Tag Archives: Angel Higgins

Basket Drive Provides Families With Thanksgiving Meals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student leaders and organizations will make the Thanksgiving holiday one to remember for some local families. On Saturday, November 11, over 100 students held a successful food drive to prepare food baskets for families in need.  TSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni donated non-perishable food items for the baskets that will be distributed during the holiday season to help families.

“This Project 111 service event consisted of students and the community packing Thanksgiving baskets for those in need,” said Chrishonda O’Quinn, SGA executive vice president.

“The number 111 is significant because TSU has been in existence for 111 years. The objective was to pack 111+ Thanksgiving baskets. I’m pleased the TSU community answered the call.  We exceeded our goal.”

The sophomore delegation and O’Quinn presented the drive as part of their Project 111: Community Service. Mr. Sophomore Brandon Diggs voiced how important it was for the sophomore class to participate in the drive.

Mr. TSU Davin Latiker, left, and Miss TSU Victoria McCrae, with Mr. Sophomore Brandon Diggs, right, preparing Thanksgiving baskets

“We wanted to show each other, the faculty, students, and staff that although we are only in our second year here at Tennessee State University, how powerful we are as a collective working together to make a change in our community,” said Diggs.

It was estimated that there were roughly 300-400 items donated, as food filled four tables plus the stage in the Elliott Hall auditorium.

“Directly after the event, we dropped the donations off to the Nashville Rescue Mission,” O’Quinn add, in response to where the food would be donated.

Members from the Psi Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity Inc, Sisters in Different Shoes Inc. and SGA used their personal cars to take the items to the shelter. Diggs remarked how Nashville Rescue Mission was very proud to see them.

“As HBCU students, we should give back to our community in general because we are the community. We are making the history and culture of our institution day by day; we write the narrative not only for ourselves but for the ones around us.”

SGA Executive Vice President, Chrishonda O’Quinn and TSU students posing with a finished Thanksgiving basket

Noting that service is an essential part of the student experience at TSU, O’Quinn said student leaders are expected to lead service initiatives.

“It is important to give back to the community since it is consistent with the universities’ goals of social responsibility, community development, and historical preservation. It enhances not just the educational experience of the students but also the communities they serve.”

Over the past weeks SGA leaders have led student participation in a breast cancer walk and a mental health and wellness week.

TSU Student Leaders Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness

By Angel Higgins

The event has a special meaning for organizer, TSU student Tamauri Murray

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The goal of the Tennessee State University Office of Student Activities and Leadership is to enhance the skills of those elected or selected to serve in the student government association. Mister Junior Tamauri Murray is doing just that by using his platform to bring awareness to breast cancer awareness.   Murray organized the TSU Goes Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Walk for student leaders to participate on Saturday, October 21.  For the Birmingham, AL native, the event had a special meaning and to have his peers involved made it even more significant.  

The event had a special meaning for organizer, TSU student Tamauri Murray and his mother Tuwanna Murray who is a breast cancer survivor.

“I wanted to make sure I used my position as Mister Junior to emphasize breast cancer awareness. This walk is one of the ways I have done so. While my mom is home fighting her fight in Birmingham. It’s my mission to do my part here in Nashville.”

Tamauri’s mother, Tuwanna Murray, is a breast cancer survivor and the walk was in her honor. His mom found out her diagnosis on June 20th after finding a lump in her breast and having a mammogram. He recalled the day his mother told the family.

“This summer I was working at TSU as a University Ambassador and went home for the weekend in between orientations. My mom sat me and my sister down and told us she felt a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer. I really did not know how to process it. I did not cry and instantly lost my appetite. So many questions were asked, lots of which my mom did not have answers to yet,” says the computer science major.”

The TSU leader emphasized how important it was for him to use his platform to bring awareness to breast cancer after seeing his mom go through surgery and chemotherapy. Throughout all the ups and downs the Murray family has been through since Tuwanna’s diagnosis, she keeps God on her side and is very proud of what her son has accomplished.

“I could not do it without my support squad, that includes my son, Tamauri,” Tuwanna Murray said.

Student Government Association Executive Vice President, Chrishonda O’Quinn, at the TSU Goes Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

“Since he found out, he checks up on me and supports me while in Nashville. I am so proud of him and the efforts he has put forth being Mister Junior. Tamauri organizing the walk just made me smile harder than ever. My love for him and his sister will forever be unmatched.”

Several hundred participated in the walk as a part of the national observance of Breast Cancer Awareness for October. The event began near the Walk of Fame Park off of 4th Avenue South in Nashville.  Student Government Association Executive Vice President, Chrishonda O’Quinn said the initiative was really important for students to be a part of and to represent the University.

“Tamauri wanted to partner with Student Activities and Leadership for the walk. It feels really nice to be here not only in support of the survivors and people who have been through it but his mother as well. The administration and I are grateful to be a part of this walk.”

O’Quinn and Murray serve as members of the TSU 83rd Student Government Association.  

TSU Welcomes first African American Female crew member of Air Force One                 

By Angel Higgins

Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell visited the TSU as a part of an Academic Lecture Series

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University had the pleasure of welcoming Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell as guest speaker for the “Dreams In Flight” Academic Workshop. Sergeant Joell is the first African American female to serve as a permanent Presidential crew member aboard Air Force One. Her visit to campus was a part of the John Merritt Classic 25th Anniversary Celebration.

Guest speaker Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell speaks at the Dreams In Flight Workshop at TSU.

Students were able to ask Sergeant Joell questions about her time in the Air Force and being a part of Air Force One, in addition to what it was like to serve 4 presidents. This included former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

ROTC Cadet Jaiden Walker said his big takeaway from the workshop was to always be prepared for new opportunities planned or unplanned.

 “Sergeant Joell inspired me to stay prepared because it is always opportunities that we never really thought of,” said Walker, a junior majoring in political science and mass communications.   

“As long as you stay prepared, whatever opportunities do come your way, you can take advantage of them.”

The trailblazing presidential flight crew member said she hopes that the workshop inspired students to never give up and keep chasing their dreams and goals in life.

“I hope I made a difference in at least one person’s life. It was important to me to try to inspire and make a difference.” She is working on a book called, ‘Dreams in Flight’ that tells the whole story of how her career started and what she is doing now.

From left to right, guest speaker Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell, Dr. Melton, Dr. Smith and Lt. Col Cash, posing with a statue replica and picture of Air Force One and a signed photo from former President Barack Obama.

Sergeant Joell grew up in Bermuda and always dreamed of leaving the small island to see the world. She made that dream come true by joining the US Air Force when she was 22 years old. While leaving Bermuda she encountered a flight attendant boarding Air Force One and had another dream she wanted to fulfill, being a flight attendant aboard the same aircraft one day.

“I got inspired by a flight attendant when I was leaving Bermuda, and I loved her compassion towards me. She made me want to fulfill that dream.”

From that point on, Sergeant Joell started to pave a pathway to be a flight attendant aboard Air Force One. Over the span of 2 years and countless documents submitted, she finally got the call she had been waiting for, a call to see if she was a good fit by doing a test flight.

“The Chief flight attendant told me he wanted to see if I could work well and play well with the other crew members.” According to her recommendation, she passed with “flying colors” and was hired.

After 28 years and 12 days of service, Sergeant Joell decided it was time to retire. Since then, she has been a guest speaker among other things to try and inspire others to never give up and achieve their dreams.

Junior ROTC Cadet, TSU student Jaiden Walker, a Political Science and Mass Communications major, sings the Alma Mater during the Academic Workshop.

TSU ROTC Commander Lt Col Stephen Cash said the event was ideal for his cadets to see how planning and following your goals can lead to success.

“We immediately thought this was something that would be helpful for the student body and especially our University 1000, first-year students. For them to hear on how to establish then chase and achieve their goals.”

Dr. Johnnie Smith, assistant vice president of Academic Affairs, added that she was excited that TSU would get the opportunity to hear from such a dynamic individual with an amazing life story, to showcase the TSU ROTC program at the same time.

 “We are excited to have Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell. This is a great day for TSU, having a woman who has not only served our country but who has served under four sitting Presidents of the United States of America. TSU has one of the best Air Force ROTC programs and I think it’s a quiet kept secret that I plan on unlocking.”

Academic Affairs hosted the workshop and is looking forward to making this event a part of future John Merritt Classic celebrations.

TSU’s Zakiya Hamza Receives BlueCross BlueShield Scholarship

By Angel Higgins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University senior ZaKiya Hamza is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner.  The nursing major was recently awarded the BlueCross Power of We Scholarship. A video, two essays, and two recommendation letters later, Hamza joined five other students, from across the State, in receiving the $10,000 scholarship.

“I was ecstatic when I found out and I’m very grateful for the BlueCross BlueShield Power of We Scholarship,” said Hamza.

ZaKiya Hamza

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, in partnership with the National Association of Health Services Executives Memphis Chapter, honored six students for their remarkable contributions to community service, leadership, and academics.

The scholarship was founded in 2013 by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation to address the historic lack of opportunity and health inequities that minority groups suffer, particularly underrepresentation in the medical industry. Since then, the scholarship program has assisted more than a dozen deserving individuals in pursuing degrees in nursing, medical technology, pharmacy, and other professions.

Hamza, a Nashville native, chose nursing because she enjoys working with others and helping people. When asked her thoughts on being a part of the TSU School of Nursing, Zakiya explained, “I am grateful to be a part of the School of Nursing and hope to see this program continue to grow”. 

She also said she was grateful for the support she received from Professor and Interim Bachelor of Science in Nursing Director Dr. Shaquita Bonds. After that it took about four months to hear back and once accepted she had to go through a round of interviews.

“I found out about this scholarship thanks to my professor who announced it in class, and the nursing program sent mass emails for scholarships to apply as well.”

Dr. Courtney Nyange, executive director of nursing and professor, expressed what it means for the School of Nursing the excitement that comes along with a TSU student receiving such an honor.  

“The focus of the School of Nursing is on the preparation of the next generation of nurses through a learning environment that promotes excellence in education, scholarship, and collaborative practice in diverse communities locally and globally,” added Nyange.

“Nursing faculty and staff are invested in the success of our students who envision themselves in the helping and healing arts. We are grateful for the awarding of the Power of We Scholarship to our nursing student, Zakiya Hamza and are excited about what the future holds for her in the nursing profession.”

Zakiya added that receiving the scholarship will help her immensely with nursing school costs, while being able to focus solely on her education because nursing school is a full-time job. In addition to furthering her career as a nurse practitioner, she plans to own and operate her own clinic.

The next application cycle will open later this fall. For more information about the Power of We Scholarship vist BCBSTNews.com/Scholarship