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MTSU’s Wills inspires others to do what ‘Mama Said...

MTSU’s Wills inspires others to do what ‘Mama Said’ at Women’s History event

Cornelia Wills, MTSU director of Student Success, veteran educator and author, “knows how to deal with life’s troubles” thanks to the lessons taught by her late mother, Rosa Lee Wills.

As a part of the National Women’s History Month celebration, Wills shared several pearls of wisdom from her book “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient’‘ in a special public talk and book signing event for MTSU faculty, staff and students on Wednesday, March 4, in the Student Union Ballroom.

From left, MTSU Director of Student Success Cornelia Wills poses with MTSU Dean Emeritus Gloria Bonner and Trevor Hort on Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom after Wills’ “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event. The event was part of MTSU’s National Women’s History Month celebration. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)

From left, MTSU Director of Student Success Cornelia Wills poses with MTSU Dean Emeritus Gloria Bonner and Trevor Hort on Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom after Wills’ “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event. The event was part of MTSU’s National Women’s History Month celebration. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)

The book is filled with 101 quotes, sayings and idioms to help encourage successful daily living. Wills said she wanted her book to be “an easy read for all ages, fun, catchy and a story all could relate to.”

“The wisdom and knowledge that is contained in the book is timeless,” said Wills. “Whenever I’m faced with a situation, which happens daily for all of us, I can refer back to one of these quotes to help guide me.”

Five key lessons were instilled in her growing up as the youngest of seven children.

Wills said her mother always wanted her children to “be independent, manage their money, never procrastinate, don’t misuse anyone or be used, and always carry themselves in a respectable manner.”

“I can remember these lessons being spoken to me daily as a toddler,” Wills added. “There are values in our culture that are being lost, and I feel like the lessons from this book will help regain them.”

MTSU Director of Student Success Cornelia Wills, left, and aerospace adjunct professor Amanda Doss pose for a photo on Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom after Wills’ “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)

MTSU Director of Student Success Cornelia Wills, left, and aerospace adjunct professor Amanda Doss pose for a photo on Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom after Wills’ “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)

The audience also included MTSU Dean Emeritus and alumna Gloria Bonner, who introduced Wills, and Maigan Wipfli, new director of the June Anderson Center for Women and MTSU National Women’s History Month co-chair.

Maigan Wipfli, assistant director, Student Programming

Maigan Wipfli

“Dr. Wills exemplifies the qualities of persistence and tenacity,” said Bonner. “However, she does it with a spirit of excellence and because of that I celebrate her. She is a great inspiration for so many young people on campus.”

Wipfli said she believes Wills’ book serves as a “great representation” of the impact women have on society.

“Through books like ‘Mama Said,’ we can all learn something from our past generations,” said Wipfli. “Celebrating Women’s History Month gives us a voice, a time to celebrate each other and a chance to look at our successes and build upon them.”

Wills previously worked at other higher education institutions in the Greater Nashville area, including Meharry Medical College, Tennessee State University and Fisk University before joining the MTSU family.

MTSU Director of Student Success Cornelia Wills, center, takes a photo with MTSU student ambassadors Jewel Wallace-McLeod, left, and Cassidy Lauderdale during Wills’ “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom. The event was part of MTSU’s National Women’s History Month celebration. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)

MTSU Director of Student Success Cornelia Wills, center, takes a photo with MTSU student ambassadors Jewel Wallace-McLeod, left, and Cassidy Lauderdale during Wills’ “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom. The event was part of MTSU’s National Women’s History Month celebration. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)

In addition to her responsibilities as a director in the Office of Student Success, Wills continues to make an impact on the students she comes in contact with daily.

Cole Sargent, a freshman aerospace major at MTSU and former student of Wills, said she shows many of the values discussed in her novel during class.

“I had Dr. Wills my first semester here for university seminar,” said Sargent. “She is very patient with every student regardless of who it is. She taught me what it takes to be successful in college.”

To view more events scheduled for MTSU’s National Women’s History celebration, click here.

— Carl Coates Jr. (cbc5q@mtmail.mtsu.edu)

MTSU Director of Student Success Dr. Cornelia Wills poses with MTSU freshman aerospace student Cole Sargent, right, after he purchased Wills’ book at the “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)

MTSU Director of Student Success Dr. Cornelia Wills poses with MTSU freshman aerospace student Cole Sargent, right, after he purchased Wills’ book at the “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient” book signing event Wednesday, March 4, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Carl Coates Jr.)


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