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Eleven MTSU students will study abroad on Gilman Scholarships

Eleven MTSU students received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship this year.

Gilman scholarships are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Applicants must be federal Pell Grant recipients in order to apply. Students chosen as Gilman scholars can receive up to $5,000 toward study-abroad or internship expenses.

Tiffany Bickers

Tiffany Bickers

Preferences are given to students who are studying critical languages, have never studied abroad before, choose unconventional locations and are first-generation college students.

“I would say definitely over 50 percent of students who are participating in study-abroad this summer are going on an MTSU faculty-led program,” said Tiffany Bickers, director of the Office of Education Abroad.

Three MTSU Gilman scholars will study in United Arab Emirates this summer under one of those signature faculty-led programs with funding from Gilman scholarships.

Concrete industry majors Arounyadeth Insyxiengmay of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Hussaen Ismail of Ashland City, Tennessee, and Peter Roldan of Shelbyville, Tennessee, will serve internships with local concrete companies under the supervision of assistant professor Ayez Ahmed.

“The reason we have three Gilman recipients (going to UAE) is because it is so unique, and that’s a major that is hard to find, as well,” said Katherine Kovar, an education abroad adviser.

Other Gilman recipients using their scholarships during the summer 2016 semester and the countries in which they will study are:Gilman Scholarship logo web

  • Rookery Baruch of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, France;
  • Dakota Beverly of Athens, Tennessee, Japan;
  • Brianna Buford of Nashville, Tennessee, Dominican Republic;
  • Emily Drew of Knoxville, Tennessee, South Korea;
  • Sabrina Watkins of Hendersonville, Tennessee, South Korea.

Martha Rodas Munoz of Nashville, Tennessee, used her Gilman to study for the full 2015-2016 academic year at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan. For their spring 2016 semester studies, Jiana Kupecz of Spring Hill, Tennessee, chose to study in South Africa, and Hermon Phuntling of Knoxville, Tennessee, selected the nation of Tanzania.

For more information, contact the MTSU Office of Education Abroad at 615-898-5179 or Bickers at tiffany.bickers@mtsu.edu or Kovar at katherine.kovar@mtsu.edu.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Three MTSU seniors receive June Anderson Foundation scholarships

Three women who juggle family and academic responsibilities while pursuing their collegiate goals will receive full tuition for one semester from MTSU’s June S. Anderson Foundation.

Organizers awarded the scholarships to the trio, all seniors at MTSU, at a May 11 luncheon at B. McNeel’s restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The 2016 June Anderson Foundation Scholarship recipients are, from left, MTSU seniors Andrea Madison of Nashville, Rebecca Craighead of Murfreesboro and Lori Grimes of Shelbyville, Tennessee. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

The 2016 June Anderson Foundation Scholarship recipients are, from left, MTSU seniors Andrea Madison of Nashville, Rebecca Craighead of Murfreesboro and Lori Grimes of Shelbyville, Tennessee. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Rebecca Craighead, a Murfreesboro resident, is majoring in biochemistry with an emphasis on nutrition and dietetics. She aspires to be an endocrinologist and perform research on autoimmune diseases.

“To have a group of intelligent women select me to represent this foundation motivates me to want to do my best, and I intend to make everyone proud,” Craighead said.

Andrea Madison of Nashville is majoring in Spanish at MTSU with a minor in business administration. Married with five children, Madison and her husband operate a small barber shop in Nashville.

“By removing financial barriers, this gives me the ability to focus on academics instead of how I’m going to repay my student loans,” said Madison.

Lori Grimes, an organizational communication major from Shelbyville, Tennessee, is a two-time Anderson Foundation scholarship recipient and a first-generation college student. Her husband, Billy, retired after 25 years with the Los Angeles Police Department following an on-the-job injury that has caused recurring health issues.

The Grimeses’ daughter is an MTSU graduate who is pursuing a second degree in nursing, and their son is on track to graduate with his mother in December 2016.

“To be able to do this and finish this college degree … has allowed us to extend some help to our children,” said Lori Grimes.

Applicants for a June S. Anderson Foundation scholarship must be women enrolled at MTSU who are age 23 or older. Academic majors in fields that are nontraditional for women are encouraged, and financial need and personal challenges also are considered by the foundation.

Dr. Andrienne Friedli

Dr. Andrienne Friedli

“All of these great scholars exemplify what we’ve been looking for and what Dr. Anderson certainly would have been looking for in her time,” said Dr. Andrienne Friedli, an MTSU chemistry professor who also serves as vice president of the foundation’s board of directors.

Dr. June S. Anderson

Dr. June S. Anderson

Dr. June S. Anderson, a chemistry professor at MTSU for more than 25 years, advanced the causes of women on campus until her death in 1984. The Ripley, Tennessee, native founded Concerned Faculty and Administrative Women in 1975 at MTSU as an academic support service for women and in 1977 established the Women’s Information Service for Education, which now is the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students.

In the early 1980s, Anderson founded the university’s first day care center, established MTSU’s women’s studies program and created the June S. Anderson Foundation. At the state level, she was the founder and first president of Women in Higher Education in Tennessee.

“I am really excited to work for a school that recognizes women, that recognizes a woman who was phenomenal, who paved the way like no other, and now she’s leaving a legacy of women to empower them to do the same,” said Barbara Scales, director of the June Anderson Center.

For more information about the Anderson Foundation scholarships, visit http://capone.mtsu.edu/jsa or contact Friedli at andrienne.friedli@mtsu.edu or foundation president Dr. Mary Magada-Ward at mary.magada-ward@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Student’s ‘Jambourine’ nets top cash at biz plan finals [+VIDEO]

Before walking across the stage inside Murphy Center to pick up his degree May 7, MTSU senior recording industry major Hunter Marlowe of Newnan, Georgia, collected $7,500 in start-up cash to help bring his sound hole tambourine invention to the masses.

MTSU senior Hunter Marlowe demonstrates his prizewinning invention, the “Jambourine by Marlowe,” at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals, held April 26 in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

MTSU senior Hunter Marlowe demonstrates his prizewinning invention, the “Jambourine by Marlowe,” at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals, held April 26 in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Marlowe was among the students who made it to the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals, which wrapped up the spring semester by awarding a total of almost $20,000 in prizes to four finalists and other student entrepreneurs looking to turn their business ideas into reality.

Marlowe is off to a good head start.

Called the “Jambourine by Marlowe,” the aspiring singer-songwriter’s invention is an accessory to acoustic and bass guitars that fits in the sound hole. As he describes it, the product “sits silent and out of the way under the strings, until the player slaps the strings or strums across the jingles to the beat.”

Dressed in a business suit and tie, Marlowe strapped on his guitar and provided the panel of six judges with a brief demonstration during the April 26 finals presentations in the Student Union Ballroom.

He then laid the guitar aside and guided the judges through a PowerPoint presentation that included an executive summary, timeline and sales projections as well as plans for Jambourine distribution, operations and marketing.Jones College of Business logo-updated

His efforts were enough to convince the panel that his was the most viable of the four finalists’ ideas.

“This money is definitely going to help start up, and every cent is going to go toward the business,” Marlowe said, first-place plaque in hand. His next step is to order 1,000 units of the product from the manufacturer, an expense he said is roughly $6,000.

Dr. Bill McDowell, chairholder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship, which sponsors the event, said the competition gives students an intense hands-on learning experience and allows them to gain feedback on their plans, develop networks and expose their ideas to potential investors.

http://youtu.be/LZvMeRV-j2A

The competition is open to students and alumni willing to put their business ideas on paper into a formal business plan and navigate a series of reviews — rounds of screenings, elevator pitches, trade show displays and the final presentations — in their quest for the top prizes.

The final presentations focused on the complete business plans, where teams presented their plans to the group of judges and fielded questions. Presentations are open to investors, MTSU faculty, staff, alumni, students and MTSU friends. Teams gave a maximum 15-minute presentation, followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers.

MTSU student Chris Crockett, founder of the roadside service app Hükd, begins his presentation before a panel of judges at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals held April 26 inside the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU student Chris Crockett, founder of the roadside service app Hükd, begins his presentation before a panel of judges at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals, held April 26 in the Student Union Ballroom.

“Our students go through quite a process to get to this point,” McDowell said. “They utilize mentors, they utilize coaches to help them develop those plans fully, so that when they are finished they have a product and a completed plan that they can go and start their business if they have not already done so.”

The competition’s runner-up winner, which received $5,000, was Hükd — pronounced “hooked” — an on-demand roadside assistance application designed to connect technicians and stranded motorists in a more timely fashion.

The third-place winner of a $1,500 prize was Music for Youth, a social enterprise benefiting children ages 6-16 by providing enriching lessons through music. Fourth place and a $500 prize went to ESPY Discovery Labs, a life-science company that would assist with antibiotic production.

The judges also awarded secondary and specialty prizes, including two awards for creativity funded by a grant from the Clouse-Elrod Foundation. All of the secondary awards included $500 prizes.

The panel of judges included Jonathan Eby, vice president of operations for classical music label and distributor Naxos of America Inc.; Phil Gibbs, founding principal of The Disruption Lab; serial entrepreneurs Mark Cleveland and Pete Hendrix; Cindi Parmenter, vice president of operations for the Nashville Technology Council; and Peter Marcum, managing partner of Nashville software developer DevDigital LLC.

The business plan competition originated through the Wright Travel Chair to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit within the region with ideas ranging from for-profit to not-for-profit businesses and corporate entrepreneurship to social enterprises.

For more information about MTSU’s entrepreneurship program, visit www.mtsu.edu/wrightchair.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Bill McDowell, left, chair holder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, presents the first place award to MTSU senior Hunter Marlowe at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals held April 26 inside the Student Union Ballroom. Marlowe won for invention, the “Jambourine by Marlowe,” which is a sound hole accessory for guitars. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Bill McDowell, left, chairholder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, presents the first-place award to MTSU senior Hunter Marlowe at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals. Marlowe won for his invention, the “Jambourine by Marlowe,” which is a sound hole accessory for guitars.

From left, MTSU students Lindsay Dabney, Kedron Hilario and Christopher Crockett are presented the second place award at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals held April 26 inside the Student Union Ballroom. Presenting the award, at right, is Bill McDowell, chair holder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students Lindsay Dabney, left, Kedron Hilario and Christopher Crockett accept the second-place award at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals from Bill McDowell, right, chairholder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business.

Bill McDowell, left, chair holder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, presents the third place award to MTSU student John Bosworth at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals held April 26 inside the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Bill McDowell, left, chairholder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, presents the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals third-place award to MTSU student John Bosworth.

Bill McDowell, left, chair holder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, presents the fourth place award to MTSU student Brock Arivett at the Jennings A. Jones College of Business’ 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals held April 26 inside the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Bill McDowell, left, chairholder of the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, presents the fourth-place award to MTSU student Brock Arivett at the college’s 2016 Business Plan Competition Finals April 26.

14 MTSU cadets commissioned into U.S. Army at spring ceremony

MTSU’s military science program commissioned 14 graduating seniors as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army during the Blue Raider Detachment Spring Commissioning Ceremony May 6 at the university’s Military Memorial site outside the Tom H. Jackson Building.

Led by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jackie McDowell, a first-year professor guiding the ROTC program, the commissioning featured guest speaker Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives and a 38-year U.S. Army veteran who retired as a lieutenant general.

New U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Margaret Battan, center, is pinned by her parents, Meredith and John Battan of Millersville, Maryland, May 6 during the Blue Raider Detachment spring commissioning ceremony outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

New U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Margaret Battan, center, is pinned by her parents, Meredith and John Battan of Millersville, Maryland, May 6 during the Blue Raider Detachment spring commissioning ceremony outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

The event included the swearing-in and pinning of commissionees, first salute ceremony and the singing of the Army song.

Commissionees included:

  • Margaret Battan, who graduated with a finance degree and is headed to the field artillery branch of the Tennessee National Guard.
  • Timothy Chitpanya, who graduated with bachelor’s in chemistry and is assigned active duty in the infantry branch and headed to Fort Benning, Georgia, for the basic officer leadership course.
  • Curtis Crossman, who graduated with a bachelor’s in information systems and is assigned to the military intelligence branch of the Tennessee National Guard.
  • Ryan DeBooy, who graduated with a master’s in information systems and is assigned to the basic officer leadership course at Fort Benning, Georgia.
  • Anthony Duncan, who graduated with a bachelor’s in liberal studies and is assigned to active duty in the ordnance branch. After serving among camp staff at cadet summer training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, starting June 27, Duncan will go to Fort Lee, Virginia, to begin the basic officer leader course.
  • Patrice Haney, who graduated with a bachelor’s in finance and is assigned to the ordnance branch with the Washington, D.C., Army National Guard.
  • Ethan Hester, who graduated with a bachelor’s in physical education and is assigned to active duty field artillery branch and headed to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to begin the basic officer leader course.
  • Reed Honken, who graduated with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and is assigned to active duty with the quartermaster branch and headed to Fort Lee, Virginia, to begin his basic officer leader course in June.
  • Alison Judkins, who graduated with a bachelor’s in political science and is assigned to active duty in the medical service branch. Judkins will be among staff at cadet summer training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, beginning May 16 and will then go to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to begin the basic officer leader course in August.
  • Jimmy Norvell, who graduated with a bachelor’s in aerospace administration and is assigned to the aviation branch with the Tennessee Army National Guard.
  • Brandon Rodriguez, who graduated with a bachelor’s in aerospace with a professional pilot emphasis and is assigned to the medical service branch with the Tennessee Army National Guard.
  • Timothy Sanders, who graduated with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and is assigned to the military police branch of the Tennessee Army National Guard.
  • Kyle Wix, who graduated with a bachelor’s in construction management and is assigned to active duty in the infantry branch and headed to Fort Benning to begin his basic officer leader course in June.
  • Kyle Wolfenbarger, who graduated with a bachelor’s in biology and is assigned to the engineer branch with the Tennessee Army National Guard.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU ROTC Commissioning Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in front of the Tom Jackson building. Lt. General Keith Huber, Senior Adviser for Veterans and Leadership Initiatives (U.S. Army Ret.)

An attentive audience listens as Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for Veterans and Leadership Initiatives and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, speaks during the spring commissioning ceremony May 6 at the Military Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building.

‘MTSU On the Record’ gets a grip on arm wrestling with inventor

An MTSU graduate student who balances aircraft inspection, entrepreneurship and competitive arm wrestling was the guest on a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

MTSU alumnus Jason Gulley holds one of his Gulley Grip exercise handles. The handles feature a rotating grip to improve hand strength. (Photos by MTSU News and Media Relations)

MTSU alumnus Jason Gulley holds one of his Gulley Grip exercise handles. The handles feature a rotating grip to improve hand strength. (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Jason Gulley first aired May 9 on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ). You can listen to their conversation below.

Gulley learned how to inspect airplanes while earning his bachelor’s degree in aviation management from MTSU. The former Blue Raider defensive lineman also is a veteran of two tours of military duty in Iraq.

A veteran of competitive events in the World Arm Wrestling League, Gulley is the inventor of the “Gulley Grip,” a 3-pound, freely rotating cable attachment for use in developing the forearm, wrists and hands.

He also is pursuing a master’s degree in human performance and sports management and serves as executive director of the Tennessee Arm Wrestling Association.

In that role, he promotes events like the Gulley Grip and Arm Wrestling Competition, which is set for 7 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at the Eagleville Truck and Tractor Pull, 747 Chapel Hill Pike in Eagleville, Tennessee.

The Gulley Grip, shown here, was created by MTSU alumnus Jason Gulley. The exercise tool features a rotating handle that is supposed to improve gripping strength.

The Gulley Grip, shown here, was created by MTSU alumnus Jason Gulley. The exercise tool features a rotating handle intended to improve gripping strength.

“You know, arm wrestling is not one of those things you do with someone you don’t like,” said Gulley. “If you don’t like somebody, you would just fight them. You wouldn’t arm wrestle them.”

You can read a 2014 story on Gulley and his work here.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

MTSU’s 2K undergrads find ideal kickoff to life after college [+VIDEO]

MTSU’s spring Class of 2016 undergraduates had a perfect day to start the rest of their lives Saturday, May 7, armed with new university degrees and words of inspiration from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and HBO executive Kary Antholis.

New MTSU graduates show their joy and relief after turning their mortarboard tassels to signify a completed education t the university’s spring 2016 morning commencement Saturday, May 7. MTSU awarded 2,034 undergraduate degrees in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

New MTSU graduates show their joy and relief after turning their mortarboard tassels to signify a completed education t the university’s spring 2016 morning commencement Saturday, May 7. MTSU awarded 2,034 undergraduate degrees in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“Your GPA is not a tattoo you’ll wear for the rest of your life,” Barry, the first woman and the first Metro Council member elected Nashville mayor, told the Class of 2016 morning graduates in Murphy Center. “It’s not the sum of who you are.

Mayor Megan Barry

Mayor Megan Barry

“As one MTSU graduate on my staff said, ‘You can never learn less; you can only learn more.’ Experience as much as you can. Read. Listen to music. Travel. Go to movies, plays and art galleries. Meet people. Stretch your imagination, and extend your sense of what’s possible.”

Antholis, president of HBO Miniseries and Cinemas Programming, reminded graduates at the afternoon ceremony that while they have many more accomplishments ahead, they should also keep in mind those who helped them reach their goals.

Kary Antholis

Kary Antholis

Explaining that his Oscar-winning documentary on Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein, “One Survivor Remembers,” had its impetus in his own mother’s family’s horror in Greece at the hands of the Nazis, Antholis recalled Mrs. Klein’s beautiful, gracious words that night and their impact since. (You can see Mrs. Klein’s speech here.)

“You do earn success with hard work and self-reliance, but you also will be served by remaining mindful of the people who’ve helped you along the way,” Antholis said.

“As you go forward and build your lives, enjoy success and endure setbacks, please know that you will always be well-served by honoring the voices, values and love of those who have supported you and made sacrifices for you.”

A total of 2,034 undergraduates received their degrees on the breezy spring Saturday. The morning event included students from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, the Jones College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Media and Entertainment. The afternoon ceremony featured students in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, and the University College.

https://youtu.be/B9xcPMh6wQw

Kara Lane

Kara Lane

Tennessee State Historian Carroll Van West, a longtime MTSU professor and director of the university’s Center for Historic Preservation, addressed the university’s first separate ceremony May 6, where 349 received their doctorate, master’s and education specialist degrees. You can learn more about that event here.

New MTSU graduate Kara Lane’s aspirations don’t take her far from home or heart. The Beech Grove, Tennessee, resident, who grew up on a beef cattle farm, earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science with an eye toward becoming a veterinarian.

“I’ve just always had a love and passion for animals,” said Lane, who’s applying to the University of Tennessee, Mississippi State and the University of Virginia in her quest to open a practice for animals of all kinds.

“I’ve always been interested in animal surgery. When I was younger, one of my dogs got sick and I just … felt helpless. They say that (small animal practice) is where the money is, but it’s not about the money for me. It’s about helping the animals.”

Alison Todd

Alison Todd

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee encouraged that sort of perspective in his address to the graduates.

“You’ll become part of the distinguished history of this institution,” he said. “We make up more than just an academic community; we are a family.”

New graduate Alison Todd, 21, of Murfreesboro represents the fourth generation of her family’s affiliation with MTSU. A cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and minors in French and Spanish from the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors College, Todd played in the Band of Blue, was president of the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity and worked in multiple campus offices.

“This is a culmination of a lot of hard work and time teachers have given me. It is a big deal — everything I ever worked for,” said Todd, who will spend the summer at an archaeological field school in Romania, Greece and England, then take a year off in a volunteer reading/speaking English role before attending graduate school to study forensic anthropology.

You can see photos from the day’s events at http://facebook.com/mtsublueraiders. A PDF copy of the complete spring 2016 commencement program, which includes all the graduates’ names and degrees, is available here.

Graduation information — including links to maps and driving directions to MTSU, cap-and-gown information, official photographs and contacts for the Registrar’s Office — is available anytime at www.mtsunews.com/graduation-info.

— MTSU News and Media Relations (news@mtsu.edu)

Audience members capture one of hundreds of “there’s OUR graduate!” moments inside MTSU’s Murphy Center during the spring 2016 morning commencement ceremony Saturday, May 7. The university awarded 2,034 undergraduate degrees in dual events May 7 as well as 349 graduate degrees in a separate ceremony May 6. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

Audience members capture one of hundreds of “there’s OUR graduate!” moments inside MTSU’s Murphy Center during the spring 2016 morning commencement ceremony Saturday, May 7. The university awarded 2,034 undergraduate degrees in dual events May 7 as well as 349 graduate degrees in a separate ceremony May 6. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

New MTSU graduates show their joy and relief after turning their mortarboard tassels to signify a completed education t the university’s spring 2016 morning commencement Saturday, May 7. MTSU awarded 2,034 undergraduate degrees in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

New MTSU graduates show their joy and relief after turning their mortarboard tassels to signify a completed education at the university’s spring 2016 morning commencement Saturday, May 7. MTSU awarded 2,034 undergraduate degrees in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

A newly minted MTSU graduate holds her degree high in celebration at the university’s spring 2016 afternon commencement Saturday, May 7. MTSU awarded 2,034 undergraduate degrees in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

A newly minted MTSU graduate holds her degree high in celebration at the university’s spring 2016 afternoon commencement Saturday, May 7. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Mom, daughter earn degrees at MTSU’s 1st graduate ceremony [+VIDEO]

Smyrna, Tennessee, residents Barbara Adkerson and Amber Morton will enjoy an extra-special Mother’s Day after both earned master’s degrees May 6 in MTSU’s inaugural College of Graduate Studies commencement ceremony.

Mother and daughter Barbara Adkerson, left, and Amber Morton of Smyrna, Tennessee, smile outside MTSU's Murphy Center Friday, May 6, before accepting their degrees in the university's inaugural College of Graduate Studies commencement. Adkerson earned a Master of Business Administration degree, while Morton received a master's in education. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Mother and daughter Barbara Adkerson, left, and Amber Morton of Smyrna, Tennessee, smile outside MTSU’s Murphy Center May 6 before accepting their degrees in the university’s inaugural College of Graduate Studies commencement. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

With family members from as far away as Virginia and Ohio joining them in Murphy Center for the ceremony, mom Adkerson, 55, received her Master of Business Administration, and daughter Morton, 28, earned her master’s in education in teaching English as a second language.

“This just has been a bond-strengthening thing for us,” said Morton, who plans to continue teaching ESL in grades K-1 at La Vergne Primary. “I’ve been thinking how great the semester has been.

“It is awesome that we’re graduating on a weekend that emphasizes the bond between a mother and her children,” Morton added.

The women were part of an afternoon ceremony that saw 349 students presented with graduate degrees, including 316 master’s candidates, 16 education-specialist degree recipients and 17 doctoral candidates. Four graduate students also received graduate certificates.

The May 6 event was the first in a two-day spring 2016 commencement celebration at MTSU that will see a total of 2,383 students receive their degrees. On May 7, 2,034 undergraduates accepted their MTSU diplomas at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies; you can get more details about that event here.

Noting that MTSU has been conferring master’s degrees since 1952 and doctorates since 1970, university President Sidney A. McPhee said this first-time ceremony for graduate students, independent of MTSU’s undergrad event, reinforces the importance of the university’s mission.

http://youtu.be/wYCD0-j1jBc

“It’s long been my belief that the graduation ceremony is the single most important event at this university,” McPhee said, commending the students for their dedication.

Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee’s state historian, served as graduate commencement speaker.

MTSU graduates Barbara Adkerson, left, and Amber Morton sport nearly matching mother-daughter mortar boards before the May 6 College of Graduate Studies commencement in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

MTSU graduates Barbara Adkerson, left, and Amber Morton sport nearly matching mother-daughter mortar boards before the May 6 College of Graduate Studies commencement in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

He’s taught at MTSU since 1985, working regularly with graduate students, and had the opportunity Friday to present one of his doctoral students in public history, Thomas Robert Flagel, with the colorful Ph.D. hood.

“You students who have come here wanting to achieve, you’ve done it, you’ve been committed to the field, and you deserve every great round of applause, cheers, whatever it takes tonight. You’ve earned it. Congratulations,” he told the crowd.

“It’s time for you guys to go out and make a difference in the professions that you’ve chosen in the communities we serve. As you do so … be what you aspire to. Be better than we ever were. Be a leader not only for yourself but for us here at MTSU.”

New graduate Adkerson, a Tennessee Department of Education employee, took advantage of her free-class-per-semester benefit to cover her graduate education expenses. This spring, however, she paid for a second class in order to graduate with her daughter.

“It was worth it to me — financially and emotionally — to pay for a class,” said Adkerson, who’s a child care program evaluator working in Coffee, Bedford, Cannon, Franklin and Grundy counties and part of Rutherford County.

Dr. Carroll Van West

Dr. Carroll Van West

Adkerson said her late mother, Loyce Adkerson, was an inspiration to her; the older woman graduated from Belmont University at age 60 in 1993. Barbara Adkerson said she now plans to retire from the state and move into the human resources field.

Adkerson’s youngest daughter, Emily Johnson, earned her undergraduate degree from MTSU in 2011.

Morton, who also is an MTSU undergrad alumna, is mother to Joanna Morton, 3, and Benaiah Morton, 2, and is expecting a third child in August. Amber Morton spent three semesters as a graduate assistant in the University Studies’ developmental reading program.

A PDF copy of the complete spring 2016 commencement program, which includes all the student graduates, is available here. You can see an album of photos from the event here.

At MTSU’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies May 7, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry addressed the 9 a.m. ceremony, while Home Box Office network division president Kary Antholis spoke at the 2 p.m. event. Graduation information is available anytime at www.mtsunews.com/graduation-info.

— Randy Weiler and Gina E. Fann (news@mtsu.edu)

Dr. Carroll Van West, left, director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation, “hoods” Thomas Robert Flagel, a newly minted doctoral degree-holder in public history, at MTSU’s first graduate student commencement Friday, May 6, as Dr. Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost for undergraduate recruitment, looks on. West was the guest speaker for the event, which saw 349 students receive their advanced degrees. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Dr. Carroll Van West, left, director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation, “hoods” Thomas Robert Flagel, a newly minted doctoral degree-holder in public history, at MTSU’s first graduate student commencement May 6 as Dr. Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost for undergraduate recruitment, looks on. West was the guest speaker for the event, which saw 349 students receive their advanced degrees. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

A joyful MTSU graduate student gives a thumbs-up to the camera as she and her classmates wait for the university’s first graduate student commencement to begin Friday, May 6. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

A joyful Melissa Stugart, who’s earned her doctorate in literacy studies from MTSU, gives a thumbs-up to the camera as she and her classmates wait for the university’s first graduate student commencement to begin May 6. Stugart is director of teacher outreach in the Nashville offices of the Collaborative for Student Success. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Fast-growing MTSU mechatronics program sees first grads [+VIDEO]

With Tennessee Board of Regents and Tennessee Higher Education approval, MTSU’s Department of Engineering Technology began a mechatronics engineering program nearly three years ago.

In August 2013, Michigan native and Michigan State transfer Dallas Trahan became the program’s first student. Others followed, and the trickle ballooned to a fast-growing 250 majors as the spring semester wound down.

During the university’s May 7  morning commencement ceremony, 13 seniors will become the first MTSU mechatronics graduating class.

https://youtu.be/4qhbBM8_eYM

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of systems, mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, control and computer engineering. The program is based on a three-level international certification program created by Siemens, a German engineering company.

Lei Miao, left, MTSU assistant professor in Engineering Technology's mechatronics engineering program, shoots video of the H-bot laser printing wipe board project Zach Hunter and others were involved with during the 2015-16 academic year. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

Lei Miao, left, MTSU assistant professor in Engineering Technology’s mechatronics engineering program, shoots video of the H-bot laser printing wipe board project Zach Hunter and others were involved with during the 2015-16 academic year. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

Mechatronics-logo-300x297Program coordinator Ahad Nasab said he and the faculty are very excited about the first group to graduate.

“They are very sought-after from our industry. Most of them already have jobs offered to them.” Nasab said.

“We have really focused on this group. They have accomplished amazing things so far.”

Senior and student veteran John Sivilaylack, who has been an intern with a Manchester, Tennessee, auto parts supplier, is negotiating a full-time job after graduation.

“Being ahead of technology and where this program is going, it feels good to be one of the first ones to graduate,” Sivilaylack said.

“This was all new. Back in high school, I never thought I would be an engineer at all. We didn’t have computers and programmers like we do now.”

Senior Joshua Greer said Nissan North America in Smyrna, Tennessee, which helped with the start of MTSU’s program, “has quite a bit of positions open” for prospective employees.

For Nathan Simpkins, 22, who grew up on a farm outside Ashland City in Cheatham County, Tennessee, a starting salary of $65,000 sounds very appealing.

“That’s more money than I’ve ever had and more money than my parents ever made. That’s exciting,” he said.

To learn more about the MTSU mechatronics program, visit www.mtsu.edu/programs/mechatronics or contact Nasab by calling 615-898-2052 or emailing Ahad.Nasab@mtsu.edu.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Dallas Trahan, right, of Midland, Michigan, the first student to enter the MTSU mechatronics engineering program, views his group’s “Skittle Sorter” senior project in action as Nick Pazych of Levittown, Pennsylvania, observes. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Dallas Trahan, right, of Midland, Michigan, the first student to enter the MTSU mechatronics engineering program, views his group’s “Skittle Sorter” senior project in action as Nick Pazych of Levittown, Pennsylvania, observes. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Mechatronics projects shine at engineering technology open house

Mechatronics engineering senior projects were highlights of the annual MTSU Department of Engineering Technology Open House and scholarship awards ceremony Thursday (April 28).

Murfreesboro residents Carter, 7, front left, Jennifer, Adele, 4, and Charlie Smith check out the BR-8 Star Wars-type robot being built by MTSU Engineering Technology students. They were attending the April 28 department open house featuring student projects and awards in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Murfreesboro residents Carter, 7, front left, Jennifer, Adele, 4, and Charlie Smith check out the BR-8 Star Wars-type robot being built by MTSU Engineering Technology students. They were attending the April 28 department open house featuring student projects and awards in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

The mechatronics senior projects included two “Skittles Sorters“ and two H-bot laser printing wipe board projects.

The open house was held in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building. It was open to the public and campus community.

In addition to poster presentations with hands-on projects, student work on display will include the solar boat, Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and lunar rover. Student awards for the 2015-16 academic year were presented.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Lei Miao, left, MTSU assistant professor in Engineering Technology's mechatronics engineering program, shoots video of the H-bot laser printing wipe board project Zach Hunter and others were involved with during the 2015-16 academic year. They were attending the annual Engineering Technology Open House April 28 in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building.

Lei Miao, left, MTSU assistant professor in Engineering Technology’s mechatronics engineering program, shoots video of the H-bot laser printing wipe board project Zach Hunter and others were involved with during the 2015-16 academic year. They were attending the annual Engineering Technology Open House April 28 in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building.

ET Open House flyer

MTSU rugby team falls short in Elite Eight competition

The MTSU Rugby Club’s run toward a national title ended over the weekend with a loss to Notre Dame College (Ohio) in an Elite Eight matchup, according to the Goff Rugby Report.MTSU Rugby logo

Coached by MTSU alum and former player Jody Hensley, the 32-member team competed in its second Elite Eight appearance in the USA Rugby National Championships and the first since 2000.

You can follow the team through its @MTSURugby account on Twitter and the MTSU Rugby Fans page on Facebook.


 

MTSU rugby team playing in Elite Eight this weekend

April 21, 2016

The 2015-16 academic year has been a wonderful time for MTSU athletics with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams capturing conference championships and appearances in their respective NCAA tournaments.

The women’s golf team also repeated their Conference USA championship this spring, and excitement is also bubbling around the football team with the return of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.

But there’s another Blue Raider team that should have campus excited about an impressive run of its own — the MTSU Rugby Club. The 32-member team has advanced all the way to the Elite Eight in the USA Rugby National Championships, just the second such run in program history and the first since 2000.

The MTSU Rugby Club will play Ohio’s Notre Dame College on Saturday, April 23, in Bowling Green, Ohio. A victory will secure the team’s first spot in the Final Four and a chance to compete for the Men’s Division 1-AA national title in California.

In this March photo, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center, poses for a photo with the MTSU Rugby Club, which will compete in the Elite Eight in Ohio on Saturday, April 23, for a spot in the Final Four of the USA Rugby National Championships. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Rugby)

In this March photo, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center holding ball, poses for a photo with the MTSU Rugby Club, which will compete in the Elite Eight in Ohio on Saturday, April 23, for a spot in the Final Four of the USA Rugby National Championships. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Rugby)

As head coach, MTSU alumnus and former player Jody Hensley has been instrumental in reshaping the rugby team, racking up numerous South Independent Rugby Conference titles and bids to the national championship tournament.

MTSU plays in a conference that includes Central Florida, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Memphis and South Florida.

Having watched the program’s progress over the years, Hensley said this team, the most successful during his tenure, is truly special.

“We’re definitely not a big team in comparison when we step out on the field, we’re always the little guy. We gameplan around our strengths and let our speed attack the bigger guys and let our endurance take over,” said Hensley.

It took years to mold the program into what it is today, but Hensley’s main focus centered on shedding the stigma of a “bad rugby reputation” at MTSU.

“A lot of these guys just weren’t used to winning. So our main focus was to clear that up, because there are so many good athletes out here,” Hensley added. “We have guys out here who have represented their country playing rugby and sometimes people write them off because this is just a club team.”

In this March photo, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee speaks to the rugby team at their practice in preparation for an upcoming Sweet 16 match. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Rugby)

In this March photo, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee speaks to the rugby team at their practice in preparation for an upcoming Sweet 16 match. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Rugby)

MTSU Rugby logo

Hensley set out to change that. As the team’s success began growing and they were afforded the ability to offer limited scholarships, he was able to begin recruiting and improving the talent pool.

Now players such as senior captain Josh Pentecost actually choose the university for its outstanding rugby team.

“I love this team,” Pentecost said. “In my four years with the program this has been my favorite team to be a part of. I would say the aspect of our team is one of a family.”

Pentecost graduated from high school in Canada and was drawn back to the States due to the performance of MTSU’s rugby team and the campus proximity to his grandparents, who also live in Murfreesboro.

“We know what it takes to win on this level now and these guys know what it takes for us to win a national championship and I would love to end my senior year with a title,” he said.

While men’s rugby is not an NCAA-sanctioned sport, it is a fast growing club sport on college campuses nationwide. On campus, men’s and women’s rugby are overseen by Campus Recreation.

The Elite Eight game against Notre Dame College will be taped and broadcast at a later time. For game and team updates follow the @MTSURugby account on Twitter and the MTSU Rugby Fans page on Facebook for more information.

For more information about USA Rugby, visit http://usarugby.org.

— Steven Michael Johnson (news@mtsu.edu)

In this April photo, several members of the MTSU Rugby Club pose for photo following a sevens tournament. (Courtesy of MTSU Rugby)

In this April photo, several members of the MTSU Rugby Club pose for photo following a sevens tournament. (Courtesy of MTSU Rugby)