NASHVILLE, TN — Braxton Simpson says she came to Tennessee State University because she saw an opportunity to grow and to “push my limits.”
She has not been disappointed.
“After a full semester, I can proudly say that TSU has exceeded my expectations,” says the freshman agricultural sciences major.
Simpson comes to TSU as part of a millennial generation of high achieving students that the university continues to strategically recruit in its effort to improve retention and graduation rates.
In 2016, President Glenda Glover announced sweeping changes that raised admission standards to attract the best and brightest. Minimum requirement for incoming freshmen went up from a 2.25 GPA to 2.5, while the ACT score remained at 19.
The semester following the announcement, school officials said Braxton’s class of 2021 came in as one of the most academically qualified classes in the school’s history, with an average 3.07 GPA. It was also the largest incoming freshman class in school history – 1,500 first-year students – a 17 percent increase over the previous year’s freshman enrollment.
The Atlanta native, who many say is far ahead of her time and definitely pushing her limits, is a member of the Honors College with a 4.0 GPA, and the current Miss Freshman.
At age 19, Simpson is an entrepreneur with two online companies and a high school mentoring program. She also just landed a three-year internship with a Fortune 500 company.
“When I see an opportunity I run after it,” says Simpson, who credits her parents (Michael and Ronnetta Simpson) with the zeal to be ‘assertive and productive.’ They taught me money-management skills and how to brand and market.”
As the oldest of three children, Simpson says her business savvy is helping her to set a good example for her younger siblings. Additionally, she says she majored in agricultural sciences with a concentration in agribusiness to “combine my passion for business and servant leadership.”
An academic standout at Marietta High School, where she graduated with a 4.1 GPA, Simpson is the owner of Girls Got Game, a female athletic apparel company; and Underground Apparel, a “black pride” apparel company. She also mentors high school children through her Black Girls United program that she started while a senior in high school.
This summer, immediately after school and over the next three years, Simpson will intern with Monsanto, one of the nation’s largest agricultural companies. She will be assigned to the company’s world headquarters in St. Louis, for training, and later go onto to Grinnell, Iowa, where she will be involved in seed production.
“I am excited and grateful for this opportunity,” says Simpson. “The TSU Ag department has invested a lot in me since I have been here, especially Dr. (DeEtra) Young. She took me in as a freshman and molded me by sending opportunities my way. She saw the Monsanto commercial for the internship and advised me to apply for it. I did and I was successful.”
Young, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is a professor and mentor to Simpson.
She describes Simpson as ‘one of the many excellent students’ at TSU who are determined to be the very best in their field.
“Braxton presents herself as confident, assertive and dedicated,” says Young. She is intelligent, very inquisitive and genuinely values learning.”
According to Young, Simpson has been selected to participate in the highly competitive Agriculture for Future America Leader Institutes, which provides participants with exposure and professional development training.
This summer, in addition to her training with Monsanto, Simpson will receive AFA training in Chicago and Anaheim, California. Simpson will start her internship with Monsanto on May 14.