Blackman principal leads pinning ceremony
Blackman High School Principal Leisa Justus reads the name of sophomore Jahzara Sosena Veasey-Thornton during the virtual Blackman Collegiate Academy Pinning Ceremony broadcast via True Blue TV and Livestream Thursday, Sept. 24, from LRC Studio A. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

Top administrators from MTSU and Blackman High School celebrated the academic success and research pursuits of nearly 100 Blackman Collegiate Academy students during a virtual pinning ceremony Thursday, Sept. 24.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Blackman Principal Leisa Justus and Assistant Principal Justin Smith gave livestreamed remarks from the McWherter Learning Resources Center Studio A as students watched and interacted virtually via Zoom. The ceremony was broadcast by MTSU’s True Blue TV via Livestream and Facebook.

For six years, MTSU and Blackman have partnered with the collegiate academy as a way for students to gain access to university faculty and resources and grow academically through research projects and other ways.

Nearly 75 seniors — some of whom will officially become MTSU students next year — were featured, each allowed to share about their research capstone projects that will be completed and featured in February 2021 at the school.

Milbrey Childers’ research focused on the effects of artificial intelligence technology in health care. Hanan Baba’s study concerns how chemotherapy affects the immune system and quality of health for cancer patients.

Jayen Patel said his research “is on the effect of COVID-19 on the world at a large and small scale, with comparison to past pandemics and how we can be prepared for other pandemics in the future.”

A video presentation of BCA students in the sophomore class, who were part of the pinning ceremony, was also shown.

McPhee welcomed the students, parents and other family, letting them know the university has “been working diligently to help BCA students make a seamless and easy transition to MTSU.”

“When this program was created, one of the major goals was to help you learn how to navigate the challenges and expectations that you’ll encounter as a college student,” he added. “Through the popular BCA at MTSU Day, you get an insider’s view of what it’s like to be a college student.”

The president said BCA students gain a special advantage of previewing MTSU’s academic offerings and getting a sense of the special campus community while in high school and many upperclassmen are on the dual enrollment path, taking college courses and earning college credit.

Smith, the dean of the academy, said the vision “is to create the challenging learning environment, with a rigorous course of study, where students will be given the opportunity to become well-rounded scholars, to fulfill their potential as they transition from high school to postsecondary opportunities. … We want to see students thrive not only academically but also socially, athletically and artistically.”

Justus said she wanted to “commend all of our students on this wonderful accomplishment. Congratulations to all of these scholars. And thank you, Dr. McPhee and MTSU.”

Because of COVID-19, a virtual BCA Day at MTSU was held Sept. 29, replacing an in-person campus visit. A number of remote classes will be available to participants.


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