Coach Thurston


My college journey is atypical. It started off when I was living in Memphis. I had applied and been accepted to several universities. I was offered an academic scholarship to Rhodes College, but I turned it down because they were a D III football program and I thought I could get better offers. (Ha. Youth.) But because I waited so long to accept any offers, there was no money for me to go to school.

I knew I didn’t want to completely give up on school. My then- girlfriend’s mom worked in Admissions at a local community college and she told me that she could help me get into school to earn some credits to transfer to my next university. While there, I had academic success, but I knew that I didn’t have the maturity to be in college. I knew I could do better.

At the age of 19, I joined the United States Air Force. While on active duty, I enrolled in classes when and where I could: In Germany, I did a few classes online with the University of Maryland College Park. In Nebraska, I was enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In Korea, I took online classes at the University of Maryland College Park.

I never stopped. By the time I was stationed in Texas, I had enough credits to earn my Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems for the Community College of the Air Force. I was elated, but I knew I wanted more.

I had always wanted to go to Tennessee State University. (I had even been accepted there back at the beginning of my journey.) Growing up, TSU was the school everyone I knew went to or wanted to go, and I was no exception to that. The history, culture, and environment was something I yearned for especially after I separated from the military. I moved to Nashville to go to Nashville State Community College to get my GPA up. Once I did that, I was admitted to TSU, and within 3 years I had graduated from Tennessee State University with my Bachelor’s degree.

After school, I became the, suffice it to say, manager for the Veterans Resource Center. I was able to commiserate with fellow veterans and help them with their transition from active military service to being a civilian. While I enjoyed that job, I knew I wanted more.

I wanted to impact all students, not just vets. Having been through the hurdles and struggles in my own journey, I know what students are thinking and going through. I look forward to connecting with the students we serve and helping them achieve more.

Q: What is your favorite quote? You were born an original; why die a copy?

Q: What advice do you have for students considering re-enrolling? Don’t be mistaken, this journey is worth it, but it isn’t always going to be easy. The return on investment can be worth it, but you have to be willing to sacrifice your temporary comfort to earn your long term luxury. We are all special, but nothing can be accomplished without hard work. Be prepared, persistent, passionate and positive and I’ll do my best to help along the way.