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By: Tennessee State University

More than 20 Tennessee State University students, faculty and administrators are in the west African nation of Ghana participating in a series of cultural and educational activities as part of the HBCU Africa Education Coalition (HAEC)100K Strong Africa conference. Called a recruitment conference, the seven-day HAEC gathering includes representatives from 10 HBCUs and 15 African-based higher education institutions. They are discussing ways to eliminate the disparity of access to study abroad opportunities on the continent of Africa, and for students of African descent.  

The TSU representatives, who arrived at the conference on May 20, include 12 students from Leadership TSU and the Honors College. They are engaged in study abroad, service learning, networking, and exchange activities. As requested, each student took along items such as school supplies, mementos and books that depict African Americans and people of color, as part of their networking and exchange activities.  

“I am very excited to have this opportunity to get a different perspective of life,” said Darius Boyd, a senior business information systems major from Memphis, Tennessee, who was making his first visit outside the United States. “Being an African American male who is used to being in the minority in the U.S. but going somewhere where I am in the majority is a different experience for me. I love the networking opportunity and the chance to see the different ways the people impact their communities.” 

Roneisha Simpson, a doctoral student in counseling psychology, said she is looking forward to an “experience from a cultural competence standpoint.” 

“As a psyche major, I am trying to understand the different cultures, traditions and customs,” said Simpson, who is from St. Louis. “I am looking forward to teaching them about the selfcare that we do here as well as learn what they do for selfcare and what they do for fun.” 

Other TSU participants at the conference are from the Office of the President, Student Affairs, International Affairs, and the Career Development Center. 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said with the increase in demand for international studies, TSU sees the Ghana visit as another opportunity for recruitment on the continent and to expose TSU students to the global community. 

“We are taking our students to this conference to brighten their horizon on the global market, as well as exchange of ideas on learning styles,” said Stevenson, the highest TSU senior official on the trip. “Our plan is to take 12 this year and 100 next year. We want our students to have life-changing opportunities at TSU. So, this level of exposure will be something they will share with their kids years to come.”

Mark Brinkley is the director of international education in the Office of International Affairs. His office is coordinating the TSU aspect of the HAEC 100K Strong Conference. He said students with study abroad and career development experiences tend to do better in school and are more retainable. 

“TSU is excited to participate in the HAEC conference to develop and retain our student leaders and recruit future international students,” Brinkley said. “Both groups will graduate from TSU prepared for global leadership and opportunities.” 

In addition to other yearly exchange and study abroad initiatives TSU students participate in, the university is also engaged in several programs abroad, such as the International Tuition Assistance Grant, which offers assistant to graduating high school students from the Caribbean to attend TSU. The university also has dual enrollment partnerships for underserved students in several African countries where students are taking online courses in coding and creating concepts taught by TSU professors.

The HAEC conference ends June 4.

For more information on study abroad opportunities, visit 

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