By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, TN. (TSU News Service) — While the Southern Heritage Classic is a time for festivities and reunions, it’s also an opportunity to recruit some of the city’s top high school students.
Tennessee State University may have fallen to Jackson State University 49-44 in the 30th annual SHC this past weekend in Memphis, but the TSU Tigers scored major points with numerous aspiring college students.
“TSU is a great school,” said Memphis senior Randy Perry, who stopped by the booth TSU had at the Classic College Fair the day before Sept. 14 game. “My mother and grandmother went there. The biology program that I would like to go into, I hear it’s immaculate.”
Senior Nicholas Townsend agreed.
“It’s just a good school, rich in culture,” said Townsend, who plans to major in criminal justice and eventually become a police officer.
Rachel Cox is a college counselor at The Soulsville Charter School in Memphis where Perry is a student. She lauded the Classic for making the college fair part of its annual activities.
“Our college office is all about options,” said Cox. “An event like this is important because it helps our students see what their options are.”
The evening before the college fair, TSU had a special recruitment reception at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel for top high school seniors.
Kabrea Bell attended the reception and said she would like to enroll in an HBCU and major in criminal justice. She hoped to get information at the reception that will help her make a decision on where to go.
“I’m hoping to get a lot out of this,” said Bell before the event. “I want to one day be a lawyer.”
TSU admissions officials said the goal of the reception is to seek out the best students, nurture them, and graduate them prepared for the global market.
“We like to position them this time of the year so that they will be prepared for admissions, and more importantly, be prepared and positioned and lined up for scholarship opportunities,” said Dr. Gregory Clark, TSU’s director of high school relations and NCAA certification.
TSU alum April Terrell helped organize the recruitment reception. She said she wanted to convey to the high school students the special experience they will have if they choose to attend a historically black institution, particularly Tennessee State.
“They can receive a quality education from an HBCU, one that is affordable in the state of Tennessee, and is going to have them ready for the workforce,” said Terrell.
In 2016, TSU raised admission standards to attract the best and brightest students.
At an alumni mixer the evening of Sept. 13, TSU President Glenda Glover touted the high quality of students attending the university, and how it’s seeing an increase in enrollment.
“Enrollment is up,” said Glover. “It was 7,780 last year, it’s probably going to be around 8,000 this year.”
Besides the college fair and big game on Saturday, another highlight of the SHC was the annual parade in the Orange Mound community of Memphis. Hundreds of people lined the route to see the floats and participants, including TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands.
TSU National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds has attended the Classic for a number of years, and she plans to continue doing so.
“The Southern Heritage Classic is like another Homecoming,” she said. “There are so many TSU alums here. I enjoy coming, and I think everybody else does.”