TSU student Derrick Hudson receives surprise U.S. Coast Guard commission
TSU student Derrick Hudson takes photo with members of the U.S. Coast Guard and TSU after being surprised by his U.S. Coast Guard commission. Photo courtesy of TSU.

Texas Southern University student Derrick Hudson received a surprise of a lifetime on his 26th birthday. The Aviation Management student received a surprise commission from the United States Coast Guard on Tuesday at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base. Rear Admiral John P. Nadeau, who currently serves as the Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District, flew in to surprise the student. With this commission, Hudson was awarded entrance into the United States Coast Guard Academy, will be enlisted into the Coast Guard, complete basic training during the summer, and receive full funding for up to two years of college. 

In 2020, the University signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Coast Guard that allows TSU Transportation Studies students to receive a commission in the Coast Guard. The College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative is for individuals who are outstanding students and leaders who desire to serve their country. Hudson is the first TSU student to participate in this program. He will start his bootcamp this summer and finish the program in summer 2022. After graduating from TSU, he will complete Boot Camp and be commissioned as an officer in the Coast Guard. 

Hudson said this moment means so much to him, “Receiving this opportunity means everything to me. I can focus strictly on school, and in my case, flying planes and getting my licenses. The Aviation program at TSU has provided students the opportunity to get our licenses before graduation and go into the aviation field prepared. It has been a really good experience.” 

“One of our goals is to ensure that we have partnerships with the armed forces,” said Director of the Aviation program Dr. Terence H. Fontaine. “TSU is one of only a few institutions of higher learning that is educating minority students for careers in aviation. We will continue to highlight that our students are being recruited throughout the country for various career opportunities. This is just the beginning.”   

TSU Regent James Benham, a fellow pilot, spoke of the aviation profession’s importance and the uniqueness of TSU’s Aviation program. “If we don’t educate and graduate students, we are failing in our mission. So, seeing an outstanding young individual come through Texas Southern’s Aviation program, be on a path to graduation is absolutely everything that being at this University is about,” said Benham. 

“It is really exciting and really exciting for the Aviation program. It’s a young program, so to see young people come through a young program and succeed right out the gate is a big reinforcement that this is where we should be and what we should be doing.”  

Dr. Kendall Harris, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs and Research, noted how great an opportunity this partnership is for the Transportation Studies Department. With the only four-year public Aviation program in the state of Texas, the University has a unique opportunity to fill a niche and provide both professional and underrepresented pilots. “Being able to have this opportunity with the Coast Guard is great. Our students are able to show their leadership skills and be an asset to the country,” said Harris. “We are extremely excited for the future of the partnership and how it will provide TSU students with greater opportunities to pursue the pilot profession.” 

Rear Admiral Nadeau stated how thrilled the Coast Guard is to have this partnership with the University and how excited he is to welcome Hudson. “This scholarship program we have, we are excited to continue to build it out and see many more just like him come to the Coast Guard because we want them,” said Nadeau. “We want to bring them into our service because they make outstanding officers that we want to retain, and we offer great opportunities.”