Category Archives: EVENTS

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.

New partnership offers TSU students access to free virtual telehealth service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With the new surge in the coronavirus pandemic, TSU students who may not be comfortable leaving their room for a doctor’s visit, now have a new option – a free virtual telehealth service.

TSU President Glenda Glover

The university has partnered with myURGENCYMD, a national telemedicine firm, to provide 24-hour, seven-days-a-week virtual doctor’s visits at no cost to the university’s student population. The service connects students to doctors via phone, video and email.

“This is really a good idea for some of us who are scared to venture outside of our rooms,” said Terriana Holt, a senior human performance sports science major from Nashville. “It is also good if you have a personal medical problem. You can just talk on the phone with an anonymous person and get help.”

Fellow student Dominique Davis agreed.

“I think telehealth is really beneficial to the student body because it is very convenient,” said Davis, a senior business administration major from Danville, Illinois, who is president of the Student Government Association. “With COVID, a lot of times we don’t want to come out of our room, we just have that fear. I think this program is very, very smart.”

TSU President Glenda Glover said the partnership with myURGENCYMD is very timely “to ensure the health of our students.”

Dr. Dorsha James, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of myURGENCYMD, said students will have access to board-certified physicians. (Photo by TSU TSU Media Relations)

“This is a big deal, as the safety of our students and campus community continues to be our top priority,” Glover said. “We are thankful and grateful to this company for seeing the need and coming in to help us protect the health of our students during this time.”

Dr. Dosha CEO and chief medical officer of myURGENCYMD, said under the partnership, TSU students will be able to speak with board-certified physicians who can determine the best course of treatment, and may save the student from unnecessary emergency room visits and enormous costs.

“I created this company with students in mind,” said James, a 15-year veteran emergency medicine physician. “A large number of students come to the ER because they have limited options to see a doctor. This is especially true nights and weekends when student clinics are closed.”

Dr. Dorsha James, right, and some of her staff, set up a display in Kean Hall on the main campus with information on the services myURGENCYMD provides. Accompanying Dr. James were Courtney Johnson, Director of Campus Engagement, a TSU alum; and Brandon Mimms, member of the Student Engagement Team. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Officials said the telemedicine service allows students to request and consult with doctors for conditions such as cold and flu symptoms, sinus problems, respiratory infections, allergies, STDs, urinary tract infections, and many other non-emergency illnesses. Use of myURGENCYMD also provides electronic records that allow the Student Health Center to view all of the students’ telehealth visits.

“With the ability to keep track of telemedicine visits, we are able to ensure that all of our students, off and on-campus, receive appropriate follow-up and care,” said Dr. Ivan Davis, director of Student Health Services.

Frank Stevenson, TSU’s associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said this is a “unique opportunity for us to provide some extended health services for our students.”

“Students now have 24/7 access to health experts that will help them navigate any issues they may have,” Stevenson said. “It is available to all of our students. We are excited about that.”

Dr. Carolyn Davis, assistant vice president of student affairs, added that the university needed an “adjunct” to care for students when campus health providers were not available.

“MyURGENCYMD’s telemedicine service filled that need and also allowed us to offer telemedicine services to our students who may be taking online courses and don’t live near campus,” she said.

For more information on student health services at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/healthcenter/

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 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.

Future university president wants to even the education playing field for African American children

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tiara Thomas’ career goal is to be an authority on educational policy in the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that African American children are getting their fair share of learning opportunities. And, Tennessee State University is giving her the foundation to achieve her goal.

Tiara Thomas

“Our education system is very unfairly stacked up against African American children and that needs to change,” says Thomas, a top political science student at TSU. “Real change comes from the laws and policies that our government leaders are writing. So, If I really want to change something, I need to be at the table.”

Coming to TSU, says Thomas, is the first step toward her career goal, and fulfills a lifelong dream of becoming a Tiger. TSU was the only school she applied to after high school. Her father, Frederick Parson, came to TSU, and just like Tiara, he played in the band as a member of the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands. He played saxophone and she plays the French horn.

“I have been around TSU my whole life. My dad graduated from TSU and he was also an Aristocrat,” says Thomas. “So, growing up with me being close to the band, I just knew that’s what I wanted to be a part of. TSU was the only school I applied to. I just knew that this is where I was supposed to be.”

A native of Olive Branch, Mississippi, Thomas says she craved the HBCU experience after attending and graduating from predominantly white schools all her early life. An academic standout and member of her school band at Desoto Central High, she says coming to TSU has made a big difference in her life.

“I feel like being here I am with family. I don’t feel like I am away from home,” says Thomas. “I am in the band, and I am doing something I love to do. I travel, I meet people and have experiences I have never had before. That’s something I feel only TSU could give me.”

In addition to feeling at home, Thomas maintains a strong academic competence, exhibits outstanding leadership, and has an engaging personality among her fellow students, faculty and staff. With a near 4.0 grade point average, she is an honors student, the chair and creator of the TSU Votes Student Coalition, and the 2019-2020 Director’s and Students’ Choice MVP award recipient, an honor given by the band director in recognition of outstanding leadership.

In June, Thomas’ outstanding college career reached a major milestone when she was selected the student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees. She became only the third student to get the coveted post since the board was reconstituted nearly four years ago.

Fellow students, staff and faculty members talk about Thomas’ outstanding academic and leadership abilities.

Dr. Kyle Murray, assistant professor of political science, says since entering TSU as a freshman, Thomas has exemplified excellence in study skills, professionalism, and the quality of her academic work.

“Tiara is passionate about the field of education in general with an eye toward making educational institutions and practices better,” says Murray. “I have no doubt she will make a lasting impact wherever she chooses to apply her tenacity and resolve. She is a student of impeccable character, and wise beyond her years, who will undoubtedly go on to do great things in this world.”

About her goal to help change the education landscape for African American children, Thomas says as a “straight A student” all her school years, she has been able to see “a little bit more than the regular student”

“I know that our educational system needs to be changed. I know there needs to be an equal playing field for all students, whether black or white,” says Thomas.

When all is accomplished, Thomas’ last wish is to be a university president.

“I want to be a president at an HBCU, preferably TSU,” she says.

If all current successes and accolades are any indication, Thomas may well be on her way.

For more information on the TSU Political Science program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/history/polisci.aspx

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 host voter registration campaign featuring Secretary of State, election commissioner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett recently spoke to Tennessee State University students about the importance of voting and how to make sure their ballots are counted in one of the most anticipated presidential elections in decades.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett tells TSU students to be active participants in the formation of their government by making their voices heard through voting. (TSU Media Relations)

Hargett, along with AJ Starling, of the Davidson County Election Commission, participated in a student-led voter education and registration rally on Sept. 18. The presidential election is Nov. 3.

“(The) Election is just 46 days away from Today,” Hargett reminded the group of students gathered at Hale Stadium.

“I am really excited that members of the TSU Student Government Association are trying to rally their fellow students to get them engaged in the process by making sure they register to vote,” said Hargett, whose office is responsible for conducting and certifying election results. “We want people to be active participants in the formation of their government, because I don’t care what you look like, where you come from or who your mom and daddy are, we are all better off when we engage as citizens in this process.”

Student leaders and representatives of the Men’s Initiative display signs encouraging their fellow students to register to vote. (TSU Media Relations)


Dominique Davis, president of the SGA, welcomed Secretary Hargett and commissioner Starling, and urged her fellow students to heed the admonitions of the officials to exercise their rights as citizens.

“I hope you all are listening and sharing this impactful information with the students here at TSU,” Davis said. “Like the secretary said, it is one thing to register but another thing to go and exercise your right to vote. Let’s be sure that we are being the change that we want to see in our country because this election is so vital for our generation.”

First-time voters Khai Cole and Jananitabeal Oates, right, register to vote at the rally. (TSU Media Relations)

In addition to the SGA, other organizations like GOVT, or Getting out the Vote, the Men’s Initiative, and Power to the Polls – a national HBCU initiative, helped to organize the daylong campaign.

Organizers said more than 200 students registered to vote for the first time at the rally. Among them were Khai Cole and Jananitabeal Oates, two freshmen.

“It feels really good (to register) because I feel like I can really make a change and a difference in the world,” said Cole, an arts and graphic design major from Memphis, Tennessee. “It feels good to see fellow students doing this because they understand us.”

AJ Starling, member of the Davidson County Election Commission, right, admonished the students to turn out in big numbers to vote. (TSU Media Relations)

Oates, an animal science major from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, agreed.

“It feels empowering to register to vote. It makes you feel included in the process and in the family at TSU,” she said.

Starling, a longtime community and political activist, encouraged the students to “act fast and vote in large numbers.”

“I want to see you all vote 2,000 per day,” Starling said. “We are anticipating that this presidential election will have the largest voter turnout in the history of our state. So, if you are voting absentee or mail-in ballot, act real soon.”

Before the rally, officials said TSU President Glenda Glover urged administrators, faculty and staff to ensure that students are actively engaged in the process.

“Dr. Glover challenged us to make sure that our students were aware and participating in this year’s elections,” said Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “As such, Student Affairs launched the Power to the Poll initiative in collaboration with other HBCUs to motivate our students and our campus community to take advantage of the opportunity to have a say in this year’s elections.”

Nationally, voting hurdles like proof of residence, absentee ballot use, or voter identification often keep college students away from the ballot box. But the students said Friday’s event was aimed to prevent that. They custom designed and displayed stickers and signs that read, “I registered to vote today,” “Steps to requesting a ballot,” “Completing your ballot,” “Deadline for requesting and mailing in your ballot,” and “mailing in your ballot.”

“Many of our students here at TSU are not from Tennessee, and a large portion of our campus will be voting absentee or mail-in ballot,” said Tiara Thomas, student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustee, and brainchild of GOVT, who has also been working with the Power to the Polls initiative.

“We want to make sure that a lot of our first-time voters and those who are voting absentee for the first time know exactly how to navigate that process,” Thomas said. “I am really excited that they are very receptive to our efforts.”

Dr. Andre Bean, director of the Men’s Initiative and coordinator of Power to the Polls, said he was excited about the turnout, as well as the students’ enthusiasm about the campaign and their “understanding of the process to be counted.”

“So, what we want to do is make sure our students are registered to vote, they know what their registration status is, and that they are more educated about the opportunity to vote absentee and mail-in ballot,” Bean said.

A few more rallies are planned up to Election Day.

 For information on deadlines to register, early voting, mail-in voting, and absentee ballot, visit https://www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission.aspx

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 computer science major lands top-paying job with Fortune 500 company after graduation, urges others to follow in his footsteps

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Landing a job at a Fortune 500 company usually means earning a sizable salary and enjoying perks like a big signing bonus and paid moving expenses. Tennessee State University 2020 graduate Malik City recently had that experience. 

Malik City

The Nashville native and computer science major was hired by Bank of America as a software engineer. City will earn $94,000 his first year, which includes a $10,000 signing bonus. He credits his time at TSU and being a part of the Enterprise Systems Computing initiative for his new employment opportunity. 

“I feel very fortunate and very thankful to TSU for the preparation I received, which made all of this possible,” said City, who midway through his college career, switched from electrical engineering to computer science with the infusion of enterprise computing.

“TSU is a big part of who I became as a man and a professional. I had great professors in the computer science department who gave me a great foundation and knowledge in many aspects of computer science and the enterprise system.”

The enterprise computing initiative was launched at TSU in 2014 to help prepare students to compete for high-paying enterprise internships and jobs. Since then, up to 22 students have been placed with enterprise companies earning annual average starting salaries of more than $84,000. TSU is the only Tennessee institution that offers courses in enterprise computing.

Malik City attends the 2017 SHARE conference sponsored by IBM in Providence, Rhode Island. (Submitted Photo)

John Thompson, a former IBM senior manager, is TSU’s enterprise systems consultant.  He works with major Fortune 500 companies to identify their areas of need and pass that information over to the deans and chairs to identify the best way to infuse the requirements in the curriculum.

“The world’s largest banks, travel agencies, credit card transactions, global retailers, and communications service providers run on enterprise system,” said Thompson.  “This requires graduates in all majors such as criminal justice, mass communication, computer science, business, engineering, health science, agriculture, education, etc., to have some degree of base knowledge in enterprise computing concepts.”

There are 17 enterprise companies in Tennessee, including eight in Nashville, Thompson said. They include HCA, Mellon Bank, Comdata, BMI, State of Tennessee, Bridgestone, Amazon, and Vanderbilt.

While at TSU, Malik also served as a mentor in the VIL Kids Computer Science Program. (Submitted Photo)

“TSU, being the only school in Tennessee offering courses in this area, can be a major source to fill the huge demand for enterprise computing skills that is being created by the retiring baby boomer generation,” he said.

Dr. Ali Sekmen, chair of TSU’s Department of Computer Science, said enterprise computing and related courses are offered to ensure that students possess the fundamental knowledge that “major companies are looking for in this area.”

“Students like Malik, who have a fundamental understanding of enterprise systems, are more competitive as they enter the pipeline of a qualified workforce to replace the current retiring workforce,” Sekmen said.

Antoinette Duke, associate director of the TSU Career Development Center, added that TSU’s overall goal is to ensure that students leaving the university have the skill sets and experience needed to successfully compete for top jobs in business and industry.

“We are committed to providing services to our students that prepare them for meaningful career goals,” Duke said.

According to Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell, professor and Enterprise Systems manager, the program is opened to students in all disciplines.

“Malik’s success is one of the major achievements of the enterprise program at TSU, but we don’t want students to think this is just for computer science majors,” Mitchell said. “We want to attract other students to this program. It was designed under the Office of Academic Affairs for students in any discipline.” 

City, who will be relocating to his new company’s headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, encouraged other students to take advantage of the program, which he called a “high industry need area.”

“I was very fortunate to come into the industry right after college,” said City. “My mainframe experience did it for me. That extra edge separated me from the competition, because my manager said by having that experience proved that I had the willingness and appetite for knowledge.”

In addition to software engineer, graduates of the Enterprise Systems Computing would be qualified for jobs such as network support specialist, network analyst, network engineer, PC support specialist, and PC help desk.

For more information on TSU’s Enterprise Systems Program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/computer_science/.

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.