MURFREESBORO — It is a tale of two Tennessee cities — Johnson City and Knoxville — visited recently by the MTSU administrative caravan on the True Blue Tour.
The 600-mile-plus round trip visit to East and upper East Tennessee to recruit outstanding students for the 2015-16 academic year and beyond proved fruitful. More than 700 people (including 76 students in Johnson City and 160 in Knoxville) were greeted by admissions, academic personnel and university administrators led by President Sidney A. McPhee.
Prospective students, their parents or other guests heard presentations from McPhee, Student Affairs’ Vice President Deb Sells and current students Zach Hutcherson of Greeneville and Felicia Adkins of Kingston. They also viewed videos, obtained various printed materials and met and posed questions to MTSU officials.
At The Millennium Centre in Johnson City, Sullivan Central High School senior Mariana Valdez of Kingsport said MTSU “is probably my first choice” for college.
“I want to go into recording technology and I heard it is a really good school. I’m looking forward to going there,” Valdez said. MTSU Recording Industry is one of the university’s signature programs.
Carl Markland, a senior at Cloudland High School in Roan Mountain, attended with his mother and step-father, Sandra and Adam Johnson. Markland is interested in agriculture. College of Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson, also the president and CEO of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, told him about the Electronic Media Communication department and other programs.
Donna Brabson of Friendsville was an invited guest to the high school counselors/community college advisers luncheon at The Foundry in Knoxville Sept. 23. Jamie Brabson, her daughter, is a senior education major.
“I spread the word (about MTSU),” Donna Brabson said. “Jamie has had a very good experience there. She has been in BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry). She’s very blessed.”
Roane State Community College sophomore Elyssa Hurley and her mother, Estelle, live in Lenoir City. They toured the Department of Electronic Media Communications $1.8 million mobile production truck outside The Foundry.
Elyssa Hurley, who wants to study history and film, found MTSU “more impressive than other schools” she is considering.
Thomas Gunter, a video journalist with WBIR-TV (NBC) in Knoxville, said the EMC truck “is an impressive vehicle.”
“The response we’ve gotten (in Chattanooga, Johnson City and Knoxville) has been tremendous,” said Mike Forbes, an EMC assistant director. “We’re glad to showcase this to students who want to come to MTSU, and we always showcase our students’ work.”
Equally impressive were Hutcherson and Adkins, current students who shared about their MTSU experience and life on the Murfreesboro campus.
Hutcherson, an aerospace major in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, serves as a flight instructor, is a member of Blue Elite and entered MTSU as a Buchanan Fellow in the Honors College.
“My MTSU experience has been great,” Hutcherson, 20, said. “They’ve got me involved in my industry and created an environment that connects you with your university. The technology and connections in the industry give me prospects for a good job.”
He credits the upbringing by his parents, Courtney and Amy Hutcherson that has been reinforced by the Honors College with making him the man he has become.
Adkins, 19, a sophomore physical education major minoring in dance, has aspirations of being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She calls her MTSU experience “wonderful.” She is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and the dance team. She works on campus, teaching hip-hop classes at the rec center.
“Everything I have been involved with so far has been a positive experience,” said Adkins, whose backup plan if the Dallas dream job falls through is to be an elementary school teacher “because I love working with children, being a role model to help children better themselves.”
Adkins enjoyed a family reunion: Her parents, Bob and Tracy Adkins; sister, Aslyn, 10; and grandparents, M.L. and Norma Faye Atkins — all from Kingston — attended.
Family ties also ensued for alumna and College of Education Dean Lana Seivers, a Clinton native, whose mother, Frankie Seivers, attended as did Rebekah Johnson, daughter of Honors College Dean John Vile, who enjoyed introducing 5-week-old grandson Christopher Johnson to his MTSU colleagues. In Johnson City, Honors staff member Laura Clippard and her mother and stepfather, Shirley and Charles Dean Von Cannon, enjoyed a brief reunion.
McPhee met with alumni at both venues. They included Clint and Missy Bond Davis, and Greg and Melanie McDavid Lamb in Johnson City, and Ben Landers, Patrick Morrison, Stephanie Workman and Larry Cox in Knoxville.
MTSU travels to Nashville Tuesday, Sept. 30, for an 11:30 a.m. luncheon for high school counselors and community college advisers and a 6 to 8 p.m. student reception. The tour visits Memphis and Jackson Oct. 22-23, respectively.