NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Ebony magazine has begun its annual HBCU Campus Queens voting competition, and Miss TSU Kayla Smith wants to be among the Top 10 featured in Ebony’s April/May edition.
She wants your vote.
Smith is competing against more than 50 other hopefuls trying to make the Top 10 list. For Smith, becoming an Ebony Top 10 HBCU Campus Queen would fulfill a dream she has had since becoming Miss TSU.
“I believe in ‘black excellence,’“ she said. “That’s something I demonstrated when I ‘broke the norm’ at predominantly white Germantown High School and became the first female African-American senior class president. At TSU I have maintained that, and certainly hope to demonstrate that as an Ebony Campus Queen.”
A native of Memphis, Smith is a senior health science major with a concentration in therapeutic studies and a minor in psychology. Her career goal is to become a successful occupational therapist with the goal of owning a rehabilitation center.
Since coming to TSU, Smith has been determined to fulfill the university’s motto of “THINK. WORK. SERVE,” by taking on roles that promote academic excellence and hard work. She is a former Miss Women of Infinite Potential, and the outgoing Miss Junior.
She is also a member of the Honors College, Golden Key International Honor Society, Pep Club, Pre-Alumni Council, HIP’Notyze Dance Troupe, and Princess Generation of Educated Men. In between classes, she welcomes college-bound students during campus tours to encourage the next generation to follow her lead.
Dr. Tracey Ford, TSU’s vice president for Student Affairs, said Smith is “definitely a perfect campus queen” because of the special qualities she has.
“Kayla Smith is an amazing young lady who has demonstrated leadership, scholarship and also a strong member of our community,” Ford said. “She relishes her role in being a role model to our students. Our institution is definitely better for having Kayla as our Miss TSU. Not only is she a beautiful person on the outside, she is an amazing spirit on the inside.”
Voting for the Campus Queen is in progress and ends on Jan. 15. The public can vote twice a day. To vote for Smith, visit http://bit.ly/2zZDaiQ.
Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With pomp, intellect, sophistication and that old “Big Blue” spirit, Miss TSU, Mr. TSU and their Royal Court were quite a standout at this year’s HBCU Leadership for Queens and Kings Konnection annual conference in New Orleans.
The Tennessee State University team walked away with the “Best School Spirit” award, topping out representatives from more than 40 HBCUs, when it came to showing school spirit. The TSU Royal Court’s shouting drowned out efforts by the other competitors to upstage them.
“It was an honor receiving the award and nominations,” said Mr. TSU, Delvakio Brown. “Tyra (Laster) and I do our best to represent Tennessee State University at the highest standard at every opportunity and this time was no different.”
According to organizers, in addition to showing school spirit, the conference (July 16-19) was intended to provide HBCU Queens and Kings the opportunity to connect and learn from one another as well as listen to trained professionals talk about articulation, stage presence, etiquette, confidence and professionalism.
“My experience at the Kings and Queens Conference was fantastic. I was nervous about the upcoming school year but attending this conference boosted my confidence. I learned how to set out plans and have faith in them,” Brown said.
In addition to Brown and Laster (Miss TSU), members of the Royal Court who attended the conference were Darrrian Munroe, Mr. Junior; Cedric Tyus, Mr. Senior; Marcellous Glispie, Mr. Sophomore; Crimson Ducket, Miss Junior; Amber Franklin, Miss Senior; and Jeneisha Harris, Miss Sophomore. Advisors included Randy Arnold, director of Student Organizations and Leadership; Seanne Wilson, coordinator of the Women’s Center; and Frank Stevenson, director of Strategic Populations.
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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – There are many things that mothers and daughters share at some point in their lives. Mothers enjoy the experience of lending their favorite earrings to their daughters to wear during prom. Many can’t wait to pass down the family heirloom handed from given generation-to-generation as “something old” for the doting daughter-bride. And, when their daughters have children of their own, mothers adore nothing more than handing out motherly advice, sharing family recipes and caring for their grandchildren.
These are just some of the joys of a mother-daughter relationship every mother imagines. But one Tennessee State University mother has experienced a little extra special moment that will provide a lifetime of memories for both mother and daughter.
Last spring, Nashville native Samantha Thomas was elected the 2014-2015 Miss Tennessee State University. Why was this so special? Because Patsy Whitmon Thomas, Samantha’s mother, wore the crown 33 years earlier as the 1981-1982 Miss Tennessee State University. It marked the first time in the university’s history that a mother-daughter legacy has worn the coveted crown in one of the university’s top student leadership roles.
“Truthfully, I did not know whether she was going to win or lose,” Patsy said. “I was so torn up about it; I didn’t even make it to the pageant. I was driving when I heard the news and just started crying driving 30 miles per hour on a 70-mile-per hour highway. People were passing me by wondering if I was okay. I felt like this was Divine intervention because I never encouraged or cultivated any of my children to do anything that I or their father did as students. I just never put that kind of pressure on my children.”
Patsy, a three-time graduate of TSU, with bachelor and master degrees in Health and Physical Education, and a doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision, said during her reign as Miss TSU her focus was on addressing accountability and excellence among the student body. She said her daughter has taken her own independent route and has really not asked for advice on how to handle herself as Miss TSU. Patsy said she has witnessed how her daughter is dealing with the leadership role and is very proud of her.
“She [Samantha] is handling it pretty well by herself,” Patsy said. “I simply tell her to listen, respect the opinions of others and to be flexible, which doesn’t mean you have to compromise your standards. It is important we all learn that we can have differences, but not be indifferent.”
Samantha’s path to the Miss TSU post began during her service as Miss Freshman in 2011-2012. She then began working on campus as part of the Student Government Association becoming the only female Representative At-Large elected during her sophomore and junior years. When she decided to run for the position of Miss TSU going into her senior year, she wanted to give her all and said she wanted to demonstrate that the role was “more than a position or title, but a lifestyle.”
“While this is the most memorable year of my college experience, I don’t want to get distracted with the hype of things. I must remember why I’m here – and that’s to get an education,” Samantha said. “My goal is simply to be a positive example. I’d like to be remembered for Sam who did everything for TSU that she could. I want to help TSU and get to know my peers. I want to be known as the person who really worked hard and loved all my fellow students as the individuals they are.”
Patsy remembers fondly her time at TSU. Like her daughter, she was an active part of campus life serving as Miss Junior, as a member of the Student Government Association, being named to Who’s Who, and as an Honors student joining Gamma Beta Phi National Honors Society.
“I feel that other students who have parents who have graduated from TSU should also pursue leadership roles to impact change, and growth for our children – not just African-American children, but globally and to instill the value of family,” she said.
Despite her initial hesitation to attend TSU, because she thought it was too close to home, Samantha said she is glad she made the choice. She has served as a University Ambassador for three years, and is also an Honors student holding memberships in the Phi Eta Sigma, Golden Key, Phi Kappa Phi and National Society of Collegiate Scholars Honor Societies.
“I love TSU, and it [experience] has definitely taught me how to go out there and get it for myself,” Samantha said. “The faculty and staff are so inspirational. They help mold you, and it makes you so ambitious and hungry for success. You learn to exhibit confidence and to be humble in your interactions with others.”
Her stellar academic performance has afforded her the financial support needed to complete her education. For the fourth year, she has received the Academic Higher Achievement Scholarship.
“My scholarship has been the biggest blessing because that hardship is not on me or my family,” said Samantha, a Dental Hygiene major and member of the Undergraduate Student National Dental Association. “I want to go to dental school which is very expensive, so the scholarships I have received at TSU are a blessing for me. I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay for school.”
The spirit of giving is something the Thomas family has long practiced. Patsy said the family often takes mission trips, and continues to give back to TSU through a scholarship established in her late father’s name. Additionally, Samantha is imparting the importance of giving back to her fellow students as well as the significance of thanking donors.
“Every little bit helps,” she said. “If you can’t write a check for $500, then give $20.”
While both Patsy and Samantha share the glory of the crown, they also share a distinct TSU legacy in other respects. Patsy’s father, the late Sam Whitmon, a 1948 TSU graduate, was a respected educator, coach and former athletics director at the university. He was also instrumental in establishing the university’s baseball team and taught biology for many years. Additionally, the Thomases are part of the tradition of high-stepping majorettes boasting three generations with Patsy’s mother, Dorothy Mallory, a 1950 graduate, dancing for the Big Blue, as well as Patsy during her junior and senior years, and now Samantha as part of the “Sophisticated Ladies.”
“It’s really an honor to be in this position because so many people remember my mom and grandfather,” Samantha said. “It’s great when the alumni make the connection and they start sharing stories about them [my family]. It does my heart good to be associated with people who are remembered so fondly.”
Patsy and Samantha will celebrate in grand style with students, alumni and the community as part of TSU’s Homecoming Week activities during The Coronation for Mr. and Miss TSU. The event will take place Wednesday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m. in Kean Hall, located on the main campus. For more information, call (615) 963-5085.
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 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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – After much jitters and now excitement, Mia Black is ready to put on her crown as the next Miss Tennessee State University.
“At first I was a little held back but after all the practices, it all seems real now and I am excited and ready,” the Atlanta beauty said when asked about preparations for her coronation on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
The “crowning moment,” part of a long tradition at TSU, is one of the highlights of a series of activities with glitz, glitters, pomp and circumstance that is expected to draw thousands of dignitaries, alumni, officials and community leaders and residents to Nashville and TSU this week.
Key among them is the inauguration of Dr. Glenda Glover, as the first female and eighth president of Tennessee State University. All of these activities coincide with the 2013 Homecoming celebration and parade along historic Jefferson Street.
“This makes it even more special with the inauguration of Dr. Glover,” said Black, who, along with Michigan native Michael Johnson, will be crowned “Miss” and “Mr.” Tennessee State University, respectively. “He (Johnson) is really a very good king. He makes sure I have everything I need.”
When asked about the readiness of members of her Royal Court, Black said they are all excited and ready, but was not ready to give out many details about their outfits, especially her dress.
“My Court is ready and excited, we have purchased our dresses, and all I can say to that is that the girls are wearing royal blue halter dresses from Glitz Bridal,” Black said. “My dress is also from Glitz Bridal, and it’s a diamond, off-white dress with petals and lace.”
The coronation or the crowning of a queen or king, especially at HBCUs, is rooted in traditions that affirm ethnic heritage, build self-esteem, and develop leaders.
“The coronation of Miss TSU is a historical event within the culture of the institution that provides leadership, etiquette and public speaking to not only Miss TSU but the ladies in her Royal Court,” said Dr. Jame’l Hodges, director of Student Activities. “Many of the former TSU queens, like Chandra Lipscomb (1980)and Barbara Murrell (1960), remain very active in providing grooming and etiquette tips to the ladies.”
As en example, Hodges said, Dale Williams, a former Miss TSU, has taken what she learned from her time at TSU in the 90s to create her own Kings and Queens leadership conference that is today educating college kings and queens from HBCUs around the world.
Black, whose theme is “Get Active, Bleed Blue & Grow TSU,” said her agenda is to get students to be more active in University activities, develop pride for their school, and getting people to know all that is positive about TSU.
“TSU has done so much for us and we need students to know that and to send out a message about the greatness of this university,” said Black. “We are all thankful to our parents and families, who are all eager and ready to attend our coronation.”
Members of the Miss TSU Royal Court are: Kierra Allen-Craig, Miss Senior – a Social Work major from Memphis; Amethyst Stephens, Miss Junior – a Physical Therapy major from Kankakee, Ill.; and India Ward, Miss Sophomore – a Psychology major from Munster, Ind.
The coronation begins promptly at 7 p.m., in Kean Hall to be followed by the ball.
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, 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 celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu