NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 30 Tennessee State University (TSU) students recently traveled to Houston, Texas, to visit the WM corporate headquarters and meet with the company’s senior leadership team. The students, accompanied by Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Frank Stevenson, are participants in Leadership TSU, one of the university’s most selective student leadership programs.
During their visit, the students heard from members of WM’s executive leadership team about the personal and professional experiences that have impacted their success, the company’s approach to sustainability, and more.
“It was just very mind-blowing and very impactful seeing those [executives] and what WM is doing,” said Anarra Williams, a senior food and nutritional science major from Daytona, Ohio. “When I first got there, I just thought those were people who pick up our trash, but they really are honing on their sustainability piece, something I want to be a part of.”
Nykole Allen Clark, a senior business administration major from Las Vegas, Nevada, added, “That exposure to them and the company itself totally changed our perception of WM. As a business major, I saw a lot and heard a lot to help me in my preparation as a student and as a leader. It was an aha moment for me.”
In their day-long visit, the students met with WM’s top executives on key topics, including the company’s approach to sustainability and how this focus shapes its operations. For example, WM focuses on materials recovery solutions at its area landfills, such as its 183-acre site in Nashville, home to the only mixed construction and demolition (C&D) materials recovery facility in Davidson County. Students also engaged in a robust Q&A with each of the WM leaders. Tamla Oates-Forney, who oversees WM’s people team, fielded questions from students about her experience as a black female executive in corporate America, sharing why education is an opportunity equalizer and why diversity and inclusion are important in leadership and the workplace
“The Houston trip was amazing. To have WM roll out the red carpet of leadership experience for our students was simply breathtaking,” said Stevenson. “They were intentional about making sure our students had a glimpse into their company’s culture. It was amazing conversation and dialogue between students and the WM executive team. I think our students were surprised at all of the components of WM.”
The Leadership TSU visit is an extension of a three-year partnership between WM and TSU first announced late last year. Through that partnership, WM has committed $300,000 to TSU; half of that funding will be directed toward sustainability research conducted in collaboration with TSU’s Colleges of Agriculture and Engineering, and the other half will provide need-based scholarships to up to 10 students each year attending TSU from the Nashville area.
“The energy and curiosity of these student leaders was truly inspiring,” said Eddie McManus, Mid-South area vice president, WM. “This visit was a great way to kick off our relationship with TSU, and we look forward to all that is ahead, including building out the research program and getting to know more students through the internship and scholarship opportunities.”
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight 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.