By Michael McClendon
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University wasn’t on Jeff and Julie Palm’s radar when they initially made the 12-hour trek from Millville, Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee. Their daughter Katie was looking to pursue her doctorate degree in physical therapy at one of the state’s premiere universities. However, after an unpleasant touring experience, the Palms found the perfect graduate school atmosphere for their daughter at TSU.
“When we did a tour down here a year and a half ago, it was Spring Break, and there were no students on campus. We talked to the office staff worker, and she took us to three different professors who were doing their work, and they were all like, ‘Oh, come on in and sit down,’” said Julie Palm, who works as a licensed practical nurse in Minnesota. “All three professors were just so nice and explained everything to us, and I think that is part of the reason we fell in love with TSU.”
Katie Palm, who earned her bachelor of science degree in Health Sciences from the University of Minnesota Rochester, started her journey at TSU this summer. She said she loves the campus and is excited about being a TSU Tiger.
“I love the values that TSU has. At Rochester, there was an open door policy where students could approach a professor and ask them any question at any time, and the physical therapy program at TSU also has that open door policy,” she said. “That’s one of the things I’ve become accustomed to, and I’m glad they have that here.”
Dr. Alex Sekwat, associate dean of the Graduate School, said getting accepted into TSU’s Ph.D. program in Physical Therapy is no small feat.
“The physical therapy program is a very competitive program. Gaining entrance to it is a little difficult because the demand is high,” said Sekwat. “Typically, in a given admissions cycle, the program attracts close to 300 applicants, and out of that only 36 are offered admissions. So it is very selective.”
Sekwat said the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy is just one of many advanced degrees offered by the Tennessee Graduate School.
“We provide diverse programming, ranging from health sciences, business, government, education, engineering, agriculture and liberal arts,” he said. “We have programs for any student who is looking for what is mainstream. Not to mention that we offer 24 master’s degree programs, seven doctoral degree programs, and up to eight graduate certificate programs.”
According to Sekwat, TSU offers a mixed-range of full-time programs for traditional students and non-traditional students who come part-time like working adults as well as students who can only attend classes online. He said new technology being implemented by the graduate school will provide upcoming students with a smoother application process.
“We are in the process of bringing on board a totally online application system, whereby there will be no paperwork involved,” Sekwat said. “With that we are hoping that beginning next semester, new students will have a completely different experience because everything will be at their fingertips. They won’t have to send us any paper. Everything will be processed online. Classes will be uploaded online, letters of recommendation online, statement of purpose online, test scores and so on. That is one of the most exciting things I see coming.”
Palm, who plans to stay in Tennessee after she earns her Ph.D., said she intends to use her expertise to eventually work with children. Her father, Jeff, who works as a machinist, said he is proud of Katie’s accomplishments, and they are excited about her attending the university.
“I am very proud of her just like my wife,” he said. “Katie excels in everything she does. She’s great with everything, and we are very supportive of her.”