MTSU administrator shares what ‘Mama Said’ in new ...

MTSU administrator shares what ‘Mama Said’ in new book

Growing up in rural Alabama, Cornelia Wills collected plenty of nuggets of wisdom from her mother.

Rosa Lee Wills “spoke these parables daily, and many times throughout the day, to empower us with wisdom or teach a lesson to her children or those around her,” her daughter recalled. “The words are as meaningful today as they were in past years.”

Dr. Cornelia Wills, director of student success for MTSU’s University College, stands next to a promotional image of her new book, “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise Is Sufficient.” (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

Now director of student success within MTSU’s University College, Dr. Cornelia Wills decided to offer that wisdom with the students she counsels and others through her new book, “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise Is Sufficient.”

“It is a whimsical, yet wisdom-filled approach through a collection of 101 of my mother’s favorite proverbial sayings, parables, quotes and expressions for successful everyday living,” Wills said. “When applied, it helps to effectively navigate life. It deals with ‘takers’ and other issues such as relationships, friendship, trust, morals, finances, time management, procrastination, honesty, and humbleness, just to name a few.”

Copies can be obtained by calling toll free 866-909-2995 or by purchasing through the author’s online bookstore at and at and other online outlets by searching for the book’s title and author.

The 114-page book includes familiar sayings such as “A penny saved is a penny earned” and “Robbing Peter to pay Paul,” but also others such as “It’ll never be seen on a galloping horse” or “An empty wagon makes a lot of noise” that may pique the interest of many readers.

“Each saying is followed by an interpretation of its meaning based on the context in which it was said. It is written for readers of all ages,” Wills said. “Some of the sayings are serious and some are funny. Nevertheless, there is much wisdom in them all.”

For the past three years, Wills said she’s been developing tools to enhance student success and teaching students how to succeed, not only in college but in life. MTSU officially launched its “Quest for Student Success” initiative in October that outlines a variety of reforms aimed at helping more students earn their degrees.

Wills, who has a doctorate in educational administration, feels she’s “always possessed the gift of encouragement,” but she also came to realize “that helping others to be successful was an innate passion.”

One of what she calls her “most humbling honors” was receiving a Mentor of the Year award several years ago for her efforts to retain at-risk students.

She credits her strong faith and family support with giving her the confidence to publish her book.

“We should remember that success is not always measured in dollars and cents. It goes much deeper. I want to pass on the wisdom from lessons learned that has helped me tremendously through the years to either avoid or successfully navigate some of the pitfalls of life. I am anxious to share this wisdom with others,” she said.

A limited number of autographed copies of the book are available directly from Wills, who can be reached via email at and 615-473-8924.

— Jimmy Hart (