Category Archives: NEWS

TSU enhances enrollment experience with ZeeMee 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is embarking on a new era of personalized college recruitment with its latest collaboration with ZeeMee, a cutting-edge app that is revolutionizing the interaction between universities and prospective students. This partnership aims to elevate TSU’s recruitment process by building authentic connections and meeting students on their own terms.

Deputy Chief Operating Officer Elmore J. Jones, Jr., says the partnership with ZeeMee will greatly enhance student engagement with potential new Tigers.

“Our admissions team is dedicated to maintaining a strong connection with our incoming applicants, and this partnership will provide us with an additional tool to achieve that goal.”

The ZeeMee app offers a unique platform for TSU to connect with prospective students in a more personalized and meaningful way. By joining the online community, accepted students will gain access to valuable information about campus life, housing options, course offerings, and more.

Director of Admissions LaMar-Octavious Scott says the collaboration with ZeeMee is focused on increasing student engagement, improving communication, and reducing the number of undecided applicants considering TSU.

“We are excited to work alongside ZeeMee as we wrap up the Fall 2024 cycle and gear up for the Fall 2025 admissions season,” says Scott. “ZeeMee’s innovative approach and dynamic features allow prospective students to build meaningful connections with others who share an interest in TSU. This partnership will advance our recruitment-to-enrollment process and amplify our institutional marketability, putting the power in the hands of prospective students.”

TSU launched ZeeMee on June 19, coinciding with Juneteenth and the celebration of the university’s 112th anniversary. Scott shares, “As we observed this special day, we invited all prospective students to join us on ZeeMee and become part of the TSU community.”

Following the launch, students received emails and text messages inviting them to join the TSU community based on their admissions status. Admitted students will have access to additional opportunities for engagement, with ZeeMee conveniently accessible on mobile devices.

By leveraging ZeeMee’s data collection and analysis capabilities, TSU aims to measure the impact of the platform on enrollment and engagement. Throughout the year, ZeeMee will provide valuable insights into community performance, enrollment trends, and more.

In addition to facilitating interactions between prospective students, ZeeMee’s unique features create a social network tailored for the college experience. This virtual community allows students to connect, share experiences, and establish relationships before arriving on campus. According to Scott, this pre-arrival engagement not only fosters a sense of belonging but also empowers students to take ownership of their college journey.

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

                                                                                                            

TSU hosts groundbreaking A.I. Summit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is bringing artificial intelligence to the masses. Starting June 5, 2024, the university will host the A.I. FOR ALL: Open Education Summit , at the Avon Williams Educational Site. The two-day technology event will explore the heart of innovation, with the goal of show casing how artificial intelligence is within reach for everyone.

Tennessee State University’s AI robotic dog Blue and his pup.

During the opening session, TSUs AI robotic dog Blue and his pup greeted the crowd. The AI dogs will be making appearances throughout the summit.

Some of the topics will include Ethics and Policies for A.I., A.I. Tools for Every Stage of Education, A.I. for Educational Equity, and Innovating Pedagogy with A.I.  The summit will include industry giants Google, Apple, Oracle, T-Mobile, Comcast, Amazon, and Microsoft. National speakers, panels, interactive workshops, A.I. exhibits, plus art galleries and tools will also be on display.  Prominent sponsors and partners include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, T-Mobile Education, Merlot- Affordable Learning Solutions, and MIT-Open CourseWare. The summit is free and open to the public.

Dr. Robbie Melton, who is the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, also serves as the Vice President for Technology Innovations and heads the TSU SMART Global Technology Innovation Center. Recently, she was appointed to the Southern Regional Education Board Commission (SREB) on Artificial Intelligence in Education. Melton’s appointment further solidifies her status as a top expert and TSU as a leading institution on artificial intelligence.

Dr. Robbie Melton welcomes the crowd to Day 1 of the A.I. For All: Open Education Summit.

“My passion lies in making A.I. accessible to everyone, amplifying voices that are often unheard, and breaking down the barriers that divide us,” added TSU’s Melton.  “Together, we can shape a future where A.I. isn’t just a tool for the few, but a force for good that enriches all of our lives.”

Over 500 people are expected to attend the summit. Dr. Melton discusses the groundbreaking summit in detail below in our Q&A interview.

Q & A with Dr. Robbie Melton

Subject: A.I. For All: Open Education Summit

What does hosting the A.I. For All Summit mean for TSU?

“Hosting the A.I. For All Summit brings visibility, reputation, and networking opportunities to TSU. It enhances the institution’s standing as a leading A.I. authority, fosters collaborations, and attracts top talent. The event facilitates knowledge exchange, showcasing TSU’s research while learning from others. The summit’s economic impact benefits local businesses and generates revenue through sponsorships. TSU assumes a leadership role, influencing A.I. policy, ethics, and research. Overall, hosting the summit brings recognition, collaboration, talent, economic benefits, and the chance to shape the A.I. landscape.”

With that question answered, what do you hope to accomplish from hosting this technology event?

“The proposed outcomes and accomplishments for the A.I. For All Summit are threefold. Firstly, to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among experts, researchers, and policymakers, leading to innovative solutions and advancements in the field of artificial intelligence. Secondly, to inspire and empower students and young professionals by providing them with access to cutting-edge research, industry insights, and networking opportunities. Lastly, to shape the discourse on A.I. policies, ethics, and research priorities, influencing the global A.I. landscape and promoting responsible and inclusive development.”

What demographic or group has registered for the summit?

“The registered attendees for the A.I. For All Summit include educators from K-12 and higher education, policymakers, and community leaders, especially from minority serving institutions since the summit is to address A.I. for All.”

How will the summit benefit the State of TN, underserved communities, education?

“The A.I. For All Summit benefits the state of Tennessee by driving economic growth, providing educational opportunities, identifying guardrails and best practices for teaching and learning, preparing for the A.I. workforce, fostering collaborations, empowering underserved communities, shaping policies, and inspiring future innovators in the field of artificial intelligence.”

The title is A.I. for all, how does a regular, non-tech savvy individual benefit from the summit? 

“The A.I. For All Summit benefits regular, non-tech savvy individuals by promoting awareness and understanding of artificial intelligence’s impact on society. It provides insights into ethical considerations, potential opportunities, challenges, and offers the opportunity to learn how to use A.I. tools, empowering individuals to engage with and leverage A.I. technologies, even without technical expertise.”

There are some big tech names associated with the summit; who are they and what are their roles? 

“The A.I. For All Summit is supported by notable tech names such as Hewlett, Oracle, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Comcast, Code.org, BrainPOP, Adobe, SendSteps, and MIT. They play various roles, including providing resources, expertise, sponsorship, and collaboration to drive the success of the summit and advance the field of artificial intelligence.”

How significant is this for TSU? 

“The A.I. For All Summit is a significant event for TSU, with its high attendance of over 500 participants and a waiting list. The global live streaming amplifies its reach and impact, positioning TSU as a leader in fostering A.I. education, collaboration, and innovation on a global scale.”

Will Blue be a part of the summit and other interactive displays and demonstrations can attendees expect? 

“The A.I. For All Summit will feature Blue, the robotic A.I.-coded dog, highlighting the transformative capabilities of A.I. in education and business. Additionally, attendees can experience groundbreaking technologies like life-sized holograms, the first A.I. wearable Pin and glasses, and A.I. tools spanning various educational and business disciplines.”

Special Announcement for the A.I. for All Summit:

“We are thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of the TSU A.I. Applied Educational Research Center under our SMART Technology Innovation Center, in August 2024. This pioneering initiative aims to curate cutting-edge A.I. tools and best practices for teaching, learning, research, and workforce preparedness. With a specific focus on addressing underrepresented groups, the center will drive inclusivity and equity in A.I. education. By harnessing the power of A.I., we strive to empower learners, educators, and researchers with transformative resources, fostering innovation and bridging the digital divide. Join us in shaping a future where A.I. transforms education for all.”

TSU offers new summer camps for all age groups

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is offering over 20 summer camps for all ages to keep children engaged for the next three months. This is great news for Metro parents as more than 86,000 students, from pre-school to high, will be out of school for summer. Children will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy academic and athletic camps at Tennessee State University.

The camps include athletics, the arts, and educational enrichment activities that will also help them retain what was learned during the school year.

From NABA Inc.’s Accounting Career Awareness Program, which aims to empower high school students to explore career pathways in accounting, finance, and entrepreneurship, to the Eddie George HBCU Football Camp for high school football players interested in skill development and college recruitment, a wide range of camps is available this summer. These camps offer diverse opportunities for students to gain valuable skills and experiences in their areas of interest.

Cierra Fleming, Associate Director of Events Management, stated that this year’s activities will continue to give parents great camp options to select from and keep local students engaged. Flemings noted that she is personally excited about a new camp listed this year, which is the Propel + Apple Music, Music Summer Program starting June 10.

“I’m very excited about this camp because it will give the music department students the opportunity to establish partnerships and network with Apple and Propel,” Fleming said.

“This will also be beneficial for the music program here at TSU, especially the Music Business Accelerator Program,” she said.

Interim Dean of the College of Engineering Dr. Lin Li said the college will host several STEM camps, including the Aim High Flight Academy for AHFA/US Air Forces for the first time.

“TSU is the first HBCU to be selected to host such a summer camp,” Li said. “The camp attendees were selected by the US Air Forces and come from across the country, Japan, and several other countries.” The camp will be hosted by the Department of Industrial and Applied Technologies from June 1-14.

The Energy Exploration Camp is also new to TSU. The engineering camp is designed for high school students and prepares them for a career in the energy sector. The US Department of Energy Clean Energy Education Prize Inspire Track selected TSU to host the camp that highlights energy and engineering topics to students. This camp will run from June 9-23.

Among the many exciting camps returning this year is the Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers Program for students in grades 6-8. The camp allows them to interact with technology through on-campus summer intensive courses and year-round mentoring. It also provides students with firsthand experiences and creates a more diverse pipeline for future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

TSU’s Grammy-award-winning Aristocrat of Bands will host the Annual Edward L. Graves High School Summer Band Camp from June 9-15. Nearly 100 students will participate.

The TSU Summer Technology Immersion Program for Middle School Students is also returning this year. The two-week, non-residential summer camp teaches middle school students about 3D printing, coding/programming, engineering design, artificial intelligence, and more.

Visit https://www.tnstate.edu/events/camps.aspx

Camp/ Program NameCamper Age RangeDatesDetails
AHFA Air Force ProgramHighschoolSaturday -Friday , June 1- 21, 2024 AHFA
HBCYouth ProgramGrades 6-12Monday – Friday June 3 – August 2, 2024  
Engineering Exploration Program Middle – Highschool Sunday,  June 9-23, 2024 Camp
Energy Exploration HighschoolMonday  – Sunday, June 10-23, 2024 Camp
National Summer Transportation Institute HighschoolSunday – Friday, June 9-28, 2024 Camp
Propel + Apple Music Music Summer ProgramCollegeMonday- Saturday, June 10 – 15, 2024  
Edward L. Graves Band CampMiddle  – Highschool Monday – Saturday, June 10-15, 2024  Camp
Summer Apprenticeship Program HighschoolSaturday – Thrusday, June 29- July 25, 2024 More Information
TSU Technology Immersion Program Middleschool Monday – Friday, July 1-12, 2024 Camp
Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers ProgramGrades 6-8Monday – Friday, July 8 -12, 15-19, 22 – 26, 2024  Register Now
NABA Accounting Career Awareness ProgramGrades 9-12 Sunday – Friday,  July 21 – 26, 2024NABA
National Juniors Frontiers Program (NJFP)Highschool Monday – Saturday, July 22-27, 2024  
All Star Math Institute (ASMI)High School
Sunday – Saturday,  July 14 – 20, 2024
 ASMI

Athletic Camps

Camp/Program NameCamper Age RangeDatesDetails
Joe W. Gilliam Football CampAge 12-18Tuesday – Friday May 28 – 31, 2024 Camps
Mens Basketball Rob Covington Basketball CampHigh SchoolThursday – Friday, June 20 – 21, 2024 Camps and Clinics
Men’s Basketball Camp High SchoolMonday – Friday July 1-12, Monday – Thursday 15-18, Monday – Friday 22-26, 2024Camps and Clinics
Eddie George Football CampHigh SchoolWednesday June 5, 2024Camps and Clinics
Eddie George Football CampHigh SchoolSaturday June 15, 2024Camps and Clinics
TSU Volleyball: Basic Skills Camp Age 13-18Friday – Saturday July 12 -13, 2024 Camps
TSU Volleyball: Tiger Cubs Camps Age 6-12Tuesday – Wednesday July 16 – 17, 2024 Camps
TSU Volleyball: Elite Camp Ages 15-18Friday – Saturday July 19 – 20, 2024 Camps

TSU Alumna named first Black woman judge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When TSU alumna Tionn Fambro Carter interned at the Tennessee State Capitol in 2004, she noticed a glaring lack of diversity in the House of Representatives. There was no reflection of her identity or her community’s demographics. The experience ignited her passion for public service, particularly drafting public policies that would positively impact her community. It also impacted Carter’s plans following her graduation from TSU.  

“I loved seeing all of the decisions being made and the new laws being created,” Carter recalled. “But I didn’t see a lot of representation of women of color. That’s when I thought, our voices need to be heard and represented. So, I decided to go to law school.”

In 2008, Carter earned her law degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and recently began her trailblazing role as a public servant. Carter was sworn in as the first Black woman associate judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit at the Rock Island County Justice Center in Illinois. “I remember being speechless and feeling overwhelmingly grateful,” she said.

Her journey to the bench was not easy. Carter persistently pursued the judgeship, applying seven times throughout her career before achieving success. Her faith and dedication paid off in 2024 with substantial support from her peers and community ultimately securing her appointment. As an associate judge, she now presides over both civil and criminal cases within her district.

Throughout her career, Carter aimed to inspire the youth to pursue their dreams. She noted that her journey of witnessing positive Black representation began at her alma mater. “Your goals are real TSU showed me that,” Carter said.

“TSU played a crucial role in my journey because as an HBCU, it really demonstrated the power of being proud of your heritage. I got to see African Americans in leadership positions, well-spoken, educated, and capable of achieving their goals, educating others, and leading their communities.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan Curtis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, expressed pride in Carter’s remarkable journey and significant milestone. “The College of Liberal Arts is incredibly proud of Tionne Fambro Carter, who epitomizes the capable, focused student we strive to cultivate and educate,” Morgan Curtis said. “She majored in English to hone her critical thinking, analytic skills, and writing abilities. She now stands as a model for all young women who follow her, continually making a positive impact on the world. I cannot say enough good things about her other than she embodies ‘Think, Work, Serve.’’”

Carter’s portrait now hangs in the Illinois courthouse alongside the judges who have presided over the district throughout the county’s history. Her presence among them reminds her of her TSU internship and her determination to make a difference.

“We come from a heritage and ancestry that has done great things,” Carter said. “And we can continue to be a part of that legacy too. Work hard for your seat at the table because you belong there just like everyone else,” she continued. “If you believe it’s your purpose, never give up on your dreams.

Carter resides in Rock Island County with her husband and children.

TSU’s Commercial Music Program thrives with BMAC partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Commercial Music Program just wrapped up its third annual course in partnership with the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) Music Accelerator Program, and it’s only getting better.

TSU music students spent the last three weeks with representatives from Apple Music (an inaugural partnership), Live Nation, Def Jam, Atlantic Records, BMI, Spotify, and more. The accelerator program’s third cohort left students like Adren Gilmore and Morgan Alford inspired after receiving much exposure from prominent executives, talent agencies, and music artists.

Gilmore, of Texas, is a rising sophomore majoring in commercial music. He said the class was very influential for him as an aspiring artist.

“The most impactful part of this class was being able to be in the rooms, talking one-on-one with these power players of the industry,” Gilmore said. “Because for people like myself who are chasing this dream of being in the industry, being in these rooms with these power players lets us see how attainable it really is.”

TSU students had the opportunity to discuss marketing, record label deals, artists and repertoire, and financial literacy with industry insiders in a class designed to lead to internships and employment. Through its partnership with BMAC, the university addresses underserved markets and provides firsthand resources and representation for students interested in the music industry.

Gilmore noted that his biggest takeaway from the class was the day the students met with Apple Music representatives for the company’s Pathway Spatial education lab, which highlighted the future of immersive audio. This innovation creates a three-dimensional audio experience, simulating an expanded soundscape.

When Def Jam executives came and brought one of their artists, Connie Diiamond, the students had a “takeover” day where they showcased their talent to the representatives, received feedback, and made connections.

“Our art is at the core of who we are. So being able to not only meet these power players, but show them what our output is, that’s something we only dream of,” Gilmore said.

While Gilmore enjoyed playing his music in front of powerhouse executives, Alford, of Mt. Juliet, who is studying mass communications, shared highlights from the program as well.

“TSU and BMAC gave us an amazing, rare opportunity,” Alford, a rising sophomore, said. “We met so many higher-ups within the music industry to make those connections … and I just think it was really valuable to learn how to capitalize on that, as well as using the knowledge they gave us.”

Alford also appreciated meeting Def Jam’s Grammy Award-winning artist, Kaliii, and emphasized the importance of seeing representation in the industry, as her entire team were Black women.

Jaiden Burroughs, of Nashville, cherished meeting Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Flavor Flav, who shared valuable industry insights as a guest speaker. “The program was not only informational, but it was also very fun,” Burroughs noted. “My biggest takeaway was keeping your relationships close. And what’s great about BMAC is that they highlight Black creativity with a mission to protect that.”

And that’s their exact goal.

Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, the co-founder and chair of BMAC, said the TSU program has led students to employment and paid internships, and will continue to do so every year. “We are really creating a pipeline for success in a tangible way,” Stiggers previously stated.

He proudly mentioned that alumni Asiya Buchanan and Link Fisher III, who helped produce this year’s program, are now thriving in their careers, with Fisher III securing a full-time position at Live Nation.

Ranked by Billboard Magazine as one of the top 25 music business programs globally, TSU’s Commercial Music Program offers students exclusive access to leadership, mentorship, and career resources. Students even participated in a music festival planning competition where the winners received an all-expense-paid trip to Rolling Loud Miami.

This year, the class was led by TSUs Grammy Award-winning music professor Larry Jenkins Jr., who covered an array of critical topics in the music industry. The prominent guest list included musician and songwriter Daisha McBride, Motown Records’ Courtney Lowery, Bertelsmann Music Group’s Tim Reid, SiriusXM’s Swaggy Sie, Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group’s Lou Taylor, and more.

“Serving as the professor and as a member of an incredible team alongside BMAC, Prophet, and the Recording Industry Association of America for the 2024 Music Accelerator Program was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my 10 years serving at TSU,” Jenkins said. “To watch these students expand their music industry knowledge, learn about new career paths, and even create their own album together was the overwhelming highlight for me.”

By offering classes like this within TSU’s Commercial Music Program, the impact can be multifaceted and everlasting for young, underrepresented music artists and creatives.

About the Black Music Action Coalition

BMAC is an advocacy organization formed to address systemic racism within the music business. The coalition advocates on behalf of Black artists, songwriters, producers, managers, agents, executives, lawyers, and other passionate industry professionals.

Top-performing high school seniors commit to Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Over 275 of the nation’s top high school seniors have chosen to enroll at Tennessee State University for the 2024 fall semester. These exceptional students, along with their families, made their commitments during Admitted Students Day on May 18 at TSU. Deja Milan Nickerson of Marietta, Georgia, and Alanah Ellis from Chicago were two of the students who committed to attend TSU for the upcoming fall semester as first-time freshmen. 

Deja Milan Nickerson (sporting her TSU Tiger T-shirt), a former drum major of her high school,  plans to play the clarinet with the AOB. She came to Admitted Student Day with her father, Emmanuel Nickerson, mom Latoya Freeman Nickerson, and younger brother Emmanuel Nickerson, Jr. (TSU Photo)

Nickerson, who will major in journalism and business communications, has a 4.0 GPA. The former high school band drum major received a band scholarship and is eager to join TSU’s acclaimed Grammy-winning Aristocrat of Bands, where she plans to play the clarinet.

“I am committed, very excited, and it’s an honor to be here,” said Nickerson, who, along with her mother, father, and younger brother, was among the first to check in on Saturday.

“I am excited to see what TSU has in store for me. We visited several schools, but when we came here, TSU just seemed to be the best place for me. In fact, the director of the AOB visited my school, and many of us tried out with the band and ended up getting scholarships.”

For Ellis, also with a 4.0 GPA, she will major in accounting. She cited the university’s reputable academic programs, the enriching HBCU experience, and the ideal distance from home as key factors in her decision. Additionally, Ellis has several relatives who are TSU graduates.

Alana Ellis, left, who will major in accounting, receives a welcome package from Veonka Sarr, Senior Admissions Associate, as her mother, Andrea Thomas, looks on. (TSU Photo)

“I am coming to TSU,” she declared. “I am anxious to get started. I heard a lot of great things about TSU, and I wanted to experience it for myself.” 

As the program kicked off, Deputy Chief Operating Officer Elmore Jones extended a warm welcome emphasizing the importance of starting the TSU experience on a positive note to foster success.

“We want to welcome you here today to make sure you start your TSU experience on the right foot,” Jones said. “We want you to enjoy college. For me, it was the best decision I ever made. So, I want you all to ask all the questions you might have. Get all the information you need. We want you to be successful. We have a lot of exciting things planned for you.”

Dr. Tasha Carson, Assistant Vice President of First-Year Students, admonishes the new Tigers, as Deputy Chief Operating, Elmore Jones, left, and Dr. Portia Johnson, Director of Recruitment, look on. (TSU Photo)

Dr. Tasha Carson, assistant vice president of First-Year Students, commended the students for their perseverance and welcomed them to a supportive community dedicated to their academic growth.

“I applaud you for persevering through middle school, high school, and now the decision to come to college,” Carson said. “I applaud your parents, and you too should applaud them for their support. At TSU, there are many programs and committed individuals who are here to help you succeed.”

 Dr. Coreen Jackson, left, Dean of the Honors College, and Holly Blakemore, Senior Scholarship Coordinator, speak to students and parents during a mixer for merit scholars, as part Admitted Students Day. (TSU Photo)

The day’s events included campus tours, program previews, information sessions on various student services, and a lively mixer for merit scholars hosted by the Office of Institutional Merit Scholarships. The events left a positive impression on students like Julian Kendrick from Champaign, Illinois, who expressed his conviction in choosing TSU, praising the culture and the welcoming HBCU environment that resonated with him.

“I like all I have seen today,” he said. “They heard our concerns and answered our questions. I love the culture. It is like family. I feel like I will fit right in.”

 Following the assembly in Kean Hall, the new Tigers and their families took in the beautiful weather and toured campus as part of the daylong activities. (TSU Photo)

Admitted Students Day, coordinated by the Offices of Recruitment, Admissions, and Enrollment, provided essential insights and interactions to ensure a smooth transition for the incoming Tigers.

Dr. Portia Johnson, director of Recruitment, emphasized the importance of addressing all inquiries before departing to equip students with the requisite information for a successful academic journey.

For further details on admission processes at TSU, prospective students can visit Tennessee State University Admissions at https://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/

Melton named to  AI board, continues TSU’s role as tech leader

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  Tennessee State University is pleased to announce that Dr. Robbie Melton is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board Commission (SREB) on Artificial Intelligence in Education. Dr. Melton, who serves Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, is also the Vice President for Technology Innovations and heads the TSU SMART Global Technology Innovation Center. Melton’s appointment further solidifies her status as a top expert and TSU as a leading institution on artificial intelligence.

“In this transformative era of artificial intelligence, it’s personal for me,” shared Dr. Melton. “As a member of the Southern Regional Education Board Artificial Intelligence Commission, I’m committed to ensuring that no one is left behind, and to eliminating the digital divide.”  

The two-year SREB commission brings together leaders in education and business “to chart a course for how AI is used in classrooms and how to prepare a workforce that is being transformed by technology,” outlined in an April 19 press release from the commission. The commission’s first order of business is to review research and industry data regarding AI and to hear from education experts like Melton. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who chairs the commission, presided over the group’s first meeting on May 1.

“When used correctly, AI is a powerful tool capable of reshaping our education system,” according to McMaster in the April press release. “By working together, we can overcome the challenges that AI presents and harness its power to ensure our students are prepared for the workforce of the future.”  

Members, from each of SREB’s 16 states, include leadership from governors’ offices, state education and workforce agencies, K-12 educators and leaders, postsecondary faculty and leaders, and business executives, managers and engineers. TSU’s Melton represents Tennessee along with Lizzette Reynolds, Commissioner of Education with the Tennessee Department of Education and Steven Gentile, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Brad D. Smith, president of Marshall University in West Virginia and former Silicon Valley CEO, co-chairs the commission. 

“Learning to lean into the discoveries AI technology will develop in the future excites me,” said Smith, in the same press release. “We’re given the challenging, yet promising opportunity of preparing students for a digital world with evolving opportunities in life, employment and contribution.” 

SREB will develop recommendations for Southern states to lead in three areas, using AI in teaching and learning, K-12 and postsecondary, developing related policies in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and preparing students for careers in AI.  The states include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“We need to be proactive now, because AI is fundamentally shifting the classroom and the workplace,” said SREB President Stephen L. Pruitt. “The Commission will bring us together for a roadmap on preparing students for this world in which AI is a reality.”  

Melton’s appointment comes ahead of her leading a major TSU AI event. On June 5-7, TSU will host the A.I. FOR ALL: Open Education Summit. The event will address Ethics and Policies for AI, AI Tools for Every Stage of Education, AI for Educational Equity, and Innovating Pedagogy with AI, along with other topics. The summit will include industry heavyweights Google, Apple, Oracle, T-Mobile, Comcast, Amazon, and Microsoft. National speakers, panels, interactive workshops, AI exhibits, plus art galleries and tools will also be on display. Some of the prominent sponsors and partners include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, T-Mobile Education, Merlot- Affordable Learning Solutions, and MIT-Open CourseWare. The summit is free and open to the public.

“My passion lies in making AI accessible to everyone, amplifying voices that are often unheard, and breaking down the barriers that divide us,” added TSU’s Melton.  “Together, we can shape a future where AI isn’t just a tool for the few, but a force for good that enriches all of our lives.”

To attend the TSU AI Summit please email [email protected] or call 615.963.7113.

Media interested in covering this event should contact TSU Media Relations at [email protected] or call 615.963.5331. 

TSU ranks top 10 in best value for international students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is home away from home for hundreds of students from around the world. As a global institution, TSU offers international students a place to learn and thrive, helping them to navigate in their new surroundings, while providing a safe space for cultural acceptance. The university’s commitment to its international student population is paying off.

TSU recently placed sixth as Best Value HBCU Rankings for international students, according to Study Abroad Aide.

“TSU is pleased to receive this top ten ranking as it speaks to our commitment to expanding our global footprint and educating without borders,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.  “The ranking also speaks to the dedication of our administrators and faculty to create a diverse culture for our campus community.”

Dr. Nicholas-Phillips with TSU students visiting a Messai Village in Arusha, Tanzania, June 2024.

In a communication to the university, Study Abroad said the recognition stems from providing outstanding educational value to international students, combining affordability with high academic quality. TSU currently has over 220 international students representing nearly 40 different countries around the world.

Dr. Arlene Nicholas- Phillips, Assistant Vice President of Global Initiatives and Partnership, recently returned from a study abroad experience in Tanzania, Africa, where she met with Government officials and corporate partners, while also seeking potential recruits. Phillips enjoys expanding the TSU brand globally.

She noted that this recognition from Study Abroad Aide will be very beneficial in increasing the enrollment of international students because TSU offers a nurturing environment.

“Not only will it help us in our quest to recruit more students globally, but it will also solidify the fact that we’re doing the right thing for international students,” Phillips said. “The doors at TSU are wide open, and we welcome the world to the Tiger Town!” Over time, Phillips has received positive feedback from university professors regarding international students performing well in class, staying motivated to learn, and maintaining their scholarships.

“The international students are very mission-oriented. They know why they are here and work very hard to achieve their academic goals.”

Dr. Jewell Winn, the Executive Director for the Office of International Affairs (OIA), stated that the recognition speaks to the value of the components within their office that benefit international students in all aspects.

Dr. Jewell Winn
Dr. Jewell Winn

“We’re very intentional about programming to make sure that all students have a sense of belonging and that domestic students understand the culture because the international students are here to learn the culture of American students,” Winn said.

TSU offers an Intensive English Program (IEP) that helps international students learn and master the English language. It is the only Commission on English Language Program Accreditation-accredited intensive English program in Tennessee and the first at an HBCU. IEP serves international students seeking admission to graduate and undergraduate programs.

Brazil native Isabela Lelis came to the United States and completed the program in 2022. Lelis enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program the following year, where she is pursuing a career in supply chain management.

“I feel very welcome here,” said Lelis, who is a graduate assistant within the Office of International Affairs. “They are involved in many activities. I have opportunities here.” She is also involved in international student events, like the Miss Collegiate International pageant held last year.

Miss Collegiate International, Aniyah Patterson-Thomas (Trinidad and Tobago) with Layale Ajamy(Lebanon), far left, Taylor Hart(Bahamas), right, and Isabela Lelis (Brazil)

TSU is continuing to create an environment that bridges language barriers and fosters community integration. Each year, the university hosts an annual International Education Week, observed during the second week in November. In 2022, a group of first-year freshmen from the Caribbean attended some of the week’s events and left feeling more at home at TSU. Among them was Tonique Poitier of the Bahamas, who, along with many other Caribbean students, was recruited by Dr. Phillips and members of the Office of International Affairs.

“We are all from different places, but it’s still a family because we are relating to being abroad in school,” Tonique Poitier of the Bahamas, said.

Poitier, who is studying chemistry, said the week gave her and fellow Caribbean students a chance to interact and gain awareness about other cultures as well.

Mauricio Fabian recently became the first in his family to graduate with a master’s degree from TSU. Fabian, from Veracruz, Mexico, also came to TSU to learn English through the Intensive Center. “There is great opportunity at TSU for international students,” he said. “And there are many different cultures here to learn about.”

Mauricio Fabian received a certificate of achievement after completing the Intensive English Program.

People from all over the world invest in TSU’s office and programs to learn the language and then return to their home countries to teach it or to seek better employment opportunities in the United States.

Mark Gunter, Director for international students and scholar services, said OIA is a home for all their students.

“We look at our office as being the first resource, or the home away from home, for all international students,” Gunter said. “And the one thing that we constantly hear from our international students is that we’re the office where they can always come to.”

Gunter said the office strives for the number one spot but is appreciative for the recognition and top ten ranking. “We strive to be the best HBCU for international education as a whole.”

To learn more about the OIA, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/international/.

TSU’s Tasha Carson designs HBCU course for the Univ. of South Carolina

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Dr. Tasha A. Carson is bringing the ‘HBCU experience’ to the University of South Carolina in a groundbreaking college course. The National Resource Center at the University of South Carolina recently named Dr. Carson as their newest instructor for The HBCU Experience from a Student Affairs Perspective course that runs from June 3 – 28.  Carson, who also designed the curriculum, currently serves as the assistant vice president of First-Year Students in the division of Student Affairs.

“I feel extremely blessed to have been chosen to create and teach this course on historically Black colleges and universities at the University of South Carolina,” said Carson.

“As a three-time HBCU grad, who was just a first-generation college student from the Southside of Chicago, I work every day with a conscience that I wouldn’t be who I am today had it not been for the lessons, values, and education I received at an HBCU.”  

Designed for higher education practitioners and student-support service providers, the course will explore the unique role of student affairs professionals at HBCUs. It will provide an in depth look into understanding the staff and student experience. The courses examine the history, culture, and impact of HBCUs on education and its critical role in American history and society.

“The HBCU culture and history means so much to me and I am passionate about helping others see the treasure that is entrenched in the very fabric of our institutions,” Carson added.

Dr. Jamil Johnson, associate Director of Research and Grants, said USC is pleased to welcome Dr. Carson and her expertise in the field, especially as the country begins to learn more about HBCUs. Johnson added that he looks forward to seeing how this unique course will benefit students and the university.

“We had an exceptional number of outstanding candidates, and I am confident that her experiences and background will serve as an enormous benefit to the students (participants) who enroll in the course.”

Dr. Carson will explore theoretical perspectives and practical approaches to serving the HBCU student population through frameworks related to academic success, advising, mentoring, student support, and student engagement. Professionals from all over the country will be able to take the course and receive continuing education units (CEU), to provide a critical professional development opportunity. The course starts this summer and allows individuals to learn on their own schedule within specified deadlines.

“I am not only a representation of the HBCUs that I attended but I am also a representative of the HBCUs that I have had the honor to serve,” explained Carson.  

“I look forward to sharing some of the amazing work that we are doing, here at Tennessee State University, with colleagues across the nation as we continue to rise as a model of student-centeredness for others to see.”

To find out more about the course please visit here.

TSU celebrates first graduates of Dr. Levi Watkins Institute

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The journey to become a doctor or dentist is one step closer to becoming a reality for several recent Tennessee State University graduates. After making history as the first graduating class of the TSU Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Accelerated Medical and Dental program, 14 students will now start their new journey to medical and dental school. All completed a rigorous 3-year academic program, debt-free. Parents and close friends gathered for a dinner and reception to mark this major milestone for the students and TSU.

 
Barbara C. Murrell, center, chair of the accelerated program, joins the inaugural cohort of TSU’s Dr. Levi Watkins Institute at the 2024 spring commencement ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” Barbara C. Murrell, the chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute told those in attendance.

“Yet a dream doesn’t become reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination, and hard work. And lastly, yesterday is but today’s memory,” she continued. “And tomorrow is today’s dream. So, dream big, I know you’ll make us proud.”

All of the students graduated with a B.S. degree in Biology with a 3.5 GPA or higher in three years, a requirement of the program. However, Jaden Knight and Samantha Altidort maintained a 4.0 GPA. Knight, a Dayton, Ohio native will be attending Meharry Medical College to become an orthodontist. He is a first generation college student.

“We are ecstatic, blessed, and very proud of Jaden,” stated his parents Carl and Shamica Kennebrew, during the event.

Samantha Altidort, one of two Dr. Levi Watkin Jr. Scholars who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, with her family during the program’s graduation celebration.

“We were able to watch what God is doing with him just to see Jaden get the fruits of his work, his hard work, and his dedication,” Carl said. “This program is creating generational wealth and starting a new path for Black men and women.”

Knight stated that he looks forward to addressing the underrepresentation of African American men in the field and improving underrepresented patient satisfaction. Altidort, a Nashville native, will also be attending Meharry Medical College to become a family medicine physician. She followed in her parents Michel and Guerda Aldidort’s footsteps, who are both TSU alumni and work in the medical field.

“We are here to celebrate Sam,” her parents said. “We are so happy and grateful for Sam. To God be the glory.” Michel added that they advised their daughter to attend TSU. “And that was a great decision,” he said. “Now she’s ready to go to Meharry Medical College.”

Jaden Knight, one of two Dr. Levi Watkin Jr. Scholars who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, with his family during the program’s graduation celebration.

Among active physicians, only 5.7% identified as Black or African American in the United States as of 2023. While 3.8% of dentists in the country identify as Black, according to the American Dental Association.

In 2020, Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College joined forces with a shared vision to eliminate health disparities among marginalized populations. The result was the establishment of the Meharry Medical College/Tennessee State University Medical/Dental Accelerated Pathway Program. The transformative initiative was in honor of TSU alumnus and renowned heart surgeon Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. The program serves as a pipeline for underrepresented students to become medical doctors and dentists.

Lalita Hodge, program coordinator of the Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, explained the significance of the program and its significance to the healthcare field.

“To our future brown and Black doctors, we just wanted to let them know how special they are to us and give them a great send-off,” Hodge said of the celebration.

“TSU is going to impact the medical field. I think someone in this program will have the cure for cancer. Someone is going to have the cure for dementia.”

Congratulations to the first cohort of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute Accelerated Pathway Program!

•           Samantha Altidort

•           Alan Bethea, Jr.

•           Taylor Brown

•           Chaun Cheaney

•           Kayla Davis

•           Xavier Erves

•           Camille Haskins

•           John Kim

•           Jaden Knight

•           Brooke Majors

•           McKhia McCrary

•           George Picken IV

•           Ashton Terrell

•           Ryla Traylor

To learn more about the Meharry Medical College/Tennessee State University Medical/Dental Accelerated Pathway Program, please visit https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.