BIRMINGHAM and HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Prospective Alabama students considering Middle Tennessee State University may live 90 miles (Huntsville), 200 miles (Birmingham) or even further, but they are every bit as committed to MTSU as if they lived 10 miles from the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, campus.
They and their parents came wearing MTSU blue, some even making their own T-shirts and outfits, when university administrators, recruiting staff, deans and advisers came to their respective cities Monday and Tuesday (Oct. 29 and 30) with the True Blue Tour.
On the tour, MTSU travels across the Volunteer State to nine major cities and to Atlanta, Georgia, Birmingham and Huntsville and to Bowling Green and Louisville, Kentucky, in search of outstanding students for 2019 and beyond.
In Huntsville, Birmingham and the surrounding areas, many have done their homework and discovered the educational opportunities and value — with the Academic Common Market and recently expanded Regional Scholars Program helping to offset out-of-state tuition for qualifying students.
“I like doing the research (about MTSU) and definitely interested in the Honors College,” said Rebecca Keith, 17, of Alabaster, a Thompson High School senior who has applied and been accepted for fall 2019. “I like to challenge myself. I like the (campus atmosphere). Everybody was very friendly. It has big-school resources with a small-school feel. I like the idea of not being too far away.”
National Merit Semifinalist Mollie Flotemersch, 17, of Montgomery, a Trinity Presbyterian School senior, is “undecided about what I’m going to do” because her 31 ACT and weighted 4.32 GPA have many schools, including MTSU, trying to attract her.
“I’m interested in the Honors and music programs (at MTSU),” added Flotemersch, who plays guitar and piano and is a talented singer (church and school choirs) with an admitted “soulful music voice and I like to sing just about anything.” She likes MTSU’s “smaller classes, it’s near Nashville (for music) and I like the music program.”
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee brought Gracie Sizemore, 18, to the stage because she has a tremendous passion for the university and introduced her Vestavia Hills High School senior classmate, Robert Moran, 17, as a Presidential Scholarship recipient because of his 26 ACT and a minimum 3.5 GPA.
“This is really crazy,” Moran said of the oversized check presentation meaning he and other qualifiers receive a guaranteed $4,500 per year and $18,000 for four years as long as they apply by Dec. 1 (a deadline for all major freshmen scholarships) and remain in good standing. Feb. 15 is the deadline for guaranteed transfer scholarships.
McPhee added his promise to the Alabama students and their parents, saying MTSU’s “outstanding programs, caring faculty and staff and commitment to student success” will always be available.
Many students plan to attend the Saturday, Nov. 3, MTSU Fall Preview Day.
Nearly a dozen football players from Birmingham-area schools including Hueytown and Pleasant Grove attended the reception at the Marriott-Birmingham. About half of them proudly wore “Rick Stockstill Football Camp” T-shirts, indicating they had gone to the MTSU coach’s own event on campus.
In Huntsville at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, former Blue Raider track and field standout Keith Cromartie once again accepted an invitation to visit with prospective students and their families. He still keeps tabs on hall of fame coach Dean Hayes, builder of the successful men’s and women’s programs for 53 years and 52 championships.
Reagan Brady, 17, of Fayetteville, Tennessee, a senior at Hazel Green (Alabama) High school where her mother and MTSU alumna, Emily Brady, teaches theatre, was acknowledged as the Presidential Scholarship recipient by McPhee in Huntsville.
“I’m really happy about it (the scholarship),” Brady said. “MTSU is my top choice. I’m very thankful for MTSU and Miss Sarah (recruiter Sarah Elizabeth Adams).” The scholar has a 25 ACT and 4.0 GPA. She plans to study recording industry or music business. She appreciates how “MTSU promotes women going into the field.”
Joshua Moore, 17, a Grissom High School senior, earned a $3,000 scholarship in a drawing open to all students who attended. A member of the Grissom and several other choirs, he plans to study music industry at MTSU.
Sylvia Cortes, 17, of Madison, a James Clemens High School senior, earned the travel award, attending both Huntsville (alone) and Birmingham (with mother Christina Cortes) tour stops. She is an artist interested in the College of Media and Entertainment’s popular animation program.
Strong alumni presence
Alumni joining Cromartie in Huntsville included retired U.S. Army Gen. Bill Phillips, Brianna Thomas, Gayle Duke, retired U.S. Army Col. and Distinguished Alumni recipient Jeff Bonner, Wayne Sisco and others. Some spoke briefly and visited with prospective students.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)