By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — When Christian Bond walks across the stage on May 1 to receive her biology degree, the determined future doctor says she will be thankful to some special professors at Tennessee State University who helped her reach this major milestone in her life. Bonds remembers a period where she struggled and needed guidance. She believes those tough times make receiving her degree even more rewarding.
“There was a period where I lacked motivation and considered dropping out,” says Bonds. “But professors in the classes that I was having difficulties assisted in getting me through the challenging time. They allowed me to make up work, helped me study, and made sure I understood the work.”
Bond will be among more than 900 graduates and undergraduates receiving degrees in various disciplines during Tennessee State University’s Spring Commencement ceremonies. Earlier this month, TSU officially announced the 2021 graduation exercises would return to campus following a year of virtual ceremonies because of the pandemic. The graduate ceremony will be Friday, April 30, at 4 p.m. in Hale Stadium. Bond will participate in the undergraduate ceremony the next day at 8 a.m. in the stadium.
The Nashville native and transfer student says TSU overall has prepared her to pursue her goal of becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and that her professors were with her every step of the way as she juggled being a full-time working student and mom.
One of those professors was Dr. Orville Bignall, associate professor of physics.
“She indicated that she had the strongest desire to complete the course but would need additional help and this would be around her work schedule,” recalls Bignall. “I promised her that I would do all in my power to ensure that she got help and support for the course. She never disappointed me in holding up her end of the bargain. I am glad that she had the temerity to ask for help and the grit and perseverance to make this a successful outcome.”
Dr. Michael Ivy, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, says he was impressed with Bond’s “capability to multi-task regarding care for her son,” now two years old.
“Undoubtedly, this TSU student has a commendable work ethic,” says Ivy. “In addition, she was undaunted by any science or health-related course undertaking compared to other students enrolled in my science classes.”
In the case of her son, Khari, Bond says when he was younger one of her professors even assumed the role of babysitter to ensure she participated in a class assignment.
“When Christian’s (babysitting) plans fell through she called me and told me she was afraid she would have to miss the presentation, but I told her it was okay if she brought him with her to class,” says Dr. Tyrone Miller, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. “He was a joy to have in the class and several students took turns holding him before her presentation. When I held him, I started rocking him while I was listening and talking, and he ended up falling asleep in my arms.”
Bond says her overall college experience has been a great one and strongly believes it’s because she attended TSU, an HBCU institution. During her time at TSU, she joined the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr Pre-Med Society, Sigma Alpha Pi-The National Society of Leadership and Success, Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, Golden Key International Honour Society, Psi Chi-The International Honor Society in Psychology, and the Alpha Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Following graduation, Bond says she intends to take a gap year to study for the MCAT and travel with her son. She plans to attend the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in the 2022-2023 academic school year. Once completed, her new profession will allow her to work in partnership with patients to help them achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury prevention, and disease prevention.
And for those coming behind her, Bond has this advice.
“Class of 2025, enjoy your time at Tennessee State University, but remember your goals and stay the course. Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your dreams, because with God, family, and love, nothing can stop you! Take advantage of all the opportunities you are presented and make lifelong connections. You won’t regret it. Welcome to Big Blue!!”
CBS News anchor and reporter Michelle Miller will serve as the Friday evening commencement speaker for the graduate ceremony. Former New Orleans Mayor and National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial will be the undergraduate guest speaker on Saturday. Those planning to attend the TSU 2021 Spring Commencement Ceremonies are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Adults are strongly encouraged to have been vaccinated. Tickets are also required to attend. For more information about commencement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/. The university will also livestream both events on Friday and Saturday. Visit (www.tnstate.edu/youtube) to watch.
To learn more about the Department of Biology Sciences and the Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/biology/ and https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.