The Links, TSU partner to welcome freshmen class

Keeda Haynes

Keeda Haynes

The Hendersonville Area (Tenn.) Chapter of The Links, Inc. is partnering with Tennessee State University’s Office of First-Year Students to welcome Keeda Haynes, an attorney with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender’s Office, to speak to the entire incoming freshman class on Friday, August 18, 8:30 am at TSU’s Howard C. Gentry Complex.

This is part of the annual Freshman Orientation Program designed to prepare freshmen students for what to expect in the coming academic year. Haynes will talk to the chapter about making smart decisions and wise choices relative to friendships, drugs, and domestic and sexual abuse situations.

Haynes, a TSU graduate earning dual degrees in Criminal Justice and Psychology, will speak to students on the topic, ‘Your Slate is Clean Now, Choose Wisely What You Write on this Board.’

She will provide students with a personal account of her experiences that led to her conviction in 2002 by a jury in federal court for aiding and abetting a conspiracy. She was sentenced to seven years in a federal prison.

“Ms. Haynes story is both disheartening and inspiring and one that we believe will help students think about the choices they make as young adults and how poor choices can impact their future,” said K. Dawn Rutledge, president of the Hendersonville Area (Tenn.) Links.

“There are so many situations that college students may face as they assimilate into the life of a campus. It’s not only about academics, which is very important, but it’s also about the challenges of learning the campus culture, engagement in the right kinds of social activities, and how to navigate the many experiences that come with meeting new people in a new environment.”

In addition, the Links will collaborate with TSU on an invitation-only Legal Professionals Panel to be held the evening before. The panel will specifically target TSU students interested in pursuing careers in the legal field and will include a mix of attorneys, judges, criminal justice and law enforcement officials.

“We are proud to partner with Tennessee State University’s Office of First-Year Students on this event,” said Michelle Gaskin, Hendersonville Area (Tenn.) Chapter’s chair of the event. “We are also excited that so many members of the legal community have agreed to volunteer their time and share with students who may be interested in the legal profession. This will be a highly valuable time for students to ask questions, network and learn from those who have experienced success.”

A Franklin, Tenn. native, Haynes received her law degree from the Nashville School of Law in 2012. She holds a Master in Criminology and is currently working on her LL.M. (Master of Laws) through Stetson University. Prior to becoming a public defender, Haynes worked for a criminal defense attorney in Nashville for seven years.

Outside of her role as a public defender, she is committed to community education and engagement, and has participated on several panels and community events discussing criminal justice reform, recidivism and collateral consequences. She is a frequent speaker at the federal halfway house where she encourages others recently released from prison. Additionally, she is working on a memoir entitled Living Proof.