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Audio recording of an interview of Laishka Bruno by Aaron Stewart conducted over Zoom for the Black Cultural Center Oral History Project. The recording duration is 54 minutes, 16 seconds. Bruno studied mechanical engineering at Tennessee Tech University from 2008 to 2014, with a year and a half break for a co-op at General Electric. Bruno discusses her background growing up in a military family with Puerto Rican heritage and living in Fort Hood, Texas; Germany; and Tennessee. She describes what school was like for her growing up, why she decided to attend Tennessee Tech, why she picked her major, the challenges of being a Hispanic and woman student in engineering classes and at Tech, her favorite projects while at Tech and difficult classes, how she lived on and off campus during her time at Tech, and her experience with her co-op. She details her college extracurricular activities with the National Society of Black Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Engineering Joint Council, the Multicultural Affairs peer mentoring program, Engineering a Future, E-Week, and Theta Tau. She follows that with a discussion of four Tech employees who influenced her: Dr. Robert Owens, Marc Burnett, Dr. Kristine Craven, and Dr. Elizabeth Ojo. Bruno describes her work with PepsiCo Frito-Lay and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed her work environment. She follows by discussing how she used the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center (BCC) and the influence of the BCC on her. She describes the subtle racism she experienced in Cookeville and how she and her friends did not feel safe going out alone. Bruno details her career path after she graduated, her school and career accomplishments that she is most proud of, what her life is like, and some of her favorite and challenging memories from Tech. Bruno ends with advice for underrepresented students at Tech and offers mentorship assistance to students. Throughout the interview, Stewart compares his experience as a student and in Cookeville to Bruno’s experience. For a transcript of the recording, see item BCCOH_Bruno_20210108_transcript.

2021-01-08

Audio recording of an interview of Damon Prince by Joshua Egwuatu conducted over Zoom for the Black Cultural Center Oral History Project. The recording duration is 1 hour, 5 minutes, 18 seconds. Prince attended Tennessee Tech University off and on from 1992 to 2014. Prince discusses his background in a military family, why he decided to attend Tennessee Tech, how Cookeville was different from other places he lived, how changes to high school academic requirements made him ineligible to play football at Tech, his interest in music and career in music, what it was like being a minority student at Tennessee Tech, university employees and friends that pushed and helped him graduate, how he got involved with the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center (BCC), how students used the Black Cultural Center, his career in human resources, and his work for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Princes gives advice to students and Egwuatu. Egwuatu compares his experiences with the BCC and college with Prince’s experiences. For a transcript of the recording, see item BCCOH_Prince_20210112_transcript.

2021-01-20

24 page transcript of an interview of Damon Prince by Joshua Egwuatu conducted over Zoom for the Black Cultural Center Oral History Project. Prince attended Tennessee Tech University off and on from 1992 to 2014. Prince discusses his background in a military family, why he decided to attend Tennessee Tech, how Cookeville was different from other places he lived, how changes to high school academic requirements made him ineligible to play football at Tech, his interest in music and career in music, what it was like being a minority student at Tennessee Tech, university employees and friends that pushed and helped him graduate, how he got involved with the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center (BCC), how students used the Black Cultural Center, his career in human resources, and his work for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Princes gives advice to students and Egwuatu. Egwuatu compares his experiences with the BCC and college with Prince’s experiences. For the interview audio, see item BCCOH_Prince_20210112.

2021-01-20

19 page transcript of an interview of Laishka Bruno by Aaron Stewart conducted over Zoom for the Black Cultural Center Oral History Project. Bruno studied mechanical engineering at Tennessee Tech University from 2008 to 2014, with a year and a half break for a co-op at General Electric. Bruno discusses her background growing up in a military family with Puerto Rican heritage and living in Fort Hood, Texas; Germany; and Tennessee. She describes what school was like for her growing up, why she decided to attend Tennessee Tech, why she picked her major, the challenges of being a Hispanic and woman student in engineering classes and at Tech, her favorite projects while at Tech and difficult classes, how she lived on and off campus during her time at Tech, and her experience with her co-op. She details her college extracurricular activities with the National Society of Black Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Engineering Joint Council, the Multicultural Affairs peer mentoring program, Engineering a Future, E-Week, and Theta Tau. She follows that with a discussion of four Tech employees who influenced her: Dr. Robert Owens, Marc Burnett, Dr. Kristine Craven, and Dr. Elizabeth Ojo. Bruno describes her work with PepsiCo Frito-Lay and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed her work environment. She follows by discussing how she used the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center (BCC) and the influence of the BCC on her. She describes the subtle racism she experienced in Cookeville and how she and her friends did not feel safe going out alone. Bruno details her career path after she graduated, her school and career accomplishments that she is most proud of, what her life is like, and some of her favorite and challenging memories from Tech. Bruno ends with advice for underrepresented students at Tech and offers mentorship assistance to students. Throughout the interview, Stewart compares his experience as a student and in Cookeville to Bruno’s experience. For the interview recording, see item BCCOH_Bruno_20210108.

2021-02-03

Audio recording of an interview of Wentford Gaines by Jerone Dudley conducted over Zoom for the Black Cultural Center Oral History Project. The recording duration is 59 minutes, 55 seconds. Gaines was born on February 4, 1953. He attended Tennessee Tech in the spring quarter of 1973. The football coaches recruited Gaines to play football at Tech. Gaines and other Black student athletes were dismissed from the team for refusing to practice after Tennis Coach Larry Ware abandoned David Brents, a Black tennis player in Johnson City, Tennessee. Gaines describes growing up as a Black child in a single-parent household in Anderson, South Carolina; his time attending and playing football at Ferrum College in Virginia; being recruited to Tennessee Tech; the broken promises, racism, and isolation he faced at Tennessee Tech and in Cookeville; and his life after transferring from Tech. Gaines details going to the University of Cincinnati, his time playing in the National Football League (NFL), living in Texas and New Jersey, teaching and coaching in Jersey City, teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, playing athletics in high school, his sons’s athletic and academic experiences. Gaines describes the isolation of being Black in Cookeville, the lack of interaction between non-local Black students and the Black community in Cookeville, and how he only felt comfortable going out to one bar (likely John’s Place) in the area and otherwise went to Nashville to socialize. Dudley makes comparisons between his experiences and Gaines’s experiences in Cookeville. For a transcript of the interview, see item BCCOH_Gaines_20201127_transcript.

2020-11-27

27 page transcript of an interview of Wentford Gaines by Jerone Dudley conducted over Zoom for the Black Cultural Center Oral History Project. Gaines was born on February 4, 1953. He attended Tennessee Tech in the spring quarter of 1973. The football coaches recruited Gaines to play football at Tech. Gaines and other Black student athletes were dismissed from the team for refusing to practice after Tennis Coach Larry Ware abandoned David Brents, a Black tennis player in Johnson City, Tennessee. Gaines describes growing up as a Black child in a single-parent household in Anderson, South Carolina; his time attending and playing football at Ferrum College in Virginia; being recruited to Tennessee Tech; the broken promises, racism, and isolation he faced at Tennessee Tech and in Cookeville; and his life after transferring from Tech. Gaines details going to the University of Cincinnati, his time playing in the National Football League (NFL), living in Texas and New Jersey, teaching and coaching in Jersey City, teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, playing athletics in high school, his sons’s athletic and academic experiences. Gaines describes the isolation of being Black in Cookeville, the lack of interaction between non-local Black students and the Black community in Cookeville, and how he only felt comfortable going out to one bar (likely John’s Place) in the area and otherwise went to Nashville to socialize. Dudley makes comparisons between his experiences and Gaines’s experiences in Cookeville. For the audio recording of the interview, see item BCCOH_Gaines_20201127.

2020-12-02

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