TSU quiz bowl team wins national honors program championship title, takes top place in research presentation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students are champions! A four-person quiz bowl team from the university beat out nine other college teams to win the top place in the National Association of African American Honors Programs Quiz Bowl in Baltimore. TSU students, who are all members of the Honor’s College, also won the championship in Oral Research Presentation at the Annual 31st Conference of the NAAAHP.

The four-member TSU quiz bowl team, along with officials of the Honor College, receive their championship award. From left, are: Dr. Coreen Jackson, Dean of the Honors College; Dr. Tyrone Miller, Associate Dean of the College; and team members Journey Brinson, Tyler Vazquez, Kara Simmons and Jada Womack. (Submitted photo)

The two events are part of NAAAHP’s annual national conference, where HBCU students participate in a Model African Union, debate, research presentations, and quiz bowl competitions. This was TSU’s first-ever championship in the NAAAHP quiz bowl tournament on Nov.9.

Quiz bowl team members were Tyler Vazquez, of Raymore, Missouri; Kara Simmons, of South Holland, Illinois; Journey Brinson, of Memphis, Tennessee, and Jada Womack, an accounting major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who was the alternate.  With the exception of Womack, all of the other student are freshman biology majors, who are part of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Institute, an accelerated pathway program between TSU and Mehary Medical College for students on the medical track.  

Tyler Vazquez

“It was really a very good experience being able to compete against so many talented young people from all over the country, especially HBCUs,” said Vazquez. “I am so thankful to my teammates, and TSU for allowing us to represent the university.”

“It was very exciting,” added Brinson. “I really like being able to represent the black excellence at TSU. I hope that we can win again next year.”

Barbara Murrell, director of the Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, congratulated the students, adding that they represent the kind of students the institute was intended to attract.

Journey Brinson

“We want to congratulate and commend the students for an outstanding performance by winning the championship in the quiz bowl,” Murrell said. “We are glad that the Levi Watkins Institute team has recruited such outstanding young people who can immediately participate in the university’s honors program and bring credit to the institute and the university.”

For this year’s NAAAHP annual conference, TSU fielded 14 students, representing the university’s Honors College, including the three from the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Institute. Dr. Tyrone Miller, associate director of the Honors College, served as coach of the quiz bowl team, in place of longtime coach Dr. John Miglietta.

“We are extremely proud of our TSU Honors and Levi Watkins team,” said Dr. Coreen Jackson, dean of the Honors College. “Although these students were new to the game, they embraced the challenge, took the game by storm, and swept the competition.  In addition, our research students won the research championship, and they too did a phenomenal job.”

Clayton Oglesby, first-place winner in the research category, presents his study. (Submitted photo)

In the research competition, TSU students had a clean sweep. In addition to the first-place win, they walked away with all of the awards by winning second and third places. Individual winners were Clayton Oglesby, senior communications major from Nashville, first place; Sarena Noel, a junior biology major from Miami, Florida, second place; and Sandra Noel, a junior biology major from Miami, Florida, who won third place.

Another event in which TSU students participated was the “Honors Got Talent” competition. It featured Maya Cole, a junior biology major; Kaitlin Skates, a Levi Watkins/Honors student; and Anyah Sanders, a sophomore biology major. The students showcased their talents through vocals and spoken word.

In addition to TSU, other schools in attendance included Southern University, Fisk University, Spellman College, Livingstone College, Virginia State University, Morgan State University, Prairie View A&M University, Coppin, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

The National Association of African American Honors Programs is a national consortium of HBCU honors programs that, since its founding in 1990, has promoted scholarship, professional development, community service and an appreciation of African-American culture. For more information, visit www.naaahp.org.

TSU expert cautions parents to ‘be on the watch’ with new spike in RSV cases

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is on the rise in Tennessee, with spike in cases and hospitalization, especially among infants and children. Experts caution parents to be more proactive in helping to keep their children stay symptom free.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, an epidemiologist and public health expert, says while adults may only show signs of the common cold, RSV among children – especially those under a year old – shows more severe symptoms because their lungs are more susceptible to the inflammatory effects of the virus. 

“In some cases, children showing these symptoms need supplemental oxygen and hospitalization because of severe respiratory infections,” says Inman, professor and director of the public health program in the College of Health Sciences. She warns parents “to be on the watch.” 

“If you have an infant, wash your hands frequently and keep sick friends and family members away to prevent the spread of RSV,” she says, adding, “Watch your child. If they show any symptoms, take them to the pediatrician as soon as possible.”

Inman also cautions parents to avoid close contacts, cover coughs or sneezes, and clean surfaces (doorknobs, car seats, mobile devices) frequently.

Dr. Dorsha N. James

This summer, as in Tennessee, there was an increase in RSV cases in many areas of the country with the expectation it would accelerate in the fall. The trend has played out as expected, and even more adults in Tennessee are coming down with RSV, according to local news reports. 

At TSU, officials say over the past 5-6 weeks, there has been “a drastic” uptick in the number of sick visits to the Student Health Services Clinic for upper respiratory symptoms, such as cough, congestion, running nose, and others.

“Luckily for these otherwise healthy individuals, the virus will only usually cause mild, cold-like symptoms,” says Dr. Dorsha N. James, interim medical director of student health. “In light of our decreasing COVID cases, I would make the assumption that we are seeing some cases as a result of RSV.” 

On COVID-19 and the flu, two of the three viruses with RSV that are going around, the officials warn individuals to get immunized as the surest way to avoid serious illness or hospitalization. Flu activity reportedly increases in October and peaks between December and February.

 “Get your flu shots and get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible if you already haven’t,” Inman cautions. “We are seeing that people who are immunized against COVID and the flu are still not in the majority of the cases that are severe and dying.” 

For more information on how to protect against RSV, COVID or the flu, visit the Tennessee Department of Health at www.tn.gov/health.html.

TSU undergrad earns college degree decades later, completing a 30-year journey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Cynthia Jones will receive a bachelor’s degree in business administration next week from Tennessee State University. It is a milestone of success that started three decades ago for 60-year old Jones, but one she says was well worth the wait. 

“I have always wanted to graduate from TSU,” Jones, a Louisville, Kentucky, native says.

Fall 2022 graduate Cynthia Jones will receive a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concertation in supply chain management.  (Photo by Jonathan’s Photography)

As graduation approaches, Jones says the feeling is amazing. “I am still trying to wrap my mind around this,” she says. The motivation behind her milestone, she says, is her only child Michael Jones, and her faith.

In 1980, Jones graduated from Springfield High School in Robertson County and began her higher education journey at Nashville State Community College. She eventually enrolled at TSU in 1991 but had to drop out due to financial hardships and seek employment. Jones worked in supply chain but was let go after 14 years due to company reorganization. Jones faced a number of difficulties prior to and immediately after losing her job.

“My brother passed (away) six months before they released me, and my mother passed seven days after (losing my job),” Jones says. After taking care of her loved ones’ affairs, she got back into the work force but for a significantly lower pay. Although she had the experience for employment opportunities, Jones didn’t have the degree.

Cynthia Jones. (Photo by Jonathan’s Photography)

“Nobody paid me what I made before,” she says. “My salary was 38 percent less than what I made at my previous job.”

But Jones kept her faith.

Always a Tiger at heart, Jones reflected on a promise she made to herself years before about walking across the stage one day. “Give your battles to God and keep it going,” she says. “It’s never too late.”

Jones son, Michael, 28, said he has always seen his mother work hard, and to see her walk across the stage on Dec. 3, will be something to remember.  

“She has been talking about graduating college since I was a baby,” says Michael. “She has always been a fan of TSU, so I know this is big for her. I am excited and happy that she is finally doing it.”

Cynthia’s son, Michael Jones says he is proud to be able to witness his mother walk across the stage. (Photo submitted)

Jones says there has been many lows throughout her journey with losing majority of her siblings over time, as well as her mother, but she knows her family will be watching over her as she receives her degree. 

“They are still here in spirit.”

Jones will be one of nearly 600 undergraduate and graduate students who will receive their diploma in the Gentry Center Complex. The ceremony starts at 9 a.m.

Those attending the commencement program are encouraged to wear masks as precaution against the COVID-19, flu and RSV viruses going around. For more information on fall commencement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/ .

TSU more than just an educational journey for first group of Caribbean Scholars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University experienced historic growth this fall with the institution’s record-setting freshman class of 3,567 first-year students. Included in the group, and far away from home, were 29 Caribbean scholars. With this being the first time on American soil for many of them, the University has worked to make the transition as seamless as possible.

This is the first year that TSU has successfully recruited a large number of Caribbean students. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

TSU’s annual International Education Week, observed November 7 -11, has made the Caribbean students feel even more at ease in their “home-away-from home.” The week-long event helped to promote cultural awareness and featured several activities highlighting the native land of the University’s international students. This included Dance Hall Night and lunch-n-learn story circles events for the entire campus.  

“We are all from difference places, but it’s still a family because we are relating to being abroad in school,” Tonique Poitier of the Bahamas, said.

Poitier, who is a freshman studying chemistry, said the week gave her and fellow Caribbean students a chance to interact and gain awareness about other cultures as well.

She said most of them met at a welcome reception and dinner for Caribbean students hosted by TSU and the Nashville community. The September event, which featured foods from several of their home islands, was the first of several to help them adjust to college life.

“The welcome dinner made me feel at home,” said Jada Henry, who is an incoming freshman from Jamaica studying Supply Chain Management. “They had Jamaican food and gave good advice.”

Henry hopes to land a career as a Logistics Supervisor with the military. “I take great pride in my place here at Tennessee State University and in the direction my experience has provided for me thus far,” he said.

“The dinner was a very nice gesture,” said Renard Frederick, who is an incoming freshman from Trinidad & Tobago studying Human Performance and Sports Sciences. “It brought all of the Caribbean students together and now we are friends as a result.”

More than 300 Caribbean students applied for the International Tuition Assistance Grant from TSU with the final selection made up of 20 on campus and nine studying online. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Frederick wants to become a Sports Physiotherapist working with sports teams, ideally his dream team, Barcelona SC.

According to Dr. Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, executive assistant to President Glover and liaison on Global Initiatives, this is the first time that TSU has successfully recruited a large number of Caribbean students. She attributed this success to the International Tuition Assistance Grant (ITAG) the students received.

“Coming from the Caribbean, I understand the importance of education,” Nicholas-Phillips said. “Parents from the Caribbean understand that no sacrifice is too much to further their students’ education, and they’ve expressed how much of a blessing TSU has been with the ITAG because it’s an opportunity they [otherwise] wouldn’t have.”

Over 300 Caribbean students applied for the ITAG from TSU with the final selection made up of 20 on campus (two from Jamaica, five from Trinidad & Tobago, and 13 from the Bahamas) and nine studying online. The grant requires incoming students to have a minimum 3.25 grade point average and maintain 15 credit hours per semester to complete their degree within four years.

“The average G.P.A. for the incoming scholars is 3.6,” added Nicholas-Phillips. “These are high-performing students, and we know they are dedicated to their education because they know the sacrifice their parents are making.”

D’Neka Cunningham is one of a few transfer students who received the ITAG this semester and said the opportunity means everything to her and her family.

“I’m the oldest of three and first-gen, so I have to set the standard and be the example,” said Cunningham, who plans to return home to the Bahamas with a degree in Architectural Engineering and help improve their residential structures. She recalled how their homes flooded and two of her friends died during Hurricane Dorian in 2019. “We have great structures, but we can improve our homes.”

TSU’s annual International Education Week, observed in November, made the Caribbean students feel even more at ease in their “home-away-from home.” (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Dr. Coreen Jackson, dean of TSU’s Honors College, said the University’s recruitment efforts outside of the U.S. speaks to the administration’s commitment to being a global institution. 

“This is a dream come true for TSU to extend such an awesome opportunity to students in the Caribbean who probably would not have gotten an opportunity for a higher education since there are limited universities for the number of students coming out of high school,” said Jackson, who is also from Jamaica. “It says a lot about our leader who is unselfish, caring, and global-minded.”

Dr. Jackson and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Chris Jackson, hosted the reception and dinner event at their Pleasant Green Baptist church.  Rev. Jackson said opening the church doors to welcome the students was a good thing to do. “I have travelled internationally and know what it means to be at an unfamiliar place and be shown care and love,” he said.

Both Nicholas-Phillips and [Coreen] Jackson expressed gratitude for those who volunteered their time and resources to make the welcome dinner a success, sharing that members of the local Caribbean community came together to cook traditional Caribbean foods such as rice and peas, jerk chicken, and roti, and even donated money. Local eatery Jamaicaway Restaurant and Catering also contributed food. The night was capped off with a special presentation by President Glenda Glover and Michael Thomas, President of Atlanta’s Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation.

Other TSU faculty and staff attending the dinner included members of the International Recruiting Committee; Global Online AVP Dr. Seay; Chief Data Officer, Dr. Clarke from Trinidad; Health Sciences Professor Dr. Johnson from Jamaica; and members of the OIA team.

Dr. Coreen Jackson said she has plans to start a program where local Caribbean families can “adopt an international student” and provide them additional support from the community while they are away from home. This includes preparing them for the Nashville winter season.

“Many of our international students have not experienced a winter, so I would like to do a drive for winter coats, sweaters, socks, blanket, etc.,” she said. “It would also be nice to have local stores donate new items and/or allow the [international] students to shop at a discounted rate.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to get a quality education amongst people who look like me,” said Cunningham. “That’s what I’ve been used to my whole life and getting to continue to do that in a place where I feel comfortable is amazing.”

While there’s no place like home, the Caribbean scholars at TSU have a new place to call home for the next four years.

TSU selected to national panel to make instructional materials more affordable for students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The American Association of Colleges and Universities has named Tennessee State University to a panel charged with finding alternative ways to make instructional materials more accessible. The goal is to help ease students’ financial burden with the high cost of textbooks.

Dr. Robbie Melton

Reports by The Education Data Initiative show that the average four-year college student paid an estimated $1,226 for textbooks and supplies in academic year 2020-2021. Additionally, the price of textbooks increases by an average of 12 percent with each new edition published, the reports show.

“The rising cost of textbooks is a burden for students. This affects their ability to succeed and even complete their classes,” said Dr. Robbie Melton, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. She cited a 2021 TSU pilot where 28 instructors saved more than $81,000 while using OER versus commercial textbooks.

“Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources in the public domain or released under an intellectual property license that permits the unrestricted use and re-purposing by others,” Melton said. “It includes complete courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

Destiny Pennington

To address the high cost of textbooks, the AAC&U selected TSU and 72 other institutions nationwide to participate in its 2022–23 Institute on Open Educational Resources (OER). This yearlong institute supports educators in launching, expanding, or hastening campus adoption of accessible and affordable instructional materials. 

“This is great news that my school is part of this effort to help ease this extra burden on students,” said Destiny Pennington, a senior mass communications major from Detroit. “As we matriculate through school and book bundling is no longer an option, we must buy books out of our own pockets, and that’s hard. So, I appreciate TSU for trying to do something.”

Aliyah Holmes, vice president of the Student Government Association, also applauds the effort to identify free or less expensive resources to help students.

Aliyah Holmes

“Sometimes students feel the university is not listening to their problems,” said Holmes, a junior political science major from Houston. “Knowing that TSU is listening to the issue of textbooks as being a problem with the high cost, is very amazing and very appreciative.” 

As part of its role, TSU will serve as the lead HBCU in the curation of the HBCU OER Cultural Collection in partnership with MERLOT.org, www.MERLOT.org (higher education teaching and learning materials), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open CourseWare, www.ocw.mit.edu. The effort is supported by a grant from The William and Flora Hewett Foundation: OER Cultural Collection www.HBCULS.ORG.

MSNBC host and national political strategist Symone Sanders-Townsend to headline TSU’s fall commencement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Symone D. Sanders-Townsend, political strategist and former senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, will headline TSU’s fall 2022 commencement on Saturday, Dec. 3. Sanders, host of the new MSNBC program Symone, will give the keynote address for nearly 600 undergraduate and graduate students in the Gentry Center Complex.  The ceremony starts at 9 a.m.

Symone D. Sanders-Townsend

People attending the commencement program are encouraged to wear masks as precaution against the COVID-19, flu and RSV viruses going around. For more information on fall commencement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/

Sanders has held several high-level positions with national campaigns. In 2016, Rolling Stone magazine recognized her as one of 16 Young Americans Shaping the 2016 Election. A year earlier, Fusion magazine listed her as one of 30 women under 30 who would shape the 2016 election. Sanders is the author of No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Creighton University. She is married to Shawn Townsend.

At the fall commencement, Sanders is expected to inspire graduates about the story of her humble beginning in Omaha, Nebraska, where she was born, and how she climbed into the limelight in the nation’s capital as a political strategist.

Watch the commencement live at www.tnstate.edu/livestream

TSU to enhance the student experience with new Customer Service Dept.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is looking to enhance the student experience by establishing a new customer service department. Under the new unit, student concerns and inquiries will be addressed in a timely manner from a central area. 

TSU President Glenda Glover explained that the Office of Customer Relations is in its early development stages, and  each division will need to develop customer relations goals that ensure seamless communication with the students.

Shaun Wimberly, Jr.

“We are going to assist the divisions periodically to ensure that the goals are being met,” Glover said, referring to customer relations goals for the students.

“And proactively identify long-term resolutions to potential concerns.” Rather if the possible concerns are regarding housing, classes or financial aid, the upcoming office is set to provide resolutions in a timely manner.

The university will establish a Student Customer Service Advisory Committee to kick start the process for establishing the customer relations office. 

Shaun Wimberly, Jr., the student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees, said this office will help bridge any gaps between the students and administration.

TSU freshman Autumn Parker who sang during the Fall 2022 Freshman Convocation, said she looks forward to the university utilizing a customer relations office.

“Including the students and having an interphase is the first step to how we can bridge the gap between our community,” Wimberly said. “This is the first step to get a more unified TSU family.” Wimberly says that himself, along with other fellow student leaders, will build support behind the project to, “actually interphase students into the structure.”

Autumn Parker, a freshman studying political science, believes forming a customer relations office for the students will be beneficial for everyone.

“I think this is a really good idea,” Parker said. “If you have the option to talk to customer relations and get an answer to your solution, I think that would be helpful. The fact that the university is trying to find solutions and answers for the students says a lot. I am looking forward to it.”

Tennessee State University marching band gets historic nomination for two Grammys

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands has been nominated for a Grammy for their album The Urban Hymnal in the Best Roots Gospel Album category!

AOB also received a second Grammy nod for their collaboration on Spoken Word Artist and Poet, J. Ivy’s album, The Poet Who Sat By The Door.

The groundbreaking album has 10 tracks filled with organic sounds that were created on TSU campus and features trailblazers within the gospel music industry. The AOB is the first collegiate band in history to earn a Grammy nomination. 

Two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir The Baptist, left, and AOB assistant director professor Larry Jenkins records historic gospel album titled ‘Urban Hymnal,’ with AOB on campus. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“This is a tremendous day in the history of our beloved Tennessee State University,” Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of bands, said. “This is not just a band accolade, but a university-wide accomplishment. I personally appreciate our President, Dr. Glenda Glover’s vision for our university.”

Artists, albums, and songs competing for trophies at the 65th annual ceremony were announced on Tuesday by the Recording Academy. The Urban Hymnal is one of five nominees within the Best Roots Gospel Album category. 

“The university is very proud of this accomplishment by the Aristocrat of Bands that is celebrated by the TSU family and all of Tennessee,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

AOB students recorded the Urban Hymnal gospel album at TSU for several months. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“The AOB’s historic Grammy nominations add to the legacy of excellence that is TSU and cements the band as a part of the mystique that is Music City.”  

AOB assistant director Larry Jenkins described this moment as “surreal.”

“The Aristocrat of Bands receiving a Grammy nomination is a dream come true,” Jenkins said. “This serves as a truly historic and monumental moment for all of our students, staff and the university at large. Thank you to every band student, artist, producer and each person who contributed to our album. Thank you to the Recording Academy for making this moment a reality. Like our fellow HBCU, Fisk University, did in 2020, we hope to bring another Grammy Award down Jefferson Street soon.”

The Urban Hymnal is one of five nominees within the Best Roots Gospel Album category. 

The Grammy’s will take place on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

Music moguls and acclaimed artist such as Jekalyn Carr, Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, J. Ivy, John P. Kee, Louis York, Dubba-AA, Sir the Baptist, Prof. Jenkins, Take 6, Mali Music, and more are on the album. 

The executive producers for the album are AOB Director Dr. McDonald, Prof. Jenkins, two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist, Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin, and TSU alum and platinum recording artist Dubba-AA.

TSU home to Tennessee’s first FBI Collegiate Academy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) Tennessee State University has the distinction of having the state’s first-ever FBI Collegiate Academy. The academy gives students a behind-the-scenes look at careers with the federal agency and how it operates. Twenty-one students participated in the program, following a rigorous registration process. 

Dr. Robbie Melton, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, center, and Dr. Rodney Stanley, left, Interim Dean of the College of Public Service, welcome Douglas M. Korneski, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI Memphis Field Office. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

On November 7, the select group attended the academy’s first training session conducted by Douglas M. Korneski, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI Memphis Field Office. Students, who ranged from sophomores to seniors in various disciplines, received an overview of the FBI, and participated in drills on crime scene investigation, intelligence program presentation, and crisis negotiation and management. The training concluded with resume and interviewing tips from the experts.

Lia Barnett, a criminal justice major, and David Allen III, a political science major with a minor in computer science, were among those who participated in the academy. Barnett’s career goal is to join the FBI, while Allen is open to employment in federal law enforcement. They said the academy was “eye opening.”

Twenty-one students ranging from sophomores to seniors in various disciplines, participated in the daylong FBI Collegiate Academy. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Today, I have learned the steps I need to take to get to the FBI, which has been a longtime goal of mine,” said Barnett, of Cincinnati. “I have learned the background and certain facts that not everybody would know. The academy was educational, and I am extremely happy to be a part of it and to know that my university was selected for this first academy.”

For David, of Memphis, he said the workshop cleared out many myths he had heard about the FBI.

FBI special agents Stephen Fogarty, left, and Lowanda F. Hill conduct a crime scene investigation with TSU students. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“We hear a lot about crime scene but today was eye opening. It was amazing to see how footprint and fingerprints can be detected with stuff like paper,” he said “I actually grasped that concept. The  hands-on activities were very helpful.”

Agent Korneski said the goal of the academy was to bring about more awareness to the FBI’s operation, and to recruit top candidate from all sectors.

“For a number of reasons, the FBI has been making a lot of push from a recruitment standpoint, to attract more females and minority candidates to have our organization better reflect the communities we serve,” Korneski said. “Also, we want to take away some of the mystique or stigma or preconceived notion people may have about the FBI. So, we are trying to educate and recruit top quality candidates. “

Lia Barnett.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said it was exciting and fortunate that TSU was selected for the first FBI Collegiate Academy.

“You couldn’t have selected a batter place for the inaugural academy. This is a great opportunity for our students to have first-hand communication, first-hand glimpse into the FBI,” Melton said. “It gives them the opportunity to ask questions, and to serve as ambassadors for others. So, coming here to TSU is not only a win-win, it is an opportunity for us to help move our students forward.”

According to Korneski, the FBI recruits from all backgrounds and academic disciplines. “Lots of people who study criminal justice may gravitate toward federal law enforcement, which is great, but we are also looking to attract history, political science, computer science and people in other areas.”

David Allen III.

Dr. Rodney Stanley, interim dean of the College of Public Service, whose office coordinated the academy, said the academy is an extension of years of effort in criminal justice to open career opportunities for students.

“We see this as a good partnership between the FBI and students. We hope this is a continuance program that students participate in every year that can help them land potential jobs with the FBI,” Stanley said.

Dr. Kimberly Triplett, associate professor and coordinator of the public service program, worked directly with the FBI as part of her “JobTalk” initiative that brings different agencies on campus to help students find career opportunities.

“The FBI was one of the agencies we partnered with, for students to meet in a more informal setting for career readiness and job opportunities with the bureau,” Triplett added.

The FBI is actively looking for qualified candidates and has a host of jobs listed on its site.

TSU recognizes First-Generation college students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Making the decision to leave home and attend college isn’t an easy one to make, especially if you’re the first in your family. Currently, Tennessee State University has approximately 1,700 first-generation college students enrolled, including 1,000 freshmen. TSU recently recognized these students during a special program that featured a panel discussion and gift giveaways.

The event consisted of first-generation panelists pouring into current students with relatable stories of their journey and breaking down the barriers that were challenging to them. 

Tennessee State University has approximately 1,700 first-generation college students enrolled. (Photo by Aaron Grayson).

My’asia Earsery, a freshman studying psychology, said the event reassured her that she isn’t going through the challenges of college alone. “To hear what got everyone else though (college) made me feel comfortable about my journey,” Earsery said. “It felt very genuine. “The panelists made me proud to go to an HBCU. It was a panel full of people who looked like me,” she said.

Panelists included TSU alum Delvakio Brown, a Hospitality and Tourism Professional, Mario Eberhart, a TSU senior who is a Private Chef and entrepreneur, TSU Career Services Coordinator Sabrina Johnson, and TSU alum Tequila Johnson, co-founder of the Equity Alliance. 

During the event there was a Q &A discussion about navigating college, pushing though hardships, sacrifices, long-term goals, self-exploration, and individuality.

Panelists at the First-Generation college student event spoke about college hardships and self-exploration. From left to right: Tequila Johnson, Delvakio Brown, Mario Eberhart and Sabrina Johnson.  (Photo by Aaron Grayson).

“As a first-generation college student, you are probably the biggest resource that you have,” Tequila Johnson said. “What am I good at? What are my strengths and my weakness? Who am I, and who do I want to become?” Are questions that Johnson asked the students.

Sabrina Johnson told the students that the sky is the limit. “Always remember that you want to be the change you want to see,” she added.

Eberhart, who was the only current student on the panel, told the students that the journey will come with obstacles such as, “having to navigate myself financially through college … while remaining optimistic.”

While Brown reminded the students that those mistakes are a part of the learning process.

My’asia Earsery,, a TSU freshman, said the event and panelists made her proud to attend Tennessee State University as a first-generation college student. (Photo by Aaron Grayson).

“When you mess up, don’t stay stuck,” Brown said. “There will not always be a template to go by … it’s okay to not be perfect.” As the event came to an end, the students received gift bags and recited a student pledge to success.

Kyran Owens, a freshman studying biology, said he was glad he attended the event.

“It was very helpful,” Owens said.

“Be the change that you want to be,” was the quote that resonated with him most. While Caitlyn Wooten, a freshman majoring in cardiorespiratory, said she was reminded to never give up on her dreams. “I gained independence and learned different strategies on how to go about college,” Wooten said. “It was something to take in and remember throughout my journey.”

The event was presented by the TSU You First Project, in collaboration with the career development center.