JOHNSON CITY and KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — High school seniors Carter Nagy of Elizabethton, Tennessee, and Ashley Gaetz of Clinton, Tennessee, have added Middle Tennessee State University to their future plans for 2024 — and Nagy’s even fast-forwarding his strategy by 10 months.
They were among the dozens of high school prospects attending the annual True Blue Tour student receptions in Johnson City and Knoxville recently.
The tour includes 14 stops across Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama. Led by President Sidney A. McPhee, Provost Mark Byrnes and college deans, the recruiting events help prospective high school and transfer students engage with MTSU staff to learn more about the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, university.
MTSU also hosts midday luncheons at most Tennessee stops, where McPhee and staff court counselors and community college staff, boosted this year by McPhee launching a scholarship where he presents each school represented with a scholarship they can award to one or more of their students.
At tour events, McPhee emphasizes to prospective students, parents, counselors and others that “students are our No. 1 priority … MTSU is an economical choice … smaller class sizes … (300) quality academic programs … and caring faculty and staff.”
Tony Strode, undergraduate recruitment director, shares about the Dec. 1 deadline to apply in order to obtain guaranteed scholarships if they meet the requirements, scholarship information and more.
A change of heart
Nagy, a 4.0 GPA student who’s a whiz with graphics, photography and design, was considering another school … until he learned he could be a part of MT football’s recruiting efforts now. He began assisting remotely in October and plans to visit and attend the 41st annual Salute to Veterans and Armed Forces game Saturday, Nov. 11, between the Blue Raiders and FIU.
“I create graphics to send to recruits and to share on social media pages,” Nagy said. “Our goal is to grab the attention of recruits and to give a better idea of MTSU’s football program and the great things it has to offer.”
Erik Bartlett, MTSU director of football video, said Nagy’s “work is pretty impressive.”
At the Johnson City event held at the Carnegie Hotel, Nagy’s name was drawn for a $2,000 scholarship. McPhee upped it to $3,000 after Nagy and his mother, Sara Dunford, shared his story.
Judy Fletcher, a college and career adviser at Elizabethton High, said she plans to give part of the $2,500 scholarship she received for students to Nagy, her student worker “and an outstanding and talented young man.”
Life changed for Gaetz, 17, also carrying a 4.0 GPA, at age 14 when her mother, Kelli Gaetz, died. “I’ve been able to overcome it in my own ways,” said Ashley Gaetz. She discovered a love of flying and airplanes a year later to go with her involvement in the Clinton Air Force Junior ROTC.
Gaetz took an MTSU daily campus tour Oct. 6 and met and heard MTSU Aerospace Chair Chaminda Prelis at the Knoxville event. “He encouraged me, but he was talking to a lot of people at once,” she said, adding the Delta Propel and Southwest Airlines Destination 225° agreements the university has with industry partners sound appealing.
“What I want to do in life is become a pilot,” Gaetz said. “MTSU is one one of the best aviation colleges in the region. I don’t want to attend a private aviation college because I want to be able to be around peers who are pursuing different paths in their life.”
The True Blue Tour heads to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Thursday, Nov. 2, for a student reception (6 p.m. EST) and luncheon (12:30 p.m. EST) for counselors and community college staff, both at the The Chattanoogan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, 1201 Broad St.
The Atlanta, Georgia, portion of the tour will feature the College of Media and Entertainment and its highly regarded programs, including the Departments of Recording Industry and Media Arts. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 1, starting at The Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, 7 Concourse Parkway NE.
Those wanting to attend should RSVP for any future stop at https://www.mtsu.edu/schedule-a-visit/special-events.php,though walkups to the event are also welcome.
MTSU will hold a True Blue Preview event on campus starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, in the Student Union and conducts daily campus tours. Email email@example.com, text 615-645-2646 or call 615-898-5670 for more information.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)