By Ada Taylor
Meter Staff Writer
Get geeked! Get geeked! It’s homecoming week! And to kick off the celebrations, the Department of Communications and the Nashville Chapter of the Alumni Association brought us Tennessee State University’s 28th Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest on Sunday, Oct. 11.
Established in 1988 by Marion Spears, this opportunity continues to develop student’s public speaking skills, as well as their sense of purpose. However, this time around, it is also helping us celebrate 100 years of Alumni Excellence, which makes this year’s Oratorical Contest closer to our hearts than ever before.
Still, that is not the only thing we celebrate. We use this year’s contest as a tribute to the late Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., a former SGA president and proud Alumnus of Tennessee State University. However his legacy did not stop there. After graduating from TSU with honors, he continued on to become the first African American student to graduate from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Afterwards, he did his residency at John Hopkins Hospital where he became the first black doctor to successfully implant an automatic heart defibrillator. These accomplishments and more make him the perfect example of Alumni Excellence, the theme of this year’s Oratorical Contest.
With this theme in mind, this year’s participants were sure to pay homage to those that came before them. Kelita Browning, who placed third in the freshman division, spoke of Oprah Winfrey, another TSU alumnus who has inspired her.
Afterwards the second place winner, Tomale Williams, reminded us that the Alumni who deserve credit and recognition are plentiful. However it was Beverly Lambert, first place winner of the freshman division, who made us appreciate our illustrious university’s “million dollar heritage.”
In fact, there is no doubt that the class of 2019 showed up and showed out with their inspirational words. Nevertheless, when it comes to delivery and technique, none have perfected theirs quite like the upperclassmen. To prove how well Tennessee State University has molded them, Tyra Laster, our current Ms. TSU, placed fourth in the Upperclassman division, while Delvakio Brown, or Mr. TSU, came in third. Still, that doesn’t mean that you have to be on the royal court to have Tiger Pride, which is exactly why Aarian Forman placed second.
However, it was first place winner Aaron Walker who reminded us that excellent alumni began as excellent students, and that when you fuse the two, “when old blood meets new and begins to stir itself like a southern stew,” only then will true greatness be achieved.