Friday, November 11, 2016

[180] True Blue Tour 2016: MTSU prospect’s persistence pays off

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Riverside Christian Academy senior Hunterland Meeks of Fayetteville, Tennessee, must love MTSU’s True Blue Tour.

After all, he has been to three of the tour stops so far — Huntsville, Alabama, and Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee — and has given away as much scholarship money as he has won while attending the student recruitment events.

Planned by the MTSU Admissions Office, Nashville was the seventh stop for the 11-city tour, which crosses Tennessee and also travels to Atlanta, Huntsville, Alabama, and Bowling Green and Louisville, Kentucky.

Meeks arrived toward the end of the Oct. 11 Huntsville event at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. While there, he was able to meet Jeff Bonner, the 2015-16 Distinguished Alumnus and retired U.S. Army colonel, who provided “really great life advice.”

“Always make yourself a five-year plan,” Meeks said of Bonner’s wisdom. “Whenever you reach that goal, go to a different five-year plan. Mr. Bonner told me I really need to get involved in the programs at MTSU so I went to the Williamson County True Blue Tour event.”

“As soon as I walked in, I met Dr. (Sidney A.) McPhee (MTSU president) and talked to him about how impressed I was with the campus,” Meeks added. “He told me I was very articulate and asked me to speak. I told him I would. I spoke and he gave me a $1,000 scholarship.”

Regarding what he shared, Meeks said, “I told everybody I had toured campus and went from undecided to knowing where I am going to spend my college years — and I was definitely True Blue.”

Meeks said he was attracted to MTSU “as soon as I stepped foot on the campus for the tour. It was kind of funny because I had been to Murfreesboro so many times for ball tournaments or just going out to eat at Demos’, but I did not see myself going to school at MTSU. … That changed when I got inside the buildings, met a bunch of friendly people and, most of all, learned MTSU is a very dignified university. … It is amazing and second to none.”

At the Oct. 26 Franklin event, Meeks told his parents, MTSU alumni Melissia and Tim Meeks, he needed to go to the Nashville True Blue Tour event Nov. 1. This time, he came with his grandfather, Jerry Schmidt, a Vietnam veteran.

“I came and talked to Dr. McPhee again,” Meeks said. “He said if I wanted to speak again, I could.”

To the crowd of 165 prospective students and nearly 350 people altogether, Meeks “gave the same speech I gave in Williamson County. He (McPhee) congratulated me when I walked off the stage.”

At one point at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel, McPhee told everybody who wore MTSU clothing — showing their True Blue spirit — to come forward. Meeks was one of eight who did and the president awarded them $100 Phillips Bookstore gift cards.

McPhee also awards $500 and $1,000 scholarships during drawings at the tour events. For his Nashville finale drawing — a $2,000 scholarship — Meeks’ name was drawn.

Since Meeks, who plans to study leisure, sport and tourism, already had received one scholarship, McPhee asked him if he wanted to keep the $2,000 award or give it to another student. Meeks chose to give it away.

“I’m a devout Christian,” Meeks said of his decision. “Anybody would’ve thought about it and given it away. He gave me the chance to give it away and I was truly grateful for that.”

Dr. Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs and vice provost of Enrollment and Academic Services, stepped forward and said $1,000 would be added to Meeks’ first scholarship to bring his award to $2,000 as well.

MTSU holds a second Fall Preview Day Saturday, Nov. 5, and a Spring Preview Day Saturday, March 18, both starting at 8 a.m. in the Student Union.

Thursday, Dec. 1, is the deadline for prospective freshmen to apply and be considered for major scholarships if they meet all scholarship criteria and complete the application process.

For more about admissions, visit or call 615-898-2233. To learn about MTSU’s 140-plus programs, visit

Next stops on the 2016 True Blue Tour: MTSU travels Wednesday, Nov. 9, to the Memphis area for an 11:30 a.m. luncheon for counselors/community college staff and a 6 p.m. student reception, with both events at Esplande Memphis, 901 Cordova Station Ave., in Cordova; and an 11:30 a.m. counselor luncheon and 6 p.m. student reception Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Jackson Country Club, 31 Jackson Country Club Lane. To register, visit

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