Category Archives: SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES

COVID-19 podcast features TSU infectious disease control expert in hour-long national Q&A session

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With new COVID-19 variants spreading across the country, a Tennessee State University infectious disease control expert is urging all Americans to take advantage of available vaccines and get immunized, as the surest way to protect against the coronavirus.  

Dr. Wendolyn Inman

Data so far suggests current vaccines should protect against the emergence of three main variants from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, and the pathogen circulating in the United States. 

Dr. Wendolyn Inman, professor and director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences, was the featured speaker on a podcast organized Monday by the TSU Department of Graduate and Professional Development to address COVID-19 concerns. More than 100 people from across the country tuned in to the podcast themed, “Pacing for the Pandemic, A Question and Answer Session on Preparing for the Next Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Listeners raised questions from “Who should take the vaccine?” “Is the vaccine safe?” to “When will there be normalcy?” 

Inman, who was previously chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee, said she thinks everyone should be required to take the vaccines because they are “effective and potent.” 

“If it shows that it is not killing folks, and if it shows that it is helping people, I think everyone should be required to take it, unless they have a religious or a health exemption,” said Inman. She debunked the idea that the vaccine is a killer. 

Jeia More

“I can guarantee you that some of the most elite people on the planet have had that shot, and they won’t take it if it were a killer,” she said, adding that if Americans continue to observe COVID-19 safety protocols, and get immunized, “life could have some normalcy by August.” 

Currently in circulation are the Pfizer and Moderna two-step vaccines. On Friday, Johnson & Johnson announced that its single-dose coronavirus vaccine is 72 percent effective against the pathogen in the U.S. and will ask federal regulators for approval this month. 

“I suspect that with these new things – like the Johnson & Johnson announcement – we have the potential of having more normalcy by August than we’ve had in the past year,” Inman said. 

Jalaya Harris

Among those watching the podcast were Jeia Moore and Jalaya Harris, two returning TSU students who attend classes online from their dorm rooms because of COVID-19. They wanted to know the efficacy of the vaccines, and when things would return to normal. 

“This podcast helped me understand the vaccine and what it actually helps me with, as well as the pros and cons of wearing a mask,” said Moore, a junior information systems major from Memphis, Tennessee. “To see 100 people on this podcast was heartwarming; the TSU family wants the best for each other.”

Harris agreed. 

“I got a lot of questions answered about how to be safe during this pandemic,” said Harris, a junior computer science major also from Memphis. “This podcast provided an informative and open space to gain and spread awareness and knowledge about this COVID.” 

Dr. Robbie Melton, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, said the podcast, presented monthly by the Department of Graduate and Professional Development, is intended to highlight experts at TSU who are usually heard only on the outside. 

“We are taking advantage of our own faculty members and staff who are usually called by people around the country, but we don’t take advantage of them,” Melton said. “Dr. Inman is an expert in addressing COVID-19 issues. But we have yet to have her present to our own faculty. So, this was a podcast to really address some of the fears, concerns and questions in an open forum.” 

Dr. Timothy Jones, TSU associate professor of Human Performance and Sport Sciences, who also listened in on the podcast, said Dr. Inman’s presentation was informative and highly educational. 

“She (Dr. Inman) was precise in presenting and debunking rumors about COVID-19 and the vaccine,” Jones said.

Dr. Inman is scheduled to do a Part 2 presentation on COVID-19 at the end of February.

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 eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU, UT, Motlow State sign agreement to make advanced degree program more accessible

Degree program meets community college students where they are.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) -Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville are partnering to create a program that provides pathways for Motlow State Community College students to take classes leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering.  

Students in the program never have to leave home, and all classes are offered at Motlow State in face-to-face, online and hybrid formats.  

A Memorandum of Understanding recently signed between the three Tennessee institutions states that students participating in the 2+2+2 program will complete the applied associate degree at Motlow, the Bachelor of Science degree in applied and industrial technology at TSU, and a research-based curriculum leading to the Master of Science in industrial engineering from UT. 

Matthew Terry and Daniel Luis Campos, now in their last semester at TSU, are among the first in the program who will receive their bachelor’s degree when the university holds its May commencement. Terry and Campos, of McMinnville, Tennessee, who will receive their TSU degrees in applied and industrial technology, with concentration in mechatronics, have full-time jobs. They say the quality of the program is outstanding and convenient for working students, and those who may have a problem driving the long distance to TSU each day. 

Matthew Terry

“Initially, I was going to go to a different college that would require me to travel every day or possibly move away,” says Terry. “With this educational experience here, I have been able to stay home, keep my job, work around my class schedule and not miss any coursework.  It’s been a blessing.”


Campos says in addition to the convenience the program offers, professors are also very helpful and thorough.

“The quality of the program is really good, and all my professors have helped me every step of the way,” says Campos. “Overall, it’s been a blessing and a great experience to expand my education like I have.” 

Daniel Luis Campos

Terrance Izzard, TSU associate vice president for admissions and recruitment, says TSU is excited about the partnership between the three institutions. 

“This partnership gives Tennessee State an opportunity to impact industry with talented students, who are interested in the field of mechatronics,” says Izzard. “We have some of the best and brightest students that have come from that program already and we are looking forward to expanding our efforts to continue to build the program and impact our community.” 

Larry Flatt, executive director of Motlow’s Automation & Robotics Training Center, says creating partnerships with educational institutions and industry furthers the Motlow mission of student success. 

“Our partnership with TSU and UTSI provides a new and exciting pathway for Motlow students,” says Flatt. “The opportunity to earn an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees without leaving Tullahoma (Tennessee) is cost-effective and convenient for potential students from that area. Additionally, partnerships increase our ability to ensure access and inclusion for all students.” 

In addition to the new pathways program, TSU also partners with Motlow to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural sciences in Fayetteville, Tennessee, and another in elementary education and criminal justice at Motlow’s main campus in Tullahoma. Also, the university is partnering with several other community colleges across the state to expand its educational initiatives around Tennessee. For instance, TSU’s College of Engineering recently received $1 million from the National Science Foundation to recruit minority transfer students from regional community colleges in Middle Tennessee who are interested in pursuing degrees in engineering, mathematical sciences, or computer science. 

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering at TSU, says with the growing need for industrial engineers to work in manufacturing and the automotive industry, the new agreement with Motlow State “allows practice-based technologists” to proceed with a four-year degree, and further validate their experience and credentials with an advanced degree. 

“We are extremely excited about providing an opportunity for students to obtain multiple degrees from three institutions in Tennessee,” says Hargrove.  “The academic pathway demonstrates a partnership of one of our outstanding community colleges, Nashville’s only public university, and the state’s flagship institution, to prepare and produce engineers for the production industry, logistics, manufacturing, and operations for Tennessee’s workforce.” 

Dr. Carlos D. Beane, assistant professor of applied and industrial technology, is one of the TSU instructors in the pathways program. He says that in addition to flexibility, the program is very cost effective. And, with scholarship opportunities, and TSU having the lowest tuition of any university in the state, a full-time student in the program can possibly attend school tuition free. 

“The benefit is that the student never has to leave the McMinnville area. So, the program comes to them,” says Beane. “The only time they will ever have to come to TSU will basically be to graduate.” 

For more information on the TSU College of Engineering, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/moreaboutus.aspx 

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 eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU professor wins prestigious NSF CAREER award, receives nearly $500k grant for cybersecurity study

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University computer science professor has received the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award, the federal agency’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members.

Dr. Swastik Brahma’s CAREER award comes with a nearly $500,000 grant, which he plans to use to enhance his research in networked systems, signal processing and cybersecurity.

“I feel very excited and thankful to the NSF for getting the award,” says Brahma, an assistant professor of computer science. “The grant will help us in addressing many fundamental issues and questions that remain unanswered for building crowdsensing systems,” he says.

The awards, presented once a year, are in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research and education, and the integration of these endeavors in the context of their organizations’ missions.

Dr. Swastik Brahma

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, says the college is pleased Dr. Brahma is being recognized.

“As we continue to recruit and hire outstanding faculty in the College of Engineering, this recognition promotes the quality of education in our computer science program, and the innovative research that engages students, dedicated faculty, and our external partners,” says Hargrove.

Dr. Ali Sekmen, chair of the Department of Computer Science, adds that the award is proof of the quality of research that Dr. Brahma has developed at TSU as an early career faculty.

“This prestigious award, along with his other recent grants from NSF and ARO, will help him strengthen TSU’s leading research efforts in cybersecurity and networking,” says Sekmen. “We are very proud of him.”

Brahma, who is entering his fourth year as a faculty member at TSU, was also the principal investigator for a nearly $400,000 NSF grant to study the “Infusion of Cyber Physical System Education and Research Training in the Undergraduate Curriculum in the College of Engineering at TSU.”

He says the new funding will enable him to address “fundamental questions that remain unresolved” for building crowdsensing systems.

“This research will adopt a novel approach for the design of crowdsensing systems, one that not only focuses on signal processing and communication engineering aspects, which are vital for designing such systems, but also on the characteristics of the human agents who power crowdsensing frameworks,” says Brahma. “The research will enable us to acquire information at a societal-scale and utilize it to sustain smarter, safer, and more resilient communities.”

Satyaki Nan, a Ph.D. student in engineering and computational sciences, says he is glad to see Dr. Brahma recognized for his work.

“I am very excited about my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Brahma, winning the prestigious NSF CAREER award,” says Nam, who is from Kolkata, India. “It will help us pursue cutting-edge research and advance the frontiers of our understanding of human decision-making behavior and capabilities to design human-in-the-loop crowdsensing systems. I feel privileged to work with Dr. Brahma.”

For more information on the TSU Department of Computer Science, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/computer_science/degrees.aspx

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 eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU President Glenda Glover named one of ‘Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University begins the new academic year with a major accolade for the University’s president.

Dr. Glenda Glover has been named one of the “Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021,” by HBCU Campaign Fund, a national non-profit organization that advocates for student and higher education.

“I am honored to be included with this distinguished group of university presidents selected by HBCU Campaign Fund, a well-respected organization that advocates for our students and institutions,” President Glover said.

“It is particularly gratifying because of the common mission we share of ensuring the highest academic achievement of our students.”

According to HBCU Campaign Fund, presidents and chancellors selected for the Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders award have “proven their responsibilities for shaping policies, changing perspectives, and making decisions that affect millions of individuals in the higher education space, and the daily needs of what an HBCU or Minority-Serving Institutions contributes.”

“These individuals play a prominent and influential role in leadership and display the characteristics of the following responsibilities in the progression of effectively moving an institution forward,” said Demetrius Johnson Jr., president, CEO and founder of HCF.

See the complete listing of award recipients and fourth-class inductees via https://hbcucampaignfund.org/the-ten-most-dominant-hbcu-leaders-of-2021/.

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 researchers named among ‘1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University researchers have been named among the “1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America” by Cell Mentor.

Dr. Frances Williams

Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs and professor of electrical engineering; and Dr. Quincy Quick, associate professor of biology, were cited by Community of Scholars in its latest posting in Cell Mentors, a web resource that provides support and resources for emerging scientists.

Williams and Quick, acknowledged as top scientists in the nation, have extensive research, teaching and scientific backgrounds.

“It is an honor to be recognized as one of the ‘1000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America’ on Cell Mentor,” Williams said upon receiving news of her selection. 

“I am humbled to be included with some of my STEM heroes and sheroes.  I hope that students see the list and are able to envision themselves as the next generation of scientists and innovators that make a positive impact on our world.”

Williams is widely published, and holds a patent in the areas of advanced materials and devices, biosensors, and nano- and micro-electromechanical systems processing and devices. She has received grants totaling over $15 million as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator.

Dr. Quincy Quick

Quick, who investigates brain tumors and serves as scientific grant reviewer for several cancer journals in the nation, said it is a “humbling and grateful experience to be acknowledged for your work, along with your peers like Dr. Williams, as well as the other African American scientists” around the United States.

“The visibility from a minority standpoint is critical,” Quick said. “Often times our work at HBCUs is overlooked in comparison to other majority institutions. Acknowledging the breadth of all of the African Americans across all types of institutions is a critical exposure for everybody.”

In addition to research projects supported by federal state funding, Quick has mentored more than 80 students at the Ph.D., master’s and undergraduate levels, as well as a research mentor for several NSF and NIH training and developmental programs.

At TSU, students are also celebrating the selection of Williams and Quick as inspiring black scientists by Cell Mentor.

“It is no surprise that Dr. (Quincy) Quick would be recognized for an accomplishment such as this,” Mariel Liggin, a senior biology major from Louisville, Kentucky, said about her professor. “His dedication to science can be been in the classroom as well as in the lab. He is one of the reasons why I continue to pursue my major in biology.”

Of Dr. Williams, civil engineering graduate student Morgan Chatmon, congratulated her professor for the recognition.

“Dr.  Williams is a dynamic leader, powerful motivator, and beneficial contributor to the STEM staff and student at TSU,” said Chatmon, of Omaha, Nebraska.

According to the Cell mentor, The Community of Scholars is “a group of Persons Excluded because of their Ethnicity or Race (PEER) composed of postdoctoral fellows, early-stage investigators, instructors, and consultants with a common passion to advance scientific discovery while innovating diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.”

To see the complete list, visit: https://crosstalk.cell.com/blog/1000-inspiring-black-scientists-in-america(link is external).

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 employee’s community outreach helping families cope during pandemic, holidays

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As thousands of families struggle to put food on the table during the holidays amid the pandemic, a Tennessee State University employee and her private ministry are helping to make sure no one in the community goes hungry.

Antoinette Hargrove Duke is founder of “But God Nette Working For You,” a ministry of volunteers and community partners started in 2014 to provide food for those in need across Davidson and Rutherford counties in Tennessee. So far this year, the ministry has distributed more than 140,000 pounds of food, or about 55,000 meals to needy families.

Antoinette Hargrove Duke and her “But God” ministry volunteers and partners distribute food the fourth Friday of every month at locations across Davidson and Rutherford counties. (Photo by TSU Media relations)

“We are able to serve so many families by networking with other agencies,” says Duke, who is interim director of TSU’s Career Development Center.  “We partner with organizations within our community to serve families in need of food, clothing and other resources.” 

Duke and But God – for short – volunteers do not get paid for their work. They get support from local churches and individuals who donate equipment and make financial contributions to the organization. Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is the group’s biggest partner and provider. Along with Second Harvest, the group distributes food the fourth Friday of every month at locations across Davidson and Rutherford counties.

Volunteers prepare packages to give out at the drive-thru, contact-free food distribution at Meharry Boulevard Church of God. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

A recent report in The Washington Post shows that more Americans are going hungry now than at any point during the deadly coronavirus pandemic — a problem created by an economic downturn that has tightened its grip on millions of Americans. In Middle Tennessee, the problem is even steeper, especially among children. Reports show that the number of children at risk of hunger has jumped from one in seven to more than one in five as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Second Harvest. 

“And this is why we keep doing what we are doing, to give people hope,” says Duke.  

On Friday, with food delivered by Second Harvest, Duke and her group, including nearly 100 volunteers from local organizations, served more than 300 families in a drive-thru, contact-free food distribution at Meharry Boulevard Church of God. According to Duke, the church and its pastor, the Rev. Vernon Ray McGuire, Jr., have adopted But God as a community partner that provides volunteers and financial donation to the group. 

Pastor Vernon Ray McGuire, Jr., of Meharry Boulevard Church of God; and Antoinette Duke welcome volunteers at the Dec. 18 food distribution. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Donna Hobbs, of Nashville, was one of those in line Friday to receive help at the food distribution. After working in the hospitality industry for many years, Hobbs was furloughed from her job in March. Although she landed a new job recently, Hobbs says she is glad she heard about Duke and But God ministry and their food distribution, “because it is still difficult to make ends meet.” 

“I have never done anything like this before. I have never had to reach out,” says Hobbs. “I am the one that’s always volunteering and giving. I am really humbled to be able to see this going on and to be able to get help.” 

Pastor McGuire, who was formerly part of a food giveaway program in Franklin, Tennessee, where he pastored another church before relocating to Meharry Boulevard Church of God, says he was drawn to Duke and But God ministry because of the group’s mission to meet the needs of others. 

“Sister Antoinette (Duke) has been a blessing to the community,” says McGuire. “There is a lot of people in need during this pandemic. We became a partner because we love and agree with what they do and their concern for others.” 

 Duke says she’s thankful to the many “wonderful” people and organizations that are willing to work day or night to help “touch the many lives we try to reach.” 

For more information about But God ministry, visit http://www.findglocal.com/US/Nashville/428539363922684/But-God-Ministry-Nette-Working-For-You 

TSU political science team tops in state competition, wins moot court challenge championship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has the best Moot Court Team in the state.  

The TSU team earned the title of state champions recently after coming out on top in the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislative Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge, or AMC3. They beat out seven other teams in the March 19-20 competition, which was held remotely due to the pandemic. 

Alexis Bryant

At the start of the competition, participating teams were given 16 case authorities totaling over 250 pages to read and prepare briefs for their arguments. Unlike previous years when all teams had the opportunity to compete in oral arguments, only the teams whose briefs were judged and scored in the top eight by actual practicing lawyers were selected to compete. The TSU team’s brief was in the top eight. 

Alexis Bryant, a senior criminal justice major; and Collin Michael Ruth, senior political science major, were among the five-member TSU team that brought home the championship. They credit hard work, team preparation and knowledge of their professor and team coach (Dr. Corey M. Barwick) for their success.  

“It was hard. The judges were hard,” said Bryant, of Portland, Oregon, who wants to become a constitutional or criminal lawyer. “My first judge asked me four questions right off the bat. But thank God, we were prepared. It was challenging but fun. The teamwork was great. I would not have been able to do it without my team, our coach and professor.” 

Collin Michael Ruth

For Ruth, 30, a non-traditional student and a Marine Corps staff sergeant, who wants to become a military lawyer, the virtual presentation made the interaction more challenging. 

“The fact that it was on Zoom, was very challenging and nerve-racking, because it is kind of hard to read people if it’s on video and not in person,” said Ruth, the father of two, who is entering his 11th year in the military. 

“Overall, we stood out because we had extremely unique arguments, having seen some of the other teams and strategies they came up with,” he said. “A lot of their arguments were similar, whereas ours were not, and that is definitely what set us apart from the generic arguments they had. But the credit goes to our coach. When it comes to studying law and case precedence, and to be able to prepare us to the level that he did, says a lot about his understanding of the law and how to read cases.” 

Senia M. Hernandez-Mapson

The TSU team also included Senia M. Hernandez-Mapson, senior urban studies and political science major; Aubrey E. Sales, junior political science major; and Maryam F. Yousuf, senior health sciences major and political science minor.  

In the competition, teams participated in four preliminary rounds of arguments, with four teams advancing to the seminal finals, including TSU, which scored enough points to advance to the final round.  

Aubrey E. Sales

For the championship, TSU faced off against last year’s champion, University of Tennessee Knoxville. Not only did the TSU team win the state championship, they won the awards for best oral argument, and the best brief with perfect scores. 

Dr. Corey M. Barwick, team coach and assistant professor of political science, said in a semester full of obstacles, where it would have been easy to “give up, check out, or slack off,” the TSU students rose to the challenge and not only performed well, but brought home a championship. 

Dr. Corey M. Barwick

“I cannot emphasize enough how much work went into securing this victory,” said Barwick, who is credited with building the current AMC3 team since his arrival at TSU in 2016. The team competed for the first time in fall 2017 and has been steadily improving since then. 

“You cannot stand toe-to-toe against teams from Carson-Newman or UT Knoxville without countless hours of preparation,” he said. “Our students put in the work, and it was all worth it. I am so proud of our team, our students, and our university.”

To learn more about the TSU Department of Political Science, 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.

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands continues University’s legacy of activism with new social justice video

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “I can’t breathe” is the highlight of a new video just released by Tennessee State University’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands and students in their continued push for social justice and equality. The thought-provoking video focuses on the last words of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man killed during an arrest by Minneapolis police in May.

Band members participate in the filming of the video at Hale Stadium. (Submitted photo)

“This video gives me and my peers the opportunity to let our voices be heard on behalf of those like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” said Tiara Thomas, a mellophone player in band, who came up with the idea for the video. The student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees, Thomas is a junior political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, who is considered a crusader for campus voter education and registration. She is the creator and chair of the TSU Votes Student Coalition.

“While creating this video, I was filled with so much excitement and pride, especially for my community and my organization,” Thomas said, adding, “This certainly is one of the most important performances I believe that AOB will ever do.”

Tiara Thomas, Student Trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees, came up with the idea for the video. (Submitted Photo)

The video features the band’s performance of “The Bigger Picture,” by award-winning rap artist Lil Baby. A major highlight of the video occurs when the music fades into a chant of “I can’t breathe,” the three words that have become the mantra of oppression and the spark for real change. The goal of the video is to continue awareness about racial injustice, as well as support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, said the intent of the video is to let AOB fans and followers know “where we side in this fight” to bring attention to the issue of injustice.

“The majority of our performances are typically intended to entertain and bring joy to our listeners and viewers,” McDonald said. “This performance (video), however, is intended to open more eyes to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ fight for equality. Our goal is to educate our students and followers on the importance of getting involved, and how to protest without violence.”

TSU’s Associate Professor of African American and Public History, Dr. Learotha Williams, Jr., described the video and student activism as a continuation of a long legacy at TSU.

“As I look at our history, there is a struggle to find a period where TSU students were not involved in something,” said Williams. “We produce people that have been in the vanguard of protests. So, if you are looking at Black Lives Matter, or you are looking at current situations or protests that students are engaged in, it is consistent with the type of students that we have brought to TSU historically.”

Assistant Band Director Larry Jenkins, who arranged the music on the video, described “The Bigger Picture” theme song selection as the “’What’s Going On’ (by Marvin Gaye) of this generation.”

“It’s coming from the voice of the youth and speaking directly to the world around them through a lens they see through clearly,” Jenkins said. “After hearing the message and the musical aspects as well, it was a no-brainer that this would be the song to make this statement.”

Ashanti Mason-Chambers, who directed, produced and narrated the video and is also professor of mass communication, said she hopes the performance in the clip would do more than just entertain.

“While we love providing that (entertainment) for people, it’s deeper than that this time,” Mason-Chambers said. “We want to spark conversation, positive action and reiterate the need for change in a society that continues to dehumanize and execute black people.”

Kevin Allen, a member of the AOB Media Team, was a producer of the video.

To see the video, go to https://www.dropbox.com/s/xo0ukewizsxqvgu/TSUICantBreatheDONE.mp4?dl=0

Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Jovon Wilson @jovonwilson

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 recognizes fall 2020 graduates with second virtual commencement, more than 700 honored

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recognized hundreds of fall graduates through its second virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday. More than 700 undergraduates and graduates were honored during the program, held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

President Glenda Glover

Yamiche Alcindor, a renowned journalist and White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, delivered the keynote address. Before her speech, TSU President Glenda Glover greeted the graduates and welcomed alumni, staff and guests watching the program livestreamed on all the major social media platforms. 

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to extend heartfelt congratulations to you,” Glover said. “I applaud you for having reached this extraordinary milestone in your academic career. It does not matter how long it took you, you are being honored today because you are graduating. You have endured. We honor your sacrifice. You have overcome obstacles, you have multiplied your talent, you increased your resources.” 

Yamiche Alcindor

Alcindor, noted for telling stories about the “intersection of race and politics,” and directly questioning President Donald Trump on race issues and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on black people, encouraged the graduates to pursue their life’s passion and purpose, stay the course no matter the setback, and learn to do the right thing even when no one is watching. 

“Be assured that as you receive your degrees today, you are already fulfilling your ancestors’ wildest dream. Continue to strive and walk in that reality,” Alcindor said. “Make a career of doing that thing that drives you. Maybe you are graduating without a job or without the job you thought you would get. Maybe you are graduating with a lot of student loans and you are anxious about what comes next. Give yourself space to develop and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.” 


A contributor for NBC and MSNBC, who often appears on shows like “Morning Joe,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and “Meet the Press,” Alcindor told the graduates to brace themselves for setbacks as they pursue their various careers, citing her own experience early on as a young journalist. 

“When I started my career in journalism, the setbacks came very quickly, and they will come for you too,” she said. “Each of you will experience moments when people will challenge the very premise of your very existence and your pursuits. Maybe some will criticize your career choices, condemn whom you choose to love, demean your cultural background. I say, press forward.” 

Jay Bobinger, who received his undergraduate degree in agricultural sciences, talked about his TSU preparation that he said will propel him into a very bright future. 

“In my experience at TSU, I found a campus faculty that set me up for success in the workforce with patient and intentional mentorship and connecting me to resources to achieve my goals,” said Bobinger, who is from Kingston, Tennessee. “I once read that life makes way for those who know where they are going, and I would say the same is true at TSU.” 

Julien Dooley, who graduates with a degree in commercial music, entertains fellow graduates with a rendition of “Escalondo” by noted classical guitarist and composer Jaime Zenamon.

Cydney Smith, of Nashville, who received a bachelor of science degree in public health, was equally optimistic about the future. 

“I owe Tennessee State University for the endless memories and learning experiences that have happened to me in these past years,” Smith said. “The staff and professors, that I grew close to, pushed me constantly to excel in school work even when I thought I would not see the finish line.” 

At Today’s graduation, Jason Archer was presented with the Academic Excellence Award for achieving the highest grade point average in his class. 

Like in the past, deans of the various colleges presented candidates to President Glover for the conferring of degrees, as the graduates’ names scrolled across the screen. 

Among those presented for conferring of degrees were four university administrators who received their doctorate degrees in education leadership. They included Dr. Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, executive assistant to the president and liaison to the TSU Board of Trustees; Dr. Phyllis Danner, director, Research and Sponsored Programs; Dr. Anita McGaha, director of disability services; and Dr. Corrine S. Vaughn, director, Research and Sponsored Programs. 

During the ceremonies, several past TSU graduates made appearances with words of congratulations and encouragement for the graduates. Among them was Olympic gold medalist Ralph H. Boston. 

Julien Dooley, a member of the Honors College, who received his bachelor of science degree in commercial music, entertained his fellow graduates with a rendition of “Escalondo” by noted classical guitarist and composer Jaime Zenamon.

To see video of the virtual commencement, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PH8iqdqMHM&feature=youtu.be

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 graduate beats the odds, proves that determination is key to success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Wanya Smith will be honored virtually along with hundreds of graduates at Tennessee State University’s fall commencement on Saturday. But when he envisions himself actually walking across the stage to get his undergraduate degree, following closely behind are his children, Noah, 3 and Gabrielle, 3.  

Wanya Smith wants to be a school resource management director to help struggling families. (Submitted Photo)

Smith fathered the two children during his sophomore year at TSU. For some, the responsibility of actively caring for two children and balancing that with schoolwork might be too much. But not Smith. The sixth of 10 children, he had come to college determined to earn a degree – the first in his family to achieve that feat – and nothing was going to stop him.   

It hasn’t. On Nov. 28, Smith will be among more than 700 students who will receive undergraduate and graduate degrees. The 24-year-old is graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences, with a concentration in Child Development and Family Studies.  

“I am actually split between being happy and feeling like, ‘It’s about time,’” says Smith, when asked about his excitement of graduating in spite of the struggles he faced during his matriculation.   

“I have been struggling with being excited for the last couple of months knowing that graduation is approaching, because it’s taken me much longer than what it was supposed to. I do know it is a big accomplishment knowing where I am coming from, where nine times out of 10 a regular person wouldn’t be where I am, with all the adversities.” 

Making it through college with mounting responsibilities of childcare for two toddlers, maintaining an off-campus apartment and schoolwork, amounted to a huge struggle that resulted in him staying longer in college, says Smith. To make it, he at times worked two full-time jobs, seven days a week overnight.   

Noah Smith helps daddy put on his graduation cap before the big ceremony. (Submitted Photo)

“I had to prepare for the kids coming and so I had to save up, and pay for my apartment, but I was not going to drop out,” says Smith. “After the children were born, I kept up having two jobs. I worked during the day at Dominos and then at night I worked as a valet downtown on Broadway. Of course, my grades started falling, I lost the only two scholarships I had, I changed major and that put me behind, but I was determined not to drop out,” says Smith, of Memphis, Tennessee.   

He says the thought of caring for two kids at such a young age did not seem so overwhelming, drawing from his experience of caring for four younger siblings, while growing up at home. Additionally, he says he surrounded himself with very caring mentors at TSU who motivated him.   

“I was mentally prepared,” he says. “I had to push on no matter the difficult days. The thought of my own two children and their future, and younger siblings looking up to me drove me to keep going and not give up or drop out.”  

Dr. Margaret E. Machara, professor of child development and family studies, who not only taught Smith, but was aware of his situation, calls the young man “an engaged student and an incredible individual.”  

“Wanya hasn’t had an easy road to achieve his degree, but even with his challenges, he’s progressed through the requirements in a determined manner,” says Machara. “He’s a proud father, who not only is making a difference in his childrens’ lives, but also looks for ways to improve conditions in the wider society. With his easy manner and mature sense of responsibility, Wanya will definitely make TSU proud.”  

George Davis, a TSU graduate and a mentor, met Smith when he (Smith) showed interest in joining Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He describes Smith as “a resilient person.” 

“Wanya has the ability to adapt to his surrounding very quickly and very easily,” says Davis, who earned graduate and undergraduate degrees at TSU. “I really think that when Wanya encounters what others consider impossibility, he sees possibility. He always puts 100 percent in everything that he does. He is a resilient young man who can withstand a lot.” 

Smith says co-parenting is vitally important to him, and that he is actively involved in caring for his little boy and girl. For a career, Smith wants to become a school resource management director, to work exclusively with struggling families with young children, to help them get the resources they need.   

Amid his hectic college career, Smith also remained active in extracurricularactivities. Besides his fraternity, he is also a member of Hypnotize Dance Troupe, and Black Incorporated. He also helped establish Find Out Dance Troupe at TSU during his sophomore year. 

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.