Tag Archives: Mariah Rhodes

TSU makes history with first-ever virtual Student Government Association campaign, elections

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a historic move, Tennessee State University recently held its first-ever virtual Student Government Association campaign and elections for 2020/2021. Usually conducted in the spring after weeks of in-person campaigning on campus, the elections this year were held last week solely online as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Undergraduate and graduate students showed up in record numbers to vote for their favorite candidates.

New SGA leaders: From left, Dominique Davis, Executive President; Naton Smith, Jr., Mr. TSU; Mariah Rhodes, Miss TSU; and Toree Sims, Executive Vice President

The new student leadership, including a Mister TSU and a Miss TSU, was announced by the Student Election Commission on Saturday, August 29.

TSU President Glenda Glover, along with staff from the Office of Student Affairs, faculty, alumni, family members and guests, was on hand to congratulate the new officers when the election results were announced.

Danville, Illinois, native Dominique Davis, a senior business administration major with a supply chain concentration, was elected the new SGA executive president, while Toree Sims, a computer science major from Louisville, Kentucky, was elected executive vice president.

Dr. Tobias R. Morgan, Assistant Dean of Student Engagement and Leadership, left; and Akiliyiah Sumlin, Chair of the Student Election Commission, announce the winners of the elections.

Winning the coveted Miss TSU crown was Mariah Rhodes, a senior political science major from Memphis, Tennessee. Naton Smith, Jr., a health sciences major from St. Louis, will escort Rhodes as the new Mister TSU.

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, said although the elections were delayed due to COVID-19, the students’ enthusiasm was “very high and the virtual presentation added a very positive dimension” to the whole process.

“Not only were they creative and very much on point, but the level of interest and enthusiasm of the students shown by the number of voters was pretty exciting,” Stevenson said.  “We have a great group of student leaders that is ready to work hard, and we are very proud of the political process and how our students presented themselves.”

Davis, who becomes the 80th administration executive president of the SGA, said she is excited about the core of leaders in the new administration.

“In this challenging time that we are in, we know that we have a lot to deliver to our student body,” said Davis. “I am just really excited. We have a lot of great student leaders who are very eager to serve the needs of our student body and I know we will be able to get a lot done.”

The theme of the new student government is “Trailblazing,” Davis said.

For Rhodes, the new Miss TSU, she assured fellow students that although the university is cutting down on activities because of the pandemic, she plans to implement a number of events virtually to keep students engaged.

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

Dr. Tobias R. Morgan, assistant dean of Student Engagement and Leadership, congratulated the new student leaders and thanked the Student Election Commission under the chairmanship of Akiliyiah Sumlin, for the very efficient manner in which the process was conducted. Sumli is a senior agricultural sciences major from Langston, Oklahoma.

“Sumlin rose to the occasion and was able to adapt to an ever-changing environment as we reworked our plans numerous times to ensure the integrity of the election process,” said Morgan.  “We wish each of you leaders much success as you lay the groundwork for a new normal among student leadership and governance at Tennessee State University.”

Following is the list of the new Miss TSU court and other members of the SGA: 

Mr. Senior – Michael Caldwell from Atlanta – Mechanical Engineering major

Junior Class President – Imani Marshall of Tampa, Florida – Mathematics major

Miss Junior – Mallory Moore of Birmingham, Alabama – Health Sciences major

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

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

SUBG Chair – Sydnei Everett from Nashville – Public Health Major


Representatives At Large


1. Nzinga Ajamu from Memphis, Tennessee – Business administration/Supply Chain major

2. Kailyn Allen from Memphis, Tennessee Mass Communication major

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 Lawyer, Politician Sets Sights on Becoming Agent of Change for Justice, Says TSU Opened Doors to Opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Mariah Rhodes always wanted to be a “change agent,” to fight the injustices she saw growing up in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. And Tennessee State University is giving her the opportunity to make a difference.

Mariah Rhodes

“I witnessed many wrongful convictions and disparities in education while growing up as a child in Memphis,” says Rhodes, a top political science student at TSU. “I knew right then that I wanted to be a change agent because the injustices and disparities affected my family, friends and many others.”

To accomplish her dream, Rhodes says she set her sights on becoming a lawyer and eventually entering politics as an elected official focusing on education and criminal justice reform. Coming to TSU, therefore, was no accident, she says, because the university was centrally located in the “political capital” of the state, with some of the best schools, and it is closer to home.

“I am a mama’s girl. I am really closed to my mother. So, a college for me had to be three hours away or less so I can quickly get back home in case of an emergency,” says Rhodes, the older of two children raised by their single mother.

Mariah Rhodes participates in student convocation as a member of the Student Government Association. (TSU Media Relations)

“Second, as a political science major, I was looking for a school that offered the best opportunity that I can get for my future and my career. And, the state capitol is located in Nashville. Then I started looking at campus life and I fell in love with TSU. There are so many events, so many opportunities for minorities.”

Saying that coming to TSU was the best choice, the former academic standout at Power Center Academy High School graduated fourth in her class with a 3.93 grade point average and received more than $3.8 million in scholarship offers.

Mariah Rhodes, with her sister, Brianna Mason, left, and mother Denise Woods, received more than $3.8 million in scholarship offers when she graduated Power Center Academy. (Submitted photo)

“I had many opportunities to go to many other schools with full academic scholarships. I chose TSU because that was the best place that was home to me,” she says. “The family atmosphere – people willing and ready to help. The professors, advisors motivate me. Once they see that you are trying, they will take you under their wings, and that’s something I will always be grateful for.” 

Rhodes has adjusted well and proven to be an overall outstanding student. Advisor and professor, Dr. Kyle Murray, refers to Rhodes as “one of the top students in the Political Science degree program at TSU.”

“Mariah has thrived in the program and set an outstanding example of discipline and leadership among her peers,” says Murray, assistant professor of political science. “ Not only is Mariah one of the top current Political Science majors, her natural leadership skills have been exemplified by her service on the Student Court, and as TSU’s official ambassador to the White House HBCU Summit.”

Currently TSU Student Court Chief Justice, Rhodes is an HBCU White House Competitiveness Scholar. She is an honors intern with the U.S. Department of Justice. Although numerous, her extracurricular activities clearly exhibit her quest for knowledge and to be the best. With a 4.0 GPA, Rhodes is a member of the TSU Honors College, Golden Key International Honor Society, a graduate of the TSU Collegiate Police Academy, and president of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity International, among others.

“Mariah is a natural born leader, academically talented and committed to inspiring her peers,” says Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, one of the people Rhodes credits with her success at TSU.

“She is the essence of Tiger perfection,” adds Stevenson.

Rhodes’ proven leadership skills and desire to bring out the best in others have followed her from her days at Power Center Academy. At TSU, she mentors fellow students. A former vice president of Modern Distinctive Ladies, a girls’ mentoring program , Rhodes is still actively engaged in the program.

“I love to help because I know how difficult it can be sometimes, besides many have helped me, and I am so grateful. I am just trying to give back, and I look forward to doing even more in my future career,” says Rhodes. After college, Rhodes says there is a “strong chance” she may stay in Tennessee for law school.

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 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 students, officials believe FUTURE Act long overdue for HBCUs, and will provide much needed boost for sustainability

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University and the nation’s other historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) look to reap the benefits of federal legislation that permanently allocates $255 million to the institutions. 

TSU President Glenda Glover

Last month, Congress passed the FUTURE Act to provide for the historic funding. TSU students and officials say the bill is critical to the viability of TSU and other HBCUs.

TSU President Glenda Glover commended Congress for passing the legislation and hopes it will lead to additional funding.

“The FUTURE Act legislation is a game changer for TSU, and the university is thankful to our Tennessee leadership of Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative Jim Cooper, Congressional Black Caucus members and others for their guidance to ensure the bill passed through both chambers,” says President Glover.

“I personally made calls to Sen. Alexander’s Office, advocating the need for HBCU funding because of the tremendous impact TSU has in changing the lives of our students, the community, state and nation. I also spoke regularly with other HBCU presidents and assisted advocacy groups United Negro College Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in higher education in getting the bill passed.  HBCUs have been traditionally underfunded on all levels of government.”

“TSU is fortunate to have relationships with local and state lawmakers that have resulted in much needed appropriations. I believe the FUTURE Act is the beginning of the tide changing in the amount, and types of funding HBCUs receive.”    

The FUTURE Act not only provides permanent funds to HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, but also simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and eliminates paperwork for income-driven student loan repayment plans.

“We believe it’s a really important piece of legislation,” says Amy Wood, assistant vice president for financial aid at TSU. 

The legislation eliminates up to 22 questions on the FAFSA and allows the Internal Revenue Service to share applicants’ tax information directly with the U.S. Department of Education. It also automates income recertification for federal student loan borrowers who use income-based repayment plans.

“Being able to eliminate some of the processing time allows us more time to spend counseling students and ensuring that they have what they need,” adds Wood.

Mariah Rhodes, a junior at TSU majoring in political science, says she’s pleased the legislation may soon become law. It has been sent to the President, who is expected to sign it. 

“HBCUs have produced some of the best African-American doctors, lawyers, politicians and engineers,” says Rhodes, a Memphis native who is an HBCU White House ambassador. “This money will help HBCUs in a tremendous way.”

Her mother agrees.

“They (HBCUs) are underfunded, and we need to really do something about that,” says Denise Woods.

TSU Dean of Students Frank Stevenson called the legislation a “game changer.”

“HBCUs are still seeing a number of first generation college students, and funding is really important to the success of these institutions that have done so much to move the needle toward equity and opportunity for higher education for students,” says Stevenson.

Last year, TSU received $2 million to support retention of academically high achieving students from underserved communities.  

The funds were included in Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s budget during the latest legislative session, and approved by state lawmakers.

For more information about the FUTURE Act, visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2486/text.

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 38 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.