Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee addresses the crowd of prospective students and their families at the Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, True Blue Tour event at the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville about the opportunities that await them at the Blue Raider campus. MTSU photo by James Cessna

MURFREESBORO, TN — MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee highlighted not only the quality of the university’s academic offerings and facilities at the Nashville True Blue Tour event, but the Blue Raider spirit — putting people first.  

“The most important part is the people, our caring faculty and staff and the emphasis we place on making sure students have all the necessary resources to be successful,” McPhee said. “That’s the MTSU way.”  

Prospective Middle Tennessee State University student Ty Drake, left, speaks to the crowd after winning a $1,000 scholarship from University President Sidney A. McPhee, right, at MTSU’s True Blue Tour event at the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Other university top leadership and alumni echoed this sentiment Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville, the third stop of the university’s larger, annual recruitment tour that travels the state and into Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky to showcase the MTSU experience and everything it has to offer to prospective students, their families and local school counselors. 

McPhee said that the tour itself — the time and resources poured into the event every year — demonstrate that the university’s dedication to students and the larger community is beyond just rhetoric.  

“We want you to know that when you send us your students, we are going to take good care of them,” he said. “We have a caring and safe environment. We focus on making sure we are an affordable institution. We will make sure they graduate. 

“We want you to send all of your students to MTSU.”  

Blue Raider community 

Kendra Reed, school counselor at the Academy at Hickory Hollow in Antioch, and True Blue alumna, said she loved every bit of her MTSU experience.  

“I’m definitely pushing MTSU to my students,” Reed said. “I have a lot of kids interested in nursing and a few interested in the aerospace and music programs. I know the aerospace program is awesome.”  

Reed and her coworker Tamika Reed, graduation coach, scheduled an on-site presentation with MTSU admissions staff later this month for their senior students and won $2,000 in scholarships to bring back to their school. 

Lindsay Hager, manager of peer mentoring at Nashville State Community College, helps her nontraditional students, the majority adults with children, transfer to MTSU for four-year degrees. 

“The university has great scholarships and location,” Hager said. “It has a reputation for taking care of transfer students with the biggest transfer population in the state. I definitely stick with (recommending) MTSU.”  

Hager and her colleague Kelsey Johansen, director of student life, are further strengthening the bond between Nashville State and the university.  

They are creating a pipeline for students to easily advance from high school to community college and end at MTSU and an MTSU student group for Nashville State students planning to transfer and become Blue Raiders.  

Hager, who won a scholarship for her school at last year’s event, lucked out again when McPhee drew her name for a $2,000 scholarship.  

Blue Raider opportunities 

Prospective Middle Tennessee State University student Peyton Fontenot, right, poses with his mother Jamie Fontenot, center, and University President Sidney A. McPhee after winning a $2,500 scholarship at the True Blue Tour event. MTSU photo by James Cessna

James Phillips, senior at Nashville’s Hillwood High School, was motivated to attend by his proud alumnus uncle and his passion for music.  

“I make music,” Phillips said after talking to College of Media and Entertainment Dean Beverly Keel. “I really like it. I just love everything about creating music from the start to the end.” 

Phillips’ mother, Candice McEwen, said her son was born premature with a condition that required him to stay indoors and avoid being too active. During stays at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, she and the staff provided him with instruments to keep him entertained, sparking his musicality. 

“I’m really interested in pursuing music at MTSU,” Phillips said. 

Ty Drake, senior at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, TN, attended with his mom, Elisabeth Dyal, to learn more about opportunities with the Aerospace Department and had a conversation with department staff.  

“They help you get those (flight) hours in,” Drake said he learned. “When you graduate, you have those hours, so that you’ll actually be able to go into employment right away.” 

McPhee later called Drake up on stage to recognize him as a member of the True Blue 100 program, a group of outstanding high school freshmen who, if selected, receive special perks and access to campus. Drake also received a $1,000 scholarship.  

Peyton Fontenot, senior at Montessori Academy in Brentwood, TN, was also interested in aerospace, garnering a laugh from the audience when accepting his $2,500 scholarship.  

“You get to fly planes,” Fontenot told McPhee about why he wanted to pursue the program.  

“My teacher’s daughter goes to MTSU, so my teacher knows a lot about the school,” he said about how he first heard of the professional pilot program. “Tonight, I was able to learn more information about the Delta partnership.” 

The university is partnering with the airline on the Delta Propel pilot program, which allows qualifying students to accelerate their training and earn their flight certifications, build their experience and meet all requirements to become a Delta pilot in 42 months or less. 

Kaitlin McKinney, senior at Day Spring Academy in Greenbriar, TN attended with her younger sister, Kaylee McKinney, and spoke to College of Liberal Arts Dean Leah Lyons about majoring in sociology.  

“I’m interested in so many majors right now; sociology’s my top three,” McKinney said. “I learned that I could minor in more than two things, which is really cool because I love dance, I like music, I play guitar, I do a lot and I also like debate. I like the idea that there are so many opportunities … to not be locked into one specific major.”  

 Shayanna Prinkey, Nashville State student and mom of five, said she wants to experience campus life at MTSU and pursue pre-law now that her youngest is in kindergarten.  

Prinkey, a first-generation college student, won an MTSU-themed blanket, and McPhee added on a $1,000 book scholarship after learning about her large family.  

Jai Mehta, senior at Lebanon’s Wilson Central High, earned a 34 on his ACT, which qualifies him for MTSU’s new $8,000 a year Centennial Scholarship. Mehta attended the recent True Blue Preview event on campus and not only learned more about MTSU’s opportunities but connected with a current student who minors in Japanese.  

“I know some Japanese myself, so he and I were able to start talking in Japanese to each another,” Mehta said. “We’ve even connected over social media and have been messaging back and forth. Being able to already start establishing that community is important.”  

Mehta, interested in physics, spoke to McPhee to set up a tour of the university’s Science Building — the over 250,000-square-foot complex dubbed the campus’ “crown jewel” — for the near future. 

Headed to Birmingham

The tour’s next step was Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the Birmingham Marriot at 3590 Grandview Parkway. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP at https://www.mtsu.edu/rsvp but can also register the day of on-site to enter the giveaways for scholarships and prizes conducted by McPhee at every event.