by Emmanuel Freeman
Nearly 150 first-time freshmen recently attended orientation to learn more about the ‘Land of Golden Sunshine.’ The May 19 orientation was the first of several sessions Tennessee State University will hold to introduce new, incoming, and transfer students to campus academics and life at the university. Financial aid information, career development opportunities, student activities, disability services, and student conduct were among some of the areas available to provide information to students and their parents.
“Welcome to Tennessee State University. I am glad you have chosen TSU for your college careers,” TSU President Glenda Glover told the gathering in Kean Hall on the main campus. “You join students and alumni who have gone on to be trail blazers. I was here at TSU and sat in these same seats in which you are sitting today. My charge to you is to be diligent, pursue excellence, be your best and do your best. You will enjoy being a student here, you will study, you will learn, you will excel. We will help you to be the best and to be successful.”
Rheagan Reid, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who plans to major in biology, and Elijah Ware, a commercial music major from Nashville, and their parents, were among the first who arrived for the orientation. They were moved by the president’s message.
“She made me feel very comfortable,” said Reid, a graduating senior from Merancas Middle College High School in Huntersville, North Carolina, who said she was drawn to TSU because of its ‘family’ atmosphere. “The first time I visited TSU I immediately fell in love with the school. I love their programs. I am ready to leave home and TSU is where I want to be.”
For Ware, he is coming to TSU on a full ride scholarship and plans to be a part of the university’s Air Force ROTC program. He was enlisted in the program in 2022 and will be going to basic training on May 31.
“I have always heard about this school. I come to homecoming and always enjoy myself and I am looking forward to what I can learn here to prepare me for my future,” said Ware. “Before I got my scholarship to come to TSU, they (Air Force) came to my school and talked to me about the military. So, I enlisted, and I have been going to the training since. I want to know all I can about the military while I am here TSU and see where that takes me.”
Terrance Izzard, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success, said orientation is intended to give students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with available resources, individuals, departments, programs, and activities that will help them in their college careers. On stage with him were individuals representing Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, First-Year Experience, and Admissions and Recruitment, among others.
“TSU is a family,” he said. “I want you to be very attentive. While you are here today, the people you see here today are the people who will help you along your journey while you are at TSU. So when it comes to your classrooms, faculty members or anything that deals with your programs of study, even unto graduation, these are the people who will guide you. You will get to build relationship. It’s all about building relationships.”
Following a joint and then separate student and parent assemblies in Kean Hall, the two groups were escorted by student ambassadors on tours across campus, culminating with an ‘AMA (Ask Me Anything) Session’ in various locations, where individuals received one-on-one interactions with academic advisors, deans, program leaders to get answers to questions that they may not have had the time to address in the group sessions.”
Among many key areas of concern at the AMA was academic advising—making sure students make the right decision when it came to course selection. Officials said before Friday’s orientation, a lot of proactive efforts had been made to prepare students to be ready by the start of class. For instance, since early April, the Office of Student Success has been hosting in-person and virtual sessions with parents and students to get them better prepared.
“And so, the nature of our (AMA) meeting today was to give feedback, allow parents and students to ask questions, answer some of those questions that may not be clear from those virtual sessions,” said Isabelle Langham, director of Advisement and Student Transitions. “Today’s efforts were easier because of the proactive efforts we have made. I think that we are definitely headed in the right direction in making sure that they (students) are ready before Day 1.”
Another major attraction at Friday’s AMA session was a display by the university’s award-winning Academic eSports and Smart Technology Center, which set up video games and robotics for gamers and other enthusiasts, in the new Health Sciences Building, to the excitement of visiting students and parents.
“This is super exciting,” said Undradge Jamison, an incoming architectural engineering major, from Stewart Creek High School in Smyrna, Tennessee. “I have not gamed competitively in the past, but I think TSU is giving me the chance to do just that.”
In November, a program developed by the university using 5G technology to recruit and retain underserved students in the STEM field, won first place in the inaugural T-Mobile ‘Unconventional’ Awards for innovation in customer experience, in Nevada, Las Vegas.