NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University 2022 Homecoming is one for the history books. From the Annual Scholarship Gala and the widely anticipated parade on Jefferson Street led by the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, to the coin toss at Nissan Stadium by TSU alumna and Daytime Emmy winning producer Erica Goings, all indications are that the events this year were a huge success. Thousands of alumni and friends from across the nation returned for the weeklong celebration that capped off with the TSU Tigers’41-17 trouncing of the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats in the Homecoming football game.
“Back in Stride Again” was the theme, which emphasized picking up from where things ended last year, when the university returned to in-person celebration following a two-year break due to the pandemic. The spectacular events also highlighted a stellar group of honorees and grand marshals. Andrella Kenner, Global Warming Ambassador; and the Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, served as Grand Marshals for the Homecoming Parade, while former TSU first lady Edwina Hefner, and Communications and Public Relations Executive, Dr. Harold Jackson, received the distinction as honorees.
Student success was a big winner, with corporations, groups and individuals stepping up to make donations for scholarships that totaled more than $6 million. TSU President Glenda Glover, surrounded by company executives and representatives during the halftime show at Nissan Stadium, thanked them for their gifts and support to the university.
“TSU students are our greatest investment, and it speaks volumes about the corporate community and their social responsibility, along with alumni to see them give back in such a major way,” President Glover said. “This level of support is truly inspiring and makes Homecoming even more exciting.”
As always, Homecoming is a time to rekindle old friendships. That sentiment was not lost on Doretha Watkins Crisp, Betty Wilke, Janice Webb, and Nearlene Bass Johnson, all from the Class of ’78, as well as Doris McKinnie Littleton and Helen McKinnie Golden, Class of ’80. The six met at TSU and have been friends ever since. Every year for Homecoming, they pay a visit to where it all began, at TSU.
“We’ve lost two friends over the years, but we still get together, all from a friendship we formed at Tennessee State University,” said Crisp, as the six sat together along Jefferson Street, near campus, decked in their TSU paraphernalia to watch the parade. “We come to Homecoming together. We bring our husbands; we meet other friends, and we just have a good time.”
Webb added: “Homecoming is like a family reunion. You come and see people you haven’t seen in years. The amazing thing is we recognize each other. We may not always remember the name, but we remember the faces, and once we start talking, it’s like, ‘Hey, we had a class together.’”
For freshmen Sir-James Ford and Jamiyah Dozier, attending their first Homecoming was an eye-opening experience.
“I really had no idea about what it was going to be like, because I have never experienced anything like that before,” said Ford, a business administration major from Nashville, who is president of the freshman class. “The pep rally, the step show, the concert, all of that changed my experience about what Homecoming is about.”
“Homecoming was fun. It is nice having everybody back on campus and actually being able to gather and meet more people,” said Dozier, a health science major from Huntsville, Alabama, who attended the Homecoming with her parents. “It was really exciting to be in a new environment and have another opportunity to meet more people and just have fun.”
Grant Winrow, chair of the Homecoming Committee, said, “Fun and excitement was exactly what we were hoping for. We were definitely back in stride again and accomplished our mission with a cherry on top with the win on the football field. And our event was safe. That was one of our main goals.”
While receipts from the Scholarship Gala, TSU’s signature fundraising event, are still being tabulated, Winrow believes the event was very successful. He said more than 125 entrants took part in this year’s parade, one of the largest in school history. Over 22,000 turned out to watch the football game in Nissan Stadium, while a record 15,000 were outside tailgating.