By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) – Congratulations to Tennessee State University’s Spring 2018 graduates.
More than 1,000 students walked across the aisle at two separate Tennessee State University commencement ceremonies to receive their degrees in different disciplines. Both ceremonies took place in the Gentry Complex on the main campus.
TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates and parents for their achievement.
“This is your day,” Glover told the graduates. “We thank you, and we’re depending on you to continue the tradition of excellence.”
At the undergraduate commencement on Saturday, May 5, more than 800 graduates received their degrees after hearing from nationally recognized motivational speaker, Dr. Eric Thomas.
He told the graduates that each of them is born with greatness, but to achieve it requires work.
“Greatness is not free, it comes with a price tag,” said Thomas.
Among the graduates were the grandmother/granddaughter pair of Theresa Lyles, 68, and Zuri Lyles, 22, who received their bachelor’s degrees in sociology and health information management, respectively.
Also at the spring graduation, university officials posthumously presented degrees to the families of two students who died few months before they were to graduate. Bethany Morse, 34, a non-traditional student, died Feb. 2, 2018. Her bachelor’s degree was in social work. The other student, Denese McGarry Sampson, 22, died Nov. 26, 2017. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
On Friday, May 4, graduate students received their degrees after hearing inspiring words from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who gave the commencement address.
Bottoms, an Atlanta native who became the 60th mayor of Atlanta last December and only the second woman to be elected mayor in Atlanta’s history, told the graduates not to be afraid to share their struggles, their “scars,” because they don’t know who may be inspired by them – especially in the case of youth.
“As you enter this next season of life, think of those little boys and little girls who need to hear your stories, and be uplifted by your stories,” said Bottoms. “How you graduated from TSU, and how you got to the other side.“
Between its graduate commencement and its undergraduate commencement, TSU graduated more than 1,000 students. And officials say a “substantial number” have already gotten job or internship offers.
Among them is Emmanuel Gyang of Nashville, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering. He is heading to Bank of America in Dallas as a systems engineer in the company’s data center.
“I feel blessed to be graduating with a job with a company like Bank of America,” he said. “I owe it to TSU for the preparation I received in the classroom and from TSU’s Career Development Center. They definitely honed me to be the person I am today. They taught me how to carry myself in a more professional manner.”
Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.
Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.
Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave the Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.