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CBS national correspondent Michelle Miller delivers Spring Commencement address, calls TSU graduates ‘survivors’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 200 graduate students received degrees in various disciplines on Friday at Tennessee State University’s Spring Commencement ceremony in Hale Stadium, the first in-person ceremony in over a year.

TSU President Glenda Glover. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

Earlier this month, TSU officially announced the 2021 graduation exercises would return to campus and be held in the stadium following a year of virtual ceremonies because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The undergraduate ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, at 8 a.m. and will also be in the stadium. Former New Orleans mayor and National Urban League President Marc Morial is the keynote speaker. The ceremony will also be livestreamed: www.tnstate.edu/livestream.

“I applaud you for having reached such an extraordinary milestone,” TSU President Glenda Glover told the graduates Friday. “This is your day. And we will make the most of it, for tomorrow you step into the advanced TSU world as the servant leaders you have been trained to be. The servant leaders you’ve been called to be.”

CBS national correspondent Michelle Miller, the wife of Morial, was the keynote speaker at the graduate ceremony. Miller, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, has reported on numerous stories of national and international importance. She joined “CBS This Morning: Saturday” in 2018. Her work regularly appears on the “CBS Evening News,” “CBS This Morning” and “CBS Sunday Morning.” She has also appeared as a correspondent on “48 Hours.”  

Miller, who was honored by TSU for her body of work, told the graduates not to be disheartened by failure. She told them of the time she was fired from her second job, but that she bounced back and now has a successful career.

“Failure is an option, because only through failure can you succeed,” said Miller. “My toughest times have taught me that I’m a survivor. So are you. You’ve done everything that you set out to do, because you’re here. You survived … an unpredictable year.”

Michelle Miller. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

She then cited one of her favorite quotes by Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Quinetta Yvette Bartley, who received her doctorate in education leadership, said Miller’s speech was encouraging.

“I liked the part where she said she failed, but got up and kept going,” said Bartley. “That was very inspirational because in a lifetime, you’re going to fall, and it’s a learning experience at that point. I saw myself in her speech.”

While Bartley enjoyed Miller’s speech, she and the other graduates relished being able to walk across the stage and not have to watch the ceremony virtually. Those attending the ceremonies were required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Adults were strongly encouraged to have been vaccinated.

Friday’s graduate ceremony was extra special for Alexis Gant, who received an M.Ed. in human performance and sports science with a concentration in exercise science. She missed her undergrad ceremony at Georgia Southern because of a track meet.

“On top of this being the first time in over a year that we’re having in-person commencement, I’m really excited,” said Gant, who is the throw coach for TSU’s track and field team. “It’s my first time walking ever.”

After graduation, Gant will walk right into a new job she already has lined up, and she credits TSU for that.

TSU 2021 graduates. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

“I do believe that TSU has prepared me. I’ve had some great professors,” said Gant. “But I also feel it’s just the environment of TSU that’s prepared me. Because coming from a PWI (predominantly white institution), it’s a completely different playing field. And I feel like now that I’ve gotten to experience both worlds, I definitely will be able to work with multiple ranges of clientele. I’ve made more friends at TSU than I have at my alma mater, and that’s crazy.”

Graduate Mason McIntosh also credits TSU and his instructors for much of his success.

“TSU prepared me by getting me in front of the right people,” said McIntosh, who is also getting an M. Ed. In HPSS. “I’ve had great internship experiences because of TSU.”

Mason plans to pursue a doctorate in Kinesiology at Auburn University, where he’s pretty much been given a full ride. He’s also received offers from two other schools with top Kinesiology programs. Mason would eventually like to become a strength conditioning coach at the collegiate or professional level.

Note: The feature photo is by Michael Bennett

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 students graduating with jobs say university has prepared them to succeed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Maya Davis and Cametria Weatherspoon receive their degrees and head to Lockheed Martin to begin their careers, they will be aiming for success because of preparation received at Tennessee State University.

Career Development Center
TSU’s Career Development Center gives students tools they need for success. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Davis and Weatherspoon will be among more than 800 graduates from various disciplines on May 6 at the undergraduate commencement in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on TSU’s main campus.

The duo continues the university’s legacy of students who have received job offers and are ready to move right into the workforce.

Weatherspoon, 24, who majored in electrical engineering, will take an electrical engineering associate position. She will work in programming at Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company in Littleton, Colorado.

Lockheed Martin recently received a $100 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to support efforts related to the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM.

“Having a job after I graduate is a blessing,” said Weatherspoon, a Memphis, Tennessee native. “I’m very excited.”

Davis, a 23-year-old computer science major from Nashville, will head to Lockheed Martin’s Orlando, Florida, location where she will work on a logistics system for one of the company’s fighter jets.

Davis said she is nervous about relocating, but shares Weatherspoon’s sentiment about already having a job: “It’s exciting.”

Both students, and others, credit faculty at TSU and programs like the university’s Career Development Center with motivating them and providing the tools they needed to not only get their jobs, but be successful.

“The professors at TSU were reliable and very helpful,” said 22-year–old Mathew Smith of Nashville. The agricultural education major is currently a high school student teacher, and plans to teach full time after he graduates in May.

“It’s been quite rewarding,” Smith said of student teaching. “And honestly, the most influential and experience learning I’ve had throughout TSU.”

Meghan Lambert, a nursing major from Bolivar, Tennessee, has a job lined up with Methodist University Hospital, which has also agreed to pay for her post-graduate degree.

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The TSU Women’s Center’s Link to Success program connects students with professionals in the workforce. (photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

She said Linked to Excellence, a program in TSU’s Women’s Center that connects students with professionals in their field, was very helpful.

“It put me in contact with employers,” Lambert said. “I feel like my hard work at Tennessee State University really paid off.”

Jamal Coleman is coordinator of marketing, technology and communications at the Career Development Center, which helps students with their resumes, and provides tips on interviewing techniques, among other things.

“Our main goal is to help them get a foot in the door,” Coleman said. “It’s a great satisfaction when I hear about students getting these opportunities.”

Along with Lockheed Martin and Methodist, other companies where TSU students are going, and are currently working include Bank of America, Boeing, BMW, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce.

Dr. Bethany King Wilkes is director of student services in TSU’s College of Engineering. She said each semester students in the department “consistently receive lucrative job offers from top companies across the nation.”

“I frequently get calls from companies wanting to recruit our students because they know we have a pool of highly skilled individuals qualified for technical jobs that are hard to fill,” Wilkes sad.

TSU’s undergraduate commencement will begin at 8 a.m. Nationally-syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner will be the keynote speaker.

Graduate commencement service will be on May 5 at 5 p.m. in the Howard C. Gentry Complex. Congressman Jim Cooper will deliver the address.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

 

Country and gospel singer receives master’s degree from TSU at age 87

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University graduate Lorraine Guth is proof that it is never too late to get a degree.

The 87-year-old criminal justice major was among hundreds of graduate students participating in TSU’s May 6 spring commencement at the Gentry Complex. Guth graduated with a 3.8 grade point average. When she walked on stage to receive her master’s degree, just about everybody in the complex stood to their feet, applauded and cheered.

“It was so exciting,” Guth said after the ceremony. “Words can’t describe how I feel.”

It’s been a long, sometimes tough road for Guth, but she said in an interview before the ceremony that she was determined to further her education and she hopes her persistency inspires others.

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TSU graduate student Lorraine Guth tries on cap and gown before May 6 graduate commencement. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“Life is short, and you have to make the most of it,” Guth said. “We also should try to inspire other people.”

Guth dealt with life’s challenges early on. As a child, she struggled with a learning disorder. But miraculously, she said she gradually overcame the condition, to the point that she was making straight-As in the fourth grade.

“God always seemed to have His hand on me, and still does,” said Guth, who has a strong faith.

In high school, Guth made the honor society, and eventually began to hone a skill she said God gave her: singing.

Most of the songs she listened to and sang were in the country music genre, but it wasn’t long before she found her niche in gospel music.

Guth went on to record more than 10 albums; some country, but mostly gospel. She eventually was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, and was named Entertainer of the Year by the Atlanta Society of Entertainers.

“She’s a very talented person,” said Phyllis Cole, director of the Atlanta Society of Entertainers and co-founder of the ACMHF, which gave Guth an “inspiration award.” “She’s just a delightful person, overall; an inspiration.”

Even though her music career was thriving, Guth said education was still important to her. In 2003, she got her undergraduate degree from Georgia State at the age of 74.

She later moved to Tennessee and decided to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice. Her hard work paid off on May 6 when family and friends watch her get her degree from TSU.

Guth’s great, great grandson, 14-year-old Ethan Earle, traveled from South Carolina to see her graduate.

“I think her achievement is great,” Earle said. “I hope it inspires other people to do better in life, especially to get an education.”

Dr. Alex Sekwat, interim dean of Graduate Studies and Research at TSU, said Guth’s achievement is a “testimony that it’s never too late to graduate from college.”

“Despite life’s daily challenges, Ms. Guth never made excuses in pursuit of her goals and dreams,” Sekwat said. “Her accomplishments should be an inspiration to all students and a testimony to all of us that with determination we can reach our goals and dreams.”

And Guth is continuing to follow her dreams. Now that she has her master’s, she plans to pursue a doctorate degree at TSU.

Dr. Michael Montgomery, coordinator of TSU’s Criminal Justice Graduate Program, said he ‘s glad Guth is continuing her education at TSU.

“I have every reason to believe that she will be successful in this endeavor as well,” Montgomery said.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

A robust job market awaits TSU Class of 2016, as high tech and healthcare positions are in high demand

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As Tennessee State University prepares for one of higher education’s most sacred academic ceremonies, students who will participate in the 2016 Spring Commencement on May 7 may find themselves in a better position at putting their acquired knowledge to work when it’s time to start their careers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a positive job outlook for 2016 graduates. The agency points to fast-growing fields such as engineering, nursing, business and information technology, occupational therapy, and accounting as areas for high employment opportunities. Many ofthese thriving industries are seeking ready workers for the knowledge-basedjobs available, and TSU is doing its part to meet work force demands through the successful matriculation of hundreds of students.

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Students in Occupational Therapy work with their professor. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Tennessee State University’s Occupational Therapy program started in 1991. The program’s educational goal is to train and prepare students to enter the clinical practice of occupational therapy. As one of the high-growth fields cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, students obtaining this degree may see many available opportunities in a variety of work settings, according to TSU’s Debra Smart, an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy.  

“I believe students will get great fulfillment in the field of occupational therapy because it is so versatile,” Smart said. “They will have the opportunity to work with diverse client populations in medical, educational, and community settings.”

Smart said changes in healthcare have dictated much of how the program has advanced over its 25-years with growing interest from students, which has led to an emergence of new applicants andincreased class sizes.

“Students who pursue this degree are typically employed no more than two months after they complete the program,” she said. “We have recruiters e-mailing us from all over the country looking for qualified graduates.”

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, businesses plan to hire 11 percent more college graduates for U.S. jobs this year than last. NACE further reports that employers have a positive view of the college-hiring market overall with 42 percent of respondents characterizing the job market for the class of 2016 as “very good” or “excellent.” That number is up from two years ago when only 18 percent felt the outlook was positive, said the NACE report.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering, said engineering still remains one of the most in-demand career occupations for 2016. It has a current workforce of about 2.5 million,with the U.S. producing about 100,000 new engineers annually. The college maintains a reputation of preparing top graduates for careers in a myriad of engineering disciplines.

“As the state’s leading producer of African-American engineers, TSU’s College of Engineering is responding by preparing graduates with leadership skills, technical competency, and the opportunity to complete study abroad experiences to make them more marketable,” Hargrove said. “Our academic and research programs in cyber-security, IT and data sciences, transportation analytics, and network communications continue to prepare graduates for outstanding job opportunities with Fortune 100 companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Bank of America.”

U.S. News also supports positive job growth for 2016 through its “100 Best Jobs” list. The news organization places physicians, software developers, nurse practitioners, computer systems analysts and orthodontists among their list of top-ranked occupations.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

In Spite of Inclement Weather Threat, TSU Outdoor Spring Commencement Goes on Without a Hitch

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A graduating senior at TSU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony Saturday holds a sign that expresses the sentiments of the more than 1,100 who received their degrees at the program. (Photo by Rick Delahaya, TSU Media Relations)


NASHVILLE, Tenn.
(TSU News Service) – After a brief delay Saturday, Tennessee State University dodged an inclement weather forecast to hold its spring commencement at a packed Hale Stadium.

More than 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students received their degrees in various disciplines under a clear, sunny day, with their names and faces in digital displays projected on two massive jumbotron screens during the outdoor ceremony on the main campus.

Prior to the commencement, students, family members and other invited guests who had arrived early for the planned ceremony in the stadium, took cover in nearby Gentry Center to wait out a rain shower. The crowd went back to the “Hole” after the brief downpour and the commencement went on without a hitch.

“We got exactly what our family came here for,” said Gina Benton, of Dayton, Ohio, responding to an apology from TSU President Glenda Glover about the brief inconvenience posed by the weather. “We came here with about 20 family members to watch my son graduate and that’s exactly what we got. With such a beautiful outcome, the weather was a minor issue.”

Benton’s son, Erik, received his degree in Business Administration with honors.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the commencement speaker, apparently not fazed by the weather threat, told the graduates that 55 percent of available jobs in the state would need people with college degrees and the necessary skills to fill those positions.

“Tennessee State University has prepared you to compete for those those jobs and the challenges in life,” Haslam said. “Those challenges will help you handle potential disappointments that come with success.”

The Governor reminded the students to face life with humility and remember those who helped them achieve their higher education goals.

“You did not get to this day by yourself. Thank those who were there with you,” Haslam added.  “Learn to celebrate others. You have been called to play a role that will require your full potential. To fulfill that role will require you to continue to improve yourselves by being lifelong learners.”

Before the conferring of degrees, President Glover presented Gov. Haslam with a special plaque for “accepting our invitation and for inspiring not just these graduates but all of us.”

The President also recognized and presented special awards to this year’s group of Vintagers, former TSU graduates who celebrated their 50th year of graduation from TSU.

Dr. Glover announced an over $55,000 contribution from the group to their alma mater.

“We thank you for your generous contribution and for returning to celebrate with us,” the President said.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.