Acclaimed Author and Motivational Speaker Eric Thomas Lectures TSU Students About Leadership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nationally recognized motivational speaker, Dr. Eric Thomas, returned to Tennessee State University August 31 with a message to the student body on  leadership.

“You can’t truly be a leader until you can lead yourself,” Thomas said.  “A lot of people want to be a leader meaning that you want a leadership position.  That doesn’t make you a leader.  A title doesn’t make you a leader.”

Thomas, who was the speaker at the TSU undergraduate commencement in May, returned to the university by “popular student demand,” according to student affairs officials.

TSU President Glenda Glover presents Dr. Eric Thomas with a TSU Tiger basketball jersey. (Photo by Torian Priestly, TSU Media Relations)

“We are really excited for his visit here,” TSU Dean of Students Frank Stevenson said. “By popular demand, the students responded to bring this distinguished lecturer and motivational speaker to the campus. He has a very unique story about persistence and the importance of getting a degree.”

Thomas spoke to the students during a lecture in Poag Auditorium on the main campus.

Called the “Hip Hop Preacher” for his creative style and high-energy messages, Thomas said getting a degree is not about impressing people.

“It’s about having ownership of yourself.  So each degree, each video, each thing that I do is about having more ownership of Eric Thomas,” the author said.

Dr. Eric Thomas, right, walks across campus minutes before his lecture in Poag Auditorium. Accompanying Thomas is the TSU Dean of Students Frank Stevenson. (Photo by Torian Priestly, TSU Media Relations)

Kennedy McCurry, a freshman architectural engineering major from Gallatin, Tennessee, was in the audience when Thomas spoke. She said the speaker’s emphasis on being able to lead oneself before trying to lead others stood out for her.

“I was really inspired,” McCurry said. “He helped me to realize that I need to start being more of myself and stop trying to fit in.”

Donovan Stewart, a sophomore nursing major from Birmingham, Alabama, has followed Thomas’ teaching and is inspired by the author’s message on perseverance. He likens life to a balloon, looking at Thomas’ example.

“When a balloon has no oxygen it deflates,” says Stewart. “I use that as my personal motivation in life because when you have things to get done and you don’t get them done, you don’t meet your goals. Dr. Thomas makes you get up and move; that’s what I like about him. I couldn’t wait to see him.”

In May, Thomas reminded TSU graduates that each of them is born with greatness, but to achieve it requires work.

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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, 24 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