Friday, September 21, 2018

Vol State in the News


The appointment of a new VP was picked up by the Tennessean.

The Wilson Post helped us to celebrate the new class of President's Ambassadors.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Vol State and Hawkins Family Renew a Tornado Connection


Many kids want to be firefighters. They may play rescue with their friends or push around toy fire engines. Jair Hawkins took it to a whole different level. “Every Halloween Jair dressed up as a firefighter,” said his dad, Jerrod Hawkins. “Every year. When he was ten-years-old he would ask me questions when I got home from work. How many calls did you get? How long did it take you to get out of the bay? Really specific questions.”

Jerrod has enjoyed a 20 year career as an EMT with the Brentwood Fire Department. He watched his son go from imagining fire scene responses as a child, to actively serving with a department.

“I begged him to let me be a volunteer firefighter. Finally, at age 15, he let me,” said Jair.

Jair is now a student in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic program at Volunteer State Community College. It’s his first semester at the school. And it’s here that the story takes on a new meaning. The family has a stormy connection with Vol State that goes back 12 years.

“I don’t remember a whole lot from that day,” Jair said. “We went down to the basement and the next thing I knew the whole house is coming in on me.”

“I was working that day and I gave my wife a call to let her know about the storms,” Jerrod said. “I was talking to Amy on the phone and she said ‘I know it’s here’ and I lost the call. Ten minutes later I got a phone call from my neighbor. He said the boys were okay and were going to the hospital, but Amy was really hurt.”

That was April 7, 2006. An F-3 tornado ripped across Middle Tennessee and blasted into the Hawkins family home in Hendersonville. Amy covered up the kids with her body. She was found beneath bricks and rubble from the wreckage of the house. Amy survived, but with major injuries.

“I just remember her being gone a long time, two or three months,” said Jair. Amy had many surgeries and went through extensive rehabilitation. She was left paralyzed from the waist down.

The Sumner County community rallied around the Hawkins family. They were even stars on the ABC TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The episode is often referred to as an audience favorite by the producers. The family received a brand new house during the show, a home especially designed for Amy and her wheelchair.

Former Vol State president, Warren Nichols, understood the devastation of that tornado. He was on campus when the twister moved north and hit Vol State that day, tearing up buildings, and causing seven million dollars in damage. That connection with the Hawkins family moved him to set up Vol State scholarships for the two boys, Jair and Cole, in 2006. Twelve years later, Jair is walking the Vol State campus as a new student this fall. While he didn’t need the tuition part of the scholarship, thanks to the TN Promise program, he did receive a book scholarship worth $1000 each year.

“I didn’t know how it would work after so long,” Jerrod said. “So, I contacted Karen Mitchell in the College Foundation and she was wonderful.”

Dad says that his son Cole will also be using the Vol State scholarship in a few years. “Right now he wants to go into the Airforce and be a pilot. He wants to do two years at Vol State and then transfer to MTSU for their Aviation program.”

Amy is doing well, but still has pain from her injuries. Jair thinks back to that tragic day and said his mom did something special. “If she didn’t do what she did, I wouldn’t be here right now.” And Jair adds that there are other ties from the past to the present. “A few of my buddies at the station where I volunteer have dads that worked at the station that day, and responded to help us.”

Amy and the family recently took a vacation in Florida. It was the first time she had been in the ocean since the tornado. Jair wants to graduate, continue with Advanced EMT, and then complete the Paramedic program. He has already applied for paid positions at fire departments, including Portland and Murfreesboro. His goal is to eventually be a fire captain.

“I’ve known since he was two that Jair would be a fireman,” Amy said. And as for how the tornado has changed their lives, she replied: “I look at challenges as a positive thing. We lived through this. It’s a celebration of life we do each year.”

For more information about the Vol State EMS program visit www.volstate.edu/EMS.

Pictured above: Jair and Jerrod Hawkins on the Vol State campus in Gallatin.

Pictured above: Amy and Jair Hawkins celebrate his graduation from Portland High School last spring.
Pictured above: The boys are presented with the scholarships in 2006 by the Vol State College Foundation. Left to right: Warren Nichols, Buddy Shaw, Amy, Jerrod, Jair, Cole, Ed Mayberry and Stan Cole.

Vol State in the News

Student Engagement and Support is holding a series of events this month for suicide awareness and prevention. The Tennessean covered the kick-off event and had this story.

The Tennessean covered the news of our record enrollment. It also appeared on area news web sites and WPLN, NPR radio.

The website Campaign for Free College Tuition has an article highlighting TN Promise through the story of CHEC student Emily Buckner. She is now enrolled at TTU.

Vol State art students have been working with high school students and using French Impressionism to dress up a recycling container. Jen Todd with the Tennessean has the follow-up.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Record Student Enrollment

Congrats everyone...we officially have a new all-time record enrollment: 9156. That might not necessarily be a comfortable thing if we hadn't been growing in so many other ways. Here is the news release to explain:

Student enrollment at Vol State has reached an all-time record for the school, with 9156 students attending this fall semester. The previous record was 8989, set in fall of 2010. The current headcount is up 3.5 percent over fall of last year. Much of the increase is attributed to the popular TN Reconnect program. It provides tuition-free education for adults who do not already have a college degree. This fall 1039 new students using TN Reconnect are enrolled in classes at Vol State. There are also 460 continuing students using the program.

“We are excited to have attained this record enrollment,” said Vol State president, Jerry Faulkner. “It is gratifying to see more citizens of our service area taking advantage of the opportunity to advance their education. Vol State is fulfilling our mission to prepare students for successful career, university transfer, and meaningful civic participation in a global society.”

Vol State has been planning for increased enrollment. Two new buildings have been added to the Gallatin campus in recent years. The Livingston campus was enlarged. The Highland Crest campus in Springfield was built. In Cookeville, Vol State began offering classes at the Cookeville Higher Education Campus (CHEC), setting enrollment records there, as well.

The number of online classes has also expanded, allowing for even more growth. In the fall of 2010 there were 195 course sections and this fall 356.  There are many more faculty and staff working at the college, from 769 in 2010 to 854 employees today.

“Our great team at the college has worked really hard to prepare for this year and for continued growth in enrollment,” Faulkner said. “Our next project is a renovation of our Warf science building. We will gain two science labs, a classroom, a computer lab, and a new six thousand square foot wing to house our Mechatronics program.” 

Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) is a unit that measures the number of credit hours students are taking. That FTE number is also a record this fall at 6206, versus 5758 in 2010. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Relay for Life at Vol State September 29

Many of us have had our lives changed by cancer, whether it be as a survivor, a caregiver or as a loved one. Relay for Life is the primary fund raising event for the American Cancer Society. It is held in thousands of communities in 27 different countries. The goal is to raise money for cancer research, support, and awareness activities. The Southern Sumner County Relay for Life is coming up on Saturday, September 29 here on the Vol State campus in Gallatin. Organizers are looking for individuals and teams to walk and raise funds. There will be an opening ceremony, a survivor/caregiver walk, and a luminaria ceremony that will light up campus. If you are interested in participating, please visit the website for details and a sign-up form. If you have additional questions you can contact Jenny Goslin at 615-341-7328.

Dr. Faulkner: My Time as an Undercover Student


This past Thursday I gave up my coat and tie for a casual shirt, blue jeans, walking shoes and a cap.  I spent almost the whole day as a student attending class and doing other things a student would do.  Thanks to Carol Bucy, Deb Moore, Carol Topping, and Theresa Johnson for letting me be incognito in their classes.

Here are some observations from an undercover student:

The online application to Vol State is easily completed.

I only saw one student using a cell phone during class.  This was in a math class so I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt that she was using the calculator on her phone.

Desks are no longer contoured to my contours.

On what should have been the second day of class there were a number of students without books, even when there were reading assignments due.

Our faculty are making good use of eLearn.

There was more give and take between the students and the faculty than I remember happening in my classes more than 10 years ago.

I can still eat a whole hamburger while walking from Wood to Thigpen. (Thanks to Campus Kickoff event for the burger.)

Four back to back classes is a pretty brutal schedule.  (I did have five classes scheduled but an important appointment became available and like a student I cut class.  But I did notify my instructor.)

There was more emphasis on understanding the “”why” and less about memorizing facts.

Students don’t talk to you unless you make the first connection.

Almost no students recognized me until I introduced myself at the end of the period.

Lots of interdisciplinary connections were being made.  In world literature we spent a great deal of time looking at maps of the world and exploring how maps can distort our view of the earth.

Students were engaged, involved and polite.

I learned something new in every class.

We have the greatest faculty in the world!

This was a great experience and something I will definitely do again.

Vol State in the News

The Ledger newspaper is primarily focused on the west side of Nashville. However, it does have sister publications statewide. They recently featured our Sonography and PTA programs in separate articles. Thanks to all of the program folks for help with these interviews.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Meet the New President's Ambassadors

Vol State has a new group of President’s Ambassadors for 2018-2019. The Ambassadors represent the college at events, conduct campus tours and help with public relations. Students selected for the President’s Ambassadors scholarship program go through a rigorous vetting and interview process. Congrats to all!
Left to right. Back row: Cole Harper, Mt. Juliet; Katelynn Roberts, Cross Plains; Rachel Keyes. Nashville; Kaylen Whisnant, Cookeville; Samantha Lang, Tampa, FL; and Alix Stone, Mt. Juliet. Front Row: Melody Montgomery, Livingston; Amber Kittrell, Smyrna; Callie Swallows, Livingston; Robert Kirby, Cookeville; Brianna Hogan, Centerville; Anedra Moore, Nashville; and Megen Roberts, Lebanon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Vol State Music Faculty Members Release CD

Vol State music faculty have gigs all over Middle Tennessee in solo and group performances. Longtime faculty member Tiger Ftizhugh has a new group with Vol State adjunct instructor, Ron de la Vega. The third member of the group is Richard Adams, a faculty member at MTSU. The band is called Amity 3 and they have just released their first CD. Check them out here.

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Graphics for Pickel Field House

PR and Athletics have been discussing ways to dress-up the Pickel Field House for several years now. The projects are nearly complete. The first project consisted of new graphics in the gym. We replaced the old painted Vol State logo with an updated version. There are also signs on the other end of the gym that feature a more sports-y look, and the college mascot. In the Pickel lobby, there are four large graphics representing each of our four sports. Here are some pictures, but you really need to see them in person to get the full effect. We have one final project to complete this week - versions of the lobby graphics will be going up in the gym. Considering the last graphic work lasted for 25 years - we have planned this set to last as least as long.