TSU President Glenda Glover (center) hosted the USDA's Vivian Dixon (right of Dr. Glover) during a visit that yielded announced opportunities for students. interested in agriculture, stem majors. (Photo: TSU News Service)

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – What started out as a college visit to Tennessee State University to highlight Black History Month turned into so much more for some local high school students.

TSU President Glenda Glover surprised 20 Metro Nashville Public Schools students with scholarship offers on Feb. 14 if they planned to major in a STEM course and have a good grade point average.

Amesa Tidwell, who attends Whites Creek High School in Nashville, was among the students who visited TSU that day.

“I was completely stunned,” said Tidwell, who plans to major in biology. “I had no idea I was going to be offered a scholarship. Thank you TSU!”

TSU is using a million dollars it received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bolster students’ interest in agriculture and STEM.

“We are extremely appreciative to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for this partnership that allows TSU to recruit and enroll high achieving students,” said President Glover.

“Agriculture and STEM related professionals are in high demand, and TSU is committed to ensuring that these students, along with our Business and Healthcare majors, are prepared to compete for jobs and get hired. We also want to make sure metro students know that oftentimes the best place is in your own backyard. We want them to make TSU their first choice and enroll.”

The agreement with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides the university with half a million dollars this year, and $500,000 next year.

USDA State Conservationist Sheldon Hightower said he hopes the partnership will lead students to consider careers in agriculture.

“From a state perspective, we want to engage more students in agriculture,” said Hightower. “Through this partnership agreement with TSU, we hope to develop a well-qualified, diverse applicant pool in STEM to meet the future workforce needs of NRCS and throughout USDA.”

TSU President Glenda Glover (far left), USDA official Vivian Dickson; Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, vice president for research and institutional advancement; and Miss TSU Kayla Sampson listen to graduate student Kyle Williams. (Photo: Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“TSU is the ideal partner to serve as a pipeline to get more millennials, young professionals into USDA. The university has a tremendous agriculture program and collaborates with the other STEM colleges to bring the latest innovations and technology to the industry,” Hightower further stated.

Kyle Williams is a graduate student majoring in agriculture with a concentration in plant science. He said the scholarships, in particular, will be very helpful.

“It’s the only way that a lot of us can even go to school,” said Williams. “Some of us are first time college students. It’s going to help us tremendously.”

University officials also expect the partnership to encourage students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

In addition to scholarships, Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, TSU vice president for research and institutional advancement, said the funds will aid students’ professional development by allowing them to “travel to different professional conferences and meetings to gain exposure to what’s being done.”

“This is our largest single award for scholarships, professional development and for student national experiences through travel,” said Crumpton-Young.

The Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, and Life and Physical Sciences have a combined 36 degree offerings, with 26 different concentrations. Top degree offerings in the College of Agriculture include agricultural and human sciences. In the College of Engineering, top degree offerings include aeronautical and industrial technology, architectural engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science. In the College of Life and Physical Sciences, offerings include biological sciences, chemistry and mathematical sciences. All of the colleges offer research opportunities and some level of internships, or help students find internship opportunities with corporations and industries. Travel abroad opportunities also exist.

(Visit www.tnstate.edu/academicprograms for information regarding TSU Agriculture and STEM programs. For more information on enrollment and admissions at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.)