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By: Emmanuel Freeman

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently recognized more than 2,000 students with the distinction of best and brightest at its Honors Day Convocation on March 22. The event was held virtually for the second straight year due to the pandemic.

All the students recognized maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Among the honorees were 400 President’s List scholars. These are students who have maintained 4.0 GPA throughout their matriculation.

Amaris Johnson, a 2003 TSU graduate, and director of OEM Operations at Eaton Corporation, was the keynote speaker. She was a member of the Honors College while a student at TSU. 

Before Johnson’s address, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the honorees for their achievements. She challenged them to further develop their talents “to be the leaders you have been chosen to be.”

“Honors Day is more than personal recognition; it is a challenge to soar even higher,” Glover said. “As honors students, we will depend on you to research challenges and issues and to develop solutions that will remake our university. Whether it is the COVID pandemic, or racial injustice, it is you, our honorees, who must contribute to finding a path that leads to solutions to the threats that we currently face.” 

Johnson, a former Miss Honors, earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management at TSU. Speaking on “Promoting academic excellence, transforming leaders, while beating odds in a global pandemic,” she reminded the honorees that as honors students, they have been prepared to promote excellence in any circumstance they face in life, “even a pandemic.” 

“You see, when excellence is your habit, things like pandemic don’t get in your way. It doesn’t cause you to panic and run,” Johnson said. “They cause you to thrive and shine.” 

She told the students that success is within reach, but they must be vigilant in their pursuits with a clear plan in going after their career. She named five “pearls of wisdom” that foster success and that “separate people that model excellence as a habit from those who don’t.” 

According to Johnson, the pearls of wisdom are: Money talks and everything else walks; Slay every day the power of executive excellence; Your network is your net worth; Chase experiences not money and titles; and Be intentional and know your endgame. 

“I have a firm belief that if you don’t define your own race, you will find yourself crossing someone else’s finish line,” Johnson said. “Define your endgame, be intentional and develop your map that matches your vision. You’re a pearl of excellence. Whatever you do, do it with excellence.” 

Aubrey Sales, Torrance Buntyn, and Christopher Buford II were among students honored and who participated in the convocation. They are thankful for the recognition. 

Sales, a 4.0 senior majoring in political science, said it was a humbling experience to be recognized for “your hard work with the world watching.” 

“I am very thankful to Tennessee State University for honoring us,” said Sales, of Huntsville, Alabama, who has been admitted to four of the top-10 law schools in the nation. “I had the best professors at TSU, who I credit for the preparation I received.” 

Buntyn, also a senior, is a music education major from Jackson, Tennessee. He has a 3.9 GPA.  

“The Honors Convocation has always been an exciting event for honoring academic scholars at TSU,” said Buntyn, who has been accepted to several top universities to pursue his graduate degree in music. “Being a part of the Honors Convocation always reminds me that hard work pays no matter what, and that there is always a reason to celebrate the small things in life.” 

Buford, a senior mechanical engineering major, has a 3.7 GPA. The future business owner plans to stay at TSU to earn his master’s degree in mechanical engineering. 

“I enjoyed being a part of the Honors College,” Buford, a Nashville native, said. “They taught me that life is limitless and I can do more if I put my mind and heart to it.”   For more information on the TSU Honors College, visit