Category Archives: Student

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSU kicks off spring semester with orientation for nearly 200 freshmen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSU nursing director elected to Tennessee Nurses Association board

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s School of Nursing Executive Director and Professor, Dr. Courtney Nyange, has been elected to the Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA) Board of Directors.

Nyange will serve as the Director of Practice for the Tennessee Nurses Association. As the Director of Practice, she will have general oversight for the review and analysis of practice trends, scope of practice, and environmental issues for Tennessee nurses. The purpose is to establish task forces to develop actions to address identified issues and make recommendations to the Government Affairs committee.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity and I’m honored to serve my community, the nursing profession, and the State of Tennessee in this role,” Nyange said. “My intent is to better the practice environment for current and future nurses in Tennessee by promoting evidence-informed practice actions.”

Nyange said serving in her role at TSU has afforded her the opportunity to be at the forefront of not only nursing education but also nursing practice in Tennessee. Nyange was also selected as a participant in the Leadership Tennessee Next Class VIII. Her accolades don’t stop there.

Last year, Nyange was also selected as the first at TSU to receive this honorable recognition as a Rising Star by the TNA, the Tennessee Hospital Association, and the Tennessee Action Coalition for her outstanding leadership in the nursing profession. She noted that these achievements are complementary to one another. “Participating in the Leadership Tennessee NEXT program affords me an opportunity to create cross-state, cross-sector networks, learn about Tennessee’s strengths and challenges, and prepare to serve my local and professional communities,” she said.

Given that minority nurses are underrepresented in Tennessee and in the nursing profession, Nyange talked about the magnitude of this role, serving the community all while being a representation for HBCUs.

“I am able to bring the minority nurse perspective into this role and be a voice and advocate for minority nurses in Tennessee, and I am thrilled to be able to do so,” she said.

Nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with nearly 5.2 million registered nurses nationwide, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

According to the association, the racial breakdown in 2022 shows that 80% of registered nurses are Caucasian, while 6.3% are African American across the country.

College of Health Sciences Dean Ronald Barredo, expressed appreciation for Dr. Nyange’s unwavering support for both the university and the industry. “The College of Health Sciences is proud of Dr. Nyange’s appointment to the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Nurses Association as its Director of Practice,” Barredo said. “TNA is pivotal not only in the regulation of nursing practice, but also the protection of the citizens of the state. Her appointment to this esteemed position exemplifies the University’s motto: “Think, Work, Serve.”

By serving as the Director of Practice, Nyange looks forward to influencing policy and promoting positive changes that will better the practice environment for current and future nurses in Tennessee.

Influencing policy will help alleviate the nursing shortage and help retain them, she said. “My motivation for seeking this leadership position is the desire to recruit and retain high-quality nurses who will help advance and improve the health of Tennesseans.”

Nyange is one of 11 to serve on the TNA board of directors. 

TSU professor designs Black History Month jersey for NHL Nashville Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When the Nashville Predators entered Bridgestone Arena this week to observe Black History Month, the NHL team wore a jersey designed by a Tennessee State University professor. Kaleena Sales, department chair and associate professor of art and design, revealed her design at the Predators Black History Celebration game on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Sales says the design offers a duality that bridges historical and contemporary Black culture.

I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to represent TSU and Nashville as a Black designer,” Sales said.

A look at the front design for the Predators jerseys and T-shirts for the Black History Celebration game at Bridgestone Arena. (Photo submitted)

“To be celebrated professionally in such a public way means something to me. It speaks to the growth that we’ve had, and it honors what Black History Month celebration should really be about.”

This is the second consecutive year the Predators have chosen a TSU professor to design cultural jerseys and T-shirts for hockey players and fans, honoring Black History Month (BHM). The jerseys and T-shirts, designed by Sales and co-created with Predators graphic designer Tayshaun Hassell, were worn by players upon their arrival at the arena prior to game time. These items will be signed and auctioned off through the Nashville Predators’ Foundation at a later date.

Amy Bratten, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Nashville Predators, said the organization anticipated showcasing the artistry in honor of the historical celebration.

“It is such a gift to have Kaleena Sales contribute to our Black History Celebration,” Bratten said.

“What Kaleena Sales and Preds Graphic Designer, Tayshaun Hassell, created is educational and dynamic. Our players and staff were excited to showcase the artwork on January 31. We’re excited to have the logo displayed all over Smashville!”

The black and gold jerseys and T-shirts, according to Sales, feature custom lively West African patterns symbolizing purity, wisdom, love, harmony, and more. The unique design was also showcased on lanyards distributed to the first 5,000 fans in attendance.

“The symbols were designed by the Akan people from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana during the early 1800s and have a rich and beautiful history,” explained Sales.

“The geometric pattern used alongside the Adinkra symbols is meant to represent the vibrancy of contemporary Black culture.” 

Sales noted that the designs aim to honor the past by connecting it to the present. With over 20 years of experience as a graphic designer, Sales expressed the significance of this opportunity, emphasizing its importance not only for herself but also for the community she represents.

“This exposure is expected to bring increased visibility to TSU and the surrounding HBCUs.”

The Predator’s annual Black History celebration night recognized all four of Nashville’s HBCUs, featuring a battle of the bands with three local high schools, and included the National Anthem and in-game performances by Africa-American musical artists.

In 2023, the Nashville Predators selected Eric Jackson, TSU assistant professor of graphic design, to create the players jersey designs worn during the Black History Celebration game day warm-ups. Jackson expressed his appreciation for the continuous partnership between the organization and TSU, highlighting the ongoing acknowledgment of Black creatives.

“We are service providers, and we are mostly behind the scenes, so it’s great to be acknowledged,” Jackson said.

As a hockey fan, Jackson is especially excited about this year’s annual celebration, coinciding with TSU being the first HBCU to offer men’s ice hockey at the collegiate level. TSU hockey is set to commence its inaugural season this fall.

Dr. Samantha Morgan Curtis, dean of TSU’s College of Liberal Arts, said the selection of two of her professors speaks to the quality of the University’s art programs.

“We are grateful that the Predators recognize the brilliance of our faculty,” added Morgan-Curtis.

“The College of Liberal Arts is excited about the Predators partnership and all the possibilities it affords our students and faculty. This project specifically highlights the quality of our graphic design program. We are thankful to the hockey team for this opportunity.”

Morgan Curtis also shared that TSU will be the first HBCU to host the upcoming State of Black Design Conference in March, another testament to the program and faculty.

To learn more about the Predators Black History celebration and to purchase Professor’s Sales custom design T-shirt, click here.

TSU honors students win national HBCU research competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSU President Glenda Glover honored with Inspire Change Changemaker Award from Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a heartwarming ceremony at Nissan Stadium, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover was honored with the prestigious 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award by the Tennessee Titans.

The long-time educator and HBCU advocate was recognized for her exceptional work in pursuit of social justice in higher education. The Changemaker Award recognizes individuals in each NFL team market who make a difference in their communities across Inspire Change’s four focus areas: education, economic advancement, police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.

“I am honored to be recognized as the Tennessee Titans 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker,” said President Glenda Glover. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities are home to so many diverse, gifted, and brilliant students who have the ability to make a difference globally. TSU is proud to partner with the Tennessee Titans in preparing students to go out into the world and to change it for the better.” 

Left to right, Tennessee Titans representatives Adolpho Birch III, Johari Matthews, TSU President Glenda Glover, and Titans CEO, President Burke Nihill during the Inspire Change Breakfast and reception at Nissan Stadium to honor Dr. Glover with a prestigious 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University.)

For decades, Dr. Glover has worked to transform the HBCU student experience for the benefit of thousands of students and the state of Tennessee at large under the NFL’s Inspire Change Education pillar. Members from the University family, Tennessee Titans staff, and the Nashville community were on hand to acknowledge her contributions and impact. Among them was Mika McKinney, a TSU alumna and current intern for the Titans, who is benefitting from President’s Glover on-going partnership with the team.  McKinney is pursuing her master’s in sports administration from the institution as well.

“The TSU Titans partnership has bridged the gap between theory and practice, giving me real-world insight that goes beyond experts,” McKinney said. “This has been an experience nothing further than transformative. It’s about people, growth, and community, and continuing to work better for the future.” She emphasized the collaboration’s impact on mentorship and personal growth beyond football and academics.

Mika McKinney, a TSU alumna and current intern for the Titans, speaks on this partnership going beyond sports and academic.

Dr. Glover, moved by McKinney’s words, expressed her joy in seeing students like Mika thrive.

“It makes my job worthwhile,” Glover said. “I am so honored. It recognizes the partnership between TSU and the Titans and what we are going to do in the community and what we want to do with HBCUs.” Dr. Glover also underscored the value of the educational experience and their commitment nationwide.

In his words acknowledging President Glover’s significant impact, Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell emphasized the strength of the TSU and Titans partnership and celebrated the moment as reflective of the city’s unity.

“It’s a great day for football and a great day to celebrate one of our community’s finest,” Mayor O’Connell stated.

Tennessee Titans CEO and President Burke Nihill expressed his gratitude for Dr. Glover’s friendship and the ongoing collaboration between TSU and the Titans. “To our organization, your legacy will always be transitioning from a TSU, Tennessee Titans partnership to a TSU, Tennessee Titans friendship,” Nihill said.

Mayor O’Connell addresses the audience in front of dozens, paying tribute to Dr. Glover for the prestigious award bestowed upon her by the Tennessee Titans.

Johari Matthews, VP and Executive Director of the Tennessee Titans Foundation and Community Impact, explained the selection of Dr. Glover as the 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker recipient.

“Dr. Glover was chosen because of her committed work to higher education, specifically supporting HBCUs,” Matthews said. “She has made it her mission to ensure that young people have access to higher education while also bringing attention to the many inequities and resources and funding that our HBCUs endure.”

Kind remarks about surrounding Glover’s legacy were also shared by TSU alumna Tina Tuggle, the VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Titans and Adolpho Birch III, who oversees the Titans’ Chief External Affairs.

In addition to the breakfast program, President Glover was honored on the field during the Titans game against the Texans. She was greeted with cheers as she was once again recognized as the Titans Inspire Change Changemaker award.

President Glover at Nissan Stadium holding the NFL Changemaker award as the 2023 recipient for the Tennessee Titans.

“This recognition means so much to me because I am a diehard Titans fan, so much so that we hired Eddie George, one of the most prolific players in the Titans franchise history, as our head football coach. I am so appreciative of what we are starting and where we are headed from here with this partnership.”

The Inspired Change Changemaker award comes with a generous $10,000 donation from the NFL Foundation. Glover will donate the entire sum back to Tennessee State University.

As the first female woman and alumna to serve as president of TSU, President Glover has overseen significant increases in enrollment, alumni fundraising, research dollars, and academic offerings. Glover is a certified public accountant, an attorney, and one of two African American women to hold the Ph.D-CPA-JD combination in the country. In 2022, President Joe Biden appointed her as Vice Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

For more information on the 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker recipients, visit NFL.com/causes/inspire-change/changemakers.

TSU receives recognition for Best Online Master’s Programs in State

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received the 2024 “Best Online Master’s in Tennessee” award from Online Masters Colleges (OMC), reaffirming its commitment to providing exceptional online education. The recognition highlights TSU’s dedication to quality instruction and the success of its students.

Brionna Brown, a recent graduate of TSU’s online Master’s program in instructional leadership, received her degree this fall. Brown, from Jackson, Tennessee, currently works as a 5th-grade educator in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Brionna Brown, a recent graduate of TSU’s online Master’s program currently works as a 5th-grade educator in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“Even though its online, you could still feel the passion from the people,” Brown said regarding the professors and the college of education program she just completed.

Brown embarked on the TSU one-year online program through the state’s Aspiring Assistant Principal Program, with hopes of administrative leadership roles in education. Her journey reflects the impact of TSU’s online education in preparing aspiring administrators.

She expressed gratitude to Dr. Pamela Tanner, the Department chair for the Department of Teaching and Learning, for her passion and helpfulness in student growth. “She has years of experience and such knowledge to pour into her students,” Brown said. “She is very passionate about growing her students, and that was the best part,” Brown said.

The online program featured guest speakers, including superintendents, providing students with valuable real-world insights, she said. Despite the program being virtual, Brown found it easy to navigate technologically, due to weekly Zoom meetings.

Dr. Trinetia Respress

The “Best Online Master’s in Tennessee” award from OMC is a testament to TSU’s overall excellence in online education. The comprehensive evaluation process considered factors such as graduation rates, affordability, and program accreditation, according to an OMC press release. TSU is one of 22 universities selected for the 2024 best online master’s in Tennessee title.

Dr. Trinetia Respress, TSU Interim Graduate Dean, expressed pride in the university’s recognition. “This recognition is fabulous and well-deserved,” Respress said. “It speaks to the dedication, creativity, and hard work of faculty in providing quality online instruction to students.”

TSU offers a wide variety of online master’s programs, including Instructional Leadership, Masters in Counseling Psychology, Executive MBA, Masters in Public Health, Masters of Social Work, Masters in Nursing, and many more.

Dr. Robbie Melton,

With 32 master’s graduate programs and over 850 current master students, TSU continues to be a hub for online education excellence.

Dr. Robbie Melton, the former graduate dean and current interim provost for academic affairs, said the university is committed to providing quality online master’s level education. She highlighted new technology tools, such as artificial intelligence, to enhance learning. “We are incorporating new technology tools such as AI to enhance the learning environment for online graduate students,” she said.

She also promotes these innovative tools for research.

TSU’s recent recognitions by OMC also include being ranked for one of the Best Masters in Speech Pathology Online Programs and being listed as one of the most affordable Online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs for 2023.

TSU will continue to set the standard for students seeking a high-quality, accredited online master’s degree, offering flexibility, support, and the convenience needed for adult learners. For more information about online graduate programs, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/online/graduate.aspx.

TSU finalizing fall commencement, graduates to include former NFL star Rodgers-Cromartie 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This morning hundreds of Tennessee State University students participated in rehearsal in preparation for Saturday’s commencement ceremony. One of those graduates was former NFL 2-time Pro Bowler and AFC Champion Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The TSU standout will receive a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the College of Liberal Arts. Rodgers-Cromartie started his collegiate career as a cornerback for the TSU Tigers and was a first round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.

Rodgers-Cromartie joins the class of 2023 for TSU fall commencement Saturday, December 9, 2023, at 9 a.m. in the Gentry Center Complex. Nearly 700 students will walk the stage to receive their degrees during the ceremony. This year’s speaker is award-winning journalist and former CNN anchor Don Lemon. Lemon anchored the long-running CNN primetime program, Don Lemon Tonight as well as CNN This Morning.

Commencement will include 328 undergraduate students and 324 graduate students. TSU is hoping graduates will make it “TSU for Two” and consider pursuing a second degree, from the institution, after graduation. The School of Graduate Studies held “Donuts and Degrees” during commencement rehearsal to talk with interested students. The recruitment initiative could help students who are still undecided about life after graduation. 

University officials encourage graduates to arrive one hour before the ceremony due to parking. While masks are not required, this is flu season and everyone is asked to exercise caution.

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

TSU distributes 14,000 lbs of food to local community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University highlighted the true meaning of the season by partnering with local agencies for the holidays to help Nashville families. Recently, members of the TSU Staff Senate, along with Second Harvest Food Bank, “But God” Ministry Nette Working For You, and Bethesda Original Church of God, provided over 14,000 pounds of food for 175 families in Davidson County.

Students and staff at Bethesda Original Church of God are participating in community service at a food bank.

Dr. Antoinette Duke, Director of Academic Career Pathways and Partnerships and a member of the Staff Senate, said the committee voted unanimously to volunteer through this outreach effort.

“This was an opportunity to truly address the food insecurity in Davidson County,” Duke said. “Connecting with the Staff Senate and seeing them come out and connect with community organizations makes this process so much easier.”

Duke said that approximately 50 TSU students, faculty, and staff volunteered by packing boxes full of meat, produce, canned goods, and more. 

Dr. Duke transporting bags and boxes of food during a Nashville food bank for local families.

Staff Senate Chair Reginald Cannon also expressed gratitude for everyone who came to lend a helping hand, in support of the holiday project. “I am thankful to the TSU staff that came out to help in the effort,” Cannon said. 

“Whether it was minutes or hours, their contribution was invaluable.”

Jada Vaughn, a TSU freshman from Michigan majoring in nursing, was one of the many students to volunteer. Vaughn said she initially came because of a class-required volunteer work but attended and stayed for several hours, enjoying her time helping and making connections while giving back.

Jada Vaughn transports a box filled with essentials for a local food bank.

“TSU students gathered at the food bank to help support the elderly or anyone in need of food,” Vaughn said. “It was good to know we were helping the community out, and I look forward to even more people attending next year.”

Shelia Elston, a member at Bethesda Church, said she lives in a nearby senior citizen complex and wanted to pick up groceries for some of her neighbors who didn’t have transportation.

“This is what God wants us to do, to feed the hungry,” Elston said. “This is a wonderful event, and it’s great to give back.”

Staff Senate Chair Reginald Cannon expressed gratitude for everyone who came to the community service event to lend a helping hand.

TSU sophomore Calvin Pickett said it was great seeing community goers’ faces light up when they were given their boxes full of food for their families. 

“I believe that it takes a village to raise a child,” Pickett said. 

“I love giving back not only to the community but also to my peers. Seeing those faces encouraged me to keep going. We have a community behind us that is working and thinking, and I want to make sure we are serving them.”

Over 14,000 pounds of food were disturbed to 175 families in Davidson County.

Pickett added that he has been volunteering at TSU since his freshman year and currently serves as the community service chair for Build Institute, a professional development program for first-year male students at TSU.

He believes events like the food bank align with how TSU employees and students continue to uphold the motto think, work, serve, beyond the campus.

College of Agriculture’s  De’Etra Young receives USDA National Teaching Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is proud to announce that Dr. De’Etra Young, Associate Dean for Academics and Land-grant Programs, received the prestigious U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Teaching Award. The national award, presented by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the USDA, recognizes excellence in agricultural sciences teaching and student engagement. Dr. Young is one of two recipients this year for the annual award and said she is honored for this recognition.

Dr. Manjit Misra, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Dr. Young.

“This recognition celebrates my dedication to education and symbolizes the rich legacy of Tennessee State University, an HBCU committed to preparing students for success,” Young said. 

“At TSU, we take pride in our mission to excel in teaching and learning, offering experiential learning opportunities and fostering professional development for our students. This award is a testament to the University and College of Agriculture’s commitment to innovation in the classroom.”

The annual award includes a $5,000 stipend for teaching enhancements at TSU. Young is recognized as a leader in undergraduate research that is driven by her passion for environmental science and urban forestry. She has been committed to motivating students, like junior Blake Wright, to have that same passion and drive.  The Dallas, TX native is studying agricultural sciences. 

Blake Wright

“Even when I started my freshman year, Dr. Young had helped me so much.” Wright said.

“I was able to get accepted for an 1890 farm bill scholarship, and she makes sure students are aware of leadership opportunities. She overcomes challenges, presents great opportunity, and this national recognition is long overdue.”

As a mentor, Young has created many aspiring researchers over time, who have also gained national recognition for their contributions, according to the APLU website. CheKenna Fletcher, stated that she wouldn’t be in the position as a first-year Ph.D. student in agricultural sciences without Young’s support.

“Her tireless commitment to guiding students through their academic journey and beyond is unmatched,” Fletcher said.

CheKenna Fletcher

“From crafting heartfelt recommendation letters to being a constant source of encouragement, she embodies selflessness like no other, proving that leadership leaves no room for personal rest but thrives in the success of others.”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, the dean of the College of Agriculture, said Young is very deserving of this award as she is a role model to many TSU students and faculty.

“Dr. Young is an exceptional teacher, mentor, and advisor,” Reddy said.

“Dr. Young’s passion to engage high school and undergraduate students in research makes our novel summer apprenticeship and dean’s scholar’s program so popular with participating students and their families. I congratulate her on behalf of my colleagues in the College for getting selected for this prestigious national teaching award.”

Young, who has been at TSU for ten years, has been awarded more than $30 million in funding as a principal investigator (PI) and Co-PI.

Dr. Young assisting college of Agriculture students during the fall semester.

 “We applaud the 2023 winners of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences,” said Wendy Fink, Executive Director of the Academic Programs Section at APLU.

“Through their dedicated and focused passion in mentoring and instruction, they serve as inspirational leaders for their students and other faculty striving to serve their students better.”

Dr. Young received her bachelor’s degree in Urban Forestry at Southern University and A&M College, and a masters and a Ph.D both in forestry from Texas A&M University. Visit our website to find more information about TSU’s Agricultural Sciences program or majors.