When Tajuana Dixon-Nations graduated high school 27 years ago, she put pursuing higher education on hold to raise a family. Little did she know that one day she and her children would enter college at the same time and at the same institution: Tennessee State University.
On Aug. 18, the mother of four started classes at TSU as a freshman, along with her 18-year-old son Gelon Nations, also a freshman, who is majoring in psychology. Gregory Nations, Jr., Tajuana’s middle son and a sophomore, is transferring to TSU to join mom, little brother, and big sister, Chantrise Dixon. Chantrise is re-enrolling after dropping out of TSU a few years ago to care for a family of her own.
The family said it is all about trying to motivate each other, and because of a long history with TSU.
“I am hoping to change the dynamics for my family, to ensure a good future for all of us,” said Tajuana Dixon-Nations, of LaVergne, Tennessee, who is majoring in business. “This was a decision we made when my youngest son talked about taking a year off after high school. I said: ‘That’s not going to happen. Gelon needs to be in school.’ So, all of us decided to rally around him.”
Gregory, who is transferring from Middle Tennessee State University where he is majoring in business, and big sister Chantrise, said they also want to keep an eye on their younger brother.
“Right then I decided it was a perfect time to go after my dream of going to college to better myself, and at the same time stay close to my children as an encouragement, especially to my youngest,” said Tajuana, an enrollment specialist with Metro Nashville Public Schools. “I always wanted to attend TSU. It’s a dream come true for me. Many family members came to this university.”
Through the intervention of TSU President Glenda Glover, Tajuana and her children have secured the necessary assistance to help finance their education. They will all receive financial aid. Gregory and Chantrise will benefit from special incentives offered to transfer and returning students.
“It is exciting when an entire family wants to attend Tennessee State University,” said President Glover, who met the mother and her children as they interacted with admissions and financial aid counselors in Kean Hall. “We are glad that financial aid was available to make it possible to get their balances paid so they all can come and finish their degree. We are excited about this.”
Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Admissions and Recruitment, said educational advancement is a “family affair.” He congratulated Tajuana and her children for the team effort to better themselves.
“Educational advancement is one of the most dynamic ways for upward mobility,” Izzard said. “To have this family join us this fall is really an honor and a momentous opportunity for them to be uplifted through education.”
For Gelon, the new freshman, the thought of coming to school with his mom never crossed his mind. “That’s crazy,” Gelon said, when he found out. “I didn’t even know she was coming. It was surprising, but I was excited, because we might be able to help each other. I am glad my sister and brother are also here.”
Chantrise, who is returning as a business major, said she is glad to see her brothers in school, and it gives her “a special feeling” to see their mother taking the time to pursue her education.
“Being the oldest, I wanted my little brothers to make more out of themselves. I had to get them down here,” said Chantrise, who has two kids of her own. “Our mother has been there for us. She put her life on hold for us. I am just so happy not to just see her in school, but right by our side. I also need to set an example for my own children.”
Gregory added that he has great expectations for the family, especially with “mom working along with us.”
“I am glad that she encouraged me to transfer to be here on the same campus with her,” Gregory said. “Now, she has the chance to go back and take care of what she missed out on. For my little brother, I didn’t want him to sit out. So I said I will transfer to be with him.”
She said she will do most of her classes online, to keep up with her job, as well as stay near her husband, Gregory Nations, Sr.
Tajuana’s eldest son, Ta Juan Dixon, serves in the Tennessee National Guard.