Thursday, January 15, 2009


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan.13, 2008EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081

Leadership, Scholarship Propel Kelman Edwards to Washington for Obama’s Oath

(MURFREESBORO) - The University Presidential Inaugural Conference in Vienna, Va., has selected MTSU senior Kelman Edwards of Nashville, a graduate of Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School, to participate in the Jan. 17-21 gathering of Inaugural Scholars in Washington, D.C., including attendance at the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The 21-year-old junior and pre-med major will be present on the National Mall for the oath of office, inaugural parade and presidential motorcade. He says he is excited to be present at the swearing-in ceremony for the nation’s first African-American President of the United States. “It definitely makes you feel as though you can reach higher than usual,” Edwards says of Obama’s inspiring personal narrative. If there is one caveat, it is Edwards’ concern for the enormous challenges Obama will inherit. “There might be too much pressure on him,” says Edwards. “Everything is going to take time, but I feel that he can aim the country in the right direction.” Tuition alone for this prestigious opportunity is more than $2,800, and students are responsible for their own transportation to and from Washington. The cost of Edwards’ trip is being handled through the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP). The program’s mission is “to increase the number of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics … by at least 100 percent within a five-year period,” states its MTSU Web page. TLSAMP’s MTSU director, Mimi Thomas, was in Edwards’ corner all the way. “Kelman really is a natural leader,” says Thomas. “He made an impression on me right from the start. He’d like to stay in the back and be quiet, but once you pull him up to the front, he really has a lot to offer.” Edwards demonstrates that leadership through work as a residence assistant at a campus dormitory and a tutor to physics, chemistry and biology students. “We’re very proud of Kelman,” says Dr. Thomas Cheatham, Dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences. “Mimi was instrumental in helping Kelman cobble together the resources to participate in this opportunity of a lifetime.”
The chance to be an Inaugural Scholar opened up for Edwards because he is an alumnus of the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, which Edwards attended in Atlanta in summer 2005. Edwards says that 12-day educational experience involved everything from touring the Centers for Disease Control to suturing surgical incisions on bananas.
After an opening night reception with his fellow scholars, Edwards’ five-day agenda includes attendance at keynote speeches from former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Erik Weihenmeyer, filmmaker and author of Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See. In addition, Edwards is slated to hear panel discussions on the campaigns, events and current topics with political pundits Paul Begala, a former campaign adviser to President Bill Clinton who now serves as a political contributor for CNN, and Tucker Carlson, MSNBC Senior Campaign Correspondent, as well as husband-and-wife political operatives (for opposing parties) James Carville (Democrats) and Mary Matalin (Republicans). After taking in the rich political and cultural history of the nation by visiting the museums and monuments that line the Mall, Edwards and the other Inaugural Scholars will attend an exclusive Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball, the formal culmination of a whirlwind week of excitement. Edwards has his tuxedo and is proud of its combination of formality and style. “I actually might look better than Obama,” he jokes.

Web sites: Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation:
University Presidential Inaugural Conference:
ATTENTION, MEDIA: For interviews with Inaugural Scholar Kelman Edwards, contact Mimi Thomas at 615-898-5311 or For a color jpeg photo of Edwards, contact Gina Logue in the MTSU Office of News a

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