The College of Engineering building at Tennessee State University.

By Alexis Clark

NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Three Tennessee State University students have been selected to participate in the inaugural class of Apple’s Engineering & Innovation (E&I) Program. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) announced that Derrion Boyce, Ashleigh Thomas and Tenille Cochran are the TSU Apple Scholars for the program.

All showed their gratitude for the scholarship award of $15,000 for the academic school year.

Boyce, a first-generation college student and rising senior majoring in electrical engineering, said the Apple HBCU Scholars award allows him to have a seamless journey to obtaining his degree.

“This scholarship has given me more hope, and less worry about college,” Boyce said. The Chicago, Illinois, native said he looks forward to becoming a prominent figure and role model at TSU as he will take full advantage of the scholarship opportunity. “I really appreciate the opportunity given to me to help pay for my education that will help my future.”

Ashleigh Thomas of Suwanee, Georgia, who is a computer science major, also stated that the opportunity has motivated her to continue thriving and finish off her last year in college strong.

“Being an Apple scholar has motivated me to remain focused on obtaining my degree,” Thomas said. “It has given me the confidence that I will one day be an innovator as Apple has been to people and the world.”

Professor and Interim Dean of Civil Engineering Dr. Lin Li said the innovative program will prepare the students to become the next generation of diverse leaders.

“It is such great support to three TSU students with the inaugural class of Apple’s E & I Program,” Dr. Li said. 

Rising junior and Nashville native Tenille Cochran, who is an architectural engineering major said she was shocked when she received recognition from TMCF and Apple based on her accomplishments.

“I feel honored to be a part of the Apple Scholars Program,” Cochran said.

“To be acknowledged for my accomplishments as an undergraduate student, it has given me confidence and broadened my perspective regarding my personal and professional development.”

President & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Dr. Harry L. Williams said The E&I Scholars are recognized as among the best in the country. “With the support of Apple, we look forward to advancing and elevating the critical importance of science and automation in preparing tomorrow’s tech leaders,” he said.

In total, 43 Apple E&I Scholars were selected from applicants from engineering programs at America’s publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs).

The Apple Engineering & Innovation Program is an initiative designed to equip the next generation of Black tech leaders through financial assistance, access to training and professional development experiences, and real-world skill application. The program will also allow scholars to engage in technical learning opportunities and participate in sessions led by Apple executives and industry leaders, according to a report from TMCF.

Apple Engineering & Innovation Scholars will also have opportunities to secure internships and full-time employment after graduation.

Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs. TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. 

For more information about TMCF, visit