Alumnae: Alumnae Profiles

Alumnae Profiles: Tia Empty-Grandville, C'2013

In her own words ...

My name is Tia Empty-Grandville, C'2013, and I am proud to be an Officer in Training in the U.S.Coast Guard. During my sophomore year at Spelman, I applied for the Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Scholarship Program. Like many students, paying for college was very difficult for me. There were times when I sat in my dorm thinking, “How can I pay for school?” At one point, I received a notice saying I had to pay my fees, or I simply would not be able to return to school the next semester.

Scholarships were getting harder to find; I was denied loans, and my parents were in a financial mess.  However, education is very important to me and my family, so I was determined not to let anything deter me from graduating from the college of my dreams. After many tears, prayers, moments of deep introspection, and countless conversations with my parents and mentors, I decided to join the military.

As a daughter, sister, niece, and cousin of an Army family, I just knew I was going to join the Army too until my father said,  "No."  I remember him telling me, “The Army is not the best place for a woman to be.” I was stuck, but then I remembered meeting Petty Officer Maurice Hawkins at the AUC Career Fair earlier in the year. He was the one who told me all about the CSPI Program.

The CSPI Program is geared towards minorities, and is designed to promote diversity in the officer corps within the Coast Guard.  It is only for juniors and seniors who attend a HBCU or Latin University. The CSPI program is different from ROTC. Within the CSPI program you are an employee of the Coast Guard, and you will be ranked as an E-3 and receive E-3 pay while you go to school.

As a CSPI student, there are no drills, morning physical fitness tests, or monthly physical fitness exams. You simply have to attend class. This program paid for my tuition and books my junior and senior year,  and I earned $2,250 a month. CSPI students train during the summers. After my sophomore year, I attended basic training for eight weeks in Cape May, New Jersey; and after my junior year, I trained in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Upon graduating from college, CPSI studtnsl attend Officer Candidate School and become a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard.

My time in the program has been well spent. I have seen many different places, met many wonderful officers, made great friends, and created countless memories. I also had a guaranteed job waiting for me after I graduated from Spelman in May 2013. The commitment to serve is only three years after graduating, but I know it will go by quickly, and be well worth it.

Participating in the CSPI Program is one of the best decisions I have made. Students who have questions about the program, may contact at 515-306-6117, or