Thursday, September 28, 2023

‘Steady as she blows’: Dr. Chandra R. Story receives John Pleas Faculty Award


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MTSU Photo by Cat Curtis Murphy

Story by Baylah Close

Tonight faculty, staff and students gathered in the Ingram building to celebrate the achievement of Dr. Chandra R. Story.

Story, the recipient of the 2023 John Pleas Faculty Award, is a Community and Public Health professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at Middle Tennessee State Univeristy. The John Pleas Faculty Award is presented annually to a Black faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service. The award was established in 1997 to honor Dr. John Pleas, MTSU emeritus of Psychology, and is awarded every February during Black History Month.

Receiving the award was a big honor for her, as she joins the line-up of other intelligent Black faculty who have received this award.

“I was ecstatic, I was excited to know I’d be among prior recipients and that it’s during Black History Month and for Black faculty, that means a lot during Black History Month,” Story said.

Dr. Chandra Story with her father, who inspired her to pursue a career in health. (MTSU Photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Story was recently a co-author in a policy statement that includes more women of color in researching HIV, the policy being adopted by the American Health Association, the largest public health association in the world, and her assistance to her communities reaching far and wide.

As testimonies are being shared, praise for Story was shared, people smiling fondly while speaking of the times they received encouragement and support from her through either a professional, academic and often personal level.

Her colleague, Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji, Melba Fortune Martinez Endowed Professor in the Counselor Education Program at Xavier University of Louisiana, talked about how Story was constantly working hard to help those around her, saying that she was “steady as she blows.” Story’s passion for helping others is what she hopes to pass on to her students and mentees.

“Make sure you’re passionate about what you do, that everything goes back to serving, make sure that the heart of what you want to do is helping people and helping communities, and then everything else kind of plays out from there once you meet the right mentor,” Story said.

Story has a passion for sharing the importance of cultural social support, wellness, and connecting cultural norms, herself being a faculty member in the Women’s and Gender Studies program at MTSU.

“I hope it will also give them a passion for social justice and equity in whatever field they are choosing. We obviously have so much more work to do in this society, and that’s why I went into teaching so I hope that they will also become passionate and also understand as my friend Dr. Julie Koch said during her testimony, Black history is all of our history,” Story said.

Dr. Chandra R. Story has been described as a caring individual who is always loving to learn new things and an important mentor to all, her mentorship often spoken of in forms of endearment. For those who know her, this was a well-deserved award that is one of many of her accomplishments.

Baylah Close is a Lifestyles Reporter for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell, email more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter and Instagram at @mtsusidelines.

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