Seven Prior Servicemembers Graduate from TSU Veterans’ Training Program as IT Specialists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As a certified “Vet Campus,” Tennessee State University provides programs and support services to ease veterans’ transition from military service to college life, as well as providing them opportunities to learn skills necessary for the workforce. Recently, seven prior servicemembers received certificates as information technology specialists after graduating from a training program offered through the TSU Continuing Education and Workforce Development Unit.

The recent graduates of the TSU veterans’ training programs are, from left, James McGrath, Darren Cornish, Bobby Panya, Edward Holcomb, Latrina Serrano, Royal Riley and Daniel Noriega. (Submitted Photo)

The Workforce Opportunities Services program, created in 2010 to train and prepare veterans for today’s highly competitive workforce, conducted the 26-week, 10-course training program in partnership with TSU, BNY Mellon, and Workforce Essentials Inc. The WOS program provides veterans with critical professional skills for the corporate work environment while earning academic units.

Those graduating recently were 11-year Army veteran Bobby Panya; former Army field artillery automated tactical data systems specialist Daniel Noriega; former Army intelligence analyst Darren Cornish, who currently attends TSU; and Edward Holcomb, a former Army cannon crewmember, who served 18 years in the military.

Other graduates were James McGrath, an Army National Guardsman, who also served 13 years in the Tennessee National Guard; Royal Riley, a former Air Force aircraft mechanic; and Latrina Serrano, a former Navy interior communications electrician.

Dr. Cheryl Seay, director of the TSU Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology, addresses the graduates during the ceremony on the Avon Williams campus. (Submitted Photo)

According to TSU officials involved with the program, the newly trained veterans will continue to build their technical and workplace skills as full-time WOS contractors for BNY Mellon with the expectation they will transition to full-time employees in the next 12 months.

“We are especially proud of the sacrifice of our veterans and we are equally committed to ensuring their educational experience at Tennessee State University is a success,” said Dr. Evelyn Nettles, associate vice president for Academic Affairs. “As a certified ‘Vet Friendly Campus,’ we provide the necessary resources to make certain their educational dreams become reality. These resources include partnering with programs like WOS and the executive team at BNY Mellon to bring about successful outcomes.”

Russ Yorks, director of veterans programs at WOS, said for the training program to be successful it must include a corporate sponsor that recognizes the value of cultivating talent, a challenging yet nurturing university partner, and a talent pool of motivated individuals eager to transition into a career with a Fortune 500 company.

“We were lucky enough to find all three here in Nashville with Bank of New York Mellon, Tennessee State University, and the extraordinary military veteran talent residing in the area,” York said.

Michael Biedermann, managing director and global head of Recruitment Client Technology at BNY Mellon, said trainers, clients and managers have given positive feedback about the success of the program and the on-the-job performance of the trainees.

“This program has proven to be a successful, uplifting and empowering experience for not only our WOS participants but also for the greater Nashville community,” Biedermann said. “We couldn’t be more excited to have this talented team join our company.”

Other speakers at the Aug. 6 graduation ceremony on the Avon Williams Campus were Dr. Cheryl Seay, director of the TSU Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology; and Jim Grech, executive vice president of BNY Mellon.

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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at