Category Archives: Alumni

Hundreds Expected for Exciting Admitted Student Day at TSU on May 18

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As graduation draws near for Tucker Kyne from Knoxville’s Cannon County High School, the spotlight is on his aspirations to play football for the Tennessee State University Tigers. Excitement grows as Kyne prepares to take the next step toward his dream by committing to attend TSU.

More than 400 students and family members participated in last year’s Admitted Students Day, in Poag Auditorium. (Media Relations File photo)

On May 18, Kyne, who wants to major in human performance and sports sciences, will be closer to realizing his dream when he joins nearly 700 other first-time freshmen to participate in Committed Students Day at TSU. The event, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Kean Hall on the main campus, promises to be a day filled with enthusiasm and possibilities.

“It will mean the world to me to play football for the Tigers and have the opportunity to earn a college degree as a student athlete,” says Kyne, as he expresses his eagerness to join the TSU community. “I am proud to be a TSU Tiger.”

For prospective participants, registration for Admitted Student Day opens on April 1. The program is designed to provide valuable insights into TSU’s academic offerings and campus life, guiding students toward a successful transition into their college journey. The day will be packed with engaging activities and informative sessions to address key questions and critical points for academic and student success.

LaMar-Octavious Scott, director of Admissions, encourages all interested students, applicants, and admitted individuals to participate in the event for Fall of 2024. He underscores the importance of the event in supporting students and their families through the enrollment process and ensuring a smooth and fulfilling start to their TSU experience.

“I want to invite all students that have interest, applied, and those admitted to join us at Admitted Students Day 2024,” says Scott.

Before participating in Committed Student Day, all invited students are provided with a Next Steps Checklist to ensure they comprehend the enrollment requirements. They are also urged to “Accept Admission,” register for New Student Orientation, apply for On-Campus Housing, as well as complete the 2024-2025 FAFSA form to apply for Federal Student Aid.

As the date approaches, families like Tucker Kyne’s parents eagerly await the chance to become part of TSU’s legacy of academic and athletic excellence. Paula Kyne, Tucker’s mother, says, “We are so thrilled for Tucker to attend a school with such rich tradition. Can’t wait to support the Tigers on Saturdays.”

For more information and to stay updated on Admitted Student Day, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/admitted.aspx.

TSU to honor President Glover at upcoming Salute to Excellence Gala

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Promising to be an evening to remember, Tennessee State University will host the Salute to Excellence Gala to honor President Glenda Glover on Saturday, April 13. The TSU family, Nashville community, and a who’s who list of friends, including national leaders and celebrities, will come together to celebrate President Glover’s leadership and legacy. The event will take place at the Grand Hyatt Nashville to commemorate her 12 years of dedicated service to her alma mater.

Grant Winrow

“This is a way for us to say farewell, but not goodbye,” said Grant Winrow, who is the co-chair of the ticketed gala event. “This is a celebration of praise to thank our fearless leader who embodies the true meaning of our motto, ‘think, work, serve,’ as the university’s president.”

Winrow said the celebration of Dr. Glover’s legacy exemplifies her leadership, ‘taking TSU to unimaginable heights.’

“Dr. Glover is a national figure who will continue to embody the TSU Tiger spirit. As her special assistant, I’d like to express my gratitude, as it has been quite an honor and a tremendous journey that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

The event will consist of a reception followed by dinner and a program hosted by TV and media personality Star Jones alongside comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley. The evening will be a celebration of excellence, with a performance by the TSU’s Grammy award-winning Aristocrat of Bands, fondly called AOB.

Madison Scott

TSU senior and head drum major Joshua Knox said he looks forward to being a part of the gala tribute to Dr. Glover.

He noted how special it is due to Glover’s involvement in their Grammy-winning journey, include being on the first song on the album. “As a band, we deeply appreciate all the support, words of encouragement, and her influence to open doors for us,” Knox said. “Her presence during our crucial moments, like our Rose Bowl performance in California, or our Juneteenth performance at the White House in Washington D.C. last summer, meant a lot to us.”

Joshua Knox

Madison Scott, a sophomore who is the co-captain of the Sophisticated Ladies, said with over a decade of leadership at TSU, Dr. Glover’s farewell will be one to remember.

“It’s significant to celebrate her to this magnitude because she definitely had a big impact on what TSU is today,” Scott said. “I know that she truly cares about the students and TSU as a whole. Dr. Glover is a president who listens and empathizes with the students, and I’ll forever appreciate that.”

Sammy Freeman, a criminal justice major, added that President Glover had been an inspiration to him, being from the same hometown of Memphis.  “President Glover showed me I could achieve whatever I set my mind to do,” Freeman said.

Sammy Freeman

“I recall her talking to a group of us, as freshmen, telling us that is does not matter where you start. It is the preparation and where you finish that matters most. She has done everything a president was supposed to do.”

SGA president Derrell Taylor remarked how the president’s leadership inspired him and other students as well.

“Dr. Glover’s unwavering dedication to our student body has left an indelible mark on our university’s history,” Taylor said. “As the first female president of our university, Dr. Glover has led by example and accomplished many milestones throughout her journey, paving the way to inspire future generations of leaders.

Derrell Taylor

On behalf of the student body, we are truly grateful for Dr. Glover’s commitment to advancing and advocating for TSU.”

President Glover decade-long accomplishments include consecutive years of record enrollment, successfully navigating the institution through the pandemic, record $100 million-plus in research awards, doubling the TSU endowment to $100 million, several new buildings, including a new residence hall, and securing $250 million from the State of Tennessee, the largest one-time appropriation from a state to an HBCU.

Dean Barbara Murrell

 “This is our way of saying thank you, Dr. Glover, for a job well done for an ever-lasting legacy,” stated Barbara Murrell, who is the co-chair of the event. “We wish her the very best in her future endeavors, hoping that the journey ahead will be filled with success and fulfillment as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.”

For more information regarding the Salute to Excellence Gala and to purchase tickets, visit www.tnstate.edu/salute/.

Student Advisor Nick Horton to join TSU Sports Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University freshmen advisor Nick Horton is headed to the TSU Sports Hall of Fame. On April 12, Horton will join 24 other former athletes for the special recognition. The 2024 TSU induction class includes NBA star Robert Covington, former NFL star Dominique Rogers-Cromatie, and the late legendary Tigerbelle Mamie Rallins, who will be honored posthumously. Horton is being celebrated for his outstanding track career and continued contributions to his alma mater.

Nick Horton receives a block in his honor at the Olympic Statue on campus in recognition of his becoming  TSU’s first Male Athlete of the Year in 2004. (Submitted photo)

“I am overjoyed, happy, and I think it is well deserved, but also humbled,” Horton said. “When I came to TSU, all I wanted to do was run. But to know that I will be mentioned in the same room with esteemed athletes and coaches is truly a remarkable honor.”

Horton graduated from TSU in 2004, as a decorated member of the Flying Tigers men’s track team. The Milwaukee native ran the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes and served as team captain in his junior and senior years. His accolades consist of 10 gold medals as an OVC champion, Athlete of the Week, Male Track Athlete of the Year, and representation in national and regional competitions. In 2021, he was inducted into the Dominican High School Athletic Hall of Fame for his achievement in track and field.

Horton’s dedication to mentoring students and guiding them toward success exemplifies his commitment to serving his university and community, something that is celebrated by his freshmen students and colleagues.

Nick Horton talks to incoming freshman and public health major Jaden Snider, about selecting the appropriate classes for her first semester. (Submitted photo)

“Mr. Horton was very kind and very helpful in advising me to take the right classes for my freshman semester,” said Jaden Snider, a public health major from Detroit. “From how he interacted with me, I am not surprised that he is being honored this way. He is a good mentor.”

Olympic gold medalist Chandra Cheeseborough, who is TSU track and field head coach and HOF inductee, praised Horton’s accomplishments, calling him a valuable asset to the university.

“I signed Nick to TSU as a student athlete, and he came to do great things. He was an outstanding athlete in the conference, and I am proud to see him return to contribute to our university’s legacy of success.”

Nick Horton specialized in the 200-meter and 400-meter dash as a Flying Tiger. (Submitted Photo)

Isabelle Langham, executive director of the Office of Student Success, commended Horton’s success, saying, “We are proud of Nick and celebrate this deserving honor. Nick is not only a decorated athlete but an exceptional advisor who cares deeply about students and TSU. I’m lucky to have been an undergraduate student on the yard during his tenure with TSU athletics and privileged to see him come back home and continue an undeniable legacy of service and excellence. We salute him and all the honorees.”

Former TSU Men’s Track Coach Kelly Carter recalled that Horton had the skills, upon meeting the freshman, and predicted he would excel in the sport.  “I thought he was going to be really good. I knew once he got the training that he needed, with his attitude and the way he carried himself, I just knew he was going to be great.”

The TSU Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 12 is at the Grand Hyatt on Broadway, in downtown Nashville, and is a part of the 2024 Coming Home Celebration.

PROFILE PHOTO
Nick Horton still holds records at Eastern Illinois Lantz Fieldhouse set in 2004, where he represented TSU in the NCAA Mideast Regional Championship. (Submitted photo)

TSU Pres. Glenda Glover, Senator Raphael Warnock headline Spring Commencement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University proudly announces that United States Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and President Glenda Glover will be taking the stage as the keynote speakers for the 2024 Spring Commencement ceremonies. Senator Warnock will address graduate school students on Friday, May 3 at the Gentry Center Complex. The event will start at 5 p.m.

Senator Warnock, who is also an HBCU graduate, holds an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and a master’s and PhD from Union Theological Seminary. The senator represents the State of Georgia and serves as Senior Pastor at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Ebenezer is the noted church of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Warnock is the youngest pastor selected to serve in that leadership role and has done so for over 16 years.

Senator Warnock was elected to the United States Senate in January 2021. Currently, he serves on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, as well as the Special Committee on Aging.

“We are pleased to welcome Senator Raphael Warnock to TSU,” said TSU President Glover. “Senator Warnock’s dedication to public service, commitment to social justice, and inspiring journey will undoubtedly resonate with our graduate school students. We look forward to an uplifting and memorable commencement ceremony with him.”

On Saturday, May 4, President Glover will deliver the keynote address, during the undergraduate ceremony, at Hale Stadium which begins at 8 a.m. It will mark her final commencement as president, a culmination of nearly 12 years of service to her alma mater.

“This momentous occasion holds a deep personal significance for me, as it symbolizes years of hard work and dedication from our incredible students,” commented Glover. “Students and faculty have often approached me about being the commencement speaker, and I believe this is the ideal time. It will be a privilege to stand before them in this capacity, sharing words of wisdom, inspiration, and encouragement as they celebrate this significant milestone that highlights the transformative power of education.”

George Pickens IV is graduating a year early, with a 3.9 GPA, and will earn a biology degree as a part of the inaugural class of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars. He recalled how President Glover recruited him to the accelerated medical program.

“President Glover was just so welcoming, heartwarming, and hospitable,” he said of their first meeting. “That is a big reason why I even decided to come to TSU. We’ve had a personal connection in which she has guided me throughout this journey. I wish Dr. Glover farewell, congratulations, and the best wishes for her future endeavors.”

The Florida native will attend medical school following graduation. “I’m extremely excited, but it’s also a bit bittersweet because my years at TSU have been some of the best years of my life,” Pickens added. “Just being able to connect with a plethora of like-minded individuals and the experiences I’ve had in this tight-knit community, it’s something I will definitely miss.” 

Kayla Jenkins, the senior class president, will obtain a degree in criminal justice next month when she walks across the stage. The Nashville native said she eagerly anticipates the president’s remarks. “I had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Glover on several occasions and witnessed her great leadership and dedication to the university firsthand. I look forward to her speech at graduation, that will close this chapter and set the stage for new beginnings.” Jenkins added that her aspirations are rooted in securing a position at the juvenile justice center in Nashville. “I am excited about what the future has in store for me,” Jenkins said as she reflected on her journey.

“My time at TSU has been nothing short of transformative.”

TSUs commencement will include 552 undergraduate students and 197 graduate students. TSU hopes graduates will make it “TSU for Two” and consider pursuing a second degree. University officials encourage graduates to arrive one hour before the ceremony due to parking. While masks are not required, everyone is asked to exercise caution.

TSU spring commencement will also be live streamed from the University’s YouTube channel at www.tnstate.edu/livestream .

Celebrating 60 years of excellence at the 2024 Spring Honors Convocation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University proudly hosted its 12th Annual University-wide Honors Convocation, recognizing nearly 3,000 students for their outstanding academic achievements and overall success. The event, themed “Timeless Achievements,” commemorated 60 years of honors excellence and showcased the remarkable accomplishments of thousands of TSU students.

President Glenda Glover

“For six decades, the TSU Honors College has invested in the good ground of top students who have distinguished themselves through scholarship, research, service, and academic excellence,” said Dr. Coreen Jackson, the Dean of the Honors College. “Indeed, the world itself has been the grateful beneficiary of the seeds of honors planted right here at Tennessee State University.”

The Honors Convocation celebrated distinguished undergraduates from all University disciplines, including 834 current Honors College members. This year, 149 Honors seniors were recognized, with eight of them achieving the President’s List status, students who maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout their time at TSU.

The Honors Convocation celebrated distinguished undergraduates from all University disciplines, including 834 current Honors College members.

President Glenda Glover was presented  with the inaugural speaker award during the event, in memory of her legacy. President Glover was a member of the Honors Program, as a student, and lead the transition of the program to become the Honors College. This was her final convocation as president.

“This Honors Convocation is more than a personal recognition, but it is a challenge to soar because you are called to a great responsibility,” Glover said. “You are called to high expectations.”

This year’s convocation was also the last for the first cohort of Dr. Levi Watkins Jr.,scholars as the students will be graduating this spring.

TSU seniors and biology majors John Kim, left, and Jaden Knight.

TSU seniors and biology majors Jaden Knight and John Kim, who are a part of the inaugural class, were proud to participate in their final honors convocation of their collegiate journey and closing it out with fellow cohorts. “I am a first-generation college student and will be the first to become a doctor,” Knight said. He left the convocation with a 4.0 GPA and some advice to the next Dr. Levi Watkins cohort scholars. “Lean on your fellow cohort members,” he said. “They’ll become your family, so definitely take advantage of that.”

“And leverage the networking opportunities that this program gives you,” Kim added, who will also become the first doctor in his family as well.

The 60th convocation was also a celebration of academic excellence for the students’ families, many of whom drove hours to witness.

Kennedy Cason, left, and her mother Missy Cason .

Missy Cason drove more than four hours to see her freshman daughter, Kennedy Cason, complete one of her first collegiate milestones. Cason, a freshman with a 3.75 GPA studying biology, said it felt great to be recognized. “It’s very good that Tennessee State takes the time out to acknowledge students like us who work hard and put their education first.”

Cason’s mother, Missy, said she wouldn’t have missed this moment for anything. “She’s doing well, and I’m proud of her,” Cason said about Kennedy. “We don’t know a student’s background, we don’t know where they come from, and to honor and recognize these students and let them know that they’re doing such a good job is a push they probably needed.”

TSU honored Attorney James Clayborne Jr., as the distinguished guest speaker for the Honors Convocation. He is a TSU alumnus with a degree in political science and serves on the TSU Foundation Board of Directors. As the Founding Partner of the only African American certified minority-owned law firm between Chicago and Kansas City, he brought over two decades of experience in municipal law, product liability, commercial litigation, personal injury, and class actions.

Attorney James Clayborne Jr.

Clayborne Jr.’s speech was about experiencing positive energy, putting forth faith over fear, and conquering life with a great attitude. “Don’t be too afraid to take the first step,” he told the students.

“When you wake up in the morning, it’s your opportunity with the right attitude and faith to begin to write the script on how your movie and your life will end.”

He talked about being hopeful in fulfilling those dreams and associating with the right individuals to succeed. “TSU, may success follow you throughout your life and may you have the right attitude and courage to do what’s right.”

For more information on the TSU Honors College, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/honors/ .

TSU hosts successful ‘Ag Week’ celebration

By Charlie Morrison 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – During the week of March 11- 16, Tennessee State University put its own spin on national ‘Ag Week’ with a six-day long celebration highlighting student life in the College of Agriculture. Activities included battery recycling, trivia, therapy animals, and an electric car show, along with guest speakers, tours, discussions, and catered lunches. As evidenced by the smiling faces, laughter, and rounds of applause that permeated the event, it was well-received by hundreds of TSU students.

A TSU student, left, speaks with Dr. Kaushalya Amarasekare during day 2 of the week long celebration highlighting student life in the College of Agriculture.

The event coincided with national Ag Week, which kicked off on March 18 across the country. Students, faculty members, and College administrators came out in droves each day, marking the first Ag Week post Covid-19.

“We like to take a moment each year to celebrate who we are as an academic community,” College of Agriculture Dean Dr. Chandra Reddy said.

“We think happy students are productive students, I believe it’s important to create an environment of joy around our community, and that’s what we tried to do with Ag Week 2024.”

The Departments of Agriculture Science and Engineering and Food and Animal Sciences shared the first day of Ag Week 2024. This included a showcase in which faculty presented their vision for the department’s future, before shifting gears to a Food and Animal Sciences Department trivia competition. The first day closed out with a build-your-own ice cream sundae event featuring therapy animals, several hayride tours of the TSU Agricultural Research and Education Center farms.

Dean Reddy, left, with Jules Smith, a Kroger representative, following Smith’s video presentation on crafting formal business pitches during the College of Agriculture’s Ag Week.

Day two of Ag Week 2024 was dedicated to the newly established Agribusiness Department and “Agribusiness Day” at the Farrell-Westbrook Building Auditorium featuring a video presentation on the art of making formal business pitches, a presentation from a Kroger representative, followed by presentations and discussions on the topic led by TSU Ag undergraduates Kerrington Howard and Omari Mason.

The Department of Environmental Science took over day three of the celebration with a battery recycling event preceding the annual TSU Ag Student Appreciation Day cookout held Wednesday offering free barbecue and an electric vehicle car show.

TSU Ag’s Human Sciences Department celebration was kicked off with a student recognition breakfast in Humphries Hall, followed by a lunch with Human Sciences program students and faculty where they created homemade pizzas, and a custom tote bag and hat creation event sponsored by the TSU Fashion Society.

The Department of Environmental Science hosted a day during Ag week that featured an electric car show on campus.

TSU Ag then held annual awards luncheon the next day, recognizing standout students, faculty members, and staff at the College of Agriculture over the past calendar year in categories such as Outstanding Young Researcher, Outstanding Extension Agent, and Outstanding Teaching Faculty.

 “The College of Agriculture is one big family where we share in hard work, camaraderie, and school spirit,” said Dr. De’Etra Young, associate dean of Academics and Land-grant Programs.

“Ag Week is really just about celebrating that family, having some fun, and sharing some laughs with that family. It is a moment each year when the academic side of things takes a back seat to the community aspect of the College, when we chat, we eat, we do activities all in the name of growing that sense of family, that sense of community here at TSU Ag.”

The week-long event rounded out with the College’s annual Awards Luncheon on Friday and the “Ag Alumni and Friends Day” event on Saturday. Students got the opportunity to network with agriculture alumni.

Dr. Young added that TSU’s Ag Week was a significant contribution to community building for the College of Agriculture and the university.

To learn more about the college of Agriculture, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Dr. Jason Smith receives OVC Outstanding Faculty Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Ask students in Tennessee State University’s Human Performance and Sports Sciences (HPSS) about Dr. Jason Smith and all will have the same response. Dr. Smith is known for his dedication, leadership, mentorship, and open-door policy.

These are just some of the reasons he received one of the 2024 Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Outstanding Faculty – Commitment to Student Success Awards.

Smith’s honor was announced at the 2024 OVC Basketball Championship

“As professors, we all devote a considerable amount of time to ensure our students’ success,” Smith said. “This award makes me feel proud of the time I dedicated, knowing it contributed meaningfully to the success of our students.”

The award recognizes educators who have significantly contributed to their institutions through student impact, university and curriculum development, and community involvement.

“Dr. Jason Smith is more than a great faculty member; he’s a great man,” said Calen Johnson, a senior majoring in Human Performance and Sport Sciences at TSU.

Johnson and fellow students shared the impact they believe Dr. Smith, who also serves as the Department Chair of the HPSS program, has had on students. One of those students is TSU junior Maya Grady, a Student Athletic Trainer with the University’s football team.

Calen Johnson

“Dr. Smith has such a family presence about him,” Grady said. “It flows from the head of the department all the way down to every single professor within our department. His energy is top-tier, and he captures every classroom or meeting he’s in with his vulnerability and compassion.”

Approximately 480 students are enrolled in HPSS program, with one-fourth of them being student athletes. Smith emphasized the strong rapport between student athletes, coaches, and the entire department.

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Robbie Melton commended Dr. Smith’s constant drive for innovation in the classroom.

Maya Grady interned with the NHL Nashville Predators last semester at Bridgestone arena.

“This award also highlights his strong leadership within the department, leading key initiatives to update the curriculum and create new learning opportunities,” Melton said.

“Most importantly, it celebrates his role as an exceptional mentor to students, making time to provide guidance both within and outside of class. His door is always open for students seeking advice or support. This award is a well-deserved recognition for the immense impact he has made through his teaching, mentorship, and leadership.”

HPSS students have had numerous hands-on opportunities with national sports organizations here in Nashville. These initiatives include collaborations with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the NHL’s Nashville Predators, the minor league baseball team Nashville Sounds, and more. All have resulted in internship and employment opportunities for TSU students.
“If we can fill that gap and build that bridge to get our students into their aspiring career field, that is our ultimate goal. That’s what gives me great pleasure,” Smith said.

Smith and other faculty members from across the athletic conference were announced at the 2024 OVC Basketball Championship. Smith’s dedication to his students’ success and his contributions to the HPSS program highlights the impact educators can have beyond the classrooms at TSU.

To learn more about TSUs Human Performance and Sport Sciences program, visit www.tnstate.edu/hpss/.

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.