NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University kicked off this year’s Homecoming with the 34th annual Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest on Sunday. Cash prizes of $700, $500, and $300 were awarded respectively for first, second, and third place winners in the freshman and upperclassman divisions. There were 28 participants in total this year – 10 freshman and 18 upperclassman.
The freshman winners are Lauren Porter, 1st place; Aaron Anderson, 2nd place; and Tyler Vazquez, 3rd place.
The upperclassman division winners are: Aliyah Holmes, who also serves as SGA Vice President, claimed 1st place; Maya McClary, 2nd; and Akyra McDougal, 3rd place.
Students were required to use the homecoming theme, Back in Stride Again, for their presentation. Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell, Professor of Communications and presiding chairperson for the annual contest, said she was excited about the event turnout and chosen theme.
“Doing something like this is very motivational and encouraging to students,” Mitchell said. “They (contestants) spoke about the effects of the pandemic and how it stopped us in our tracks. Now that we are recovering, we are back in stride again.”
Mitchell said the contestants aligned this year’s theme to the pandemic, education, and the point of view of minorities and African Americans. She noted how the freshmen who haven’t even completed their public speaking courses yet, are talents in the making. “The skills that they are going to have as executives, business people, lawyers … it (the event) is motivational to them to have an audience appreciate them and test their skills to get better every year,” she said.
“They are gifted, well trained and have a bright future.”
The contest, established in 1988, is named in honor of the late Robert N. Murrell, a longtime administrator and dean of men at TSU. It encourages students to develop skills in research, writing and oratory. The funds afforded to the winners are sponsored by the Nashville chapter of the alumni association, the Robert N. Murrell scholarship fund, and the Department of Communications.
Following the oratorical contest, TSU’s Homecoming events continued with the Gospel Explosion in the Gentry Center Sunday evening. The free concert featured TSU New Direction Choir, award winner artist Earnest Pugh, Pastor Mike McClure Jr., and gospel artist Detrick Haddon.
Other homecoming highlights throughout the week include the Ralph Boston Golf Tournament, Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. White Coat Ceremony and Symposium. The Homecoming Concert featuring artist Glorilla, Nardo Wick, Est Gee and Babyface Ray, the Greek Step Show, and the Charles Campbell Fish Fry.
On Friday evening, TSU has also planned a stellar Scholarship Gala at the Renaissance Hotel.
Homecoming will conclude Oct. 8 with the Homecoming Parade from 14th and Jefferson Street to 33rd and John Merritt Boulevard, and the big football matchup between the Tigers and Bethune-Cookman University at Nissan Stadium.
To see all Homecoming activities, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/alumni/homecoming/index.aspx.