November Issue of the Alumnus

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November 2020  

Homecoming campaign raises nearly $20,000 for Tennessee Tech Food Pantry

A woman and her child select items from the shelves of the auxiliary pantry with the help of a pantry worker.

While Homecoming is one of many annual events that looked different this year, one thing that remains constant is the giving nature of the Golden Eagle community. Students voted to include a fundraiser for Tech's food pantry as part of this year's Homecoming activities, and on Nov. 10, student organizations, fraternities, sororities and residence halls competed to see who could raise the most money for the pantry. When the 24-hour campaign ended, the Golden Eagle community had raised $19,763.

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Tech's Class of 1970 celebrates Golden Grad reunion virtually
A collage of the Class of 1970 Golden Grad reunion attendees.

"Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that Homecoming would mean that we're coming to your home?"

On Nov. 14, Brandon Boyd, director of the Crawford Alumni Center, welcomed the Class of 1970 to their Golden Grad reunion -- in their own homes. The reunion, held virtually this year, was originally scheduled to be part of Homecoming weekend. While Homecoming 2020 lacked the traditional parade and game, Tech still found ways to honor the Class of 1970.

The Golden Grads enjoyed a virtual reunion that included a slide show of photos from the 60s and 70s, a video tour of Cookeville and Tennessee Tech, class memories, the Tech Hymn, popular songs from 1970 and more.

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View "then and now" video tour of Cookeville and Tennessee Tech

Photo of Cream City Ice Cream neon sign.

The Crawford Alumni Center shared a "then and now" video tour of Cookeville and Tennessee Tech with the Class of 1970 at this year's Golden Grad reunion. Click the button below to see what all has changed -- and what has stayed the same -- throughout the last 50 years.

watch video

Art Therapy grant to impact local, state nursing homes

Three senior citizens are sitting at a table painting.

Tennessee Tech's Whitson-Hester School of Nursing is the catalyst in a grant-funded initiative worth more than $600,000 for 100 nursing homes across Tennessee. Tech will play an integral role in providing a program that benefits nursing home residents, family members and care professionals, especially during this time of increased isolation

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Tech's Siraj honored for diversity

Ambareen Siraj standing in a CEROC lab. She is wearing a gold sweater and striped purple scarf.

Ambareen Siraj has always been an advocate for diversity and inclusion. Now, the Tennessee Tech computer science professor is being rewarded for her efforts. Siraj, who is the founding member of Tech's Cybersecurity, Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC), has been named the recipient of the 2020 Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

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Premier World Discovery offers travel talk to Tech alumni

A photo of a ship with large masts in a harbor with sailboats behind it.

Are you dreaming of travel someday in the future? On Nov. 19, Jennifer Powers from Premier World Discovery (PWD) offered a free virtual travel talk for Tech alumni and friends. Jennifer's talk mainly focused on the Cape Cod & The Islands trip we're planning for July 2021. She also outlined the health and safety measures PWD has implemented this year and touched on some of the other adventures they offer. If you missed Jennifer's talk, it is available to view online via the link below. If you are interested in learning more about the Cape Cod & The Islands trip, email

Giving Tuesday to feature University Archives and Special CollectionsA scene of the Quad from the 60s in faded black and white with the words "Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020"

Did you know that Tech has its own Archives and Special Collections, housed in the Volpe Library? Comprised of more than 3,300 cubic feet of manuscripts, photographs and documents from Tech and the Upper Cumberland, Archives makes materials accessible both digitally and on site. They assist researchers, students and alumni with collections, exhibits, classes and more! And their work extends beyond the university and into the community. From helping the Mar. 3 tornado survivors recover and restore lost items to documenting the COVID-19 pandemic, they are a valuable resource for Tech and the Upper Cumberland.

The University Archives website includes online exhibits -- ranging from big name entertainment to the history of the Black Cultural Center -- and a blog featuring unique stories the archivists have uncovered throughout the years. 

University Archives & Special Collections will be the focus of Giving Tuesday this year. On Dec. 1, watch for emails and social media posts with more information, and consider making a gift to ensure Tech's history is preserved for the Golden Eagles of tomorrow.

A graphic that is made to look like a word find. The words Tennesee, Tech, Trivia, Puzzle, Crawford, Quiz, Games, and Alumni are circled.

photo of Jim Youngblood

Monthly trivia questions in The Alumnus are designed to test your knowledge of all things Tech! Last month we asked the following question: 

What professional linebacker, mentioned in the opening scenes of the film Poltergeist, set a record for tackles and was named OVC Defensive Player of the Year twice when he played for Tennessee Tech?

The answer was Jim Youngblood!

Many alumni guessed correctly, and John Shannon was the winner of the drawing.

And now for this month's question:  

What distinguished Tech alumnus was presented the first Robert Hill Johnson Memorial Award, was the first Tech athlete to play professional football, and is the only athlete to date to have been selected All-OVC in both football and basketball?

If you know, email We'll randomly select one of the correct answers to win some Tech swag! 

Photo top left: Photo of Jim Youngblood

Tech-themed games and activities 

A purple graphic with a stock indicator that reads "Taking the Wheel by Lofton Carter"

Where to Begin 

Ever wanted to invest but don't know how? With so many options, beginning your investing journey can be stressful. There are dozens of companies who would be more than happy to assist with setting up a brokerage or Roth IRA account. The hard part is choosing. So how do you make such a big decision?

This month, Lofton talks about how to take those first steps towards investing. Click the link below to read his full blog.

"Taking the Wheel" is a financial literacy blog written by Lofton Carter, '20 biology, an MBA candidate and graduate assistant in the Crawford Alumni Center. He has a passion for financial independence and investing and is excited to share some investment tips with his fellow alumni through a series of blog posts. 

Taking the Wheel Blog Page

Archives with Atkinson Graphic

University Archivist Megan Atkinson in "the most 2020 photograph" she could take: a selfie, with a mask, on a Zoom meeting. The only thing missing is her cat, Marvin, who attended meetings and assisted with archive projects while Megan worked from home.


In this month's Archives with Atkinson, University Archivist Megan Atkinson reflects on Homecoming 2020, the Class of 1970's Golden Grad reunion (held virtually this year), and everything that has made 2020 unusual -- though not necessarily bad. In her letter, Megan writes,

"This 'Archives with Atkinson' blog is released after our traditional Homecoming here at Tennessee Tech. It is also the 90th Homecoming at Tech and may be the most unique we've had to date. No live concerts, no in-person Golden Grad Reunion, no homecoming Parade?! Everything seems unprecedented and nothing is what it was one year ago.

And that is just Homecoming.

But when I think of what we actually did do this year, I realize we did everything we do every year and more. We likely reached more people than in the past with a large shift to improving online access to our collections. We revised our 2020-2021 goals to meet the needs of the pandemic, but still provide the best and improved service to patrons."

University Archivist Megan Atkinson is responsible for collecting, preserving, and making accessible materials of historical significance to the University and the Upper Cumberland. Follow Archives and Special Collections on Facebook, email Megan's office with questions, and watch for more "Archives with Atkinson" in future editions of The Alumnus. 

And watch your inbox and social media on Dec. 1 when University Archives & Special Collections will be the focus of Giving Tuesday!

Photo top left: University Archivist Megan Atkinson in "the most 2020 photograph" she could take: a selfie, with a mask, on a Zoom meeting. The only thing missing is her cat, Marvin, who attended meetings and assisted with archive projects while Megan worked from home.

read archives' blog

Follow Tech Archives on Facebook


Career Corner with Russ

Don't forget! The HireTennessee Multi-University Virtual Career Fair will be held on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST. More than 20 employers have already signed on and HireTennessee hopes to double that number before the fair. These multi-university career fairs allow alumni to meet with hiring managers and recruiters from leading employers and network with fellow local alumni as well. With positions ranging from entry level to management, this is your opportunity to find an exciting new career or profession. All majors and degrees are welcome, and all industries will be represented. Register for HireTennessee via the link below.

And be sure to check out the Career Corner blog for tips and suggestions for participating in these virtual fairs!

Do you have a question about resume writing, interviewing, or career planning? Email Russ, and you might just see your question answered in a future edition of "Career Corner"!

read career corner

Class Notes

Dr. Adedeji Badiru, '79 B.S. industrial engineering, '81 M.S. mathematics and '82 M.S. industrial engineering, was presented with the Taylor & Francis Lifetime Achievement Award during a virtual ceremony on Oct. 30. Dr. Badiru is the dean of the Air Force Institute of Technology's Graduate School of Engineering and Management. Read more.

Michael Birdsong is a quarterback for the Fujitsu Frontiers, a football team located in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. They are a member of the X League and earned their 8th consecutive trip to the Japan X Bowl. Read more.

Dr. Roger K. Crouch, '62 physics, was featured in The Chattanoogan in an article about his career as an astronaut. Read more.

Alet Filmalter, '06 finance, recently joined FourThought Financial as a financial planner. Before joining FourThought, Filmalter worked at Merrill Lynch where she served as a financial advisor. Prior to her career in wealth management, she was a tennis professional who ranked internationally with the Association of Tennis Professionals and was invited to participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Read more.

Dr. Lana Jared, '04 B.S. chemistry and '05 B.S. biology, recently fulfilled a lifelong dream to open a a pharmacy in her hometown of Baxter, TN. As a pharmacist, Dr. Jared looks forward to serving her customers' medical needs at Baxter Pharmacy. Read more.

Holly Montooth, '05 interdisciplinary studies, was named Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) Director of Transportation. Prior to being named Director, she served as the Mobility Manager for the Transportation Department. Read more.

Denny Sissom, '84 B.S. electrical engineering and '85 M.S. electrical engineering, is the author of The Bridge to the New Testament: A Comprehensive Guide to the Forgotten Years of the Inter-Testament Period

Ross Spurgeon, '15 exercise science, physical education and wellness, is the new assistant baseball coach for Bellamine University. Spurgeon's primary duties will include working with outfielders, assisting with pitching instruction and assisting with recruiting. He will also lead the strength and conditioning and nutritional programs this season. Read more.

Ron Travis has been named Chief Executive Officer for the Insurors of Tennessee. Travis is a State Representative for District 31 and has more than 35 years of experience in the insurance industry. Read more.

Phillip Vance, '04 accounting, was promoted to vice president at Wilson County's First Freedom Bank. He has been with First Freedom Bank since 2014. Read more.

Several outstanding civil engineering alumni were recently featured in Stream Lines -- the clean water magazine. Karen Harrison, '83 civil engineering, serves as the co-chair of the Clean Water Technology Committee. Danielle Kirkpatrick, '17 B.S. civil engineering and '19 M.S. civil engineering, is the new Clean Water Professionals of Kentucky & Tennessee (CWP-KT) Student Committee chair. Kevin Young, '78 civil engineering, and Joe Whitson, '75 B.S. civil engineering and '78 M.S. civil engineering, received Life Member Awards. And two current civil engineering majors were featured: Sarah Rhoton and Joseph Brockwell each received an American Water Works Association/Clean Water Professionals of Kentucky & Tennessee (AWWA/CWP-KT) Student Scholarship. Sarah is featured on the cover of the magazine as well. Read more.

We continue to be impressed by the successes of Tennessee Tech alumni. Email us your promotions, awards, and other achievements, and we'll share in the next edition of The Alumnus

Upcoming Tennessee Tech University bookstore sales

Display of Tennessee Tech shirts, hats, and bears

Nov. 20-25: 25% off Fleece, Cold Weather & Outerwear

Nov. 22-25: 25% off Drinkware & Ornaments

Nov. 27-Dec. 1: 25% off sitewide. This is the bookstore's biggest sale of the year! Use code THEBIG25

Dec. 2-5: 25% off Champion, Nike & Under Armour

Free shipping on orders of $49 or more!

The bookstore offers some high-end items including jewelry & watches, glassware, and home decor items. These items are exclusively sold online, and most are produced on demand so they take about 2-4 weeks for production and shipping. These are great options if you are looking for something unique for yourself or a nice gift for someone else. 

The University Bookstore is now open to serve you. Their hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

shop the Tech bookstore online

The Crawford Alumni Center hopes all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends stay safe and healthy. Please continue to live Wings Up—just keep a six-foot wingspan between you and your fellow Golden Eagles!

The Crawford Alumni Center


Giving to Tennessee Tech