Tales of the non-traditional
She had to choose between college track and love. Love won. From The Tennessean.
Darlene Mullins often wore TSU gear and jeans to class, just like other students at Tennessee State University.
But Mullins is the only one who slaps the table and scolds her classmates for swearing.
After an F bomb, she shouts, “Oooo!” and then, “You need to wash your mouth out with soap!”
Graduating after a 55-year hiatus
Mullins, 72, is set to graduate from TSU Saturday – 55 years after taking her first class. Mullins came back to campus four years ago to finish what she started.
And she came back in full grandma mode, loving on the younger students – and correcting them when she thought it necessary.
“I would listen to them, I would encourage them, hug on them, call them ‘son’ or ‘young man.’ But I never tried to be their friend,” she said firmly.
Why she left TSU after her freshman year
Mullins, a high school track stand-out in New Jersey, first came to TSU at 17 with dreams of making the U.S. Olympics team. She’d heard of the famous TSU Tigerbelles, star Wilma Rudolph and their extraordinary coach, Ed Temple.
Those dreams disappeared with a glance.
A month into her freshman year, Mullins, in skirt and blouse, walked with her roommate to lunch, passing the dapper male students leaned up against a wall to check out the ladies.
That’s when she saw him. One quick glance.
John E. Mullins Sr. In a suit and hat. A senior. Big man on campus. Popular, smooth, polite.
“He is so fine!” Darlene Mullins gushed quietly to her roommate.
“Is he looking? Is he looking?! Is he looking???”
In fact, John Mullins loved the freshman’s smile, and he told his buddy, “She’s going to be my wife.”
About two minutes later, Darlene Mullins told her roommate, “I’m going to marry him.”
'It's either the track team or John'