Two-day TSU/GSA training shows HBCUs how to gain access to federal contracting opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The U.S. General Services Administration recently held a two-day training session at Tennessee State University to educate historically black colleges and universities on seeking contracting opportunities with the federal government. Called “Growth ’22 Series,” the event was part of a GSA regional outreach training initiative geared toward advancing equity for HBCUs in the federal market place. It was part of the White Initiative on HBCUs aimed to ensure that these institutions have equal access to GSA contracting programs to purchase products and services.

Dr. Quincy Quick, third from left, TSU’s interim Assistant VP for Research and Sponsored Programs, welcomes GSA officials. From left are: Dale Terry, Special Assistant to the Commissioner; Thomas Meiron, Federal Acquisition Service Regional Commissioner; Dr. Quick; Cheryl Thornton-Cameron, Executive Director; Trina Bilal, Program Manager; and Lanelle Chisolm, National Account Manager. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Representatives from several HBCUs including Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M University, and Jarvis Christian University joined TSU at the workshop, that also included presenters from the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Energy.

Cheryl Thornton-Cameron, executive director of the GSA Office of Acquisition Operations, said the agency is “100 percent” committed to spending time with the HBCU community to make them aware of all federal funding and grant opportunities, as well as employment opportunities for HBCU graduates.

“Today we want to bring more awareness to our HBCUs organizations through our Growth ‘22 Series,“ Thornton-Cameron said. “The Biden/ Harris administration is committed to making sure that these institutions are given more opportunities to get federal government business and funding, and also look at hiring more HBCUs students. What we do know is that some of the brightest employees actually come from HBCUs.”

Among HBCUs represented at two-day training were Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M University, Jarvis Christian University, and TSU. (Photo by Reginald Cannon)

According to Thornton-Cameron, TSU was the first stop of the Growth ’22 training tour. The next workshop will be at Jackson State University.

“We want to thank President (Glenda) Glover for opening the doors and allowing us to come and set up to where we can have a conversation with other HBCU brothers and sisters, because lots of HBCUs don’t even know that they can play in the federal government market place. HBCUs can tap into billions, whether it is federal procurement, grants or hiring HBCU students.”

Dr. Quincy Quick, professor and interim assistant vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, said the GSA training allows the university to enhance its systems, and helps staff to be more efficient in seeking contract opportunities.

“The forum provided an opportunity for HBCUs to partner with GSA, and gave us the ability to acquire contracts from the federal government,” Quick said. “The forum also gave us another way for us to be able to identify research opportunities that will be more contract base.”

The event at TSU followed a Feb. 16 roundtable discussion GSA held in Atlanta aimed at increasing the number of HBCUs with “Multiple Award Schedule” (MAS) contracts and provide training and education to help the institutions achieve success in the federal marketplace. The MAS, also known as the “Federal Supply Schedule,” is a procurement option often overlooked by public institutions of higher learning.

Kenny Sessions, a doctoral student and a representative of the Small Business Administration at TSU, said he went to the workshop to see how the GSA can expand its services to the university in ways that help business owners.

“We found today in working with the GSA that there is a lot of initiatives coming in from the White House in which HBCUs can expand their reach, as well as participate in projects that can bring them revenues for services that they can provide government agencies,” Sessions said. “There is a large reach and as most of the GSA representatives presented, they need to get familiar with us and we need to get familiar with them.”

TSU alum designs groundbreaking sneaker through Nike highlighting university 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The tiger spirit has been embedded in Tennessee State University since 1912. However, a new groundbreaking Nike “Yardrunners” sneaker collection has given alumni and students a new way to strut their school spirit.

“THINK. WORK. SERVE. ” has always been the motto at Tennessee State University. But in this instance, TSU students are ‘serving’ looks this fall as Nike launched a multicolor Dunk Low sneaker displaying the university’s colors designed by TSU alum, Kalynn ‘KT’ Terrell.

TSU alum Kalynn ‘KT’ Terrell is a fashion designer who customized a Nike sneaker this year displaying the university’s colors. (Photo by Hunter Hart photography)

“This was a goal that I always wanted to accomplish and the prototype was my exact design,” Terrell said.

Head drum major of the Aristocrat of Bands Marro Briggs, said he was excited to get his hands on a pair of the sneakers as the historical aspect, is deeper than the aesthetic.

“This is a once in a lifetime … a piece of history,” Briggs, an economics and finance major, said. “I was really excited because I love shoes. This sheds a bigger light on us and our culture. I am happy they (Nike) chose TSU.” 

The TSU themed sneakers feature tiger-printed shoelaces with a “Tiger Pride” branding on the striped insoles. The shoes also feature 1912 embroidered on the heel tabs. The inner tongue highlights the TSU motto with a color scheme of red, blue, black, white, and yellow. 

Terrell, a 2016 TSU graduate, added that the yellow gives the sneaker a special touch. The color symbolizes the land of golden sunshine, another university moniker fondly used by alumni.

AOB drum majors from left to right, Jeremiah Mensa, Joshua Knox, Curtis Olawumi, Marro Briggs, all purchased TSU Dunk Low sneakers. (Photo by Julian Curry)

“For me it (yellow) represents completion,” Terrell said. “It’s not your alma mater until you walk the stage …  so, it symbolizes that I made it. I did it.”

Terrell is a fashion designer, wardrobe stylist and serial entrepreneur from Huntsville, Alabama, who began a partnership with Nike in 2020.

When Terrell was a teenager, she knew that fashion and tennis shoes were more than just a hobby, they were a lifestyle. During undergrad, Terrell said she always had a sense of self as she walked the campus with confidence, graduating with a degree in psychology.

“I became who I am because of Tennessee State University,” Terrell said. “If I had never attended TSU, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable dressing how I dress now.”

Terrell’s style and branding landed her with an opportunity of a lifetime, designing a shoe for Nike.

“This opportunity meant the world to me. It’s groundbreaking and it lets me know that I am on the trajectory of going in the right direction.”

The TSU themed sneakers feature white or tiger-printed shoelaces with a “Tiger Pride” branding on the striped insoles. The shoes also feature 1912 embroidered on the heel tabs, and the TSU motto on the inner tongue with a color scheme of red, blue, black, white, and yellow. ( Photo courtesy of Nike)

This year, Nike Yardrunners class focused on “HBCU alumni who are forging a legacy through fashion that will inspire future generations.” 

Tennessee State University Dunk Low is part of a four-piece HBCU Yardrunners first-ever shoe collection that also highlighted sneakers created by women who attended Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, and North Carolina A&T University.

TSU Nike Dunk Low was released during homecoming week at local retailers like ROOTED and City Gear, and online on SNKRS, selling out within hours.

Former Miss TSU and fellow Alabama native Mallory Moore said she’s thrilled to see her alma mater in the spotlight and proud of the individual behind the design. 

“HBCU’s are finally being showcased for their positive contributions to society and the leaders they produce, specifically Tennessee State University,” Moore said.

“TSU has a big sneaker community, so it feels amazing. I am grateful that the university I once served is being celebrated in a major way.”

Kalynn Terrell is a fashion designer, wardrobe stylist and serial entrepreneur from Huntsville, Alabama, who began a partnership with Nike in 2020. (Photo by Chrisean Rose)

Everyone is hopeful that the Nike spotlight will bring future endeavors to the university. Terrell said she looks forward to collaborating with her alma mater again. She noted how HBCUs and African Americans move the culture forward in the fashion industry.

“We are the style,” Terrell said. “We are the standard.”

Terrell is the owner of three product base businesses: Nose In The Air, KT Wore It, and Nose In The Air Hair Co. She said operating her businesses and staying true to herself has aligned her with opportunities she was destined for.

“When I am gone, what’s going to be here to keep my name afloat,” Terrell said when asked about leaving a legacy. “I am trying to create something that is bigger than me. I would love to leave a staple.”

About Nike Yardrunners

Nike’s Yardrunners is a series to celebrate the cultural contributions and history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, along with their students and alumni.

TSU and Tennessee Titans expand historic partnership with launch of team’s Impact Program, ‘ONE Community’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the Tennessee Titans continue their long-standing partnership with Tennessee State University, on Thursday the team officially announced the launch of their Impact Program, ‘ONE Community.’

The ONE Community platform includes multi-faceted programs that reach many of Nashville’s most underserved communities with a focus on three areas – Opportunity, Neighborhoods, and Education.

TSU is one of 16 local and regional organizations that is a part of the community benefits platform.

Tennessee Titans held a press conference at TSU on Thursday to officially announce the launch of their Impact Program, ‘ONE Community.’

“TSU is excited about the expansion of our partnership with the Titans and the opportunities students will gain to be successful through internships and employment with the team,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover during a press conference held at the university.

“Our historic relationship, an HBCU and NFL franchise, spans over 25-years and centers around both organizations’ commitment to serve communities in the city we proudly call home, Nashville.”

With ONE Community, TSU and the Titans will be expanding their long-standing relationship by launching a new partnership that will establish several initiatives including athletics, academics, students and university support through scholarship and job shadowing programs, professional development opportunities, and employment opportunities.

The team will also continue its partnership by hosting TSU games at the new stadium and engage in other TSU-related initiatives.

Tennessee Titans President Burke Nihill speaks during a press conference announcing the launch of, ‘ONE Community.’ (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The Titans will serve as the annual presenting sponsor of the John Merritt Classic and partner with TSU to expand gameday activation and expanded branding opportunities.

TSU graduate student Nykole Allen-Clark, who is the division captain for Project Destined, an organization that also partners with the Titans, said this opportunity is huge for the university.

“I am extremely excited about the Tennessee Titans partnership,” Allen-Clark said. “This program will provide students and adult learners with unmatched exposure to a development in the community.”

Adolpho Birch, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for the Tennessee Titans, said ONE Community represents a substantial amount of work and effort and is a product of extensive interaction and feedback from residents and community leaders. 

“Ultimately, increasing opportunities for workforce and small business development, nurturing and enhancing our neighborhoods in need, and supporting education at all levels are what the community believed would be most impactful,” Birch said.

Johari Matthews, a TSU alum and Titans Foundation’s programs director, said they are proud to announce their partnership. “Our valued relationship with President Glover, the TSU athletic department and the students and staff are all very critical to the Titans story,” Matthews said.

The Titans Foundation’s Programs Director, TSU alum Johari Matthews (center) with TSU students during a Titans press conference. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“We believe that every student deserves an educational journey with the resources, experiences, and access necessary to create a meaningful path to vocational and life success.”

The project has been underway for more than two years. The announcement comes on the heels of the city of Nashville and the Titans reaching an agreement on a newly proposed football stadium earlier this week estimated at $2.1 billion.

For more information about ONE Community, visit

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research-intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at

TSU SGA Pres. and VP attend White House roundtable on impact of Dobbs ruling by SCOTUS   

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  Student Government Association President Kenneth Rolle, II and Vice President Aliyah Holmes attended a roundtable discussion on reproductive rights and how the Dobbs decision could impact college students across the country. Vice President Kamala Harris extended the invitation to Rolle and Holmes, as well as to other student leaders to hear their thoughts first-hand regarding the issue.    

TSU Student Government Association President Kenneth Rolle, II and Vice President Aliyah Holmes said experiencing a roundtable discussion on reproductive rights at the White House was a monumental moment and looks forward to spreading awareness on campus. (Photo submitted)

Rolle said the opportunity was monumental for the university’s student body and brought forth additional information on how overturning Roe vs. Wade impacts students and young adults.  

“It was a great day in D.C,” Rolle said. “This is a great opportunity for Tennessee State University to showcase the student leadership that we produce here, but on a national stage. They (White House officials) want to hear the student’s perspective, and how we feel about the issue of women’s reproductive rights.”  

Rolle said the roundtable discussion with Vice President Harris provided students with information on how to advocate for change and properly educate the campus on this issue. The Orlando, Florida native said he looks forward to becoming more knowledgeable on how the Supreme Court’s ruling affect women’s rights following the visit. “I foresee us doing a push to raise awareness.”

SGA leaders take a selfie in front of portraits of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during their visit at the White House.

Prior to their arrival, Holmes said her focus was spreading awareness on campus when she returned from Washington D.C. “HBCU students even being invited to the White House to participate in this discussion makes us feel like our voices do matter,” Holmes said. “It was a great experience. Being able to come back to our institution to share the knowledge that we gained is a great opportunity. Inviting TSU student leaders will have a huge, lasting impact on our institution and our student body.”

In August, TSU President Glenda Glover visited the White House, at the request of VP Harris, for a similar roundtable discussion and to obtain pertinent information that could aid TSU students in making well-informed decisions regarding their healthcare needs.

Tennessee State University seeks ‘R1’ status, the nation’s highest research designation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University, Nashville’s only public university, aims to become only the second HBCU to reach the nation’s top research echelon with an “R1” designation under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. The designation would mean more doctoral programs, research initiatives and funding for students and the university. Currently, TSU is one of only 11 HBCUs with an R2 designation under the category of “high research activity.”

Dr. Quincy Quick is leading the university’s effort to achieve the ‘R1’ designation.

For its drive to “R1” status or “very high research activity,” the university is mobilizing its research enterprise – teaching faculty, researchers, graduate school, staff, students – to support its vision for the coveted designation. Howard University, an “R2” institution, achieved the “R1” designation in 2000 but lost it in a reclassification.

 On Friday, Oct. 14, under the theme, “R2 to R1,” the university’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs held an open forum to acquaint the research community with what is needed to help move the university to an R1 status.

“One of the goals of the forum was to find out the needs of researchers as they commit themselves to the execution of the many grant-awarded research projects going on throughout the campus,” said Dr. Quincy Quick, interim assistant vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs.

TSU’s move to achieve an R1 designation comes just three years after receiving the R2 status. (File photo)

“Our goal was to provide an accurate understanding of exactly what is R1 and what going from R2 to R1 requires. We wanted to make sure everyone understood that research is important but it really comes down to programs and the number of Ph.D. completers that you have.”

The R1 designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning is based on characteristics such as number of doctoral degrees conferred and money spent on research. In Tennessee, if TSU’s effort is successful, it will join the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee Knoxville as the only institutions with the R1 designation.

 Branndon Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in engineering and computational sciences, said he’s very optimistic about TSU’s effort.

“The research enterprise here at TSU is led by professors and advisors who have immense passion and dedication to their work and field of study,” said Jones, of Franklin, Tennessee, who is in his second year of his doctoral studies. 

“The research areas are also unique since many are in the area of security and defense which forces researchers to think outside the box to develop novel approaches to solve today’s problems and problems that may arise 10 years in the future.”

A cross section of the university’s research community – faculty, staff, administrators – participated in the discussion to make the case for TSU’s quest for the top research designation. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

TSU has a thriving research enterprise. Over the last two years, the University has been awarded more than $70 and $67 million in sponsored research and external funding, the highest in school history.

The university’s move to achieve an R1 designation comes just three years after receiving the R2 status, joining three of Tennessee’s four-year public institutions with that designation. Climbing to the top tier of R1 will be quite a fete. With nearly 4,000 colleges and universities classified by the Carnegie system, only 3 percent are R1s, considered the best research institutions in the world.

“The fact that there is no HBCU in that R1 classification, we are trying to set the standard,” said Dr. Robbie Melton, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“We need to let everyone know that HBCUs have the same quality, rigor, and support for an R1 classification.”

To be considered for an R1 classification, an institution must award at least 20 research and or scholarship doctoral degrees during the update year, which takes place every three years, as well as spend at least $5 million in total research expenditures according to the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research & Development Survey. The institution must also score high on the Research Activity Index calculation, which is an aggregate level of overall and per capita research activity.

Quick, who is leading the university’s efforts and oversees the research enterprise, said achieving the R1 designation wouldn’t be easy, but TSU is up to the task.

 “We are in a much better shape than most people realize,” he said. “TSU is very strong in the STEM disciplines. We are producing a good number of Ph.D.s in those areas, as well as in education and agriculture. We are also doing well in the number of non-faculty Ph.D. researchers, which now stands at 18.”

Quick added that research expenditures, which stood at $15.4 million in TSU’s most recent ranking, is another area of improvement. The greatest challenge, he said, is in the humanities, which does not currently have doctoral programs. 

“Where we are going to meet the challenge is with the humanities, and there is a consensus across the board at the highest leadership, with President (Glenda) Glover, Academic Affairs, Research and Sponsored Program, and Institutional Research on what it is going to take to meet this challenge,” adds Quick.

Dr. Samantha Morgan Curtis, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the college is looking at a number of programs that could be elevated to the doctoral level.

“One of the first one we are looking at is criminal justice. There is also great interest in music, another incredibly strong program,” Morgan Curtis said. “We have a master’s program in music that will be rolling out shortly. The natural growth there is to look at the doctorate.”

For more information on research at TSU, visit

Featured Photo by Reginald Cannon
Dr. Quincy Quick (at the podium), head of TSU’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the University’s chief research officer, spearheads the discussion as he and other officials present the institution’s case for an “R1” research designation. Sitting from left are: Dr. Robbie Melton, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. William Johnson, Executive Research Director for R2 to R1 for New Academic Programs; and DrJohn Robinson, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies.

Dr. Mikki Allen Selected to coveted NCMFC Coalition Academy

By TSU Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen  has been selected as one of 12 Athletic Directors to participate in the Coalition Academy coach mentorship program. The Coalition Academy was started in 2021 and it pairs Athletic Directors (AD) with minority head coach prospects.

Allen, who is entering his third year as TSU’s Athletic Directors, was the only FCS AD selected and the only AD from an HBCU. The list includes several power five ADs such as Greg Byrne from Alabama, Whitt Babcock from Virginia Tech, and Allen Greene from Auburn among others.
Dr. Allen will be paired up with Coach Dell McGee from the University of Georgia who is the Run Game Coordinator and the running backs coach. Tim Banks from Tennessee, Sherrone Moore from Michigan, and Des Kitchens are a few of the selected coaches. The Academy is coming off an incredibly successful first year, highlighted by the hiring of Marcus Freeman (Notre Dame), Tony Elliott (Virginia), and Jay Norvell (Colorado State).
“There is a certain closed-mindedness amongst decision-makers in college athletics who only hire candidates with coordinator experience,” Allen said. “The hiring philosophy, effective or not, limits the number of qualified minority applicants for available head coaching positions.

Throughout the history of college football, there has been a limited number of minority offensive and defensive play-callers,” Allen continued. “I believe that this is due, in part, because minority coaches many times ascend through the coaching professions by way of their recruiting process. This being the case, many times because they are so highly coveted as recruiters, they take lateral jobs and are not at the program long enough to gain coordinator experience.

The networking opportunities that the Coalition provides opens so many doors for these aspiring head coaches. College sports is a relationship-driven industry and its special that these individuals get an opportunity to be coaches and developed by leaders that share a vested interest in helping people and improving college sports,” he said.
In its first year, the Coalition Academy helped to counteract the narrative that there is a lack of qualified minority coaches to fill available positions and is helping to bring parity to the hiring process in college football. This is why, the Coalition Academy is excited to announce the launch of its second year and the new members of its class.

For more information about the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, please visit

TSU Homecoming a major success with nearly $6 million raised for student scholarships; record attendance noted

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University 2022 Homecoming is one for the history books. From the Annual Scholarship Gala and the widely anticipated parade on Jefferson Street led by the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, to the coin toss at Nissan Stadium by TSU alumna and Daytime Emmy winning producer Erica Goings, all indications are that the events this year were a huge success. Thousands of alumni and friends from across the nation returned for the weeklong celebration that capped off with the TSU Tigers’41-17 trouncing of the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats in the Homecoming football game.

TSU President Glenda Glover waves to the thousands who gathered along the parade route on Jefferson Street. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“Back in Stride Again” was the theme, which emphasized picking up from where things ended last year, when the university returned to in-person celebration following a two-year break due to the pandemic. The spectacular events also highlighted a stellar group of honorees and grand marshals. Andrella Kenner, Global Warming Ambassador; and the Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, served as Grand Marshals for the Homecoming Parade, while former TSU first lady Edwina Hefner, and Communications and Public Relations Executive, Dr. Harold Jackson, received the distinction as honorees.   

Student success was a big winner, with corporations, groups and individuals stepping up to make donations for scholarships that totaled more than $6 million. TSU President Glenda Glover, surrounded by company executives and representatives during the halftime show at Nissan Stadium, thanked them for their gifts and support to the university.    

TSU fans celebrate as the Tigers tame the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats during the Homecoming game at Nissan Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“TSU students are our greatest investment, and it speaks volumes about the corporate community and their social responsibility, along with alumni to see them give back in such a major way,” President Glover said. “This level of support is truly inspiring and makes Homecoming even more exciting.” 

As always, Homecoming is a time to rekindle old friendships. That sentiment was not lost on Doretha Watkins Crisp, Betty Wilke, Janice Webb, and Nearlene Bass Johnson, all from the Class of ’78, as well as Doris McKinnie Littleton and Helen McKinnie Golden, Class of ’80. The six met at TSU and have been friends ever since.  Every year for Homecoming, they pay a visit to where it all began, at TSU.  

The world-renowned TSU Aristocrat of Bands make their much-anticipated appearance at the Homecoming parade. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“We’ve lost two friends over the years, but we still get together, all from a friendship we formed at Tennessee State University,” said Crisp, as the six sat together along Jefferson Street, near campus, decked in their TSU paraphernalia to watch the parade. “We come to Homecoming together. We bring our husbands; we meet other friends, and we just have a good time.”   

Webb added: “Homecoming is like a family reunion. You come and see people you haven’t seen in years. The amazing thing is we recognize each other. We may not always remember the name, but we remember the faces, and once we start talking, it’s like, ‘Hey, we had a class together.’”   

L-R, Doretha Watkins Crisp, Betty Wilke, Janice Webb, Nearlene Bass Johnson, Doris McKinnie Littleton and Helen McKinnie Golden formed a friendship at TSU that has lasted nearly four decades. They return together each year for Homecoming. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

For freshmen Sir-James Ford and Jamiyah Dozier, attending their first Homecoming was an eye-opening experience.  

“I really had no idea about what it was going to be like, because I have never experienced anything like that before,” said Ford, a business administration major from Nashville, who is president of the freshman class.  “The pep rally, the step show, the concert, all of that changed my experience about what Homecoming is about.”   

Sir-James Ford

“Homecoming was fun. It is nice having everybody back on campus and actually being able to gather and meet more people,” said Dozier, a health science major from Huntsville, Alabama, who attended the Homecoming with her parents. “It was really exciting to be in a new environment and have another opportunity to meet more people and just have fun.”   

Grant Winrow, chair of the Homecoming Committee, said, “Fun and excitement was exactly what we were hoping for. We were definitely back in stride again and accomplished our mission with a cherry on top with the win on the football field.  And our event was safe. That was one of our main goals.”   

Jamiyah Dozier

While receipts from the Scholarship Gala, TSU’s signature fundraising event, are still being tabulated, Winrow believes the event was very successful. He said more than 125 entrants took part in this year’s parade, one of the largest in school history. Over 22,000 turned out to watch the football game in Nissan Stadium, while a record 15,000 were outside tailgating.

TSU receives $1.5 million from HCA Healthcare to create pipeline for future Black doctors and technology experts  

Tennessee State University and HCA Healthcare are continuing their partnership in a major way. In a recent joint press conference, the Nashville-based health system gifted TSU $1.5 million to provide scholarships for aspiring students wanting to becoming medical doctors and technology leaders, and for education initiatives.  

Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. healthcare scholar cohort class of 2025 receives their white coats, presented by alumni of TSU, MMC Physicians and dentist during the fourth annual lecture series and white coat ceremony. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The HCA, TriStar Health donation will provide scholarship opportunities for 12 students enrolled in the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., Institute and three students majoring in computer science. The goal is to help build the pipeline for African American healthcare professionals and technology experts. The breakdown of the gift includes $1.4 million for Levi Watkins scholars pursuing a degree in the TSU accelerated medical program, while $100,000 will go Computer Science’s HCA Healthcare ITG Scholars. 

“We applaud and thank HCA Healthcare for this generous gift and continued support of TSU, and our talented students,” TSU President Glenda Glover said during the event. “This investment in our students helps them to become the future doctors and health technology leaders they aspire to be. HCA is making their dreams a reality.” 

Mitch Edgeworth, division president for HCA Healthcare TriStar Division, said their cooperation is proud to be able to invest in the university.  

The breakdown of the gift from HCA Healthcare and TriStar Health includes $1.4 million for Levi Watkins scholars pursuing a degree in the TSU accelerated medical program. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“Rooted in our mission to care for and improve human life, we are committed to providing resources and opportunities for future healthcare leaders to grow, learn and make a difference through this partnership,” Edgeworth said. “TriStar Health is proud to be part of HCA Healthcare and supports this incredible investment that will establish a strong and diverse pipeline of future physicians and healthcare ITG leaders in our community.” 

Class of 2025 Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute cohort students said this opportunity will help them succeed in becoming future physicians, dentist, and healthcare professionals to bridge the healthcare gap and provide for underserved communities in need. 

“I hope to reduce the racial inequalities in the medical field as well as fixing the patient and physician trust between the African American community and the physician,” said Sierra smith, a biology major whose goal is to become an anesthesiologist. 

Donnell Shaw, an aspiring dermatologist majoring in biology, said he looks forward to creating a skin care line for African Americans. 

“I hope to accomplish owning my own private practice and making my own Black skin care line. I’ve always loved helping people and giving back.” 

While $100,000 of the donations will go Computer Science’s HCA Healthcare ITG Scholars, HCA will also provide seven ITG staff members to serve as adjunct faculty for the fall semester. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The gift is part of the organization’s larger commitment to give $10 million over three years to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions.  

Currently, there are 117 new students in the computer science program. In addition to the scholarships for computer science students, HCA will also provide seven ITG staff members to serve as adjunct faculty for the fall semester. 

Christopher Jeff, a junior majoring in computer science, said he felt elated to know that corporations like HCA want more students with a passion in Computer Science to achieve their long-term goals. Jeff aspires to become a software engineer. 

“It means that there are places like HCA that want nothing but the best for people that attend HBCUs and to see them succeed,” Jeff said, noting that he is grateful for the scholarship opportunities and additional faculty members provided by HCA. 

TSU scholars engaging with HCA, TriStar Health representatives before a check presentation of $1.5 million. Their goal is to help build the pipeline for African American healthcare professionals and technology experts. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

TSU and HCA Healthcare have a long-standing partnership. In 2015, the corporation donated $1 million to fund internship opportunities and support the growth of the Health Information Management program. Sherri Neal, chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer of HCA Healthcare, said gestures as such, are building a more diverse talent pipeline of healthcare. 

“Increasing the diversity of our healthcare workforce is vital to providing more equitable, culturally competent care to our communities,” Neal stated. 

HCA Healthcare Scholars and HCA Healthcare ITG Scholars will be provided with hands-on shadowing opportunities, mentors, seminars, leadership sessions, career guidance and internship opportunities. 

Please visit to find out more about the TSU accelerated medical program, and  computer science.

TSU legacy student Jala Turner Selected as Visa Black Scholar

By Staff Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Upon graduating from Greater Atlanta Christian School, freshman Jala Turner decided to continue her family’s legacy as a TSU Tiger while creating one of her own after being accepted into the second cohort of The Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program.

The program is in partnership with The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and provides assistance for Black and African American high school graduates in the United States with a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 who plan to attend an accredited four-year college or university to pursue an undergraduate degree in business or technology.

Turners parents were members of the TSU Aristocrat of Bands and said its exciting to see her get involved on campus as a TSU cheerleader along with being a Visa Scholar.

“When all of us were on the Zoom call and found out that we got the scholarship, we were crying and everything. It’s amazing and a really big honor for me,” says Turner who is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and a minor in Spanish. 

“Being a Visa Black Scholar shows everyone that I have a lot to offer, and I’m so glad that someone saw my talent. It feels good to receive this scholarship and have these opportunities.”

In addition to receiving a needs-based scholarship grant of up to $20,000 per year for four years, Turner and fellow scholars will be mentored by a Visa employee, receive training throughout the year, attend an all-expenses paid Scholar Summit next summer, intern at one of Visa’s locations, and gain full-time employment with Visa upon graduation and successful completion of the program.

“The program is very beneficial. I have a mentor, Maria, and she’s great. She’s Hispanic and I’m minoring in Spanish, so I’m happy they made that connection,” says Turner.

“The summer of my sophomore year I can start doing paid internships with Visa and choose from any Visa corporation around the world, so I’m very excited for that. I don’t know where I want to go, but it’s a great opportunity. Also, there’s a guaranteed job offer after I graduate, and I think that’s great because I won’t have the stress of wondering what am I going to do after college.”

Turner’s parents, Anwar and Nicole of Lawrenceville, GA, agree.

“We are so proud of Jala walking in our footsteps as TSU Alumni as well as her brother and a host of other family members who have attended TSU since 1912. Her father and I were members of the Aristocrat of Bands, so it’s even more exciting to see her get involved on campus as a TSU cheerleader,” says Nicole.

Jala Turner wearing Visa apparel as she was accepted into the second cohort of The Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program over the summer.

 “We are thrilled that she was selected for this highly competitive program. She will not have the stress that so many will feel trying to find a paid summer internship before graduation. She won’t have the struggle of trying to find a mentor within her field to develop and coach her to the next level. Most important, she will never have to bear the burden of graduating without employment. Through Visa, one of the top companies in the world, she has a direct pathway into her career. We are grateful and extremely proud that she gets to represent TSU in this elite program.”

Turner graduated high school with a 3.6 GPA and was a member of the varsity golf club, the varsity dance and cheer teams, the Beta Club, the National Honor Society, the National Honor Society of Dance Arts, and the Spanish Club. 

Community service was also a major part of her activities. This included introducing elementary school students to dance and a mission trip to Puerto Rico where we painted the recreation area in an orphanage. She was accepted into seven of the ten universities she applied to and ultimately chose TSU because, for her, it’s home.

“When I was looking at colleges, I had a list of what I needed. I wanted to go to an HBCU, I wanted to be close to family, and I wanted to cheer,” says Turner who has been dancing since she was two and cheering since she was four. “We’re a TSU family. My parents, my older brother, and my family went here; so, I grew up at TSU. Also, half of my dad’s side lives in Nashville. I feel like the icing on the cake was me making the cheer team. I grew up watching TSU cheerleaders and knew I had to be one of them. So, when I got on the team, I had everything: family, the HBCU experience, and my cheer sisters. It was perfect.”

Jala hopes to have her own real estate company one day, but for now, she wants to focus on keeping her grades up and networking with fellow students and professionals on campus.

Turner encourages anyone wanting to attend college to research and apply for as many scholarships as possible, even the unsolicited ones that come via email. 

“See which ones benefit you and apply early,” she says. “Also, don’t count yourself out even if you don’t have the best grades. Just try your best and put yourself out there. Keep working hard and you’ll eventually reach your goals.”

TSU Back in Stride for 2022 Homecoming Celebration

By Kelli Sharpe

Nashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – There’s no homecoming like a TSU homecoming as the University gears up for this year’s celebration. The 2022 theme is “Back in Stride Again,” as TSU prepares to welcome thousands of alumni back to the 500-arce campus. Homecoming is October 2-8 and kicked off the week-long celebration with the annual Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest and Gospel Explosion on Sunday.    

The celebration will be highlighted with a scholarship gala, the legendary TSU parade, and of course the homecoming football game between the Tigers and Bethune-Cookman University out of Florida.   

From the legendary Homecoming Parade to the Annual Scholarship Gala, students, staff and faculty look forward to getting Back in Stride Again for the 2022 homecoming celebration.

“TSU homecoming is always a special and exciting time of year for the University as we welcome alumni and friends to our campus,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.   

“This marks the second year we’ve held in-person activities to highlight student achievement and showcase our accomplishments as an institution. It is also a time to celebrate alumni and supporters who have left an indelible mark on TSU.”  

This year’s honorees are: Grand Marshals Entrepreneur, Ms. Andrella Kenner, Global Warming Ambassador and Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley. Honorees are Communications and Public Relations Executive, Dr. Harold Jackson and Former TSU first lady, Mrs. Edwina Hefner.

Grant Winrow

In addition to the big game against Bethune-Cookman at Nissan Stadium on Oct. 8 and the parade that morning, another major highlight of TSU’s homecoming is the Annual Scholarship Gala, TSU’s signature fundraising event. It will take place on Oct. 7 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville.    

TSU Homecoming Chairman Grant Winrow added that this year promises to be even more exciting, but safety will remain a priority even as the pandemic has tapered off.   

“Homecoming week officially begun with an array of events, to kick off the annual celebration,” said Winrow.   

“Last year certainly lived up to the hype and was indeed a homecoming for the record books. So, get ready and come prepared this year, as we are “Back in Stride Again,” picking up where we left off. The health and safety of everyone is our number one priority. We will adhere to all safety protocols that are still in place and ask that you practice social distancing throughout the weekend. Although wearing a mask is no longer mandatory, it is encouraged when inside among large groups.”    

Kenneth Rolle II., said TSU students are looking forward to getting Back in Stride for homecoming this week.

Student Government Association President Kenneth Rolle II., said for students, TSU’s homecoming can be summed up in two words, ‘get geeked.’

“That is all that needs to be said. TSU alumni and friends from near and far will know it’s homecoming week by those two simple words.”   

Other homecoming activities this year include the Ralph Boston and Dr. Catana Starks golf tournament in the morning on Oct. 6; followed by the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute White Coat Ceremony that afternoon at 2 p.m. and the homecoming concert featuring upcoming rappers Glorilla, Nardo Wick, Est Gee, Babyface Ray and the Ying Yang Twins later that day; the Breakfast of Champions, the homecoming pep rally, the Charles Campbell Fish Fry, and the National Pan-Hellenic Step Show all on Oct. 7; and the legendary Homecoming Parade on Oct. 8. The parade will be from 14th and Jefferson Street to 33rd and John Merritt Boulevard.   

For more information about TSU’s 2022 Homecoming, visit .