HUNTSVILLE and BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Ronnie Stapler truly believes Tim Clark Jr. not only will go places in life, but he likely will be able to name his destiny.
Stapler should know. In his 52nd year of coaching and more than 800 boys basketball victories, the hall of famer has mentored hundreds of young men. He personally has known Clark, a senior transfer from Sparkman High School to Westminister Christian Academy, for two years, but “wherever he goes, he’ll be successful and make you proud,” Stapler said.
Clark, 17, and his mother, Wykeisa Clark, of Huntsville, Alabama, attended the Middle Tennessee State University True Blue Tour recruiting event Wednesday, Sept. 22, at The Westin Huntsville, along with several dozen prospective students and family members.
MTSU holds True Blue Tour Events in 14 cities across four states from mid-August until November, recruiting future high school and transfer students for its vast array of programs including nursing, animation and business, which drew Clark’s interest.
The young man with a 4.17 weighted GPA and 32 ACT, which makes him highly sought-after, said he would be interested in entrepreneurship or finance in the Jones College of Business.
“I feel like I can put my ideas into what I’m passionate about and business would be one of the best options,” he said.
Stapler describes Clark as “a brilliant kid, great young man, smart, driven and motivated.”
Clark said MTSU is “definitely in the top three (schools) I am considering, at least after tonight.”
Verena Owsley, in her first year as senior college/career counselor at Hazel Green High School, knows how to go to bat for MTSU. For nearly 20 years, she has sent hundreds of students to the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, university.
As a consummate MTSU advocate, Owsley previously was a counselor at Greenbrier and Overton high schools and White House-Heritage. She sent many transcripts and students to MTSU.
“My students went to MTSU,” she firmly said. “It’s the number one school in the state and my kids knew it.” Many of her Hazel Green students have already applied.
At the Huntsville counselors’ luncheon, Owsley’s name was drawn by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee for a trip to campus for 40 students.
“The hard part is getting it down to 40,” said Owsley, who added she could probably bring 80 or more Hazel Green students to MTSU.
After Owsley pitched MTSU in front of other Huntsville-area counselors, a delighted McPhee added a $2,000 scholarship, “which I will split into two, $1,000 scholarships,” she said.
On his way to the Birmingham recruiting event at the Marriott Birmingham, Christian Davis, 18, of Hoover, learned his application to MTSU had been accepted … and Jennifer Davis, his mother, had cell phone photos showing his elation.
“It felt really cool,” Davis, a Hoover High School senior, said of reading the acceptance letter from MTSU. He indicated interest in audio production and, being a musician, said he planned to pursue being in the 300-plus member Band of Blue. “I want to be in a program where I can learn something new —that the education will benefit me for the future.”
Davis said a $2,000 scholarship awarded by McPhee means “funding for college will be way easier.”
In Alabama, prospective students heard about the Regional Scholars Program and Academic Common Market. Student Success, housing, financial aid, the Honors College and other departments also shared information.
McPhee shared about signature programs like aerospace, recording industry and concrete and construction management, which will move into a new $40.1 million building by fall 2022. He also mentioned the $147 million Science Buildingand $39.6 million Academic Classroom Building for students majoring in social work, psychology and criminal justice.
Linda Olsen, undergraduate admissions director, emphasized the Dec. 1 application deadline for guaranteed scholarships.
In Huntsville, Provost Mark Byrnes discussed the 18-to-1 faculty-student ratio, $200 million in scholarships awarded annually, a very active study abroad program, a diverse campus, student loan debt averaging $24,000 and high praise for advisers across campus.
Hall of fame broadcast alumnus
MTSU alumnus and hall of fame broadcaster Jerry Hayes, who is in his 41st year with WHNT-TV (CBS 19), told Huntsville attendees “how proud I am to be a Blue Raider and never regretted my decision to attend MTSU. … You will never regret your decision to go to MTSU. You will forever be True Blue.” McPhee invited Hayes to the stage to end the night.
Hayes, who also visited the event in 2018, visited with College of Media and Entertainment Dean Beverly Keel and Diane and Bob Davis, the parents of Claire Davis (Class of 2020), a media arts major who is a production assistant at WHNT.
On deck: Clarksville
The MTSU recruiting team will host a 6 p.m. student reception and 12:30 p.m. luncheon Tuesday, Sept. 28, for counselors and community college staff at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center, 8 Champions Way, in Clarksville, Tennessee.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)