Category Archives: Alumni

AOB Celebrates Grammy Anniversary with Nashville Country Music Pop-Up Tribute

Call on the Grammy Award-winning Aristocrat of Bands (AOB), and you shall receive a historic performance. Tennessee State University’s AOB celebrated the anniversary of their Grammy win by delivering a performance inspired by the ‘Best Country Album’ Grammy nominees of this year’s award show. CBS contacted AOB for the performance to gear up for the prestigious awards ceremony that occurred this past Sunday. Music City tuned in and witnessed a spontaneous showcase as the AOB pop-up performance unfolded in front of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center downtown.

AOB warming up for the pop-up country music tribute as the performance unfolded in front of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. (Photo submitted)

Just days after receiving the call from CBS, AOB’s Director, Dr. Reginald McDonald, revealed that the band had just three days to prepare for the hour-long live performance. “Without hesitation, I was proud to relay the message to our band members that CBS entrusted us to deliver yet another historic performance, honoring this year’s Grammy nominees,” McDonald said.

As an HBCU band and the first collegiate band ever to win a Grammy, this presented another opportunity for AOB to showcase its musical range to the city of Nashville and beyond.

The band secured a Grammy for Best Roots Gospel Album, “The Urban Hymnal,” at the 65th annual ceremony held last year. The gospel album also features TSU’s New Direction Gospel Choir along with acclaimed gospel artist Jekalyn Carr, Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, J. Ivy, John P. Kee, Louis York, and more.

McDonald said the performance honoring this year’s Nashville nominees was an amazing way to celebrate their one-year Grammy anniversary.

For their pop-up show, the band kicked off the performance with ‘TSU Funk,’ an original by AOB. Following this, the band delivered renditions of songs from the ‘Best Country Album’ category, including “Smells Like Smoke” by Lainey Wilson, “Hey Driver” by Zach Bryan featuring The War and Treaty, “Nobody’s Nobody” by Brothers Osborne, “Penthouse” by Kelsea Ballerini, and “Rustin’ in the Rain” by Tyler Childers.

“This is another opportunity for our students to learn beyond the classroom and for people who may not be as familiar with HBCU bands to witness the excellence of TSU and what the university produces,” McDonald said.

As AOB continues to showcase their musical heights and leave a lasting impression on every stage they grace, this pop-up performance stands as a testament to TSU’s legacy and a great celebration of their one-year Grammy anniversary.

Listen to “The Urban Hymnal” album on all music streaming platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube, and Spotify.

TSU grad first Black female to help discover element for periodic table

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University graduate Clarice Phelps’s interest in chemistry began with mixing concoctions in the kitchen of her Nashville home at an early age. However, it wasn’t until her 10th-grade year at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School that she became captivated by science and developed a passion for chemistry. This passion laid the groundwork for her extraordinary journey of becoming the first Black woman to contribute to the discovery of an element on the periodic table. Beginning as a technician, she worked on purifying berkelium (BK), which was used to confirm element 117, now known as Tennessine. Tennessine is a chemical element with the symbol “Ts” on the periodic table and is classified as a halogen.

Phelps in the control room of the research facility at ORNL

“Taking a seat at the periodic table didn’t happen overnight, it was actually a 20-year journey” reflected the TSU grad.

After earning her chemistry degree from TSU, Phelps later obtained a Master’s in Nuclear and Radiation Engineering from UT Austin. Her path led her to the Navy for four years, where she applied her chemistry skills to radioactive materials, a pivotal role for her in the scientific community.

In 2009, Phelps joined the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, following her stint in the Navy. Two years later she conducted the purification work, a critical step in the discovery process, she said. Phelps and other lab members isolated the purified chemicals, shipped them to Germany and Russia, where they were used as target material to produce atomic number 117.

In 2016, she received the official confirmation that Tennessine was part of the periodic table. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that she learned she was the first Black woman involved in discovering an element, recognized by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

“Disbelief, shock, and disbelief again,” is how Phelps responded to recognition. “I had to Google it, and I still was in disbelief. However, I thought about me – as a little girl, desperately looking for someone like me in science who was an inspiration, and it changed my perspective.”

Twenty-five percent of African American graduates with STEM degrees come from HBCUs, according to the United Negro College Fund.

Phelps said her higher education journey beginning at TSU was very impactful for her academic, professional, and personal career. “TSU was instrumental in establishing and building upon the confidence that I call upon to take up space where no space was made for me,” Phelps said. “I have found that by applying my knowledge, showing that I can do the work and serving my community by sharing in that knowledge is how I actively live out ‘Think. Work. Serve.'”

TSU chemistry professor Dr. Cosmas Okoro was Phelps’ assistant professor and advisor in 2000 and spoke highly of her both as a student then and as a chemist now. “She is very persistent, and she wasn’t afraid to ask questions,” Okoro said. “I am very proud of her accomplishments and this honor.” Dr. Okoro said Phelps is active in the chemistry community at her alma mater, as she was a keynote speaker for several virtual chemistry classes throughout the years.

Phelps anticipates that her groundbreaking discovery will impact the scientific community, especially in her field. “It will change the small-yet-growing community of African American scientists and other scientists from marginalized communities,” she said. “Being able to see something of themselves, to feel the common struggles that I share in this journey, to know the common invisibility of our impact on the scientific community, will be significant.”

Reflecting on her career challenges as a Black woman, Phelps noted that there were many challenges. “The most significant challenge is being seen, heard, supported, and respected. It has been my experience that you are relatively invisible in the scientific community if you are a Black woman.”

She added that many times throughout her journey she felt small or even dismissed. “But to be in this position now just confirms what I have always known about myself – that greatness is my destiny.”

Phelps said this opportunity is a once in a lifetime as she is leaving a legacy behind.

“One that will surpass my current existence,” she said. “It is healing in a way as well because I feel that I have become what I was looking for all those years ago.”

Phelps emphasized the importance of exposing Black children to STEM careers, stating, “Exposing children to STEM at an early age allows them to naturally develop an inclination towards it.”

Phelps is currently working on her doctorate in Nuclear Engineering and hopes her work will serve as the catalyst for more conversations focused on minority STEM involvement, diversity in science, and addressing biases in the scientific community. She aims to make science a relatable and appealing career opportunity for historically disenfranchised communities, she said.

Phelps believes her story serves as a testament to breaking barriers, leaving a lasting legacy, and inspiring the next generation of Black scientists.

TSU kicks off spring semester with orientation for nearly 200 freshmen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The spring semester at Tennessee State University began with a successful freshman orientation, which helped to prepare over 200 incoming students for life at TSU. The orientation, held a week prior to the start of classes, provided a platform for the new students and their parents to interact with enrollment and recruitment officials.  In the packed Forum on the main campus, discussions covered a wide range of topics, including financial aid, academic advising, class scheduling, residence life, and student activities.

Incoming freshman Amoree Alexander and her family tour campus during Freshman Orientation. From left are, grandmother Donna Alexander, Amoree, sister Phoenix Alexander, and mother Makalea Alexander.

For many participants, the orientation served as the starting point for their college journey. Amoree Alexander, from Clarksville, Tennessee, was one of those students. Alexander is majoring in civil engineering and is eager to continue the family legacy at TSU. She expressed her enthusiasm for the faculty and students following orientations.

“The faculty is super nice, and the students are very welcoming.  Besides, my grandmother came here. So, I am also here to get that HBCU experience.”

Davieon Moss’ mother, Dr. Effua Ampadu, right, holds two degrees from TSU. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Davieon Moss, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was drawn to TSU due to the positive experiences his mother had at the university while earning her master’s and doctorate degrees. Moss, a music major, was particularly enticed by TSU’s world renowned music program and the Grammy award-winning Aristocrat of Bands marching band.

“I am no stranger to TSU. With a great music program that has two Grammys to its name, this is the place I want to be.”

Davieon’s mother, Dr. Effua Ampadu, a former TSU instructor, praised the thoroughness of the orientation process and the institution’s commitment to taking care of its students. Recalling her personal experience as a graduate and former student, Ampadu said, “This institution was good to me, and I am sure it will be good to him as well.”

Chelsea Morgan, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, urges the new students to make sure all of their questions are answered.

Chelsea Morgan, assistant director of Undergraduate Admissions and Transfer Enrollment, kicked off the orientation with a comprehensive slide presentation on various topics and advised students on how to navigate college life seamlessly. Morgan stressed the availability of support resources.

“We are here for you, so make sure you get your questions answered before you leave,” Morgan told students.

“Whether it’s selecting the right classes, understanding student conduct, or utilizing disability services, we are here to assist you.”

Dr. Brent Dukhie, left, Assistant Dean for Student Services, and Dr. Tasha A. Carson, Assistant Vice President of First-Year Students, give the new Tigers tips on seamlessly navigating campus life. (photo by Aaron Grayson)

Others speaking at the student orientation included Chief Operating Officer Jason T. Evans and LaMar Octavious-Scott, the director of Admissions. Evans extended a warm welcome to students and their families and encouraged them to make the most of the orientation by asking questions and seeking answers. Octavious-Scott coordinated the program and said the event was organized to effectively address the needs of the incoming freshmen.

For more information on admissions at Tennessee State University, visit www.tnstate.edu/admissions.

TSU mourns the loss of alumna and former trustee Dr. Edith P. Mitchell

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University extends condolences to the family of alumna Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell, who served on the TSU Board of Trustees from 2017 to 2019. In addition to her distinguished service at TSU, Dr. Mitchell’s legacy resonates through her remarkable achievements in the U.S. Air Force and the healthcare profession.

“Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell was a close friend and a staunch supporter of TSU,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Dr. Mitchell always made herself available whenever I called upon her to serve in any capacity for the university. She exemplified our institution’s motto of think, work, serve as a trailblazer, civil rights leader, and healthcare advocate. Her family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Dr. Mitchell’s commitment to making individuals in underserved communities a priority is a testament to the legacy she leaves behind. She was the first woman physician to attain the rank of U.S. Air Force Brigadier General and completed 36 years in the armed forces, earning more than 15 military service medals and ribbons, including the Legion of Merit.

Dr. Mitchell served as the Enterprise Vice President for Cancer Disparities at Jefferson Health’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia and as the 116th president of the National Medical Association. She also chaired the advisory board for the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute at TSU. She attended and spoke at each white coat ceremony to encourage and support the program and its scholars. Due to her position at Sidney Kimmel Medical School at Jefferson University, she even made it possible for two TSU scholars to receive admission and support from the institution annually.

Barbara Murrell, chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute, has cherished a lifelong friendship with Mitchell since 1965 when she met her as a student at TSU.

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Dr. Edith Mitchell,” Murrell said. “She was an individual extraordinaire who broke the glass ceiling and opened the pathway in so many ways, always overcoming the barriers set to prevent access for advancement. She was a brilliant woman who was loved and respected.”

Dr. Mitchell received a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Tennessee State University and her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.

Murrell talked about the love and passion Dr. Mitchell had for her alma mater and the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute. “She worked diligently to impact the lives of young deserving students, sharing her expertise, counsel, and influence to advance the Institute Team and Scholars. She will be missed.”

Since she began her journey at Jefferson University in 1995, along with serving as the Enterprise Vice President for Cancer Disparities, Dr. Mitchell was a clinical professor in medicine and medical oncology. During this time, she took on various leadership positions, including the role of director at the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities and the Associate Director for Diversity Affairs at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Her dedication to addressing healthcare disparities was evident not only through her administrative roles but also in her hands-on work as a clinical professor, further emphasizing her commitment to advancing healthcare equality.

Throughout her academic medical career, Dr. Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCCP, FRCP (London), prioritized individuals in medically underserved communities, making a lasting impact on the landscape of healthcare equality and access.

TSU President Glover says institution will get to the “promised land” of equal funding

By Alexis Clark, Kelli Sharpe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Days before the nation celebrated the MLK Day of Service, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover shared her own mountain top experience at the annual presidential prayer service held January 10. Stating that TSU will get to the “promised land” of equal funding, President Glover delivered a powerful, spirit-filled keynote address to mark her final presidential prayer service. The near capacity crowd filled the sanctuary, at the historic Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, to hear from TSU’s first female president and alumna to lead the institution.

Many stood to their feet as President Glover declared how thankful she is to have been chosen to lead her alma mater and that her calling is to bring HBCUs and TSU to their rightful place of equal funding, rights, and fairness. In a ‘preacher-like’ tone reminiscent of the clergy members joining her in pulpit, the crowd hung on her every word and one point encouraged her to stay on as president.

The near capacity crowd filled the sanctuary at the historic Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church to hear from President Glenda Glover at her final presidential prayer service.

“I’m thankful that God entrusted me with the leadership of such a significant university,” Glover said as the crowd erupted with applause.

“We will get to our ‘promise land’ for TSU. I may have finished my course, but I have not finished my calling. A course ends, but a calling lasts forever. My calling is to change the lives of students.”

With the crowd on their feet, Dr. Glover told them she was speaking from the scripture that applies to her assignment at TSU.

 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”  She asked the crowd to please receive her retirement as she nears the end of her TSU journey.

President Glover expressed pride in the university’s increased national platform, as she reflected on her journey from a girl in poverty stricken South Memphis to leading TSU for 11 years. She spoke of her challenges and successes.

President Glenda Glover

An impressive list of accomplishments was shared in the event’s program book. This included record enrollment, successfully navigating the institution through the pandemic, record $100 million plus in research awards and another $100 million in the TSU endowment, several new buildings, including two new residence halls, and securing $250 million from the State of Tennessee, the largest one-time appropriation from a state to a historically black college or university (HBCU).

She also spoke passionately about the ongoing “good fight” for TSU and for HBCUs nationwide, advocating for equal opportunities for students with equitable funding.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education announced that 16 of the nation’s governors collectively owed their respective land-grant HBCUs $13 billion. Tennessee State University was identified as the HBCU with the largest underfunding owed amount by a state, totaling $2.1 billion.

President Glover shared that she is committed to supporting her successor, and will forever ‘bleed blue’ for TSU to the crowd at Jefferson Street Baptist church.

 “My legacy is that I fought for TSU. It is a fight worth fighting,” Glover said.

Prominent clergy members, community leaders, and individuals from all denominations gathered at the annual event, representing the diversity of the Nashville community. Alongside members of the clergy and supporters from nearby HBCUs, elected officials also attended in support of TSU and Glover. Mayor Freddie O’Connell, State Reps. Dr. Harold Love Jr., and Sam McKenzie, former Metro Council member Sharon Hurt, and former senator Brenda Gilmore, were among the crowd.

The newly elected mayor took the podium and spoke about his favorite prayers, gratitude, and Glover’s longevity as a pillar in the community.

“Her tenure as TSU’s leader does begin right here with themes of unity and inclusion,” O’Connell said.

“She knew how important it was for TSU to connect with the community and vice versa. It was Dr. Glover’s ideal way of connecting TSU with the churches and neighborhoods faith-based institutions.”

This years’ service included newcomers on the front pew, like TSU student leaders SGA President Derrell Taylor, Vice President Chrishonda O’Quinn, Mister and Miss TSU Davin Latiker and Victoria McCrae, along with TSU Board of Trustee student representative Shaun Wimberly, Jr. O’Quinn, a Chicago native, described the setting and President Glover’s message as a powerful experience.

“Knowing that she led with her faith being first really made me feel empowered,” O’Quinn said.

TSU student leaders present during Dr. Glover’s final presidential prayer service.

“It made me want to apply it to my personal journey. It really shows that TSU has strong ties within the community. It’s not just within TSU alumni, but the community in Nashville and beyond.”

Rev. Aaron X. Marble, pastor of Jefferson Street, presided over the program as his church has hosted the event since its conception in 2013. Pastor Marble asked everyone to stand on their feet to thank the president for her tenure and commitment to TSU. She received a rousing applause and standing ovation.

“God has used her to navigate and steer our beloved institution to tremendous heights in incredible ways,” Marble said.

“We take the time to say thank you for your leadership, thank you for your service, and thank you for your commitment to prayer.”

President Glover shared that she is committed to supporting her successor, and will forever ‘bleed blue’ for TSU. The crowd stood and cheered during her closing remarks as she talked about her efforts and what she hoped her legacy will reveal about presidency.

“I tried to help students, keep students in school, and raise money to get them off the purge list.

I tried to meet with parents, work in the community, and I tried to love when it was difficult.

I tried to serve God with all I had. Every time I did a speech, in every delivery, every seminar, and in every testimony, I tried to lift up the name of Jesus.”

President Glover will have served for 11 and a half years when she retires at the end of the semester. A Salute to Excellence Gala is planned for April 13, 2024, in her honor.

TSU kicks off semester focused on continued excellence and underfunding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Highlighting major accomplishments, headline grabbing news, and historic underfunding, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover delivered her final address to faculty and staff.

President Glover took the stage in front of over 200 employees and reflected on the remarkable achievements and pride she felt for the university and its dedicated staff. After leading the institution for eleven years, President Glover will retire following the 2023-2024 academic year.

Over 200 faculty and staff members applauds Dr. Glover after highlighting the university’s 2023 accomplishments and achievements.

“TSU will continue to be a great university,” Glover said. “We will continue to win. This is more than a full-circle moment for me,” she said due to graduating from TSU in 1974. “This is a 50-year blessing. Serving as TSU president has been an honor of a lifetime. I am forever grateful for the love and support.”

President Glover covered an array of topics during her State of the University address, including expectations for the semester and TSU’s strategic plan to receive $2.1 billion in underfunding.  

She began by highlighting some of the university’s most significant accomplishments this past year. Kean Hall was filled with pride as she reiterated that TSU had surpassed the monumental milestone of $100 million in endowments and $100 million in research funding, setting a new TSU record. The president also highlighted that this academic year was set as the second-highest year of enrollment with over 8,100 students.

President Glover said the plan for the university is to continue charting a strategic path toward reaching R1 research status and establishing new degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The new proposed academic programs consist of a Ph.D. in public health, Ph.D. in executive leadership in urban education, Master of Science in business data analytics, Master of Science in nutrition and wellness, and a Bachelor of Science in Africana studies.

Faculty and staff join hands to sing the university alma mater to conclude this semester’s FSI.

“We have also revamped the entire health and wellness plan to meet the needs of our students,” Glover said, noting the focus on increasing the emphasis on mental health and counseling.

The president’s address continued, highlighting the significant improvements in campus infrastructure and buildings, including ceiling and flooring upgrades, interior design, electrical and HVAC systems updates in several campus academic buildings, and the main student cafeteria.

Glover then took a dive deep into the different levels of underfunding calculated by the state and federal government.  TSU is only one of two land-grant institutions in the State of Tennessee, and this has been the source of the underfunding.

In 2019 a state legislative committee revealed it shorted TSU over $544 million dollars in land-grand funding over several decades. In 2022, Gov. Bill Lee and lawmakers allocated $250 million to TSU, as the largest one-time investment to a historically Black university by a state. President Glover shared how the funds were being used for much needed capital improvement infrastructure projects, as outlined by the State. The biggest lump sum is an early childhood education building price at $35.7 million, an electrical master plan, at $33.3 million, and the entrepreneurship and industry partnerships at $30 million. This money will also be utilized for roofing the Gentry Center Complex, library infrastructure and more. TSU also received additional, separate funding of $68 million for an engineering building.

AOB Director Dr. Reginald McDonald delivers a surprise performance, serenading President Glover with a saxophone tribute to conclude her final FSI meeting as president.

Last Fall, it was then announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education stating that 16 of the nation’s governors collectively owed their respective land-grant HBCUs $13 billion. Tennessee State University was listed as having the largest underfunding owed amount by a state at $2,147,784,704. President Glover noted that she met with the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Education officials to determine how the $2.1 billion was calculated over a period of 33 years, from 1987 to 2020. 

President Glover continued by sharing TSU’s comprehensive 5-year underfunding restoration plan on how the $2.1 billion could be phased to fund projects. The first year is slated for $285 million, followed by $450 million for three consecutive years, followed by $512 million to close out year five.

President Glover finished her address with hopeful words to the listening ears of the faculty and staff.

“TSU is such an extraordinary place. Everyone at TSU matters,” she said. “We will continue to succeed and advance our university. We had less to work with, but we still got there. We saw unfair treatment, but we are still here.”

Laurence Pendleton provide updates on the president’s search at FSI.

Prior to President Glover’s state of the university address, there were remarks from Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Robbie Melton, the Chair of the Faculty Senate Dr. Artenzia Young-Seigler, Staff Senate Chair Reginald Cannon, and General Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Trustees Laurence Pendleton. Glover asked Pendleton to provide an update on the president’s search.

“The number one thing we can do to honor her legacy is to make sure we have a great search for the next president of TSU,” Pendleton said during FSI.

Pendleton noted that the search process involves not only the board of trustees but the entire community, as there is a search committee in place as of September 2023. TSU’s search committee is set to commence its evaluation process of candidates. Ultimately, on-campus interviews of finalist candidates followed by the board appointing a new president by April.

FSI concluded with a surprise performance from Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of the Aristocrat of Bands. He serenaded President Glover with a saxophone tribute to end her last FSI meeting as president.

President Glover then thanked everyone and said, “Stay strong. We are unshakable. This is our university. As we move forward, we will take TSU higher and higher. We are TSU, TSU forever.”

 Glover will have served as TSU’s first female and alumna president for 11 and a half years when she retires at the end of the semester. A Salute to Excellence Gala is planned for April 13, 2024, in her honor.

TSU honors students win national HBCU research competition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Honors students are champions once again, securing the first and second places in scholarly research at the National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP) Conference for the second consecutive year.

The 32nd annual NAAAHP conference took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the fall semester, where TSU honors college students competed against students from 10 other HBCUs nationwide in various categories. Hosted by Southern University, the competition featured TSU honors students excelling in the research poster category, the quiz bowl category, and Honors Got Talent.

Meaghan Lewis, a senior honors biology major, claimed the first-place victory for her cancer research presentation.

Meaghan Lewis claimed first-place victory for her cancer research presentation at the NAAAHP conference. (Photo submitted)

“I was shocked,” Lewis said reflecting on her achievement. “I worked very hard, and I was very happy. I felt achieved that all my hard work paid off.” The previous year, Lewis secured second place in the same research category and expressed pride in reentering the competition and clinching the first-place victory.

Her research, titled “The Role of Toll-Like Receptors 3, 4, and 8 in Tributyltin Stimulation of Tumor Necrosis Factor a Production by Human Immune Cells,” won accolades for content, in depth research, presentation, and quality.

Currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Margaret Whalen in the department of chemistry, Lewis initiated her cancer research during her freshman year at TSU.

“It shows TSU students that if you put in the work and get into these research opportunities presented around campus, you will gain the knowledge and show that you can be one of the best.”

Eseoghene Ogaga, a senior studying honors biology, won second place in her poster presentation titled “The Role of IL-17R Signaling in the Stomach Epithelium During H. pylori infection.” Ogaga is TSU representative collaborating with Vanderbilt University and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Quiz Bowl team of five won the trophy for second place. The team consists of Tyler Vazquez, Morgan Gill, Kaitlin Skates, Kara Simmons, and Jada Womack. Skates earned third place in the Honors Got Talent category. All participating students received monetary awards.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, the dean of the Honors College, said she is proud of the achievements of TSU honors students, highlighting their academic and scholarly excellence. Dr. Jackson, a past president of the NAAAHP, said, “TSU is known to produce outstanding researchers among our peer institutions. We returned to defend our research title and won the coveted first and second place winners. These students are products of our world-class faculty.”

Dr. John Miglietta, a professor of political science and the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) coach, prepared the TSU Honors students for the quiz bowl competition. Last spring, the team earned a spot in the top eight teams at the National Tournament held in Torrance, California.

Dr. Tyrone Miller, Associate Director of the Honors College, served as the Honorary coach at the conference.

The three categories were part of NAAAHP’s annual national conference, where HBCU students engage in a Model African Union, debate, research presentations, and quiz bowl competitions. This marked TSU’s second-ever championship in the NAAAHP quiz bowl tournament.

The National Association of African American Honors Programs, founded in 1990, is a national consortium of HBCU honors programs promoting scholarship, professional development, community service, and an appreciation of African-American culture. For more information, visit www.naaahp.org.

Fall Preview Day gives students glimpse of HBCU experience

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 500 high school juniors and seniors, accompanied by their families, filled Kean Hall for Tennessee State University’s Fall Preview Day. The annual event, held during the first week in December, is considered the university’s premier open house, which allows prospective students to explore TSU’s offerings, admission processes, and campus life. Among the enthusiastic attendees were McKenzie Nichole Brittingham, Kamdyn Marie Thomas, and Tavus Wright Jr., and their parents, who, despite the bad weather, were determined to learn more about TSU.

LaMar Octavious-Scott, right, Director of Admissions, presents Kamdyn Marie Thomas her certificate of admission, as her mother, Mekisha, and father, Timothy look on.

For Brittingham, of Memphis, Tennessee, choosing TSU was an easy decision. “I want to major in mass communication, and I want that HBCU experience. I can get both here,” she said confidently, with the support of her mother, Cheryl Rhea, who emphasized that it had always been her daughter’s dream to attend an HBCU, especially TSU.

Wright Jr., accompanied by his parents, Crystal and Tavus Wright Sr., made the journey from Macon, Georgia to visit TSU. Wright had already experienced TSU once before during a football camp, which left a lasting impression. “I was really impressed with what I saw and decided then that this is where I want to spend my college years,” he said. Wright has his sights set on a healthcare major and found TSU to be the perfect fit for his aspirations.

Dr. Portia Johnson, Director of Recruitment and Campus Visits, gives the visiting students and their parents a passionate welcome, as COO Jason T. Evans cheers her on.

COO Jason T. Evans welcomed students and highlighted the exceptional programs TSU offers and introduced key staff to guide attendees through the admissions process and to answer questions. 

“Today, you get to meet our outstanding faculty members and advisors who will tell you about our offerings, scholarships, other programs, and the benefit of a TSU education,” Evans said.

Brenda Collier, left, Coordinator of Undergraduate Recruitment and Advisement in the College of Health Sciences, speaks with Tavus Wright, Jr., and his family about programs in the college. Along with Wright, Jr., are his mother, Crystal, younger brother Elijah, and his father Tavus Wright, Sr.

Prospective students also had the opportunity to interact with current students and gain insight into campus culture and the supportive learning environment.

Timothy and Mekisha Thomas, proud HBCU graduates themselves, were delighted with their daughter Kamdyn Marie Thomas’ decision to choose TSU. Kamdyn, graduating high school with a remarkable 4.0 grade point average, plans to major in biology, with a particular interest in the renowned Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute, and the Honors College at TSU.

“We are very excited for our daughter and the choice she has made to come to TSU,” Timothy said. Kamdyn added, “Tennessee State is the best choice for me. It is closer to home, and I like the programs.”

McKenzie Nichole Brittingham, middle, who is already admitted, along with her mother, Cheryl Rhea, receives a ‘TSU Bound’ welcome from Denise Carpenter-Hulbert, Senior Academic Enrichment Coordinator in the Office of Student Success.

Participants were not only impressed by the wealth of information and engaging activities offered during Fall Preview Day, but they also expressed their admiration for the exceptional organization and seamless processes that characterized the event.

Fall Preview Day, coordinated by Dr. Portia Johnson, Director of Recruitment and Campus Visits, and LaMar Octavious-Scott, Director of Admissions, brought participants from over 15 states, including California, Illinois, and Michigan. Johnson emphasized the significance of Fall Preview Day, stating, “This event is an ideal opportunity for these prospective students to see firsthand how TSU can shape their academic and personal growth.”

Registration is open for spring and fall 2024 classes. For more information on admissions at TSU, visithttps://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.

TSU joins campaign highlighting value of 4-year education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is participating in the “Four The Future” campaign, a consortium of 10 public universities in Tennessee. This collaborative effort aims to raise awareness about the value of higher education from a public university perspective.

President Glenda Glover

The “Four The Future” campaign will engage community and business leaders, prospective students, and citizens in a multi-year effort to emphasize the importance of a four-year degree. The focus will be on workforce development, training, and economic growth, highlighting the essential role that higher education plays in these areas.

President Glenda Glover commented on TSU’s involvement and its contributions to the campaign, saying, “At TSU, we are committed to providing a world-class education, engaging in impactful community outreach, promoting excellence, and molding young minds. As a Carnegie Designated Research Two institution, we play a significant role in supplying graduates in high demand careers for education, health care, business, agricultural sciences, engineering and many more. Securing employment is the best return on your investment.”

COO Jason T. Evans

TSU’s Chief Operating Officer, Jason T. Evans, will serve as the university’s liaison with “Four The Future.” Evans expressed his excitement about the campaign. “We are delighted to join forces with other Tennessee universities to showcase the value of a four-year degree,” Evans said. “TSU has a rich history of transforming lives through education, and this collaboration allows us to further highlight the impact our institution and others in the consortium have on the state.”

In addition to its commitment to higher education and workforce development, TSU has established numerous partnerships with major corporations and entities that are in line with the vision of Four The Future. These collaborations aim to enhance the skills and knowledge of employees, further contributing to workforce development efforts.

For instance, the university recently entered into a groundbreaking agreement with Amazon, the global e-commerce and technology company. The partnership enables Amazon’s hourly employees to take college courses as part of the company’s Career Choice program, a $1.2 billion commitment to upskill over 300,000 employees by 2025. Through Four The Future, TSU remains committed to providing innovative solutions for workforce development, enhancing the educational experiences of students and Tennesseans alike.

The other participating institutions in the “Four The Future” campaign are Austin Peay University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of Tennessee Martin, and University of Tennessee Southern.

Visit https://fourthefuturetn.com for more information on the “Four The Future” campaign. 

TSU enjoys private screening courtesy of alumna Oprah Winfrey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Christmas gift arrived early for TSU, and it was wrapped in the color purple. TSU alumna Oprah Winfrey treated the Tennessee State University community to an early Christmas celebration with an exclusive screening of The Color Purple ahead of its official debut on Christmas Day. Over 150 students, staff, and community members gathered at the event, dressed in hues of purple to honor the highly anticipated movie.

All dressed in purple, Dr. Glenda Glover embraces and engages in conversation with participants at ‘The Color Purple’ movie screening held at Regal Hollywood theater.

Prior to the movie starting TSU President Glenda Glover expressed her gratitude. “We are thankful to Ms. Winfrey for her thoughtfulness and for giving her TSU family an advanced screening of the film before its opening on Christmas Day.”

Timothy Brewer Jr., a senior studying agricultural sciences said it was a great moment for students, faculty, and alumni to come together and recognize this film. “I love that this is a TSU exclusive,” he said. “It shows the potential of the current students at the university, and what we can achieve because our alumni are setting the paths of what dreams are made of.”

As students enjoyed the musical remake of The Color Purple, Shaniya Harris, a junior studying psychology, shared her appreciation. “The movie was great. I became even more grateful for what women have now because the norm was for us to be treated any kind of way,” she said.

Zaya Bryant, left, and Shaniya Harris at regal Hollywood theater snacking on popcorn at The Color Purple movie screening.

Zaya Bryant, a TSU junior and Nashville native, mentioned that she didn’t fully appreciate the original movie’s magnitude when she was younger. “So, having the opportunity to see this with my TSU community is great. I can take in what our TSU alumna has done, and it makes everything feel really full circle,” said Bryant, who is an early childhood education major.

TSU’s generosity extended beyond the campus by partnering with the YWCA and invited their clients. Dr. Daffany Baker, Vice President of domestic violence services of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, coordinated the trip and brought 20 clients from their Weaver Domestic Violence center and their family members to view the screening.

Timothy Brewer Jr., said it was a great moment for students, faculty, and alumni to come together and recognize this film produced by alumna Oprah Winfrey.

“The color that represents domestic violence is purple,” Baker said, noting that their mission of eliminating racism and empowering women correlated with the movie regarding growth, transition, and prosperity.

“Just to see how our clients felt was amazing,” she said. “They loved it and felt very encouraged. They were overjoyed to come to a movie in general. We are grateful that TSU allowed us the opportunity to share the screening of The Color Purple.

Sharon K. Roberson, President and CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee also noted how this film mirrors their mission and expressed appreciation for this opportunity.

“It’s a blessing to be able to share this gift with survivors who have turned to us in their greatest time of need, and we hope the movie will inspire women to continue their journey of freedom, safety, and empowerment,” Roberson said.

Dr. Daffany Baker, Vice President of domestic violence services of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, takes a selfie with Dr. Glover before watching the musical remake of The Color Purple.

Before the screening began, Oprah Winfrey sent a heartfelt video message to her alma mater and those attending the screening.

“I don’t even have the words to say how happy I am to have you all gathered here tonight for this advance screening of The Color Purple.” Winfrey said in the video. “I wanted to create a special moment for you all, for my TSU community and family. TSU! TSU! I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. I hope you come away from this event this evening with your spirit full, that your heart is filled with joy, and you’re looking forward to the future and know that anything is possible when you notice the color purple.”

The Color Purple opens in theaters on Christmas Day with a star-studded cast, including American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and Oscar nominated actress Taraji P. Henson.