NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Timbrel Williams has known since childhood what career path she intended to take after college. At age 8, Williams would line up her stuffed animals as audience members, mimicking what she saw on the Oprah Winfrey television show in her Chattanooga home. A show that inspired her journey, and love of journalism. William’s mother was amazed by her creativity and encouraged her to pursue her dreams. On May 6, Williams will be lining up to walk across the stage during Tennessee State University’s undergraduate commencement ceremony in front of the global media leader and philanthropist who inspired her to become a journalist, TSU alumna Oprah Winfrey.
“One of the first Black journalist I saw on TV was Oprah Winfrey,” Williams said. “That’s how I started to gain my love for television.” Williams, who is receiving her degree in mass communications, said Winfrey’s impact on the Black community and her storytelling give the representation needed within the news industry.
Winfrey is the keynote speaker for the undergraduate commencement on Saturday, May 6 at 8 a.m., in Hale Stadium.
“I am so glad she can come back and pour into TSU for graduation day,” Williams said, noting how Winfrey’s path aligns with how she foresees her own future.
Last semester Williams was an intern for WKRN News Channel 2. This semester she was offered a position as an operations technician. Williams has spent her college career reporting for TSU TV news, interviewing students, and reporting stories about the campus community. Williams will be graduating magna cum laude with a 3.7 GPA, with hopes of one day working for Good Moring America or hosting her own TV show.
Williams applauded the Department of Communications for her successful college career. “We have well-rounded professors who are patient and care about our students,” she said. “I feel well prepared to venture out and go into the real world.”
Joseph Richie, an associated professor for the communications department, applauded Williams for her role as an active student journalist.
“She is one of our most outstanding journalism students,” Richie said. “And she has mastered the subject. Timbrel will do very well.”
The Department of Communications is the fourth largest department on campus with 300 students in total. The department focuses on making sure student journalists are reporting facts and are open-minded in their focus, according to Richie.
“Oprah Winfrey represents every aspect of our program,” he said. “A person who got her training in news, now an entrepreneur and a multi-billionaire. She is the standard bearer when it comes to any of our students.”
Williams said she looks forward to graduating, sharing what she learned from her university, and telling stories that matter the most.
“It’s important to have Black journalists,” Williams said. “To see Oprah Winfrey break through that barrier, it’s amazing to see her journey. I went to TSU, and she went to TSU. This is a full circle moment and such a great opportunity.”
Spring 2023 commencement
Tennessee State University alumna Oprah Winfrey is coming home to headline TSU’s Spring Commencement as the keynote speaker for the undergraduate Commencement on Saturday, May 6 at 8 a.m. CDT, in Hale Stadium. Due to demand and security and safety protocols, this is a ticketed event and not open to the public. United States Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Miss-Second District, will address graduate students at an indoor ceremony on Friday, May 5 at 5 p.m. CDT, in the Gentry Center Complex. Over 800 students will receive degrees in various disciplines. Both commencement ceremonies will be live streamed from the TSU YouTube Channel, www.tnstate.edu/livestream.
For more information on TSU 2023 Spring Commencement and full bios on Ms. Winfrey and Congressman Thompson, visit www.tnstate.edu/commencement.