By Emmanuel Freeman
Tennessee State University students are champions! A four-person quiz bowl team from the university beat out nine other college teams to win the top place in the National Association of African American Honors Programs Quiz Bowl in Baltimore. TSU students, who are all members of the Honor’s College, also won the championship in Oral Research Presentation at the Annual 31st Conference of the NAAAHP.
The two events are part of NAAAHP’s annual national conference, where HBCU students participate in a Model African Union, debate, research presentations, and quiz bowl competitions. This was TSU’s first-ever championship in the NAAAHP quiz bowl tournament on Nov.9.
Quiz bowl team members were Tyler Vazquez, of Raymore, Missouri; Kara Simmons, of South Holland, Illinois; Journey Brinson, of Memphis, Tennessee, and Jada Womack, an accounting major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who was the alternate. With the exception of Womack, all of the other student are freshman biology majors, who are part of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Institute, an accelerated pathway program between TSU and Mehary Medical College for students on the medical track.
“It was really a very good experience being able to compete against so many talented young people from all over the country, especially HBCUs,” said Vazquez. “I am so thankful to my teammates, and TSU for allowing us to represent the university.”
“It was very exciting,” added Brinson. “I really like being able to represent the black excellence at TSU. I hope that we can win again next year.”
Barbara Murrell, director of the Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, congratulated the students, adding that they represent the kind of students the institute was intended to attract.
“We want to congratulate and commend the students for an outstanding performance by winning the championship in the quiz bowl,” Murrell said. “We are glad that the Levi Watkins Institute team has recruited such outstanding young people who can immediately participate in the university’s honors program and bring credit to the institute and the university.”
For this year’s NAAAHP annual conference, TSU fielded 14 students, representing the university’s Honors College, including the three from the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Institute. Dr. Tyrone Miller, associate director of the Honors College, served as coach of the quiz bowl team, in place of longtime coach Dr. John Miglietta.
“We are extremely proud of our TSU Honors and Levi Watkins team,” said Dr. Coreen Jackson, dean of the Honors College. “Although these students were new to the game, they embraced the challenge, took the game by storm, and swept the competition. In addition, our research students won the research championship, and they too did a phenomenal job.”
In the research competition, TSU students had a clean sweep. In addition to the first-place win, they walked away with all of the awards by winning second and third places. Individual winners were Clayton Oglesby, senior communications major from Nashville, first place; Sarena Noel, a junior biology major from Miami, Florida, second place; and Sandra Noel, a junior biology major from Miami, Florida, who won third place.
Another event in which TSU students participated was the “Honors Got Talent” competition. It featured Maya Cole, a junior biology major; Kaitlin Skates, a Levi Watkins/Honors student; and Anyah Sanders, a sophomore biology major. The students showcased their talents through vocals and spoken word.
In addition to TSU, other schools in attendance included Southern University, Fisk University, Spellman College, Livingstone College, Virginia State University, Morgan State University, Prairie View A&M University, Coppin, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The National Association of African American Honors Programs is a national consortium of HBCU honors programs that, since its founding in 1990, has promoted scholarship, professional development, community service and an appreciation of African-American culture.