Category Archives: Student

TSU hosts nursing summer camp for middle school students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University School of Nursing and Nurses Middle College (MC) Nashville hope to inspire 32 middle school students to become the next generation of healthcare professionals. The group of rising 7th and 8th graders recently visited TSU as a part of a nursing summer camp, where they learned CPR and patient care simulations. They received instruction from the School of Nursing faculty and learned about the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, cardiac arrest, identifying life-threatening situations, and more.

Middle school students attend the nursing camp gather in TSUs Health Science Building’s patient care simulation area. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)
 

Khloe Garrison, a Rose Park Middle Magnet 8th grader said the camp experience was one to remember as she learned techniques and terminology she hadn’t been exposed to before.

“Camp has been really cool,” Garrison said. “We did CPR on the (mannequin) babies. Seeing people here at TSU who look like me inspires me because I know they’ve achieved it, and it makes me believe I can too.”

TSUs Executive Director of Nursing Dr. Courtney Nyange said the University was proud to partner with NursesMC Nashville for the nursing camp. Dr. Nyange added that hosting the summer program helps the nursing school fulfill its mission to foster students of all backgrounds to become the leading healthcare professionals of tomorrow.

Middle school students, camp counselor demonstrations CPR skills during NursesMC camp. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)
 

“The opportunity to contribute to the continued diversification of the nursing profession in Tennessee and the nation is a privilege that our School of Nursing is honored to have and has embarked upon as an institution for decades,” Nyange said. “Our partnership will help create a pipeline of students who will be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and compassion needed to become successful nurses, capable of delivering high-quality client care.”

Dr. Cathy Lovelace, Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, provided the one-day CPR training workshop for the participants.

Dr. Courtney Nyange being interviewed by a local news reporter to discuss the nursing profession and creating a pipeline for underrepresented healthcare professionals. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

Amir Rahman, who is a Nolensville High School student, participated in the event as a camp counselor. “It’s important that everyone came together and empowered each other,” Rahman said during the camp. “HBCUs are important, and I know the camp students appreciate this.”

Rahman, who aims to become a Certified Pediatric Nurse, has TSU on his list of potential colleges after high school.

 NursesMC Nashville Executive Director Dr. Andrea Poynter, who formerly served as a nursing professor at TSU for four years, said seeing the students’ excitement was one of the many highlights of the camp.

Amir Rahman

“The biggest takeaway is just them being able to learn how impactful they can be to people in their families and their communities,” Poynter said. “This exposure will be memorable to our aspiring next-gen nurses. Due to the hands-on clinical opportunities, the diverse school and local community, the level of preparedness from nursing graduates from TSU is so impactful.”

In addition to TSU, NursesMC Nashville partnered with HCA Healthcare TriStar Division and Belmont University to offer students diverse hands-on experiences. The TSU and NursesMC Nashville summer camp exemplifies the university’s commitment to nurturing future healthcare professionals through early exposure and practical campus experiences.

Students receive gifts from the School of Nursing during the NursesMC camp, hosted at TSU. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

NursesMC Nashville, launching next year, will be a tuition-free public high school in Davidson County, integrating nursing education, workforce experiences, and industry credentials to prepare graduates for college and careers in healthcare.

To learn more about the summer camp and the new NursesMC public nursing high school coming to Nashville, visit www.nursesmcnashville.org/contact/. To learn more about TSUs School of Nursing, visit www.tnstate.edu/nursing/.

Tyler Perry Studios selects TSU student for internship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tyler Perry Studios (TPS) just announced their second cohort of talented interns selected nationwide, and one of their hand-picked interns is a familiar face in the Big Blue community.

Briana Thomas, a mass communication student at Tennessee State University, was selected as one of 14 TPS Dreamers Intern Class of 2024 out of over 1,000 applicants. Thomas, of San Diego, California, is a rising senior with dreams of becoming an independent filmmaker. She just started the 6-week paid internship based in Atlanta, Georgia, working in deliverables, where she is responsible for delivering the movie or show episode for distribution.

“I was super excited when I was selected as I knew this was a great opportunity to learn and gain experience,” Thomas said. “It feels great to represent TSU and showcase the character, integrity, and work ethic instilled in me.”

Thomas noted that she found out about the opportunity in April and applied right away as she hopes to learn the ins and outs of production and how a studio is run day-to-day.

During her internship, Thomas is gaining work experience and networking opportunities to meet professionals who are available as mentors and industry contacts. Thomas said she is excited to contribute to one of the largest film production studios in the United States and is grateful that her university prepared her for this very moment.

“The whole mass communications department at Tennessee State University has prepared me for this opportunity,” she said, showing gratitude to her TSU professor and mentor who wrote her letter of recommendation.

Erik Werner, TSU’s Director of the Center for Media Arts and Production, said the department does its best to provide students with the skill set that will land them internship opportunities of this magnitude. Werner stated that he is proud of Thomas’ success so far and “feels great knowing that I helped.”

“Networks and studios will be fighting to hire her,” Werner said about Thomas’ drive and work ethic. “That’s how good she is and how good she is going to be.”

He noted that Thomas knew exactly what she wanted throughout her collegiate years for her career and has put in the effort to obtain any of her goals.

“It’s one thing to learn the basic skills but it’s another to turn around and learn the advanced skills and be adaptable,” Werner said. “To be able to adapt and roll with it is a huge ability that not everyone has.”

TPS Dreamers program allows interns like Thomas to receive first-hand knowledge of working for a multi-faceted entertainment company.

As Thomas continues her journey at Tyler Perry Studios, she looks forward to applying the knowledge and skills gained from this internship to her future career in filmmaking, aiming to tell compelling stories from diverse narratives, she said. Supported by her mentors and the foundation built at TSU, Thomas is excited about making a significant impact in the film and entertainment industry.

To learn more about the College of Liberal Arts, visit www.tnstate.edu/cla/.

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 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/.

TSU Ag student lands fortune 500 job, aims to combat world hunger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Kerrington Howard, a graduating senior at Tennessee State University, secured a job with a Fortune 500 company as a commodity trader, marking a significant step toward his goal of combating world hunger and assisting communities that suffer from food insecurities. “The end goal is to acquire the knowledge and then commit to action,” Howard said.

While the United States grapples with the challenge of food insecurity, Tennessee State University is producing students like Howard, who are determined to make a difference. More than 27 million Americans suffered from food insecurity as of July 2023, according to U.S. News.

Howard, of Maryland, D.C., is an agricultural science major who will be graduating May 4 and heading to Illinois this summer to pursue his career at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

Howard’s agricultural journey began at the age of eight when he was introduced to his father’s land in Florida, where fruits were grown, and goats were raised. “That’s when I got accustomed to country life,” Howard said. While his mother and stepfather own a business in Maryland, it was his experiences on his father’s land that sparked his interest in agricultural business, leading him to concentrate on it at TSU.

When Howard was in high school, he was accepted into TSU’s 1890 summer apprenticeship where he gained hands-on experience with agriculture professors at the university. He then received a full-ride scholarship as a Farm Bill Scholar to attend TSU and took full advantage of his opportunities and resources.

Throughout his collegiate years, Howard secured internships at Mammoth Cave as an environmental education intern and at Waste Management as an environmental protection intern that extended through his junior year.

During his job search, he discovered the role of a commodity trader through Thurgood Marshall and secured the job after three rounds of interviews. “It was luck, and it was God,” he said regarding securing the job. “I want to make an impact on how the food supply works.”

ADM is a global leader in both human and animal nutrition. As a commodity trader for the company, Howard will trade resources like seeds, corn, and other grain products within the agriculture industry.

What inspired Howard to enter this field is to combat food deserts and underrepresented communities battling with food insecurities. “We’re the leaders in food production, yet we have communities that don’t have access to food,” he said.

According to Feeding America, 92 billion pounds of food annually, equal to 145 billion meals, are wasted in the U.S., which is 38% of all the food in America.

“Since we are in the city (of Nashville), we should be able to walk to food,” he said. “Knowing that we have many food deserts right in Tennessee, that’s part of my motivation.” In Tennessee, 21% of the state’s population lives in areas considered food deserts, 15% in urban food deserts and 6% in rural food deserts.

Howard said he considers TSU “comforting” and looks forward to applying what he has learned at the university in the workforce.

“TSU is the whole reason why I’m here today. They provided the education, the internship skills, and the resources so I can get where I am today,” he said. “So, I’m always grateful for TSU.”

Dr. De’Etra Young, agriculture professor and associate dean for academics and land-grant programs, said that Howard’s achievements speak volumes of the caliber of students the college produces. “As a Farm Bill Scholar, engaged in rigorous undergraduate research and internships, Kerrington embodies the dedication and preparedness fostered within our institution,” Young said. “His success in securing a position with Archer Daniels Midland not only reflects his individual excellence but also underscores the value of the education and opportunities provided by TSUAg.”

Howard will be walking the stage with a 3.5 GPA at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4, with more than 550 fellow classmates.

TSU’s spring commencement will also be livestreamed from the university’s YouTube channel at www.tnstate.edu/livestream.

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 .

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/.

Motivational speaker ignites triumph over adversity for TSU students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Cassandra Brown covers herself with a ‘coat of gratitude’ every morning after surviving a shooting incident in 2021. As a result, the Memphis native was left partially paralyzed. The life-altering tragedy took place just a week before Brown was to return for her junior year at Tennessee State University. Despite the challenges, she returned to study agricultural business this past fall with guidance from TSU’s Office of Disability Services (ODS).

Fast forward to a recent campus event that Brown says was a pivotal moment in her journey. The event was sponsored by ODS and featured motivational speaker Timothy Alexander.

TSU student Cassandra Brown, left, and motivational speaker Timothy Alexander, takes a photo together shortly after Alexanders speech at TSU.

“Where you come from doesn’t predict the person you will become,” Brown said with high emotions. “And after hearing speech his, I knew I wasn’t alone.”

Alexander and the TSU student share a similar story. Alexander had hopes of a career in the NFL, until a car accident that initially left him paralyzed from the neck down at 17 years old. But he didn’t give up on himself. He emerged as a beacon of hope, becoming an inspirational speaker and author. He dedicated his life to inspiring others with his story of resilience and triumph over adversity.

“From adversity to achievement,” Alexander, a Birmingham Alabama native, shared his heartwarming story.  Once ranked the #8 best high school football player in Alabama, he defied the odds.

“My education, my experience, my research put me in roles that I never thought I would be in,” Alexander said.

Timothy Alexander, right, interacts with students after telling an inspiring story about his journey that led him to becoming a motivational speaker.

“You don’t need it to be easy. You just need it to be possible,” he told the crowd.

Alexander graduated from Wallace State Community College and went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). In 2017, he stood up and walked independently at UAB for the first time since his paralysis in 2006.

“I was the first paraplegia in D1 history to ever receive a full ride for football and I never touched the field. I never made a play.”

The car wreck also caused a traumatic brain injury that demanded a journey of relearning how to walk and think.

“Never forget where you come from but be reminded of how far you’re going.”

Dozens of athletes in attendance resonated with Alexander’s story. Louise Ratiu, a TSU tennis player from Liege, Belgium, said she appreciated the underlying message of Alexander’s speech.

TSU Tennis players Louise Ratiu, left, and Sydni Lollar express gratitude for Alexander’s inspiring story and resilient mindset, regardless of any setbacks.

“I really liked the way he underlined that no matter how hard life gets, anything is possible if you are willing to do what is necessary to get there,” Ratiu said. “And I think it’s something really important mostly as athletes to keep fighting no matter how hard it gets.”

Dr. Anita McGaha, the director of the Office of Disability Services (ODS) said the office was proud to collaborate with the Academic Career Pathways and Partnerships office, directed by Dr. Antoinette Duke, to bring Alexander’s motivational narrative to TSU.

“His motivational narrative struck a chord with both our students and our staff on a profound level,” McGaha said.

“There are no limits to what a person can accomplish. Alexander reminded everyone in attendance that, ‘it’s not what you go through but what you grow through.'”

Dr. Anita McGaha, left, Timothy Alexander, center, and Dr. Antoinette Duke.

Alexander’s message served as a universal lesson for all TSU students, regardless of their abilities.

“It’s you, that can make a difference,” he said.

“If you want to measure what life is going to bring you, you’ve got to measure it by what you gave. Good measure.”

During his speech Alexander expressed his appreciation for his first visit to TSU and the university’s motto, “Think Work Serve,” and how it resonates with his journey. As he concluded, he was extended an invitation to apply for a doctoral program by interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Robbie Melton.

TSU students selected as ambassadors for Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University students have been selected as ambassadors for the inaugural launch of the Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab. The Storytellers Lab is an initiative designed to create partnerships with HBCUs to cultivate diverse creator pipelines within the entertainment industry.

Showtime selected TSU students Billy Briggs and DeShonda Kennerson, both juniors studying mass communication.

The initiative will consist of a nine-month experience that equips HBCU students with the skills and insights to become the next generation of content creators.

Briggs said he is grateful for the opportunity as he looks forward to honing his skills in the creative process and digital media production. “I was beyond elated when I found out that I was selected for this program,” Briggs said. “I am excited to showcase my talent in writing and to elevate my craft. This opportunity not only grants access to a challenging industry but also imparts essential fundamentals crucial for my long-term growth.”

Kennerson of Louisiana said being an ambassador for this program is one of the greatest opportunities she’s ever received.

“Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and this feels like a dream come true,” Kennerson said. “I am honored to be a part of this program and I hope that it will open many doors for me as a writer and producer in the entertainment industry.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, Dean of TSU’s College of Liberal Arts, said she appreciates that Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios recognized the creativity and abilities of TSU’s communication students.

“This is the very definition of a high-impact practice, where students can actively participate in these workshops with industry professionals who have proven success while they’re getting their degrees. They can step directly from the classroom into working for these organizations,” Dr. Morgan-Curtis said. “These are students who are known and capable and demonstrate each day that they are ready for this.”

The inaugural class of the Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab includes 11 fellow HBCUs as well.

Students will receive access to mentorship and masterclasses with leaders across Paramount Global, as well as insider perspectives on the creative processes of content development, the release states.

Ti-Shea Meadows, Vice President of Operations and Channel Planning at SHOWTIME/MTV Entertainment Studios & Paramount Media Networks, said this initiative underscores the commitment to fostering diverse talent and amplifying underrepresented voices for the next generation of storytellers.

“Together, we are forging a path that transcends traditional boundaries, celebrating diversity, creativity, and the power of storytelling,” Meadows said. “The innovative narratives, inspiring voices, and groundbreaking ideas that will undoubtedly emerge from this collaboration are highly anticipated.” Meadows is also the Head of the Storytellers Lab. “As we dive into this immersive program, we anticipate an enriching and transformative experience for both students and mentors alike.”

National events on participating HBCU campuses will be rolling out this spring.

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.