Friday, July 13, 2018

[506] MTSU alumnus embraces new beginnings after long journey to degree

It’s been roughly six months since Tyree Rumph received his long-awaited degree through MTSU’s University College, the culmination of a six-year academic journey that eventually led him across the Murphy Center stage in December 2017.
Now the MTSU alumnus hopes to build upon that bachelor’s degree in liberal studies by pursuing an online master’s degree in hopes of eventually becoming a teacher within the next few years.
“I want to make a difference in people’s lives based on my own life experience,” Rumph said recently during an interview that brought him back to his alma mater.
After attending Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, for two years, Rumph stepped onto the Blue Raider campus in fall 2006 as a psychology major. Staying in a house on Leaf Avenue with other roommates, Rumph started True Blue his journey.
“My teacher saw potential in me,” said Rumph. “She told me that MTSU would be a better fit for me.”
Shortly after arriving, Rumph found MTSU classes to be much harder than expected, and he began to struggle mentally and financially.
Not yet knowing how to drive, Rumph had a hard time getting around as he worked two jobs to make ends meet. The undergrad spent his days riding his bike back and forth from campus to his job at Krystal’s on Lascassas Highway.
Working with what he had to survive, Rumph started to struggle with his studies while finding ways to make very little food go a long way.
As he pressed hard to overcome his obstacles, everything changed the day he met his mentor, Ben Jones. It was a relationship that eventually led to Rumph learning how to drive, stay on track and never give up. From there, Jones began eating lunch with Rumph and helping him with his academics.
“When you teach someone important life skills such as driving, you build a connection with that person,” said Jones, director of Accounting Services at MTSU. “I understood him as a person and found out what made him tick.”
Changing his living situation from off campus to Judd Hall, Rumph also decided to change his major to sociology in fall 2008. However, after realizing neither sociology nor psychology was a good career choice for him, he somewhat lost hope.
It wasn’t long before he also lost his financial aid, forcing him to drop out from 2009 until 2013.
“I wasn’t mentally ready to succeed,” said a reflective Rumph. “If I could get myself ready and financially stable, I was ready to go back.”
For two years, Rumph held a steady job at Amazon. To remain financially stable, he also spent time working at General Mills and the Interstate Warehousing in Murfreesboro until he reached his primary goal.
With Jones helping all along the way, Rumph stayed positive throughout the rest of his academic journey and took his seat among fellow MTSU graduates on Dec. 16, 2017, inside Hale Arena as family traveled from Detroit, Michigan, to witness the achievement. 
“I realized that if I applied myself more, I would get it,” Rumph said.
Now that he’s graduated, Rumph still works for Interstate Warehouses and also serves as a substitute teacher through PESG, an educational staffing program.
Jones continues to root for his mentee.

“It has been a long road and one that I hope soon ends on the other side of the rainbow,” he said.

[505] MTSU survey: Tennessee consumer outlook still strong, though leveling off

Latest statewide snapshot shows West Tenn. with largest gains in economic perceptions

The Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index dipped slightly to 238 this month, down from 240 in March but still up substantially from 185 in December 2017. 

“Consumers continue to feel more positive about the overall U.S. economy, the Tennessee economy, and the current job market,” said Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research in MTSU’s Jones College of Business. “The largest gains in outlook were in West Tennessee.”

You can find the full latest report, which has breakdowns by geographic region, and previous reports at

Graeff noted that consumers are also more optimistic about the outlook for their personal financial situation and that overall survey results “show a firm belief among consumers that the economy is on a solid footing.”

Other highlights:

  • Consumers expect the economy to either remain stable or improve in the next 12 months. 
  • Positive views of the job market and increased confidence in future personal finances and investments have helped buoy consumers’ outlook.
  • Although some consumers might forgo large purchases in order to increase saving or reduce credit card debt, a growing percentage of consumers expect to increase their spending in the future.

The current online survey of 630 Tennessee consumers was conducted June 11-16 and has an error margin of 4 percent. The quarterly survey consists of a series of questions that measure areas such as how consumers feel about the local, state and national economies as well as their personal financial situations and the job market.

For more information, contact Graeff at 615-898-5124 or Or visit

[504] Texas Instruments, MTSU host workshop on more effective math education

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Texas Instruments is partnering with Middle Tennessee State University for its premiere workshop on effective teaching of K-12 mathematics.

Twenty-four MTSU graduate students and educators from around the Southeast attended “Teaching Strategies for Success in a Mathematics Classroom,” a two-day professional development exercise Wednesday and Thursday (June 27-28) in the Tom Jackson Building on campus.

The emphasis is on a guilt-free, nurturing and vibrant classroom environment where students in grades 6-12 treat their mistakes as opportunities to learn and students are encouraged to persevere as they tackle challenging tasks.

“We still have to do procedural math, but we also want them to understand what they’re doing so they can transfer their math to new situations,” said MTSU adjunct professor Tammy Jones, an instructor certified by Texas Instruments to lead its workshops.

Other features of the workshop include strategic use of technology, effective questioning and authentic opportunities for writing in mathematics.

MTSU Mathematical Sciences Professor Mary Martin said the method keeps the students engaged by helping them make the connection between the math and its real-world applications sooner.

“The emphasis on math now and the teaching of math is to get to the problem-solving earlier,” Martin said. “The point of this teaching is to have the student confront the purpose of the math earlier.”

Martin said since MTSU is the first university to host the teaching strategies workshop, the participants’ feedback will help to shape future workshops at other institutions. Furthermore, she said that the workshop is an example of how MTSU supports area teachers, as well as the entrepreneurial relationship between business and the university.

“We don’t just sell technology, but we sell the appropriate use of technology,” said Heidi Pomerantz, director of customer support for Texas Instruments’ Education Technology Group. “TI prides itself not just on producing quality technology, but on quality professional development that helps teachers be better teachers.”

In addition to registration fees, financial support was provided by MTSU’s Math and Science Education Doctoral Program in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

For more information, contact Jones at, or Martin at or the Department of Mathematical Sciences at 615-898-2669.