By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — College lab classes should come easy for a group of incoming freshmen who recently attended Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture Summer Enrichment Program. The 23 students, with different majors, conducted real-world scientific and cutting-edge research during the four-week program. Activities included several laboratory and field experiments. The last day culminated with a closing ceremony where the students presented their finished works as scientific papers.
Jai’Da Le’Nae Seafous, a senior from Summer Creek High School in Houston, expressed her excitement about attending TSU, saying that the program further fueled her passion for the university. Her research project focused on extracting fecal and different blood samples from goats to check for parasites.
“The program most definitely made my decision much easier to major in animal science,” Seafous said. “The hands-on experience was so helpful.”
Seafous was one of four program participants awarded full scholarships to attend TSU starting this fall.
Another high school senior, Christopher Dewanye McKay Jr., from Ridgeway High School in Memphis, conducted research on genetics and DNA, stating that he discovered many things he didn’t previously know about plants.
“When I got here, I really didn’t know much about plant science. I was just looking for something to do,” said McKay, who wants to major in computer science. “But I am glad I did. Now I have a whole different appreciation for agriculture.”
Dr. Chanra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, emphasized that the program, which has been held each summer for more than 10 years, provides students with exposure to different opportunities within the agricultural sector. He also highlighted the program’s success, with approximately 85 percent of participants choosing to continue their education at TSU.
“We are very happy about the success rate of the program. This teaches them about the STEM opportunities in the college,” Reddy said.
Dr. De’Etra Young, program coordinator, explained that students had the chance to work on various subjects, ranging from food and animal science to genetics, forestry, GIS, precision agriculture, nutrition, and child development. “We tried to expose the students to the whole offerings in the College of Agriculture,” said Young, who is associate dean for academics and Land-Grant programs. “This provides exposure but also gives us the opportunity to serve as a bridge to help them prepare for college.”
The Summer Enrichment Program was funded through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program accepts high school sophomores through seniors and incoming college freshmen from across the country. This summer’s participants were from Tennessee, Mississippi, New York, Texas and Georgia.
For information on programs in the College of Agriculture, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.