NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – On Saturday, more than 4,000 eagerly waiting high school students and their families packed the Gentry Center Complex to get their first taste of TSU and the HBCU experience. It was Spring Preview Day at Tennessee State University, when the institution invites high school junior and seniors to various elaborate ceremonies across campus to acquaint them with the university’s offerings, admission processes and campus life.
This year’s preview day saw the return to in-person gathering, the first in nearly two years due to the pandemic. The record number of visitors represented 15 states, including California, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Cherri Branch Donelson, a high school English teacher from Memphis, with a long history of family members coming to TSU, said, she couldn’t wait to get her daughter, Leah Dylainee Donelson, to enroll at the university.
“The energy in here today is just what I have always imagined with generations of my family members coming to TSU from when it was Tennessee A&I,” Cherri Branch said. “It was an easy decision for my daughter to come here. The first person in my family to go to college came here and that started a long legacy beginning from the 1950s. And my daughter is ready. She has worked hard for this day.”
“I will be a Tiger here next semester,” said Leah Dylainee, a Bartlett High School academic standout, who has already been admitted. She plans to study mass communications and media. “I love this school, not just because of my family members coming here. I was drawn to TSU because of the culture.”
Earlier, TSU President Glenda Glover joined the festivities to welcome the new Tigers and their family members.
“Welcome to Tennessee State University,” Glover said, to loud applauds from the crowd. “We here at TSU we make sure your children are taken care of. We make sure they get the best education. We have various colleges, majors, and programs to choose from. We have the faculty, academic programs, and an active student life to teach you how to succeed in college. To you parents, when you leave your child with us, we will make sure we take care of them.”
Charles Crutchfield IV, a pre-med major who came to Spring Preview with his father, mother, and younger sister, is coming to TSU in the fall as part of the Levi Watkins Institute, a collaboration between TSU and Meharry Medical College for exceptional students who want to become medical doctors.
“TSU’s outstanding reputation I heard through the Levi Watkins program drew me to this school,” said Crutchfield IV, of St. Paul, Minnesota, whose father, Charles Crutchfield III, is a medical doctor. “I love this school. In fact, the welcome here today is the biggest I have seen in all my college tours, and it makes me feel even more at home here.”
Sammy Edward Freeman III, who wants to study criminal justice, and his mother, Tremika Guess, from Memphis, were among the early arrivals at Spring Preview. He chose TSU “because of the programs, the people and to be closer to home.”
“What really brought me to TSU is the hospitality; it is an HBCU, and I am around many people I know from my hometown,” said Freeman, who hopes to be the first in his family to graduate college. “I feel very comfortable and already feel at home. You have pretty good programs.”
Freeman’s mother, Tremika Guess, added, “I am happy for him. He has been looking forward to this. He has worked hard. He has earned it. He received a scholarship here, and we are going to take full advantage of that.”
Saturday’s activities also included an academic and student services fair in Kean Hall, where the various colleges and department set up tents and tables to meet students. It also included meetings with faculty and student leaders, including Mister and Miss TSU; and a parents-only gathering where parents received information on how to respond to their children’s needs while on campus. The all-day event culminated with campus tours, as well as the Big Blue Tiger Spring Blue & White Football Game in Hale Stadium, with entertainment by the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands.
Terrance Izzard, associate vice president of enrollment management and student success, applauded the record turn-out, and thanked the student services department for “an outstanding program.”
“Spring Preview Day was bigger and better than ever with record number of eagerly waiting people to learn more about the HBCU experience,” Izzard said. “We are thankful to have the strong leadership in our division to help students get admitted and complete the enrollment process. I think the excitement in the room was because students are happy to be on campus.”
The record crowd for this year’s Spring Preview, was up from the previous record of 1,200 for the last in-person Preview Day in 2019. Officials said more than half of all high school seniors at the program Saturday had received admission letters.
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.