Hampton Roads alumni interest group represents TSU as they work to establish official chapter
Several TSU alumni were on hand to accept the awards on behalf of the university in the categories of Athletic Excellence for “Female Team of the Year” and Student Activities for “Best Student Organization.”
“Being awarded by your peer institutions is a tremendous honor,” said Shelton Tucker, a 1980 graduate and co-organizer of an interest group seeking to establish an alumni chapter in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. “Jarrett Carter, president of HBCU Digest, is to be congratulated for putting on a grand event that featured the best in our class of black colleges and universities.”
The Tennessee State University women’s basketball team, which won the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship last spring, was honored as the “Female Team of the Year.” On March 7, the Lady Tigers claimed the program’s first OVC title in 20 years, and earned the team a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The university was nominated in the Best Student Organization category with The Nashville Student Organizing Committee, consisting of a group of student activists from TSU, Fisk and other area colleges, being recognized. NSOC, established in February 2014, was instrumental in leading protests at the Tennessee State Capitol in support of Medicaid expansion, the repeal of new voter ID requirements, and other oppressive state legislation under the campaign of “Put the People First.”
A record 430 nominations from universities, alumni, and students were submitted for the 2015 HBCU Digest Awards. Finalists were selected based on the impact of the nominees’ achievements on institutional development, and for media coverage earned for the university by way of the nominee. Winners were selected by an academy of former HBCU Digest Award winners, former and current HBCU presidents, alumni, faculty, students, and journalists covering HBCU issues for local or national outlets.
“The HBCU Digest Awards is the first national awards event to recognize the influence and impact of HBCUs on American culture,” said HBCU Digest Founding Editor Jarrett L. Carter Sr., who created the event in 2011. “The awards seek to recognize and crown winners in the fields of leadership, arts, athletics, research, and community engagement.”
In addition to Tucker, other TSU alumni in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area attending the event were Mark Grant (’90), Dwaynia Grant (’97), Brunell McKissack (’67), Dr. Danny Myers (’70), Sandra Myers (’72) and Georgia Spivey (’68).
Grant, also a co-organizer of the Hampton Roads/Richmond alumni interest, said more than 20 TSU alumni have signed up to establish a chapter. He said he expects that number to grow as there are more than 300 alumni residing in the area.
“Since our first get-together for the movie, ‘From the Rough,’ we have discovered that there are many more Tigers in the area,” Grant said. “We have added them to our Facebook group and have had several TSU round-ups and meetings. We will be sending our chapter application soon and hope to be inducted as an official chapter during TSU’s Homecoming this year.”
The group was formed in April 2014 after heeding a “call-to-action” for alumni to support the movie, “From the Rough,” starring Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson portraying the life of former TSU golf coach Dr. Catana Starks.
Tucker added that there are significant employment opportunities for TSU graduate in the area, such as the military, NASA and the Newport News Shipyard, to name a few. Brunell McKissack, a 1967 graduate who has been in support of starting a chapter, has been a mathematician for NASA for over 30 years, according to Tucker.
“This area has great attractions, student talent, and events year round and many TSU band members were recruited by Prof. Graves here in his early years at TSU,” Grant added. “Many of those parents still send students to TSU. We hope to partner with other HBCUs on projects to raise money for our schools, engage in joint ventures with other chapters, and support the TSUNAA National Convention in Washington, D.C. next year.”
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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 45 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.