By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Khalil Davidson dreamed of attending a historically black college or university. But not just any HBCU. The Falls Church, Virginia, native set his sights on Tennessee State University, and now he’s a Big Blue Tiger.
TSU President Glenda Glover, and Frank Stevenson, Associate VP for Student Affairs, tell a local reporter that everything is being done to ensure adequate accommodation for the record number of new students. (TSU Media Relations)
On Aug. 10, the incoming freshman, his dad Edward Davidson, Jr., and little brother Chaz Thomas, packed the family car – with all of Khalil’s belongings in tow – and made the nearly 10-hour trek to Nashville to check the business major into his dorm room at TSU. Also, on the trip were sister Aasia Davidson and cousin, Mason Scott.
“I am excited,” Khalil said, as he received the keys to his new residence in Watson Hall. “I always wanted to attend an HBCU because of the culture, and TSU’s good business program just stood out. It was an easy decision.”
Incoming freshman Khalil Davidson, second from left, arrives at TSU, fulfilling his dream of attending an HBCU. He was accompanied by his father, Edward Davidson, left; sister Aasia Davidson; cousin Mason Scott; and little brother Chaz Thomas, front left. (TSU Media Relations)
It was move-in day at TSU, when first-time freshmen began checking into their residence halls. This year, TSU saw a big increase in enrollment, as more than 1,300 first-time freshmen – the highest in recent years – moved in. The move was held over three days to ensure adequate spacing due to the pandemic. The high enrollment posed an unprecedented demand for housing, but the university said it had completed nearly 97 percent of requests, and all students would have housing by the beginning of classes on August 16, or shortly afterward.
TSU President Glenda Glover, who was on hand greeting students, parents, and relatives, called the influx an “exciting time” for the university.
Curtis Ford, left, leads a large group of family members to drop off his daughter, J’da (second from left), who will major in communications. (TSU Media Relations)
“It is a historical moment for us to see so many first-year students and returning students,” said Glover, who helped students unload their luggage. “We are glad that we have arrived at such a monumental place in TSU’s history. We can assure all parents that their children are in good hands.”
J’da Ford, of Memphis, Tennessee, checked into Wilson Hall accompanied by a large group of family members that included her grandmother, father, mom, big sister, and a little sister.
“TSU has a great performing arts program, and I always wanted to stay close to home,” said Ford, who will major in communications. “I have a few relatives that have come here, and I know a lot of alumni who spoke highly of the school. Although I am a little nervous about leaving home, I am excited to be here.”
Curtis Ford, J’da’s father, said he is not nervous about his daughter leaving home.
“We like to kick our birds out of the nest so they can fly,” he said. “I trust that she will do well.”
Also checking into Wilson Hall was Amere’ Eadie, who made the overnight drive from Charlotte, North Carolina, with 7-year-old sister Makayla Mood and their mother, Yvette Mood, sharing the ride.
Like many of the new freshmen, Eadie said she chose TSU because of the HBCU culture. And, that message was clear, as she and her mother sported T-shirts with TSU blue and bold “HBCU” inscriptions.
“I wanted to expand and know where I was from and not just stay in a bubble my whole life,” said Eadie, who will major in criminal justice. “For TSU, after looking at some things online and doing some research, it looked like just the place I want to be.”
Eadie’s mom, Yvette Mood, said she knows her daughter has a great future and is ready to see her pursue her dreams. “She is ready. She is determined and driven, so I know she will do well,” said Mood.
But little sister Makayla Mood was not having any of it. She was not ready to see her sister leave. “I am sorry she is leaving,” she said, nearly sobbing.
Despite the pandemic, which disrupted many of the university’s academic, cultural, and social activities, officials are excited about the increased enrollment and normal return to educational activities. The university will be open and fully operational for the fall 2021-22 academic year, with continued enforcement of federal and state health and safety regulations.
Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, said, “This is a really exciting time to have this level of uptick of students who are ready to be back on campus. We have a lot of things planned for the campus and I think our first-time freshmen are going to see the energy and excitement of this campus.”
Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Admissions and Recruitment, added: “Today begins the journey for one of the largest classes in the history of the university. We know they will leave a legacy here at TSU.”
Many volunteers, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni helped with the move-in by unloading and loading luggage, manning water stations, directing traffic, and performing other activities to ease the newcomers’ transition. Churches, vendors, and TSU partners like Fifth Third Bank, Turner Construction, the Army National Guard, Predators, Regions Bank, and American Job Center, set up tents and tables to give out snacks, water, and other goodies.
For more information on admissions at TSU, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.