Tag Archives: Congressional Black Caucus

TSU student leaders visit D.C. to address $2.1 billion owed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student leaders traveled to the nation’s capital after the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education revealed that the university is owed over $2.1 billion by the State of Tennessee. The group met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and others to seek answers and support.

TSU SGA President Derrell Taylor and Vice President Chrishonda O’Quinn spoke briefly at one meeting to voice their concerns to congressional leaders about the revelation of the $2 billion-plus underfunding of the university.

“It is unfortunate that we have to fight this battle,” Taylor said. “But I am proud to stand before these legislators, activists, and key community figures to express how disheartening it is for students to realize how much more of an experience we could have had if we had been allocated the necessary funding.”

Taylor mentioned that despite the tremendous underfunding, students from across the country still choose TSU because of its culture and the quality of education it offers.

TSU student leaders Chrishonda O’Quinn, left, Victoria McCrae, and Derrell Taylor spoke with U.S congressman Jim Clyburn, center, in Washington, D.C. after the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education revealed that the university is owed over $2.1 billion by the State of Tennessee.

“But if we had the resources that these surrounding institutions have, who knows what our capabilities could have been. It means a lot to be in our nation’s capital fighting for our rights.”

O’Quinn echoed his sentiments, emphasizing that this matter isn’t just impacting TSU but all underfunded HBCUs as well.

“It has also shown me the importance of being well-informed on this topic, so we can relay the information back to the students and have a stronger force when advocating in the Tennessee legislature,” O’Quinn said.

“Being here and experiencing this shows how impactful it is to advance and be informed.”

Joining them on the trip were Mister Davin Latiker, Miss TSU Victoria McCrae, Aliyah Holmes, and Dwight DeBerry. The TSU group had discussions with Congressional members including Jim Clyburn, Terri Sewell, Frederica Wilson, and Steny Hoyer so far. They also had a conversation with former CNN news anchor Don Lemon.

“Attending the CBC was such an eye-opening experience,” said McCrae, the reigning Miss TSU and Memphis native.

“We sat in rooms with and gained valuable information from some of the pioneers of African American politics. The impact that I wish to accomplish is to relay the importance of voting, learning our history, and advocating for our future!”

Latiker, Mister TSU, said that despite the circumstances, it was an honor to meet people at the capital who were advocating for the university as well.

“When we met those people, they were able to provide insight and resources that we didn’t know about, and we were able to advocate for the resources that we need,” Latiker said, emphasizing that the experience was unifying.

SGA President Derrell Taylor speaks with broadcast journalist, former CNN news anchor Don Lemon in Washington, D.C.

“It was great to witness Black excellence. The love and positive energy radiated from them and seeing that made me happy to bring this information and energy back to our campus.”

The TSU student delegation was seeking an opportunity to speak directly with officials from the USDA and the Department of Education. Aliyah Holmes, the former SGA vice president, added that while the funding shortfall covers the period from 1987 to 2020, it still affects her and current TSU students today.

“Us being underfunded for $2.1 billion continues to put us at a stagnant loss. The rest of Nashville is progressing in a positive direction, while TSU has been stagnant because we don’t have the adequate amount of funds to be able to grow.”

SGA President Taylor added that making this trip is a sign of how crucial equitable funding is for TSU and that the next step is to share the information with TSU students.

Top Houston Student Chooses TSU to Pursue Career in Engineering and Robotics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Freshman Houston-native Paul Johnson, Jr., initially considered studying mechanical engineering at a university closer to his hometown.

All that changed last fall after a chance meeting with Tennessee State University Honors College Interim Dean, Dr. Coreen Jackson.

Johnson, Jr., a freshman mechanical engineering major, says he had just completed a campus visit to Texas A&M University when his father, Paul Johnson, Sr., ran into Jackson and her husband, who happened to be in town for a wedding.

“I already had a slight knowledge of who she was, but after meeting her she told me about the campus, and it caught my attention,” Johnson, Jr., said.

With Jackson’s assistance, the Johnson family scheduled a campus visit, which gave Paul an opportunity to tour Tennessee State and meet with Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering.

Paul Johnson, Jr.

“What I found out about this campus is that there are a whole lot more engineering aspects that I did not anticipate when I was looking into the university,” he said. “I got to see more about the interactions between the faculty and the students themselves, in terms of doing research and improving technology.”

Jackson, who hosted Johnson’s family when they initially visited TSU, says the younger Johnson has a bright future.

“To me he will be the next Jesse Russell,” she said, referring to the famous TSU alum who created the first digital cellular base station and is known as the father of digital cellular technology. “It may not be wireless communications, but it will be some breakthrough in something.”

Johnson, Jr., recalls having a love for engineering as early as preschool.

“When I was in preschool at church, I was the student who was messing with the Lincoln Logs and the plexi toys to make giant cars, toys and robots, and I eventually even started a little league just to have fun with the other students who wanted to build stuff,” he said.

Throughout his four years at Cyprus Woods High School, Johnson, Jr., developed his engineering skills as a member of the Texas Technology Student Association. He also participated in NASA HUNCH, a program that he says allowed him to work directly with NASA officials to help make machine parts for the international space station.

As a member of the Honors College, the 19-year-old budding robotics guru has continued to pursue his engineering passion by joining organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NESBE) and the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP).

Paul Johnson

In September, Johnson, Jr., joined TSU President Glenda Glover in Washington, DC, along with three other students chosen to participate in the National HBCU Braintrust during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. Top students from the nation’s historically black colleges and universities participated in the brainstrust.

Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Johnson plans to pursue a doctorate and ultimately play a leadership role in the robots industry.

“In ten years I want to be part of or in charge of leading the whole robotics industry in terms of the consumer dynamic,” said Johnson, Jr. “There are still lingering fears that people have about dealing with robotics, but they fail to look into how robotics can help people on a grander scale.”

Jackson says she witnessed Johnson’s love for TSU when he provided live music for his classmates during freshman move-in.

“While the parents and freshman where coming in, he took that upright bass and he just serenaded the people,” she said. “He’s just an amazing young man.  He is one young man who is on his way to fulfilling his purpose, and he has found the institution that can take him there.”

For more information about opportunities in the TSU College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.