Tag Archives: Tiara Thomas

Bank of America contributes $1M in partnership with TSU to help students complete their degrees, find meaningful employment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Bank of America is partnering with Tennessee State University and contributing $1 million, as part of an initiative to help students finish college and find employment in a competitive workforce.

TSU President Glenda Glover

The initiative is part of the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance up-skilling and reskilling for African Americans and Hispanic-Latino students.

Including TSU, the nationwide initiative includes partnerships with nearly two dozen community colleges that serve predominately Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino students, public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and public Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

“Tennessee State University is excited to be partnering with Bank of America, and for the $1 million contribution to help our students complete their degrees and secure meaningful employment opportunities in a global workforce, specifically here in Nashville, a city that has become a global leader in the healthcare, technology entertainment and hospitality industries,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “At TSU, we strive for excellence, and this initiative will allow us to instill that mindset in students for generations to come, as we continue their professional development to be future leaders.”

“We know the best way to empower students is through education,” says Tyson Moore, Bank of America Nashville Market President. “We are excited about this partnership with TSU to equip all students, and particularly students of color, with the skills they need to get great jobs.”

Junior Tiara Thomas

Nashville Mayor John Cooper says initiatives like this will only make the city better.

“TSU is a key partner in helping us develop the type of high-tech workforce that our economy demands, so I’m grateful for opportunities like these to invest in our students’ success,” says Cooper.  

Senior Jacob Bobinger, an agricultural sciences major from Kingston Springs, Tennessee, says the initiative will definitely benefit his peers.

“Increased funding will allow for more scholarship opportunities, which will make the most direct and meaningful impact to students who are financially struggling to finish their degree,” says Bobinger. “I’m thrilled TSU will continue to offer better and better opportunities to students because of the amazing partnership with Bank of America.”

Junior Tiara Thomas, who is the student representative on TSU’s Board of Trustees, says the attention given to the University by companies like Bank of America is refreshing.

“I am very appreciative of Bank of America for investing in Tennessee State University students,” says Thomas, of Olive Branch, Mississippi. “It is great to see companies began to build relationships with HBCU’s to ensure a brighter future after graduation.”

Freshman Elise Russ of Nashville agrees.

Malik City

“As the Bank of America slogan states, ‘Life’s better when we’re connected,’” says Russ, a civil engineering major.  “I am excited to see the changes ahead with this new program, as it will help students learn how to navigate through challenges, improve communication, and be prepared for life upon the completion of college.” 

Recent TSU graduate Malik City knows firsthand what it is like to work for a top-tier company. The Nashville native and computer science major was hired by Bank of America as a software engineer and will earn $94,000 his first year, including a $10,000 signing bonus. City credits programs, like the Career Development Center at TSU, with getting him ready for the workforce.

“I feel very fortunate and very thankful to TSU for the preparation I received, which made all of this possible,” he said.  

Antoinette Duke, associate director of TSU’s Career Development Center, says she’s looking forward to working with Bank of America.

“This partnership and job initiative with Bank of America allows us to continue in our pursuit of providing the highest level of support to students entering the work force following graduation,” says Duke. “We are preparing them for the next step; we are preparing them for their careers.”

To learn more about the Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State 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 Aristocrat of Bands committed to 100 percent voting, band director and members urge everyone to do the same

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands has a message for fellow HBCU bands and anyone else who will listen, vote! 

AOB band members (l to r) Don Jones, Tameria Cole and Kayla Jenkins.

Dr. Reginald McDonald recently hosted a workshop with fellow band member Tiara Thompson on absentee voting to educate the band on how to ensure their ballots are counted for the Nov. 3 presidential election, and to register those who weren’t. 

“We’re committed to getting 100 percent of our membership registered to vote,” said McDonald. “In 2020, you need to vote like your life depends on it.” 

Thomas, a junior Political Science major and serves as the student trustee on the University’s Board of Trustees, was the main organizer and presenter of the voting workshop. Prior to the band’s event, she facilitated “The TSU Tiger’s Guide to Absentee Voting Virtual Seminar,” which was hosted by TSU Football Coach Rod Reed for his players. Since the seminar, the entire football team, including players and coaches are now registered. 

“I was really inspired by the football team’s leadership in getting 100 percent of their players registered to vote,” said Thomas. “I didn’t want to stop with the football team. I wanted to hit the next biggest group on campus, which is the AOB. I just think that anytime you wear a Tennessee State uniform that you are automatically viewed as a leader. And I feel like right now it’s important for our Tennessee State University community student leaders to actively vote,” and encourage others to do the same. 

In 2018, only 34 percent of the campus actively voted, said Thomas, who has been a crusader on campus for voter education and registration.   

Tiara Thomas

“As trustee this year, my goal is to double that turnout, if not 100 percent,” said the Olive Branch, Mississippi, native.    

AOB drum major Julien Dooley said many students realize the importance of this year’s presidential election, in particular. 

“A lot of my friends are very knowledgeable of who they’re voting for, and the importance of it,” said Dooley, a senior from Atlanta. “The things we want to happen depend on who gets in office.” 

Visit this link (https://bit.ly/3nAkKP4) to hear a special message from Dr. McDonald and the AOB.   

For information on deadlines for 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.

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.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remembered as a ‘giant’ on the nation’s highest court

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have stood a little over five feet, but those remembering her say she was a giant on the nation’s highest court, and her influence will be felt for generations.

TSU President Glenda Glover

Tennessee State University joined the country in mourning her death.

“If ever there was a crusader for justice, she was that, and more,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Early on in her legal profession, Justice Ginsburg helped to reshape history as a staunch advocate for equal protection and opportunity for women under the constitution. She consistently delivered votes on the most divisive social issues, including voting rights, health care, and affirmative action. And it is in that same spirit of perseverance, equality and justice, that we will continue her legacy.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, a Women’s Studies faculty member and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU, said Ginsburg “achieved icon status usually reserved for film and music stars.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis

“Besides Thurgood Marshall, I cannot think of another member of SCOTUS to be this recognizable as an individual,” said Morgan-Curtis. “At 5-foot-1, she towered over everyone else on the bench. She was a giant, in her own right.” 

Morgan-Curtis added that Ginsburg’s work with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she founded the Women’s Rights Project, pushed the protections of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment for both men and women, as well as minorities.

“The fact that states cannot set different drinking ages for men and women results from Ginsburg’s work as an attorney. The protection for men as care givers comes from her work.” 

Dr. Shameka Cathey

Morgan-Curtis said Ginsburg’s majority opinions also “pushed fair and equal protection under the law, and many argue that her dissent in the Ledbetter case was the blueprint for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.”

That legislation, which dealt with equal pay and amended part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was the first bill signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2009.

Following Ginsburg’s passing, an effort is underway to replace her prior to the Nov. 3 presidential election. TSU Political Science Professor Shameka Cathey said the replacement of Ginsburg before the election “could put our country in limbo.”

“We would have a nation of people who are swinging to the left, with a Supreme Court on the right,” said Cathey, whose focus includes civil rights and African American politics. “The impact could lead to a Supreme Court turning back the clock on civil rights, voting rights, and many other vital rights central to the heart of our democracy.”

Junior Tiara Thomas

However, regardless of who replaces Ginsburg, TSU junior Tiara Thomas said her impact will not be diminished.

“Justice Ginsburg made a space for women in society, when there seemed to be none available,” said Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi. “And this is what my peers and I can do to keep her legacy alive. We will continue to fight for safe spaces for ourselves, to advance and change the world.” 

To learn more about Women’s Studies at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/cla/programs/womensstudies.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 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 officially resumes classes for fall semester with enhanced technology, safety measures to ensure student learning and living

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Classes have officially resumed at Tennessee State University with enhanced COVID-19 safety measures to ensure the safety of students and the campus community.

For the first two weeks – August 17–31 – all classes will be online. Following that, students will have a choice of taking classes on ground or continuing online.

President Glenda Glover

In March, amid the coronavirus pandemic, TSU sent students home, closed the residence halls, and asked employees to work remotely. On August 11, the University began its reopening process by welcoming nearly 2,300 first-time freshmen, who moved into their residence halls over several days for safety concerns. Upperclassmen or returning students who choose to stay on campus are arriving over the next few days.

TSU President Glenda Glover has assures students and their families that TSU has worked diligently to create a safe environment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two returning students walk to their residence hall on the main campus. (TSU Media Relations)

“Safety is a priority. We made adjustments based on where we are in the world today, and so far, it is working,” Dr. Glover said during the freshman move-in last week. “We couldn’t have everybody coming in at the same time, so we assigned each person a time to arrive.” 

Tiara Thomas, a returning student who is staying on campus, said it is good to be back.

“It feels really good because I missed my TSU family for the past five to six months,” said Thomas, a junior political science major, who is the student representative on the TSU Board of Trustees.

Hand-sanitizing stations are located in various areas on campus for students’ use. (TSU Media Relations)

“I have a great appreciation for my campus and my friends, coz it is home,” she added. “It feels really good to see people back on campus and I am really excited to see how many freshmen we have this year.”

Incoming freshman Yuri Hopkins, of Miami, Florida, said she likes what she has seen so far.

“The health screenings and the orderly move-in process made me feel at home right away,” said Hopkins, a nursing major. “My uncle came here and I have heard a lot of good things about their nursing program.”

To ease the new students’ transition, the university has made efforts to meet their technology needs, as well ensure they are well protected against COVID. All incoming students received welcome kits, including PPEs, or personal protective equipment like masks, facial shields, gloves, etc. Officials said this is all part of the overall plan that include hand sanitizing stations, temperature checks, and the reduction on the number of people allowed on the campus.

First-time freshmen Kassidy Johnson and her brother Kameron Johnson, from Sacramento, California, finish up financial aid discussion with officials via Zoom, in a kiosk set up in Keane Hall. (TSU Media Relations)

“We have limited the number of visitors to the campus, and most services have been moved to online,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president. “The intent is to reduce the possibility of COVID coming to the campus, and to better help manage the number of people on campus at any given time.”

 For their technology needs, all first-time freshmen received laptops. “We wanted them to come in with the tools they need to be able to be successful, even if they have to work remotely,” said Frank Stevenson, vice president for Student Affairs.

As part of TSU’s COVID-19 preparedness, all students, visitors and staff entering the campus must go through a temperature check. (TSU Media Relations)

Russell Waters, a returning junior who will attend classes remotely, said the university has “gone the extra mile” to make sure students have everything they need.

“It feels good to continue my education despite the obstacles I have faced in the past couple of months,” said Waters, a computer science major from Huntsville, Alabama. “TSU has done great things with classes being held virtually. They are doing their best to accommodate this new style of learning and I appreciate what they are doing for the students.”

The Office of Academic Affairs said excellence and student success remain the highest priority of the university.

“Building on our tradition we will continue to adjust as we go along,” said Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “We offer our students some of the most original, flexible and innovative learning options across our 82 programs. In addition, we have invested in and put in place a world-class support system to ensure each student’s success.”

To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plan for fall reopening, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/return.

Note: Featured photo courtesy of Seanne Wilson, Director of the Women’s Center

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 political analysts predict Kamala Harris selection will further galvanize young voters, spark interest in HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate will not only further energize young voters, but also renew interest in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

TSU President Glenda Glover

That’s what political analysts at Tennessee State University have to say after Biden made the announcement this week. If he wins in November, Harris would become the nation’s first female vice president, first black vice president and first black female vice president. 

Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, in 1984. In 2008, Alaska’s then-governor Sarah Palin was Republican John McCain’s running mate.

TSU President Glenda Glover said Biden’s announcement was a great moment for our country, African-Americans, and for women.

“Senator Harris’ selection is a full circle moment for HBCUs and African-American Greek organizations that worked tirelessly to give the black community a voice from the turn of the century, through Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, to present day,” President Glover said.

“As the president of Tennessee State University, a premiere HBCU, and as International President of AKA, in which Sen. Harris is a member, I am doubly proud of this selection. I also commend Vice President Joe Biden for his insight to bring someone of Sen. Harris’ stature to the ticket. She is intelligent, experienced, charismatic and above all qualified for the job.” 

Glover added, “African-American women have been the backbone of this country, and now an African-American woman has the opportunity to ascend to the second highest office in the nation; with the opportunity to create policies that will impact us for generations to come.” 

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, a Women’s Studies faculty member and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU, said Harris is “historic on several levels.”

Morgan-Curtis said Harris’ selection is a continuation of the “wave of activism” during the 2018 midterm elections in which there were historic firsts for women of color. To name a few, Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Junior Tiara Thomas

TSU junior Tiara Thomas said it is inspiring to see someone who looks like her get a step closer to being the second most powerful person in the United States. 

“I think what Kamala Harris is doing for black women is what (former President) Barack Obama did for black men in America,” said Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, and the creator of TSU Votes, a social medial platform. “It gives us another crack in the glass ceiling.”

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black American and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, said Thomas, Harris is standing on her shoulders.

“it’s cool to see history kind of reinvent itself,” said Thomas. “To see a black woman actually be put on the (presidential) ballot, it’s amazing.”

In the four hours after Biden announced Harris as his running mate, ActBlue, the Democrats’ main fundraising platform, reported more than $10.8 million in donations. TSU political analysts predict Harris will have a similar effect on voters.

They say her selection will not only galvanize female voters, but all voters, particularly young ones, disgruntled over continued social injustice, like the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women due to police brutality.

“I’m always impressed with how worked up our students can get, and how they focus that on things,” said Erik Schmeller, a history professor and director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU.

“National organizations are also pushing the message, that this is your opportunity to get engaged and make a difference.”

TSU Political Science Professor Brian Russell predicts Harris, an alumna of Howard University and a member of the prominent black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., will cause more young people to consider attending HBCUs, especially if Biden is elected president.

“It’s going to energize a lot of younger African-American students to look in the HBCU direction,” said Russell. “That’s going to be exciting.”

To learn more about the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

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 political analysts say pandemic sets stage for historic 2020 General Election, predict strong turnout by young voters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Young people, galvanized over social injustice, are predicted to have a strong turnout in the General Election in November, Tennessee State University political analysts say. Their strong voting numbers are expected in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Junior Tiara Thomas

Brian Russell, a political science professor at TSU, says the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women due to police brutality is one main example of injustice that has energized young people to seek change, particularly in the case of elected officials.

“Think about how many people have gone out on the streets and protested,” says Russell. “That shows that people are motivated to do something, to make change.”

“When young people do come out in high numbers, things happen that don’t usually happen,” adds Russell. “Think about in 2008 when President (Barack) Obama was elected. That was an election when more young people than normal came out to vote.”

Russell says COVID-19 will affect voter turnout to some degree, but he doesn’t expect it to dampen the fervor to vote he’s seeing in young people around the country. TSU History Professor Erik Schmeller agrees.

“I’m always impressed with how worked up our students can get, and how they focus that on things,” says Schmeller, who is also the director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU.

“National organizations are also pushing the message, that this is your opportunity to get engaged and make a difference. Vote.”

Junior Tiara Thomas of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is among a number of students at TSU who are heeding that directive, and encouraging others to do the same. The political science major is the creator of TSU Votes, a social media platform that makes students aware of voting dates, what’s happening nationally in politics, as well as works with other voter advocacy organizations to ensure students stay informed.

“Not voting for my generation is not an option,” says Thomas, who also has a podcast that allows students to express their views about politics in general. “And I try to make sure that my peers know that.”

Russell Waters, a junior from Huntsville, Alabama, works with Thomas to spread awareness about voting. When students return in the fall, he says he plans to have flyers ready with election information, such as election deadlines, and using mail-in ballots if necessary.

Junior Russell Waters

“We’re really focusing on the General Election,” says Waters, a computer science major. “It’s a very important election. So, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing until Election Day.”

TSU students are not alone in their effort to make sure people vote. President Glenda Glover and TSU were recently selected by The General® Insurance to participate in Shaquille O’Neal’s social media challenge to encourage voter registration for the 2020 General Election.

The #MyStartingFive challenge was launched by SHAQ and Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum, alongside the national, nonpartisan non-profit organization, When We All Vote, whose mission is to increase voter participation in elections. The organization, launched by co-chair and former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2018, seeks to educate eligible voters on the power of their voice and their vote, and take action. Participants in the challenge will nominate five people to register and pledge to vote in November’s election via the When We All Vote #MyStartingFive voter registration portal: whenweallvote.org/mystartingfive.

To learn more about the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

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.