New scholarship the culmination of Kennesaw State alumni family success

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 30, 2024

Jacqueline Hand
Jacqueline Hand and her daughters Tanasia Kenney and Tanneka Hylton.
Tanasia Kenney has plenty of childhood memories at Kennesaw State University.

Her mother, former KSU employee Jacqueline Hand, frequently brought her to campus, where she was known as “Jackie’s daughter,” and became familiar with staff and faculty. Some of those faculty members were still teaching when it was time to decide if she’d attend KSU or look a little farther from home.

“Their knowing me as Jackie’s daughter and feeling like you have eyes on you all the time, it was a bit intimidating,” Kenney said. “But my mom believed in KSU. She said, ‘You’ve got a great university here,’ and in time, I rolled with it, and my years at KSU were so liberating and fun.”

Now a reporter for McClatchy news publications, Kenney is just one member of a KSU alumni family. Her older sister, Tanneka Hylton, join Kenney and Hand as KSU graduates. Hylton graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Hand in 2007 with a human services degree, and Kenney in 2015 with a communication degree with a concentration in journalism.

Recently, they came together to celebrate yet another milestone – a $25,000 endowed scholarship. Created through Hand’s generosity, the scholarship will pay educational costs for human services or nursing majors in the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services. Hand’s passion for human services led her to the non-profit CobbWorks, where she’s worked for the past 18 years.

After moving her family from New York to Kennesaw in 1999, Hand said taking a job at KSU seemed like a good way to get an education while she worked, but it was also intimidating to be a non-traditional student. Thankfully, her fellow Owls took her under their wings.

“I was an adult learner taking classes with all these young kids, and I was a little nervous about that,” Hand said. “But I made friends with my professors and other students, and I was encouraged to get involved. That also helped me feel like my daughter, Tanneka, would be taken care of.”

Though they didn’t take the same courses, Hand and Hylton attended classes at the same time and were able to catch up with each other during the school day. Hylton recalls her mother’s advice to get involved in student groups, professional societies and service organizations, and passes that advice on to incoming students whenever she can.

Now a diversity, equity and inclusion business partner with Warner Bros. Discovery, Hylton said her mother inspired her throughout her time at KSU and continues to motivate her as she gives back to the University through the newly endowed scholarship.

“Going through my own matriculation at KSU, watching my mom graduate and then watching my sister graduate, it’s like we’ve built our own little community here,” Hylton said. “Every time we go back for events, it’s like coming home. I love that we get to experience that together. Seeing my mom endow this scholarship is a moment of pride, but it’s also like, ‘Well I can’t let my mom outdo me,’ so when it’s my time, I’ll need to think about endowing a Radow College scholarship.”

Kenney wasn’t surprised when her mother decided to invest in the KSU community through an endowment, as she’s always looked for ways to give back as a student, employee and alumna. But as she’s grown and propelled herself further into her own career, Kenney’s appreciation for all that her mother has done for her family during her years at KSU has only deepened.

“It didn’t really hit me how much she has juggled until a high school sociology class, where we talked about how some people go to school and come home to raise children and cook and just carry the role of a mother. That’s when I started thinking, ‘Oh wow, my mom was doing all of that,’” Kenney said.

“It gave me flashbacks to sitting in the back of her classes, being on campus and growing and learning at KSU along with her. I think about that a lot.”

For Hand, watching her children become so deeply involved at KSU, graduate from the university where she so enjoyed working and earning her own degree and continue to be involved as alumni is a bright spot in her life. But she said the brightest spot in her life will always be watching her daughters leverage their KSU education into successful and fulfilling careers.

“I’m so proud of both Tanneka and Tanasia. There are students still that tell me they look up to the two of them,” she said, choking up. “Both of my daughters being KSU babies – or owlettes as I call them – and doing so well for themselves, that makes me very proud. And when I wear that black and gold, I wear it proudly.”

– Story by Thomas Hartwell

Photos by Judith Pishnery

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit