By Alexis Clark
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University honored nearly 3,000 students, recognizing the best and brightest at its 2023 Spring Honors Convocation, which is a ceremony that highlights academic rigor. Among the convocation honorees were 2,974 Dean’s List students who maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and 483 President’s List scholars who maintained a 4.0 GPA and received medallions.
This year the Dr. McDonald Williams Highest Honors Senior Award recipient was Jae Walls, a presidential scholar from Atlanta, Georgia, who is one of the two students that were selected for the American Heart Association HBCU Scholars Program.
Walls is a junior studying biology who said she was proud of her award at the honors convocation. She noted how excited she was about the event being held in-person for the first time since the pandemic.
“I am excited because everyone has been so busy at college, so I think this is a great opportunity to celebrate our academic achievements together,” Walls said. She noted that 2,974 students making the Dean’s List just shows what kind of talent TSU produces.
“It shows how intelligent students here at TSU are and how they can work through these hard classes. It is important to have events like this because it allows TSU to showcase how great the students are.”
Tyler Vazquez, a presidential scholar recipient and a Dr. Levi Watkins scholar who is studying molecular biology, said he looked forward to seeing his peers and college deans in-person to celebrate their hard work paying off.
“It’s incredible to be able to honor so many students for their academic excellence,” Vazquez said. “It is no easy journey … kudos to all the students.”
There are approximately 269 freshmen that were recognized for being on the President’s List as well. Also included are 165 Honors seniors that will be graduating this spring.
Of the 2,974 Dean List students, those with a 3.0 or above, 1325 are from TSU’s record-setting freshman class. Last semester, the University welcomed over 3500 first-year students. It was the largest in school history and top among HBCUs. The incoming class also had a GPA average of 3.4. The Honors College has a total enrollment of 824 students as of March 2023.
Dr. Coreen Jackson, the Dean of the Honors College, said she is proud to witness many outstanding students ecstatic about their impressive academic journey. “Despite them going through the pandemic and dealing with all the challenges for the last few years, these students have weathered the storms and continued to hold their heads up and continue to strive towards academic excellence,” Jackson said.
“We are so pleased and proud of their accomplishments. Having the opportunity to honor them is just amazing.”
The Honors Convocation keynote speaker was TSU alumnus Dr. Eddie R. Cole, an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA and the author of a multi-award-winning book, The Campus Color Line. During the event, Dr. Cole expressed his gratitude towards his undergraduate professors and experience at the university for setting him up for a successful professional career.
“In so many ways I am just thrilled to be here because looking at you, I see myself,” the 2007 graduate said to the honor students.
“One thing that is clear out of all my success as a student at the next level … was that Tennessee State University prepared me to be there. It was my HBCU experience,” Dr. Cole said.
For more information on the TSU Honors College, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/honors.