“The human experience is fundamental to every aspect of society,” said Namy. “And being able to conduct rigorous science to understand the processes by which people experience their everyday lives is really important for being able to both explain and optimize the quality of life for individuals.”

Dr. Orville Bignall, an associate professor of physics at TSU, attended the conference and said he plans to apply for a grant that will help him achieve collaboration between the psychosocial sciences and physics.

“This kind of collaboration will help me to get a process in place to help my students to navigate the proper channel that will help them to be more successful,” said Bignall.

Last year, TSU set a record with $51 million in new research awards. The university recently got a $350,000 grant from NSF to enhance its computing, network and security capacity. Crumpton-Young said the university is hoping to break another record this year, “and a big part of that is for faculty members to know what’s available so we can write those proposals and get funding.”

Dr. Maria de Fatima Lima, dean of Meharry’s School of Graduate Studies and Research, said Meharry and TSU currently have a partnership grant in cancer research and she hopes to see future collaborative efforts to inform faculty and researchers about funding.

“What I would like to see is for us to find other areas of common interest and expand this partnership,” Lima said. “We hope to see the faculty collaborating in research programs and enhancing the research of both schools.”

The National Science Foundation, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, is the funding source for about 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

 

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.

From College Drop Out to Medical School Acceptance, Life is full of Second Chances for TSU Graduate

Johnathan Fitzgerald
Johnathan Fitzgerald

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Life is about second chances. Just ask Johnathan Fitzgerald.

The soon-to-be Tennessee State University graduate has gone from college dropout to graduating with top honors as a biology major. He has already been conditionally accepted to medical school and will start in the fall of 2015.

But Fitzgerald readily admits, his journey was not always easy, and eventually found out what he was looking for was already in his own back yard.

Along the way, he attended numerous colleges, started a career and family, and ultimately dropped out of school to adopt his two-week old niece to raise as his own daughter.

“I knew I had the potential to do something great with my life,” Fitzgerald said. “My educational journey has truly been a long and arduous journey.”

The journey started in 1996 at McGavock High School for the Nashville native. He graduated with honors and was ranked in the top 11 percent of his class, while his senior class voted him “Most Likely to Succeed.”

“My goal was to go to college to become a physician and follow in the footsteps of my uncle,” said the 36 year-old Fitzgerald. “It has been a dream of mine from a very early age. I always wanted to specialize in internal medicine.”

The first leg of his journey took him to Atlanta where he attended Morehouse College and majored in pre-med. He lasted a year because he was not prepared for life so far away from home.

“I had no role model for what it took to go through pre-med classes or college life,” Fitzgerald added. “I returned home because I just didn’t have the support system I needed in Atlanta.”

His next stop was Volunteer State Community College, where he took general education classes, then transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Instead of pre-med, he changed his major to music.

“I always loved music and was a musician in high school,” he said. “I played viola and was in the band, so I thought I could pursue a career in music.”

But he quickly found out that working full-time and going to school was not easy. After a series of life-changing events, he eventually dropped out of school to adopt his two-week old niece, leaving a 1.9 grade point average in his wake.

“It was not a hard decision to make to drop out of school to take care of my daughter and my family,” he said. “She needed me and, at that point, my family came first.”

For seven years, Fitzgerald continued to raise his family, adding two more children along the way, and concentrating on his business career. But there was always a “monkey on his back” nagging at him to go back to school.

In 2009, dressed in his best suit, he made the drive to Tennessee State University, a university that was right in his backyard, and one he never really considered.

“While I was growing up my father would bring me to the football games and I remember singing, ‘I’m so glad,’ and watching the band perform,” Fitzgerald said. “But I heard negative things so I didn’t give TSU a good look.”

But that first walk through the doors, he said, was like a second chance at pursuing the dream of becoming a doctor. Giving it the “old college try,” he walked into Dr. Lois Harlston’s office and told her he wanted to give his dream another shot.

Harlston, chair of the Pre-Professional Students in Health Services, helped Fitzgerald get into the dual Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine (BS/MD) fast-track program with Meharry Medical College. The program prepares students to go to medical school by allowing them to study three years at TSU then enter Meharry as a first-year student. Fitzgerald was one of five students to be admitted into the program that year.

“He was very serious and had his entire education mapped out,” Harlston said. “He told me about his life struggles, but also told me he would do whatever he needed to accomplish his goals. Jonathan has far exceeded my expectations and has performed at the top-tier level.”

During his four years, Fitzgerald’s hard work has paid off. He has been named to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, been the recipient of three TSU scholarships and, most recently, been named the Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Biology by the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. He is also graduating with a 3.907 GPA.

It has been a very long journey for Fitzgerald to realize his educational dream and will graduate with nearly 1,000 other candidates Saturday, May 10. He is also keeping a promise he made to his mother who passed away in 2012.

“Before she died, I promised her that I would press on and become the doctor that she and my father always knew I could become,” he said. “I know she will be smiling down on me when I finally receive my diploma. All it took was a second chance, and TSU was willing to give that to me.”

 

 

READ more student success stories including:

Annette Scruggs
Karen Munoz

 

 

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.