Tag Archives: competition

TSU honors students win national HBCU research competition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Honors students are champions once again, securing the first and second places in scholarly research at the National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP) Conference for the second consecutive year.

The 32nd annual NAAAHP conference took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the fall semester, where TSU honors college students competed against students from 10 other HBCUs nationwide in various categories. Hosted by Southern University, the competition featured TSU honors students excelling in the research poster category, the quiz bowl category, and Honors Got Talent.

Meaghan Lewis, a senior honors biology major, claimed the first-place victory for her cancer research presentation.

Meaghan Lewis claimed first-place victory for her cancer research presentation at the NAAAHP conference. (Photo submitted)

“I was shocked,” Lewis said reflecting on her achievement. “I worked very hard, and I was very happy. I felt achieved that all my hard work paid off.” The previous year, Lewis secured second place in the same research category and expressed pride in reentering the competition and clinching the first-place victory.

Her research, titled “The Role of Toll-Like Receptors 3, 4, and 8 in Tributyltin Stimulation of Tumor Necrosis Factor a Production by Human Immune Cells,” won accolades for content, in depth research, presentation, and quality.

Currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Margaret Whalen in the department of chemistry, Lewis initiated her cancer research during her freshman year at TSU.

“It shows TSU students that if you put in the work and get into these research opportunities presented around campus, you will gain the knowledge and show that you can be one of the best.”

Eseoghene Ogaga, a senior studying honors biology, won second place in her poster presentation titled “The Role of IL-17R Signaling in the Stomach Epithelium During H. pylori infection.” Ogaga is TSU representative collaborating with Vanderbilt University and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Quiz Bowl team of five won the trophy for second place. The team consists of Tyler Vazquez, Morgan Gill, Kaitlin Skates, Kara Simmons, and Jada Womack. Skates earned third place in the Honors Got Talent category. All participating students received monetary awards.

Dr. Corren Jackson, the dean of the Honors College, said she is proud of the achievements of TSU honors students, highlighting their academic and scholarly excellence. Dr. Jackson, a past president of the NAAAHP, said, “TSU is known to produce outstanding researchers among our peer institutions. We returned to defend our research title and won the coveted first and second place winners. These students are products of our world-class faculty.”

Dr. John Miglietta, a professor of political science and the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) coach, prepared the TSU Honors students for the quiz bowl competition. Last spring, the team earned a spot in the top eight teams at the National Tournament held in Torrance, California.

Dr. Tyrone Miller, Associate Director of the Honors College, served as the Honorary coach at the conference.

The three categories were part of NAAAHP’s annual national conference, where HBCU students engage in a Model African Union, debate, research presentations, and quiz bowl competitions. This marked TSU’s second-ever championship in the NAAAHP quiz bowl tournament.

The National Association of African American Honors Programs, founded in 1990, is a national consortium of HBCU honors programs promoting scholarship, professional development, community service, and an appreciation of African-American culture. For more information, visit www.naaahp.org.

TSU Takes 2nd Place at Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is heading to the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament. TSU earned the bid after its second place finish at the qualifying round held at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The team placed second in the tournament defeating Florida A&M, Spelman, and Voorhees College. The team defeated Morehouse College in the playoffs and lost a very tough game to Tuskegee University. 

HCASC is a national quiz competition sponsored by American Honda for HBCUs. For more information see www.hcasc.com

The members of the team are: 

Captain Cameron Malone, Junior, Oak Ridge TN, Electrical Engineering. 

Tyler Vazquez, Sophomore, Winston-Salem, NC, Biology

Morgan Gill, Sophomore, Conyers, GA, Urban Studies

Kelley Zumwalt, Junior, Loveland, CO, History/Political Science/English. 

TSU also had a second team to compete.

Darius Coleman, Freshmen, Memphis, TN, Film and Television Production, 

Kara Simmons, Sophomore, Chicago IL, Biology

Aniya Johnson, Freshmen, Shreveport, LA, Pre-Med 

Jada Womack, Sophomore, Baton Rouge, LA, Accounting 

Journey Brinson, Freshman, Memphis, TN, Biology 

The Coach of the Team: Dr. John Miglietta, History, Political Science, Geography, and Africana Studies. 

Assistant Coach Dr. Learotha Williams, History, Political Science, Geography, and Africana Studies. 

The team is looking forward to competing at the National Championship Tournament in Torrance, CA April 15-19.

TSU Gospel Group Called “Best” in the Nation, Wins National College Choir Explosion

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New Direction Choir Director Justin Butler, left, primary advisor Deborah Chisom, and choir president Kendric Dartis receive the $15,000 first-place prize as the Nation’s Best Gospel Choir, at the National College Choir Explosion.


NASHVILLE, Tenn
. (TSU News Service) –

Hands-down, the Tennessee State University New Direction Choir is the best college gospel group in the country.

The group has proven this time and again, and Saturday, March 7, was no different when they took their final bow at the National College Choir Explosion in Louisville, Kentucky.

Competing as one of eight finalists from among several college gospel choirs, the TSU New Direction Choir came out on top winning the coveted title as the Nation’s Best Gospel Choir, with a $15,000 prize.

 The group also won the People’s Choice Award as the audience’s favorite group, which earned them another $1,000 prize. 

“It was an overwhelming experience knowing that we were national champions not just because the judges voted us number one, but because the audience also felt we were the best,” said tenor Kendric Dartis, a senior Healthcare Administration and Planning major, who is president of the choir. “Seeing the joy and jubilation on everyone’s face, especially the freshman members who had never experienced something like this before, was just very heartwarming.”

This was the group’s third straight finish as champions and runners-up in national competitions in the last four years. In 2011 they won first place in the Fourth Annual National Black Collegiate Alumni Hall of Fame Gospel Choir Competition in Atlanta, competing against four HBCU choirs. Two years later in 2013, the group came slightly short in the final round, winning Regional Runner-Up title in the Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound Gospel Choir Competition, also in Atlanta.

“Winning the National College Choir Explosion was especially exciting, because we wanted to come out and redeem ourselves after falling short the year before,” Dartis said.

Primary group advisor Deborah Chisom, a TSU alum and director of Graduate Admissions, said, “It was overwhelming to see students come out and work so hard. Even though I was not on stage with them, seeing them so excited was just very fulfilling. “

In addition to vocal presentation, participating choirs were judged on diction, intonation, tone quality, appearance, stage presence and audience appeal.

Judges included four-time Grammy Award-winning singer and musician Martha Munizzi; President and CEO of Bridgeman Foods Inc., Ulysses L. Bridgeman Jr.; talk show host and motivational speaker Carla Young; and gospel recording artist Byron Cage.

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A large group of TSU alumni, students, staff and friends were in attendance to cheer on the New Direction Choir as they took the stage as finalists at the National College Choir Explosion in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 7.

According to group members, the New Direction Choir, under the direction of TSU graduate Justin Butler, owes it success to the “overwhelming” support from TSU alumni, students, administrators and friends. During every competition, they said, a “dedicated” group of alumni, traveling on what they call the “Blue Bus,” follows and cheers them on wherever they are performing.

“Alumni support made a big difference,” said Tammy Taylor, group advisor and grants specialist in the Title III office, who also handles photo and videography for the group. “Our students had a level of support that was not visible with the other groups during the competition. I think that made a big difference with our group, and it lifted the extra burden of knowing they had an audience that was squarely behind them.”

Team support, with the new addition of the Reverend Frank Stevenson, assistant dean for Off-Campus Services in the Division of Student Activities, as an advisor to the New Direction Choir, is also a major factor in the group’s success, they said.

“President (Glenda) Glover has been very supportive; we could not have made it this far without her support and that of Executive Vice President Jane Jackson,” said Chisom. “Special thanks to the Student Government Association and Dr. Michael Freeman (vice president for Student Affairs) for not just their moral support, but also their financial support to the group.”

New Direction Choir has participated in concerts across the country. They have also appeared on the nationally televised Bobby Jones Gospel as featured guests. Additionally, the more than 45-member group has traveled many places taking what they have learned in vocal techniques and from Tennessee State University to share with others across the nation.

Other finalists that competed against New Direction were choirs from the University of Louisville, Middle Tennessee State University, Kentucky State University, North Carolina Central University, Virginia State University, the University of Kentucky and Mississippi State University.