Tag Archives: Agricultural Sciences

TSU first-generation college student continues to fulfill family dream with graduate degree

When Adam Traoré receives his master’s degree from TSU this Saturday in agricultural sciences, he wouldn’t be walking the stage only for himself, but as a first-generation college student. By getting his degree, Traoré’s is also fulfilling the dream of his family as well.

The child of a West African immigrant father, Traoré says obtaining his second degree from Tennessee State University means everything to himself, his parents Habib and Mattie Traoré and his younger brother.

Adam. M. Traoré creating endophyte-colonized sweet sorghum plants in Dr. Ondzighi’s greenhouse at TSU. (Photo submitted)

“He knew that moving to the U.S. would provide opportunities for us that aren’t as easily accessible in his country,” Traoré says, referring to his father. “That sentiment has always motivated me to recognize the opportunities I am given, and appreciate the sacrifices that both my mom and dad made to get me where I am today.”

The 24-year-old Knoxville native describes this moment as ‘surreal.’ 

“I went directly from undergrad after graduating early and went straight into my master’s. To be so young and have job opportunities lined up afterward, it feels good.”

In 2017, Traoré came to TSU to study agricultural sciences as an undergrad and followed that up immediately with his graduate program, with a concentration in biotechnology.

He finished his master’s program with a 3.6 GPA.

Adam Traoré. (Photo by SupermaPhotography)

Months before the upcoming graduation, Traoré received great job offers. One of which, from the federal government for a biosecurity position and another within the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences as a drug chemist. Traoré says he has not made a final decision on which job to take just yet.

Traoré says his family and loved ones have supported his educational journey every step of the way, but also credits his TSU advisor, Dr. Christine Ondzighi, for his progress and success in undergraduate and grad school. 

“Adam is a very good student,” says Ondzighi, an associate professor in Department of Agricultural and Environment Sciences.

“Coming from TSU, and coming from my lab, I am very proud of that.” She noted that the early job offers Traoré has received speak volume of his work ethic and the talents the university produces. He is a great person, super enthusiastic and passionate. I am very proud of him on graduating and he is so far deserving.”

Adam Traoré says as a first-generation college student he looks forward to paving the way for his family and to inspire his younger brother Maleek. (Photo submitted)

In addition to Traoré academic achievements at TSU, he is also a mentor with the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) program. He is a member of Collegiate 100, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS), and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Traoré looks forward to being a role model to his younger brother, Maleek, who is a senior at Maryville High School.

Traore’ is one of 269 graduate students receiving master’s degrees during TSU’s fall commencement on Saturday, December 3, 2022. MSNBC television host and political analyst Symone D. Sanders-Townsend will deliver the keynote address.  

TSU Freshman lands multi-year internship with Fortune 500 Company

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Braxton Simpson says she came to Tennessee State University because she saw an opportunity to grow and to “push my limits.”

She has not been disappointed.

“After a full semester, I can proudly say that TSU has exceeded my expectations,” says the freshman agricultural sciences major.

Simpson comes to TSU as part of a millennial generation of high achieving students that the university continues to strategically recruit in its effort to improve retention and graduation rates.

In 2016, President Glenda Glover announced sweeping changes that raised admission standards to attract the best and brightest. Minimum requirement for incoming freshmen went up from a 2.25 GPA to 2.5, while the ACT score remained at 19.

Braxton Simpson

The semester following the announcement, school officials said Braxton’s class of 2021 came in as one of the most academically qualified classes in the school’s history, with an average 3.07 GPA. It was also the largest incoming freshman class in school history – 1,500 first-year students – a 17 percent increase over the previous year’s freshman enrollment.

The Atlanta native, who many say is far ahead of her time and definitely pushing her limits, is a member of the Honors College with a 4.0 GPA, and the current Miss Freshman.

At age 19, Simpson is an entrepreneur with two online companies and a high school mentoring program. She also just landed a three-year internship with a Fortune 500 company.

“When I see an opportunity I run after it,” says Simpson, who credits her parents (Michael and Ronnetta Simpson) with the zeal to be ‘assertive and productive.’ They taught me money-management skills and how to brand and market.”

As the oldest of three children, Simpson says her business savvy is helping her to set a good example for her younger siblings. Additionally, she says she majored in agricultural sciences with a concentration in agribusiness to “combine my passion for business and servant leadership.”

An academic standout at Marietta High School, where she graduated with a 4.1 GPA, Simpson is the owner of Girls Got Game, a female athletic apparel company; and Underground Apparel, a “black pride” apparel company. She also mentors high school children through her Black Girls United program that she started while a senior in high school.

This summer, immediately after school and over the next three years, Simpson will intern with Monsanto, one of the nation’s largest agricultural companies. She will be assigned to the company’s world headquarters in St. Louis, for training, and later go onto to Grinnell, Iowa, where she will be involved in seed production.

“I am excited and grateful for this opportunity,” says Simpson. “The TSU Ag department has invested a lot in me since I have been here, especially Dr. (DeEtra) Young. She took me in as a freshman and molded me by sending opportunities my way. She saw the Monsanto commercial for the internship and advised me to apply for it. I did and I was successful.”

Young, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is a professor and mentor to Simpson.

She describes Simpson as ‘one of the many excellent students’ at TSU who are determined to be the very best in their field.

“Braxton presents herself as confident, assertive and dedicated,” says Young. She is intelligent, very inquisitive and genuinely values learning.”

According to Young, Simpson has been selected to participate in the highly competitive Agriculture for Future America Leader Institutes, which provides participants with exposure and professional development training.

This summer, in addition to her training with Monsanto, Simpson will receive AFA training in Chicago and Anaheim, California.

“My advisors have pushed me to be the best I can be. I cannot thank them enough for it!  Being in the Land of Golden Sunshine (TSU) has been a blessing, and I am extremely excited about what the future holds,” says Simpson.

Simpson will start her internship with Monsanto on May 14.