Category Archives: Student Leaders

TSU expands global impact with Ghana Experience Program

By Alexis Clark, Chrishonda O’Quinn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continues to make strides as a global institution. In collaboration with the HBCU African Education Coalition (HAEC), TSU has launched the Ghana Experience program to promote cultural exchange, global awareness, and academic enrichment. The initiative brought together 60 TSU students and staff who embarked on a transformative journey from June 1-16 to various regions of Ghana, including Accra, Akosombo, Kumasi, and Cape Coast.

Newly elected SGA president Chrishonda O’Quinn with students from the Wesley Girls’ High School in Accra, Ghana.

Mark Brinkley, who serves as director of International Education in TSU’s Office of International Affairs, explained how the HAEC partnership and the Ghana Experience program align with the university’s mission to provide students with transformative global experiences.

“This unique program will offer an invaluable opportunity for TSU students, faculty, and staff to engage with Ghana’s rich heritage, diverse cultures, and educational landscapes,” Brinkley said.

During the two-week immersive program of cultural exchange, participants engaged in educational seminars, community service projects, interactive workshops, and visits that provided an understanding of Ghana’s history and educational system.

TSUs Chrishonda O’Quinn and Jalen Mask were both Student Logistical Coordinators for this initiative and were selected for the Ghana Experience. O’Quinn, a senior and the newly-elected SGA president, said the study abroad program was a personal cultural awakening for her but also an opportunity to share the importance of education with young girls from the Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast, Ghana.

TSU student Jalen Mask with Ghanaian student during Summer 2024 study abroad trip.

“This understanding is crucial in shaping your relationships, how you lead, and how you view yourself,” O’Quinn said. “Additionally, it sharpens your cross-cultural communication skills and helps you appreciate the privilege of having access to the resources we have. Giving back to the educational system in Ghana brought me pure joy.”

Mask, a rising junior, is a biology major and future medical doctor. He said the experience made him passionate about being a contributor to a global society.

“My TSU study abroad experience in Ghana has culminated in a higher sense of self-identity, resilience, and passion for who I am,” Mask said. “Being immersed in the culture makes me ambitious to continue making a positive difference in this world as a global contributor. Through this opportunity, my horizons have been broadened, and I am eager to continue showing up as my authentic self and defying the odds.”

TSU is set to open a SMART center at St. Martin de Porres.

The Ghana Experience also included other HBCU students and administrators from Clark Atlanta University, North Carolina A&T, Morgan State University, Hampton University, and Howard University.

Building on the success of the Ghana Experience, TSU is set to open a SMART center at St. Martin de Porres, one of the partnering institutions in Accra, Ghana. This initiative marks a significant step in TSU’s commitment to global education and fostering international partnerships.

To learn more about study abroad opportunities at TSU, visit www.tnstate.edu/business/international/.

TSU Class of 2024 Grateful for Pres. Glover’s Impact

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It was a full circle moment for Tennessee State University’s class of 2024 as they walked the stage to receive their degree on May 4. For many, the in-person ceremony was the first they had experienced since leaving middle school because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant milestone missed but recognized by TSU President Glenda Glover. President Glover served as the keynote speaker and told the nearly 600 students and family members that she understood the challenges they faced, including the absence of a traditional high school graduation.

TSU President Glenda Glover arrives at Hale Stadium for the spring 2024 commencement, ready to deliver her final address as an active president and keynote speaker. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

 “I am leaving TSU at the same time as you,” President Glover said. “This class of 2024, I saw your resilience and your impact. We are leaving TSU together, and we have made our marks. It was my goal to advance TSU, to elevate TSU, and lead TSU to a better place than where I found it. And together, we have done that.”

 Glover, an alumna and first female to lead the institution, delivered her final speech after serving TSU for nearly 12 years. To students, her commencement address was more than a speech. The words were a personal testament to the power of perseverance and the promise of hope.

 Glover told graduates to stay grounded in faith and that they could match and surpass the talent of anyone in any field.

Ahmad Benney,

 Ahmad Benney, who earned an Accounting degree, said he appreciated the commencement, as it was his first since middle school. “This is the feeling I was looking for,” The Memphis native said, after sharing that he had a drive-through graduation his senior year. “Black excellence is the reason I came to TSU, and especially to be here with Dr. Glover being that this is her last year,” Benney added. “We all are moving on, but we all are on to better things in life.” Benney is staying in Nashville to start a new job with a local accounting firm.

 Dinnea Riley, a first-generation college student, echoed a sentiment of gratitude after having a high school graduation “slideshow.” “COVID blessed me in a multitude of ways,” Riley said. “I graduated debt-free because of scholarships, and I just feel blessed to be here and have an actual graduation.”

 Dinnea Riley

 Like Benney, the Minnesota native will remain in Nashville to as a labor and delivery nurse at Saint Thomas Midtown hospital.  

 As students reflected on their first graduation, since the pandemic, it was just as special for President Glover. She received her Vintagers certificate, as a member of the class of 1974. Glover, who announced her retirement last August, will leave in June. The commencement was her final major event. She leaves with a decade or more of accomplishments.

 Under Glover, TSU has experienced consecutive years of record enrollment, she successfully led the institution through the pandemic, secured a record $100 million-plus in research awards, doubled endowments to over $100 million, improved the institutions financial standing, spearheaded new construction, including new residence halls, and moved the institution to R2 Carnegie classification. 

TSU graduate Justin Randolph, along with the entire spring class of 2024, discovered $50 under their seats from Dr. Glover to close out her final speech as an active president.

In her closing remarks as keynote speaker, she gifted each student $50 of her own money, discovered under their seats, with the following words in her final commencement as president.

 “I love you. I am proud of you,” Dr. Glover told the students as they cheered from the surprise under their seats. “And I am expecting big things from you, class of 2024. So, take this $50 and have lunch on me. TSU yesterdays, TSU today, TSU forever. May God bless you!”

Graduates of accelerated program headed to medical school 

Samantha Altodort and Jaden Knight are the first graduates of the university’s accelerated medical program and will enter Meharry Medical College in the summer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University reached a major milestone when the undergraduate class of 2024 walked the stage on May 4. Among the nearly 600 students were Samantha Altidort and Jaden Knight, the first cohort from the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Accelerated Pathway program to graduate. The two joined a prestigious list when they introduced retiring TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover, as the keynote speaker for TSU’s undergraduate commencement. The honor is given to the student with the highest GPA. For Samantha and Jaden, both 4.0 graduates and biology majors, they shared this coveted rite of passage. 

Samantha Altidort and Jaden Knight, center, with Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, Meharry Medical College representatives during the first cohort’s graduation celebration.

“I was thrilled and deeply honored to introduce President Glenda Glover as the keynote speaker,” said Knight, a first generation college student who is on his way to Meharry Dental School.   “It felt like a full-circle moment for me, starting from my first day on campus at Hale Hall, where I met President Glover. Her warm welcome and the unexpected joy of meeting the president in such a casual setting left a lasting impression.”

Jaden and Samantha set on stage and listened as President Glover presided over her final commencement and delivered the keynote address.

 “There will be those who will tell you that it can’t be done, that it won’t be done,” Glover said.  The crowd erupted with applause when she went on to say, “Don’t be discouraged by these dream assassins. If you want to kill your big dream, tell it to a small-minded person.”

The Memphis native and retiring president encouraged graduates to stay grounded in faith and that they could match and surpass the talent of anyone in any field.

TSU students make history as the first graduating class of the TSU Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Accelerated Medical and Dental program.

“During the times that I have heard President Glover speak, she has always shared a word that reminds students to keep the faith, persevere, and trust God, commented Samantha. “As a woman of faith myself, I am encouraged by her words and comforted knowing that TSU has been led by someone who has put her faith first.”

 Samantha, a Nashville native who will enter Meharry School of Medicine this summer, and Jaden, a Dayton, OH native, are a part of the first graduating class from the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Medical and Dental Accelerated Pathway Program. They said introducing President Glover at her final commencement was the ideal way to cap off their historic moment. President Glover established the accelerated medical and dental program with Meharry Medical College four years ago and accepted the first applicants a year later.

“When I first came to TSU, as part of the inaugural cohort of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute Accelerated Pathway program, President Glover was there in Hale Residence Hall welcoming us,” recalled Adltdort, who parents attended TSU.  “Three years later, I am a graduate and she was my keynote speaker at commencement. I am grateful for the role that President Glover has played in helping establish the program that supported me during my undergraduate career.”

Jaden added that he was grateful for the president’s vision to begin the program.

Samantha Altidort, along with the entire first cohort received graduation stoles during the program’s celebration.

“Under her leadership, the accelerated program that has profoundly shaped my career was established. Without her vision and dedication, I would not be where I am today. I can never fully express my gratitude to her but introducing her at graduation felt like a meaningful gesture of my appreciation. President Glover is an extraordinary leader, whose accolades are as vast as her intelligence. As she prepares to retire, I am confident that her impact will continue to resonate not just at TSU but also around the world.”

TSU established the Dr. Levi Watkins Medical and Dental Accelerated Pathway Program in 2021 through a partnership with Meharry School of Medicine and Meharry Dental School. Since its inception, TSU has admitted four cohorts into the program. Samantha, along with 12 of the program’s first graduates, will go to medical school in various fields. Jaden is the sole dental student. The future internal medicine doctor and dentist agreed that they look forward to a new journey that will lead to their ultimate goal and will be forever grateful to TSU and President Glover.

To learn more about the program, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.

TSU announces newly elected SGA leaders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Student Government Association has welcomed a new group of officers for the 2024-2025 academic year, many of whom are familiar faces within the student delegation. The new student leadership, including Mister TSU and Miss TSU, was announced after a competitive student election commission week.

One of those familiar faces is Chrishonda O’Quinn, who now serves as the 84th SGA president after previously holding the position of SGA vice president. O’Quinn, a junior from Chicago, Illinois, is studying business administration with a minor in mathematics. Anyah Sanders, a junior from Miami, Florida, studying biology and previously the Junior Class president, was elected as the new SGA Vice President.

Chandler Holt, a rising senior from Birmingham studying health sciences, was crowned as the 95th Miss TSU. Chandler Cotton, a junior studying biology, was elected as the new Mister TSU and will accompany Holt.

Cristal Powell-Roach, assistant dean of student activities and leadership, expressed excitement about working with the dynamic newly elected leaders while the students embrace new opportunities for growth and development. “We have a great team,” Powell-Roach said. “I am very excited about our winners.”

O’Quinn expressed gratitude for the support from the students and faculty who entrusted her to return and assume the presidency. “It honestly warms my heart, and it makes me eager to really hit the ground running this year,” she said. “I’m happy I was able to have a year in a position like Vice President because I fully understand student leadership, especially within the top four, and how to be effective and help the student body. Being vice president taught me a lot about student leadership and how to implement change within a role like that.”

Sanders said she watched O’Quinn do an amazing job as vice president for the 2023-24 academic school year and wanted to follow suit. “She (O’Quinn) set the standard, and I wanted to not only build on the work that she did but also make an impact on my own,” Sanders said. She looks forward to maintaining and amplifying organizations on campus and bridging any gaps between administration and students.

Holt, who once served on the Pre-Alumni Council, said her sophomore year she witnessed coronation, and that is when she envisioned becoming Miss TSU one day. She noted that she felt like God aligned her life to have this experience. “It was such a pivotal moment,” Holt said after the SEC announcements. “It just feels unreal. I look forward to focusing on overcoming and addressing the challenges that we face as students. I want to prioritize the students’ well-being in a mental and physical state. I want to ensure that we all are one and that we all support each other.”

The 34th Mister TSU elect, Cotton, who was recently selected as one of only five students nationwide to receive the prestigious 2024 Jordan Smith Undergraduate Student Fellowship Award, said he is also grateful for the opportunity. O’Quinn expressed confidence that the student leaders will take proactive steps towards achieving their desired goals on campus with a positive narrative.

FedEx, TSU continue HBCU Student Ambassador Program partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – FedEx has announced its continued partnership with Tennessee State University after launching its third cohort of the FedEx-HBCU Student Ambassador Program. Announced in 2021, the program launched in 2022 as part of an expanded five-year, $5 million commitment to selected HBCUs.

The student ambassadors representing TSU for the third cohort are Tamauri Murray, a junior studying computer science, and Chandler Lyons, a sophomore studying Business Administration and Supply Chain Management. “I am ecstatic that I’ve been chosen for the FedEx-HBCU Student Ambassador Program,” Murray said. “I can’t wait to dive into this journey and make the most of the unique learning experiences ahead. I am grateful for this opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.”

The impactful HBCU program through the world’s largest express transportation company chose TSU as one of eight HBCUs. The program helps prepare HBCU students for the workforce after college, providing exposure to FedEx leadership, team members, career-ready skills, and unique learning experiences.

In 2022 FedEx and TSU participated in a bell ringing ceremony at New York Stock Exchange, highlighting the HBCU program.

Lyons, from Atlanta, Georgia, said that every challenge presents a chance for personal growth. “And I am thankful for the chance to evolve,” he said. “I look forward to gaining professional skills and knowledge that will be pivotal for my career progression. This experience is important for HBCU students as it provides minority students access to a wider range of opportunities and connects them with a network of current leaders.”

TSU Board of Trustees student Shaun Wimberly, a former FedEx ambassador from the company’s inaugural cohort, said the continued partnership with TSU is worthy as he received great exposure from the year-long ambassador experience. 

“This gives us that competitive advantage that our HBCU students need,” Wimberly said. “So, we can get that foot in the door. These sorts of opportunities make up for some of the disparities that we have as an institution when compared to other schools who may already have better networking and resources due to historic events.” Wimberly said during his time as an ambassador, selected students were flown to New York to network with FedEx executives on Wall Street about climbing the corporate ladder and opportunities in the near future. Wimberly was one of two students who represented TSU in the FedEx program in 2022. The second student was Breana Jefferson of Madison, Alabama.

TSU President Glenda Glover and former FedEx HBCU student ambassador Shaun Wimberly, Jr., in 2022.

 Jenny Robertson, Senior Vice President, Global Brand and Communications for FedEx, said in a press release that providing HBCU students with exposure and opportunities to imagine what’s next beyond college is invaluable. “The continued support FedEx provides to HBCUs is one way we can help produce a strong talent pool of future leaders, creating additional opportunities to excel in their future career journeys,” Robertson said.

This cohort will convene later this spring and participate in quarterly sessions focused on interview training, mock interviews, and resume development. 

The HBCU ambassadors will also have access to applying for internships and experiencing mentorship opportunities with various FedEx leaders.

Each year, FedEx offers student ambassadors and additional HBCU practical experiences, including the “Career Expose” where FedEx Ground leaders engage with students about transitioning from college to professional life, resume writing, career tips, according to the release. It also consists of a “day in the life” in safety, engineering, finance, human resources, logistics/supply chain, and operations.

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 revives NAACP Chapter to tackle funding disparities, empower students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a significant move to address funding disparities and empower students, Tennessee State University is reactivating its National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter. Trey Cunningham, a senior majoring in health care administration and planning, serves as the Chapter President of the TSU NAACP chapter. Cunningham reflected on the timeliness of the revival.

“Our TSU NAACP Chapter has been reactivated, and this revival has coincided with TSU pursuing $2.1 billion in funding,” he said.

“With this significant piece to the puzzle and our executive committee now confirmed, we are eager to initiate our work and contribute to the ongoing success and development of TSU.”

The underfunding issue Cunningham refers to stems from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education, announcement several months ago that 16 governors collectively owe $13 billion to their respective land-grant HBCUs. TSU is facing the largest underfunding amount by a state, which is $2.1 billion.

Cunningham emphasized the importance of direct action through the NAACP chapter rather than using social media as their main platform to bring awareness to the underfunding and other issues that directly impact TSU students.

“Social media is good, but you can’t see people who are putting action behind their words,” he said. “We are going back to the roots and getting in the field to make sure people are registered to vote.”

Cunningham is optimistic about the impact the chapter could have on TSU’s campus and the generations to come.

Tamauri Murray, the Vice President of the TSU chapter, emphasized the significance of mobilizing Black voters. “Getting Black voters out there is more than important. We want to make everyone in our generation aware of voting and spreading the word,” said Murray, who is a computer science major.

“I want to implement a space for us to speak up because we have the power for change. We want students to advocate for their peers.”

One of the first steps in starting the groundwork on campus was to reintroduce the campus branch to the Nashville community. Recently, TSU student leaders attended the NAACP Nashville Branch’s Freedom Fund Banquet. The students participated to gain insight, exposure, and collaborate with local and regional members.

Frank Stevenson, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, commended the student-led initiatives to get their voices heard and their issues seen on a collegiate level chapter and beyond. “There is a very strong NAACP branch here in Nashville, so it was exciting to see them working with the local branch,” Stevenson said.

“I would like to see this age demographic participating in this political process at a higher level.”

Judy Cummings, the administrative branch manager for the Nashville NAACP, expressed excitement about the TSU chapter’s reactivation as well. “It is vitally important that young people understand the history and the significance of the work of the NAACP historically and presently,” she said.

The national agenda of NAACP remains focused on disparities in economics, healthcare, education, voter empowerment, and the criminal justice system. With the youthfulness and enthusiasm of college chapters across Tennessee, Cummings said the NAACP aims to drive voter education and mobilization leading up to the 2024 elections.

“Some people ask if the NAACP is still relevant today. The answer is yes,” Cummings said.

“Every day people call the office because their civil rights have been violated. They know we are going to answer their call because that’s the work that we do.”

The TSU NAACP chapter aims to register at least 25% of the student body population this spring for the upcoming 2024 local and presidential elections, Cunningham said. The chapter initiated its reactivation process this fall and has over 130 members including its executive committee.

TSU students promote mental wellness to prevent holiday blues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In the midst of finals, winter blues, and the holiday season, Tennessee State University students are prioritizing their mental health.

SGA student leaders partnered with the University Counseling Center for “Tiger Wellness Week.” The goal was to address the emotional well-being of students during this time of the year.

SGA president Derrell Taylor said the activities were designed to help students recognize the value of their mental health. 

Travis Ducksworth, Derrell Taylor, Elizabeth Armstrong and Amore’ Dixie during Tiger Wellness Week.

“From distributing “You Are Loved” t-shirts to passing out affirmations and creating stress balls, our focus was internal, mental, and physical well-being,” said Taylor, a senior who is a business major. 

Taylor added students even did yoga as a preventative measure to ward off the “holiday blues” during what’s considered the happiest time of the year. 

“Towards the end of the semester, we deal with finals and it’s a lot of anxiety for most students. It’s a draining time of the year. The goal was to wrap up the semester on a positive note and remind students that, despite the emotional challenges of the holiday season, they are supported.”

Travis Ducksworth, the first mental health ambassador of TSU’s counseling center,” shared insights into the impact of Tiger Wellness Week. “We were able to give people a reason to reflect and appreciate themselves even more,” Ducksworth said. “Especially during the winter months, once that sun goes down sooner, sometimes your emotions do too.” 

The emphasis is on finding creative ways to help students balance their collegiate life while prioritizing mental health.

During Tiger Wellness Week students has yoga sessions as a preventative measure to ward off the “holiday blues” during what’s considered the happiest time of the year, along with the stress of finals.

“Regardless of what your situation is, stay present,” Ducksworth advised.

Elizabeth Armstrong, a therapist at TSU’s counseling center, highlighted the importance of treating mental health as an aspect of overall health. She addressed the cultural stigmas surrounding African American mental health, urging students not to wait until they’re in crisis to seek counseling.

“Mental health is still health,” Armstrong said. “It’s important because the majority of our population, culturally, have dealt with a lot of trauma.” 

63% of Black adults believe that a mental health condition is a sign of ‘personal weakness,’ according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. 

“People seem to think something must be extremely wrong to come to counseling, part of even normalizing that is making people aware that you don’t have to be in crisis to come to counseling. But if you’re struggling with your mental health in general, don’t suffer in silence,” stressed Armstrong. 

As the semester comes to an end, Amore’ Dixie, Representative at Large for the Counseling Center, offered encouragement for students to finish strong mentally first to finish academically.

TSU students held a balloon release with messages inside, symbolizing letting go of anything holding students back. 

“I highly encourage everyone to stay focused, stay positive, and make sure to turn in all of their work on time,” Dixie said. 

“Don’t give up now, we’re almost at the home stretch. If you are feeling overwhelmed or just want to talk to someone, be sure to stop by the Counseling Center where one of the therapists can better assist you.”

Regarding the prevalence of mental health challenges among college students, data from the American Psychological Association shows that over 60% of college students experienced at least one mental health problem during the 2020–2021 school year.

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology there has been little research on the association between HBCU attendance and mental health compared to PWI attendance. Despite this gap in research, the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that cross-sectional surveys found better health outcomes for Black students enrolled at HBCUs, including less drinking, fewer mental health conditions, better body image, and more social support.

Travis Ducksworth, the first student ambassador of TSU’s counseling center reading a mental wellness pamphlet.

The week-long event helped students understand and communicate their emotions. It culminated with a balloon release with messages inside, symbolizing letting go of anything holding students back. 

“Moving forward, we plan to collaborate with the University counseling center to implement more consistent check-ins, mental health events, and comfortable, open spaces on campus,” Taylor said, noting that hosting events in the spring will be beneficial as well.

If you or someone you know needs assistance or counseling, please visit www.tnstate.edu/counseling/contact

Basket Drive Provides Families With Thanksgiving Meals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student leaders and organizations will make the Thanksgiving holiday one to remember for some local families. On Saturday, November 11, over 100 students held a successful food drive to prepare food baskets for families in need.  TSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni donated non-perishable food items for the baskets that will be distributed during the holiday season to help families.

“This Project 111 service event consisted of students and the community packing Thanksgiving baskets for those in need,” said Chrishonda O’Quinn, SGA executive vice president.

“The number 111 is significant because TSU has been in existence for 111 years. The objective was to pack 111+ Thanksgiving baskets. I’m pleased the TSU community answered the call.  We exceeded our goal.”

The sophomore delegation and O’Quinn presented the drive as part of their Project 111: Community Service. Mr. Sophomore Brandon Diggs voiced how important it was for the sophomore class to participate in the drive.

Mr. TSU Davin Latiker, left, and Miss TSU Victoria McCrae, with Mr. Sophomore Brandon Diggs, right, preparing Thanksgiving baskets

“We wanted to show each other, the faculty, students, and staff that although we are only in our second year here at Tennessee State University, how powerful we are as a collective working together to make a change in our community,” said Diggs.

It was estimated that there were roughly 300-400 items donated, as food filled four tables plus the stage in the Elliott Hall auditorium.

“Directly after the event, we dropped the donations off to the Nashville Rescue Mission,” O’Quinn add, in response to where the food would be donated.

Members from the Psi Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity Inc, Sisters in Different Shoes Inc. and SGA used their personal cars to take the items to the shelter. Diggs remarked how Nashville Rescue Mission was very proud to see them.

“As HBCU students, we should give back to our community in general because we are the community. We are making the history and culture of our institution day by day; we write the narrative not only for ourselves but for the ones around us.”

SGA Executive Vice President, Chrishonda O’Quinn and TSU students posing with a finished Thanksgiving basket

Noting that service is an essential part of the student experience at TSU, O’Quinn said student leaders are expected to lead service initiatives.

“It is important to give back to the community since it is consistent with the universities’ goals of social responsibility, community development, and historical preservation. It enhances not just the educational experience of the students but also the communities they serve.”

Over the past weeks SGA leaders have led student participation in a breast cancer walk and a mental health and wellness week.