Category Archives: Alumni

Yamiche Alcindor, renowned journalist and White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, will give the address at TSU’s virtual fall commencement Nov. 28

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Yamiche Alcindor, a renowned journalist and White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, will deliver the commencement address when Tennessee State University holds its second virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 28.

The fall commencement will begin at 9 a.m. and will be livestreamed on the TSU homepage (www.tnstate.edu), YouTube (www.tnstate.edu/youtube) and Facebook (www.tnstate.edu/facebook).

More than 700 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines. 

Alcindor, noted for telling stories about the “intersection of race and politics,” has directly questioned President Donald Trump a number of times on a range of issues, including the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on black people and communities of color, the protests following the death of George Floyd, and the consequences of the President’s immigration policies. 

A contributor for NBC and MSNBC, Alcindor often appears on a number of shows, including “Morning Joe,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd. She previously worked as a national political reporter for The New York Times, where she covered the presidential campaigns of Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), as well as Congress. She also wrote about the impact of President Trump’s policies on working class people and people of color. 

Before joining The Times, Alcindor was a national breaking news reporter for USA Today and traveled across the country to cover stories, including the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut., the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and the police-related protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. 

In 2020, the White House Correspondents’ Association named Alcindor the recipient of the Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage, and the National Association of Black Journalists named her Journalist of the Year. She has also been honored with the Gwen Ifill Next Generation Award by Simmons University. 

A native of Miami, Florida, Alcindor holds a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University, and a bachelor’s in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University. 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

TSU, Publix partner to offer students free flu vaccines

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is offering free flu vaccines to all students through a partnership with Publix. On Nov. 10, nurses from Publix Pharmacy made their first campus visit to administer the vaccines. Students who signed up to be vaccinated also received a $10 Publix discount card.  

Graduate student JC DeMarko V. Burnett-Gordon gets his flu shot in Kean Hall. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Kirsten Cole, a sophomore health science major from Chicago; and JC DeMarko V. Burnett-Gordon, a second-year graduate student from Nashville, were among the first students in line to get vaccinated. 

“I am really glad to get this (shot) for free,” said Cole. “I hope other schools are making this easy for their students because these are really scary times for us, especially being this far away from home.” 

For Burnett-Gordon, who lives off campus, he is also glad “TSU is stepping up” to keep its students safe. 

“There is a whole lot going on out there with COVID and everything else,” he said. “It is nice to get this out of the way, so there is no mix-up.” 

Publix Pharmacy nurses make their first campus visit to administer the free flu shots to TSU students. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The TSU Student Health Center, which is working with Publix to administer the flu shots, strongly encourages students to take advantage of the free opportunity.

Dana Humphrey, head nurse in the Student Health Center, said based on student needs, the center will coordinate with Publix to determine dates and times for subsequent campus visits.

Ordinarily, she said it costs about $30 for a flu shot, but the university is underwriting the cost for students. The shots are also available to employees through their insurance. When being administered on campus, the vaccines are available on a walk-in basis. No appointment is necessary, but students must first check with the Student Health Center for the schedule. 

With the new surge in COVID-19, combined with the seasonal flu this winter, officials say this could put a serious strain on the health care system. Accordingly, public health experts are encouraging adults to get their flu shots to reduce the chances of hospitals being overcrowded with patients. 

“The flu season and corona could confuse people because we have probably 10 diseases that have the same symptoms as the coronavirus,” said Dr. Wendelyn Inman, a TSU professor and infectious disease expert. “It is difficult to tell if you have corona or the flu. I would advise people to go for their flu shot, so that you know that at least you have that covered.” 

Inman, who is also director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences, was previously chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee. 

Dr. Carolyn Davis, TSU’s assistant vice president for student affairs, said making the flu shots available to students was just the right thing to do. 

“The health and safety of our students is always a major priority,” said Davis. “We made the vaccine free to our students to make sure they know it is available to them and right here on campus for their convenience. We are thankful to Publix for coming on our campus to administer the vaccine.” 

According to CDC guidelines, annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.   

For more information on the Student Health Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/campus_life/healthcenter_brochure%20072914a.pdf 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

NBA Star, TSU Alum Robert Covington credits alma mater for his success, gifts donation for new construction project

By TSU Athletics Media Relations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Houston Rockets forward Rob Covington is paying it forward to his alma mater Tennessee State University. In an announcement on Thursday, Nov. 12, the 2013 TSU graduate said the University played a major role in his personal and professional development, and now he will play a pivotal role in helping to develop its future basketball program at the “Covington Pavilion.”

TSU President Glenda Glover and university officials join Robert Covington and his family to kick off the Covington Pavilion project on the main campus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Covington’s gift is the largest of this magnitude to an HBCU by a former athlete who was a product of its program.

“I want to thank the city of Nashville for embracing me, and Coach Brian ‘Penny’ Collins, Dr. Mikki Allen (Athletics Director), President (Glenda) Glover and the University for giving me the opportunity to do something special like this,” Covington said.

“I love my alma mater, I’m not donating a new practice facility for the recognition or because I NEED to – I am doing it because I truly WANT to. I know what the school didn’t have when I was here as a student and I want future generations of kids to have the best resources available to them, to build their futures both on and off the court. I want them to step on this campus and feel like their dreams can come true here, because mine really did.”

TSU Athletics Director, Dr. Mikki Allen, left, and President Glover congratulate Robert Covington moments after the NBA star and TSU alum announced his project during a ceremony in the Gentry Center. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Covington will fund the project, with construction slated to begin late spring in 2021. The facility will have two practice courts, locker rooms and offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

“We are extremely proud of Mr. Robert Covington’s success and are grateful for his contributions to the University,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Most importantly, his success on and off the court speaks volumes about the caliber of students TSU and other HBCUs produce. We thank him, his family and the Allergic To Failure Foundation for this generous gift.”

TSU Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen said the new facility will have an impact on the entire athletics program at the institution, but also speaks to Covington’s commitment to TSU.

“Rob and I have a shared vision for TSU Basketball becoming a nationally recognized program,” Allen said. “The fact that Rob has decided to make an investment of this magnitude accelerates this process and helps bring us closer to this vision becoming a reality.”

The President shares a moment with the Covington family near an architect’s rendering of the Covington Pavilion. Construction is slated to begin late Spring 2021. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“As the Director of Athletics, I’m extremely gracious and thankful for Rob becoming a stakeholder in helping to change the national trajectory of our basketball programs. The narrative is shifting in the landscape of college basketball recruiting in respect to HBCUs landing 5-star talent.  Through this historic gift, the Covington Pavilion will now undoubtedly put Tennessee State University in the mix.”


The Bellwood, Illinois native gave the TSU basketball  program a $75,000 donation back in April 2019, but is excited to take the program to the next level with this large monetary donation. Covington continues to have close ties to the University, and shares a special bond with Head Men’s Basketball Coach Penny Collins.

“Rob has been a beacon of inspiration for our student-athletes since he left Tennessee State University,” said Collins.

“To have a practice facility for our men’s and women’s basketball programs will be a game changer. It also shows how serious we are on taking the next step in being an extremely competitive program in the Ohio Valley Conference. Our players will be committed to making Rob proud. He has definitely set the bar for them to follow.”

Collins added, “Rob was already a legend and with this commitment he becomes iconic. His name and legacy will live on forever in the Land of Golden Sunshine.”

Alongside his family, Covington started a foundation named after his life mantra “Allergic To Failure” to give back to communities across the country. He and his family host annual givebacks throughout the year in his hometown of Chicago, Nashville and other NBA markets like Philadelphia, Minnesota and now Houston.

Covington said he made the best decision in attending TSU and is a proud graduate. 

“I made some of the best memories of my life at TSU,” he said. “Go to a bigger school? Nope. I wouldn’t change it for the world because the people who’ve had the most significant impact on my life, they wouldn’t be next to me today. It’s special to be at the forefront of something that can spark a major change as far as kids going to an HBCU and learning about black history, their culture and where they came from. Learning about your ancestors – you can’t always get that in the classroom. That’s a big thing, it’s very important.”

While the road to fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA took a tremendous amount of work, the small forward said it’s a path others at TSU can accomplish in any profession.

“I had an experience very few professional athletes had. It was life changing. I’m a walking product of a kid that went to an HBCU and created a narrative for myself. I feel like now is the time for change and progression all around. I’m in a great place to give back to the place that shaped who I am – not only as an athlete but as a man. My family and I are excited to be able to do this and to break ground on Covington Pavilion today!”

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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

TSU using technology, innovative incentives to curb coronavirus spread among students and staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – College campuses across the country are using creative ways to battle the latest surge of the coronavirus. At Tennessee State University – with one of the lowest number of cases among Tennessee colleges – officials are using technology and offering incentives to students to help curb the spread of the virus among the campus population. 

Healthcare personnel say students are proactive and anxious about coming into the health center to register to be tested for the coronavirus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The university has stepped up its rapid testing, encourages students to do more contact tracing using a new software, and has set up electronic temperature checks around campus. Tigers Mask Up, an initiative that offers students discount cash coupons for observing proper protocols, has also been introduced. Additionally, the university encourages free discussion of the virus among students and staff. 

“It is not a taboo to talk about cases and persons who are experiencing symptoms. The open discussion helps,” says Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and head of the TSU Coronavirus Pandemic task force. 

He says the Tigers Mask Up initiative, introduced by the task force, is intended to recognize the efforts of students who go the “extra mile” to ensure compliance. 

TSU introduces a mobile app for contact tracing among the campus population.

“The task force monitors what’s going on and makes recommendations to modify activities when necessary or initiate efforts to move us ahead, and so far, our efforts are paying off,” Johnson says. 

A New York Times survey of more than 1,700 colleges and universities shows more than 214,000 cases and 75 deaths (mostly college employees) since the pandemic began, with Tennessee colleges accounting for 6,540 of those cases.  Since TSU reopened for the fall with hybrid learning, the university has reported less than 75 cases, with mostly mild to no symptoms and no hospitalization. 

Johnson and others attribute TSU’s low number to the university’s vigilance with testing and students’ overall cooperation with protocols put in place to keep them safe. The TSU Student Health Center is averaging between 50-100 students who come in per day to be tested. 

Tigers Mask Up initiative recognizes the efforts of students who go the “extra mile” to ensure compliance. 

Dana Humphrey, head nurse of the Student Health Center, says testing is going very well and students are very open to coming in to get tested. 

“The kids are really engaged and trying to come and get tested,” she says. “They are proactive and really anxious about follow-ups and making sure they are healthy.” 

Frequent testing is widely encouraged among the student population. In fact, the Aristocrat of Bands, and all sports program on campus have made testing mandatory for their members. Band members are required to test once a week if they live on campus, and twice a week if they live off campus. Members of all sports programs are required to test once a week. 

Kristian Davis, a freshman biology major from Birmingham, Alabama; and Terriana Holt, a senior human performance sports science major, have tested a combined 15 times. Davis was positive on her first test and went into mandatory quarantine. She says she came into contact with someone who was positive. Davis has since been cleared. 

“I have been tested six times,” she says. “I tested positive and went into isolation for two weeks. The staff was really nice, making sure I had everything I needed. I am glad TSU is making sure we are safe.” 

For Holt, a member of the AOB, where she plays the trumpet, the experience with frequent testing “is no sweat,” she says. 

“I really don’t mind because it is for my health and for the health of my fellow band members and the health of the school in general,” says Holt, who has tested nine times. “I see it as just a precaution.” 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, says students who test positive for COVID-19 are placed in an area identified as IQ, or isolation and quarantine zone where they receive “round the clock” service, including a health professional, meal service delivered three times a day, laundry service, and medication if needed. 

“We have had great success managing students who have tested positive in providing a safe and comfortable space for them to be in while they go through their time period mandated by the CDC,” says Stevenson. “We’ve had a couple of students who were taken to the hospital for checkup, but none have been admitted or hospitalized. For the most part, 95 percent of the students that we’ve encountered have had very mild to no symptoms.” 

Dr. William Hytche, assistant vice president of students affairs, manages activities in the IQ zone. He says students with positive cases are put in quarantine, while those who have been exposed or have been around someone who is positive, are put in isolation. Those in isolation are given a resting period to see if they develop the virus. In either case, a student stays in the IQ zone for a minimum of 10 days. To be released, Hytche says a student must be tested and produce two negative results over two days. 

“Students in the IQ zone have access to medical staff and must give a daily report of how they feel,” says Hytche. In addition to help with the student’s physical health, mental health services are also available. 

“If a student feels like, “The walls are closing in on me’, we get the university counselors involved who contact the student and evaluate their situation,” ‘Hytche says.

For updates or information on TSU’s COVID-19 protocols, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/return/ 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

TSU unveils 500-pound bronze tiger statue on main campus as part of ‘Big Blue’ pride

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Calling it a symbol of strength and a representation of its Big Blue pride, Tennessee State University has unveiled a tiger statue on the main campus to coincide with this year’s virtual Homecoming ceremonies.

President Glenda Glover, administrators, staff, student representatives, alumni and community officials participate in the unveiling ceremony on the main campus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The specially commissioned bronze 6-foot long sculpture, weighing in at 500 pounds, was unveiled Oct. 23 in a virtual ceremony. Observing appropriate social distancing, TSU President Glenda Glover led student representatives, administrators, staff, alumni and community officials in an elaborate ceremony to showcase the new campus attraction. 

TSU’s renowned Aristocrat of Bands was on hand to provide entertainment.

The President acknowledges members of the AOB, student leaders and guests moments before she officially unveiled the new campus attraction. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“Today is a special day as we unveil a monument that will represent the spirit of TSU for the next 100 years,” Glover said to a round of applause. “Generations will mark their presence on this campus in front of this great tiger statue. Tigers are resilient, strong and powerful, as we are. Tigers are determined and confident as we are.” 

The Tiger, standing nearly 7 feet and mounted on a custom-made marble base, is located in front of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center across from the McWherter Circle. 

Glover congratulated the leadership of the last Student Government Association for conceiving the idea of the statue created by nationally recognized sculptor David Clark, who created Tom the Tiger at the University of Memphis.  

Outgoing SGA President Katelyn Thompson and members of her administration conceived the idea for the tiger statue. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“I want to thank our very courageous students and the student government leadership for their foresight,” she added, noting the university’s resilience during the pandemic. “This tiger statue is a symbol to the world that TSU is strong.” 

Katelyn Thompson, the outgoing SGA president, who spearheaded the project, thanked President Glover, her fellow students and the office of Student Affairs for their support in making the project a reality. 

“On this historic moment, we have waited patiently for this day. We brought this idea to the table and we all came together to create history,” Thompson said. “I want to personally thank the sculptor, Dr. Glover, Dean (Frank) Stevenson, Dr. (Tobias) Morgan, alumni, faculty and staff, but most importantly, our students. It was you who always kept pushing to keep going and continue on the legacy of tiger pride.” 

Tennessee State Sen. Brenda Gilmore, and Davidson County Council-At-Large member Sharon Hurt, two TSU alums and staunch supporters, were among officials who attended the unveiling. 

 “I just want to commend these student leaders who had the vision to even know before the pandemic that we would need a strong symbol that will represent TSU going forward,” Gilmore said. “This tiger captures the spirit of each one of you. I commend you Dr. Glover, the staff and everybody.” 

Also speaking were Grant Winrow, chair of the Homecoming committee, and Dominique Davis, the newly installed president of the SGA. 

Winrow referred to the Tiger statue as “something wonderful that will be on this campus forever.” 

“We are so excited this morning,” he said, citing the sculpture as a major achievement. “When you come here to learn and go forth to serve, this is what you get. You get people who have strived to do great things in this world.” 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, who was charged with bringing the tiger project to fruition just before the coronavirus pandemic, also thanked President Glover and the administration for their support. He gave special recognition to individuals in Facilities Management, Student Activities, the AOB and the office of Business and Finance. 

“When the idea was advanced, Dr. Glover instructed us to ‘make it happen’ and we moved right along,” Stevenson said, lamenting the onset of the pandemic just as the project started.  

“By the time they had created the head of the tiger, we sent all of our students home after being introduced to a pandemic that this country had not seen in a hundred years. The tiger kept being developed, the sculptor kept moving forward and with nobody on campus, the tiger was delivered in a box and put in storage. We are so proud of the many people who worked to get it out here today.” 

The excitement about the tiger among students was overwhelming. At a pep rally in Hale Stadium as part of the unveiling ceremony, this is how four students described the new attraction on their campus. 

Historical” – Julien Dooley, senior commercial music major from Atlanta 

Prenominal” – Cameron Brown, Mass Communications major from Birmingham, Alabama 

Legacy” – Tiara Thomas – Junior Political Science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi 

Groundbreaking” – Javia Dycus, junior Health Sciences major from Indianapolis, Indiana

According to Stevenson, a naming competition opened to students, staff, alumni and the community, will be held later to come up with an appropriate name for the tiger.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

TSU continues Homecoming tradition with virtual coronation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continued a Homecoming tradition with the crowning of a new Mister and Miss TSU and the royal Court. For the first time ever, the coronation was held virtually due to COVID-19 with all the usual glitz and glamour that the ceremony is noted for displaying.

President Glenda Glover

Hundreds of people — including parents, relatives, friends, fellow students and alumni — tuned in Friday night to witness the coronation of Naton Smith, Jr., and Mariah Rhodes, and their court. 

TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the new king and queen after giving them the oath of office. Dr. William Hytche, assistant vice president of student affairs, followed the president. He charged the two students to take their roles seriously. 

“Taking on the responsibility of Mr. TSU and Miss TSU is steep in tradition, as many are looking up to you,” Hytche said. “This coronation with all of its tradition, is a time to celebrate our university and its heritage. Continue to shape our future here at TSU for those who come after you.” 

Moments before their coronation, the new Mister and Miss TSU entertained guests to a Hollywood-style stage production of “Cinderella.” Mariah Rhodes played Cinderella and Naton Smith, Jr., played the prince. (Submitted Photo)

Smith, a senior health sciences major from St. Louis, said as a student leader, his goal as Mister TSU is to continue building community and giving a voice to the voiceless. 

“I want TSU to continue being excellent and continue to break barriers,” Smith said. “During these tough times in our country and communities, it’s important for us to continue to stand together and be on one accord.”  

With a 3.2 grade point average, Smith is a member of the Honors College, and the Men’s Initiative, which focuses on character development, social engagement and mentorship for male students. He wants to become a doctor of physical therapy to work in the NBA. Eventually, Smith wants to open his own PT clinics in his community to cater to people who cannot afford health insurance.

Outgoing Mister TSU Damyr Moore and Miss TSU Jada Crisp crown the new queen. (Submitted Photo)

Rhodes, who becomes the 90th Miss TSU, is from Memphis, Tennessee. She is a senior political science major with a 4.0 GPA. She said although the university is cutting down on activities because of the pandemic, she plans to implement a number of events virtually to keep the students engaged. 

“This year is going to look different, but we are going to make sure students are part of everything,” said Rhodes. “We will be more transparent with students, making sure they are included in all decisions we make.”  

Rhodes wants to become a lawyer and eventually enter politics as an elected official focusing on education and criminal justice reform. She is the Student Court Chief Justice, an HBCU White House Competitiveness Scholar, and an honors intern with the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Dr. Tobias Morgan, assistant dean of student engagement and leadership, admonished the new king and queen to continue to uplift the spirit of the university. 

“Naton and Maria, Mister and Miss TSU, continue to shine,” he said “I am proud of you. Continue to uplift the campus community while making a distinct change because united, we all will rise.” 

Also speaking were Tiara Thomas, student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees; and Dominique Davis, president of the SGA. 

Members of the new Royal Court are:

Mister Senior – Michael Caldwell, Mechanical Engineering – Atlanta

Miss Senior – Morgan Jackson, Health Sciences – Montgomery, Alabama

Mister Junior – Mario Eberhart, Health Management/Business – Atlanta

Miss Junior – Mallory Moore, Health Science – Birmingham – Alabama

Mister Sophomore – Widmark J. Cadet, Jr., Business Administration/Marketing – Chester, Virginia

Miss Sophomore – Kellyn Paige, Nursing – Jackson, Mississippi

Mister Freshman – Jordin Russell, Business Information Systems/Secondary Education – Huntsville, Alabama

Miss Freshman – Taryn Henry, Cardiopulmonary Science/Respiratory Therapy – Tallahassee, Florida.  

Moments before the coronation, the evening was kicked off with a Hollywood-style stage production of “Cinderella.” Backed by a beautiful cast including members of the royal court, Rhodes played Cinderella and Smith played the prince. Alicia Jones, former Miss TSU, played Cinderella’s fairy godmother. 

In place of the traditional Homecoming, TSU this year held a weekend of activities Oct. 23-25 under the theme, “Essentially TSU – We’re In This Together!” Other events during the weekend included a virtual scholarship gala, a homecoming tradition, and a Gospel Brunch hosted by TSU alum Dr. Bobby Jones, known in many circles as the Ambassador of Gospel Entertainment. 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

TSU provides transportation for first-time student voters as election nears

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is continuing its GOTV (get out the vote) student initiative and has partnered with a private foundation to help students who want to vote early.  

The University’s Office of Student Affairs partnered with the Andrew Goodman Foundation to provide free transportation for students from Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee, to go home and early vote. The Andrew Goodman Foundation provided funding for transportation and food for students. 

The bus load of students, who are all registered first-time voters, left the TSU campus early on Saturday, Oct. 24, and returned later that evening after the students cast their ballots.

Kaya Johnson

Tennessee law requires that an individual voting for the first time must appear in person to vote early at either the county election commission office or at a satellite voting location. A large number of TSU students come from Memphis.  

Kaya Johnson, a freshman biology major, said this election is very crucial and she is glad TSU is helping to make sure students’ voices are heard.  

“It makes me feel like they really care about making sure our votes are counted,” Johnson said. “I don’t think a lot of schools are doing it. Voting for the first time, I am a little nervous, but I feel like I will choose the right person.”   

Fellow student Barrington Stanford, a sophomore aeronautical and industrial technology major, agreed.  

Barrington Stanford

 “To cast my vote for the first time, it is a blessing,” he said. “The fact that TSU is really stepping up and making sure that effort is made to get us to vote early really means a lot.”  

Students from Memphis are the second largest student population on campus.

Dr. Andre Bean, director of the TSU Men’s Initiative, who is coordinating the bus trip, said the goal is not only to get the students to vote, but to have a positive experience as first-time voters.  

“We just wanted to make sure that the students are able to get back home and vote early,” Bean said. “We wanted to make sure these students, especially with their requiring to vote in person, have an opportunity to vote.”  

Students will leave campus Saturday morning heading to Memphis, and will return after everyone has voted.

Inspired by slain ‘60s civil rights activist Andrew Goodman, the Andrew Goodman Foundation works to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy. The group supports youth leadership development, voting accessibility, and social justice initiatives on campuses across the country. 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Kelly McCreary speaks to TSU student leaders about the importance of voting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Actress Kelly McCreary, best known for her role on the ABC award winning drama series “Grey’s Anatomy,” spoke to Tennessee State University student leaders on Oct. 1 as part of “VoteHBCU IG Live,” a national campaign to mobilize HBCU students to vote. The initiative encourages student organizations at historically black colleges and universities to plan events focused on voter education and engagement. Currently, TSU is leading all HBCUs with registering the most students to vote.   

McCreary, the VoteHBCU team leader for TSU and several other participating institutions, spent time with members of the TSU Student Government Association via Instagram Live to discuss activities and other strategies. Newely-elected SGA President Dominique Davis, and Tiara Thomas, student trustee on the university’s Board of Trustees, were part of the social media event. 

“As our team leader, Ms. McCreary speaking to us was very important,” said Davis, a senior business administration major from Danville, Illinois. “We gave her a brief overview of what TSU has already done, the initiatives that we started, and some of the events that we have done to get students more involved.”  

Davis and Thomas spearheaded efforts to start Power to the Polls, as part of  the TSU campus-wide mobilization campaign for the VoteHBCU initiative. Along with the SGA, they partnered with the Men’s Initiative to organize a daylong voter education and registration rally that featured Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and Davidson County Election Commission Board member AJ Starling.   

On Sept. 27, Thomas facilitated a 45-minute Zoom workshop on absentee voting to educate members of the university’s 97-man football roster on how to ensure their ballots are counted.  All members of the team are registered to vote.  

“It was very exciting to have her speak to us,” Thomas said. “I know a lot of our students watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ So, it is a familiar face that we can connect with on a national scale to encourage us to vote.”  

 McCreary, who began her career acting in theatre, and eventually making it to Broadway, has performed in a number of productions. She made her screen debut doing voice work for several animated children’s educational programs, and later made guest appearances on the television series “I want my pants back,” “Castle,” and “Scandal,” to name a few. On “Grey’s Anatomy,” the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native played Dr. Maggie Pierce, the half-sister of Ellen Pompeo, the series lead actress as Meredith Grey.  

For more information of McCreary’s career and her body of work, visit https://instagram.com/seekellymccreary?igshid=128759uji8w9d

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

TSU football players, coaches learn more about absentee voting to make sure their voices are heard

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently held a 45-minute workshop on absentee voting to educate members of its 97-man football roster on how to ensure their ballots are counted in one of the most anticipated presidential elections in decades.

Coach Rod Reed

Coach Rod Reed hosted the “The TSU Tiger’s Guide to Absentee Voting Virtual Seminar,” which was facilitated by Tiara Thomas, student Trustee on the University’s Board of Trustees.  Thomas’ Zoom presentation included steps to requesting an absentee ballot, filling it out and returning the document on time. It also included a demonstration of the application process, as well as a chatroom for participants to ask questions.  Election Day is Nov. 3.

Dieuseul Stcyr, a defensive back from Macon, Georgia; and Cam Durley, an offensive tackle from Houston, Texas, said the seminar was an eye-opener for them as first-time voters. The two players for the Tigers have completed their registration and will be voting, thanks to the urging of their coach.  

Tiara Thomas

“First and foremost, the seminar was very important. We need to hear this kind of message more often,” said Stcyr, a senior communications major. “For many of us, like me, growing up at home we did not get this knowledge of what it means to vote, where to vote and what you need to vote.”  

Durley, a senior human performance and sport studies major, added that the workshop was very informative and “that all students need to attend.”  

“I really liked it,” said Durley. “In addition to information coach gave us, this seminar put me in the right direction and what I need to do to get my vote in.”  

Thomas provided players with information on how to access and navigate their respective secretaries of state’s websites, as well as the proper forms of identification needed to complete an absentee application.   

Tiara Thomas, Student Trustee and member of of the Aristocrat of Bands, works along with Coach Reed to present the virtual absentee vote seminar for football players. She plans to get all band members 100-percent registered to vote. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“I am glad to see the football team 100-percent registered to vote,” said Thomas, a junior political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi.  “Whether they know it or not, as leaders on this campus, people look to them and follow their example. So, I hope many more will join to make an even bigger impact this year. We have students here at TSU that are not from Tennessee, and this means they will be voting absentee or mail-in ballot.”   

Coach Reed said with the looming social and civil unrests, and ever-present effort to suppress votes, it was important for players to know how critical their participation is as citizens.  

“I think that it is very important for our kids to understand what their role is in what’s going on in our country,” said Reed, who announced a 100-percent voter registration for the entire football team.  

“Our kids are looking at what’s going on in this society – from George Floyd to Breonna Taylor and all those things that happened over the summer. Those things left a lot of them angry. Besides, we have to educate our kids on the process and how voter suppression occurs. So, we are trying to get them the mechanisms to be able to vote and be effective with their ballots.”

Reed issued a challenge to all HBCU sports programs, especially the Ohio Valley Conference, to get their students registered to vote.

Thomas, who volunteered to follow up with the players, has been a crusader on campus for voter education and registration. She is the creator and chair of the TSU Votes Student Coalition. Recently, she partnered with two other student organizations to host a daylong voter registration rally on campus that featured Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and Davidson County Election Commission Board member AJ Starling.  

Thomas said in 2018, only 34 percent of the campus actively voted.  

“As trustee this year, my goal is to double that turnout, if not 100 percent,” she said.   

Thomas is a member of TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, where she plays the French horn. She said she is working to accomplish what the football team has done, and get a 100-percent voter registration for band members.  

For information on deadlines to register, early voting, mail-in voting, and absentee ballots, visit the website of the Secretary of State in your state. 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.

TSU students seek internships, job opportunities as record number of companies attend first-ever virtual career fair

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure its students are not missing out on internships or employment opportunities, since many on-campus recruitment activities were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

On Sept. 22, the university held its first-ever virtual career fair with a record 169 companies represented. Nearly 600 students from various disciplines attended. Handshake, an online platform that helps college students get jobs, facilitated the virtual workshop in collaboration with the TSU Career Development Center. Students directly interacted with employers through group and one-on-one sessions.

Reginald Holland, III, a second-year graduate student in agricultural sciences, and KeAnna Dakwa, a civil engineering major, were among the early participants in the virtual fair.

Reginald Holland, III, says he is looking for internship in the agriculture field. (Submitted Photo)

“This (virtual fair) was very unique and interesting,” said Holland, of Clarksville, Tennessee, who was looking for internship opportunities in the agriculture field. “I spoke with several employers. They were very receptive and interested in what I had to say.”

Dakwa, a junior from Huntsville, Alabama, who was also looking for an internship, said she felt good talking with representatives of major companies and agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan Department of Transportation, Conoco, Duke Energy and DTE Energy.

“It was really awesome,” said Dakwa. “I really enjoyed the one-on-one sessions, and I really think I have a good chance of getting an internship, because of how I connected with them.”

KeAnna Dakwa, a civil engineering major, says she left the fair feeling good about landing an internship. (Submitted Photo)

Frank Stevenson, associated vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, described the record turn-out of employers as “a community-wide celebration of career opportunities for our student.”

“This year’s career fair was so amazing in that we had the largest turn-out of employers who were really interested in our students,” Stevenson said. “We recognize doing it this way, there is some value in the virtual experience. This was the result of a complete push of the entire university – Academic Affairs, the Honors College – to make sure our students were prepared.”

Unlike the in-person career and employment fairs the Career Development Center hosts each year, students who attended the virtual fair registered and submitted resumes ahead of time to be able to participate. The center also provided students with a virtual career-guide manual with topics that are normally covered during face-to-face interactions with employers.

William Corneh, left, a second-year business marketing major, talks to representatives of Provider Trust about internship opportunity, during the 2020 Spring Internship Fair. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“The goal was to make sure our students made a great impression and that employers had a good idea about what our students were looking for,” said Antoinette Hargrove Duke, associate director of the Career Development Center. “Additionally, many of these companies not only registered for this fair, but came prepared to offer jobs to many of our students.”

Company representatives said they were impressed with the TSU students’ presentations, outlook and approach, and that they had a very good grasp of what they were looking for.

Cornelia Butler, a TSU alum and continuous improvement manager of Detroit-based DTE Energy, said her company was looking for students interested in summer internships in computer and electrical engineering, with the potential for full-time employment.

‘It was so exciting to meet some of the TSU students, they are articulate, passionate about what they want to learn and where they want to go,” said Butler, who along with her husband and a son, earned engineering degrees at TSU.

“Just from their GPAs, from their experiences, and what they want to do, it was exciting to meet them. My goal definitely is to find opportunities for summer internships, and to get back with those students,” Butler said.

Cheryl Mabry-Shirey, manager of talent acquisition at The General, one of the fair’s sponsoring companies, also described the TSU students as focused, engaging, upbeat and positive.

“We talked a lot about our open positions and our internships,” said Mabry-Shirey, who also represented her company at the 2020 Spring Internship Fair, that resulted in internships for TSU students.

“Overall, it was very productive. We were more focused on internships and entry-level positions and full-time positions for people who are ready to go straight to work after school,” she said.

For more information on the TSU’s Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 seven 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 tnstate.edu.