Monday, February 8, 2016

A Big Push for Adult Students

There is a statewide push to get more adult students into Tennessee colleges and universities. It's called Tennessee Reconnect. The first portion is focusing on adults with previous college credit who may be interested in coming back to college to get their degree or certificate.

If you get any phone calls or interested students, they can contact the new Office of Veterans Affairs and Adult Learners at 615-230-3494.

Here is our news release:

Vol State Helps Adults Reconnect with College

Adults with college credits are encouraged to go back to school under a statewide initiative called Tennessee Reconnect. Volunteer State Community College has new resources to help adult students as part of that program.

“The message is simple: you can do this and we can help,” said Ken Hanson, the newly appointed director of Veterans Affairs and Adult Learners. “We’re talking about anyone who has been out of school for a year or more and would like to return. And it’s not just people with college credits; we’re reaching out to everyone who wants to get a college degree. The stats show the truth- you can earn more and advance in the workplace with a college degree.”

Tennessee Reconnect is part of Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative. The goal is to have 55 percent of Tennessee adults equipped with a college degree or certificate by 2025. Vol State is engaging current adult students to help people considering college see that it is possible to get a degree, despite all of the challenges adults face. Gaynell Payne is a student writer who is chronicling her life as an adult student on a new adult student blog at Vol State.

“Balancing my time is the most challenging part as a student,” Payne said. “I have to prioritize. Even with deadlines for class, I need to make sure my child’s needs are met, both emotionally and physically. I’ll be sharing some of those experiences.”

“Adult students need flexibility in taking classes, and we have that with many online courses, evening courses and a variety of degree options. But those students also need support. We pride ourselves in having a welcoming environment on all of our campuses for adult students. There is often concern when someone is considering college. They worry about having enough time to study while juggling work and family. They’re frightened by the prospect of taking a math class after many years. We’re set up to help you with all of that at Vol State. That’s what my office does for veterans and other adult learners- we show them how they can create their own individual path for success.”

“It’s a lot different coming to school as an older student than it is someone coming straight out of high school,” said Payne. “It was tough at first, but I think I found that balance by the end of the semester.”

The Tennessee Reconnect program has some financial aid available for adult students. It’s important for students to fill out the financial aid paperwork now to get in line for the available grants, scholarships and loans. The first step is to visit the Vol State adult learner web page at That page also links to the new adult student blog and other Vol State resources for adult learners. For more information people can also call the Office of Veterans Affairs and Adult Learners at 615-230-3494.

Vol State has established service with an online tutoring company called The service provides free tutoring for our students in several subject areas. We have several faculty members using the service in connection with a pilot study. But the service is available to all students now. It's available for access only through their course eLearn page. Here is what we are telling students:
All Vol State students have free access to the online tutoring service It is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The link to is part of the eLearn page for each of your classes. The tutoring service covers Math, Business, English, Writing, Science, Health Sciences, Computers, and Foreign Language. You should access it via your course eLearn page for login.

If you have problems or need help with visit the Learning Commons location for your campus. You can also call 615-230-3676.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sumner One Book, One Community Read- “I Am Malala”

Access to education could be easily taken for granted in the United States. However, it is a struggle for people here and in countries across the globe. A dramatic example was the shooting of Pakistani student, Malala Yousafzai. The fifteen year-old was shot in the head on her school bus by members of the Taliban, as retribution for her speaking out for the educational rights of women. The book “I Am Malala” is the subject for the third year of the Sumner County One Book, One Community read, sponsored by Vol State  and Sumner County public libraries. People love to talk about books they are reading, so one can imagine the conversation if everyone was reading the same book. That’s the goal of One Book, One Community. Everyone in the community is encouraged to read “I Am Malala” and then discuss the book themes.

“I Am Malala” tells the story of how the student became an activist at age 11 and went on to international notoriety. She survived the 2012 shooting after a long and arduous recovery. She has since continued to speak out for the educational rights of women and people all over the world. In 2014 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. The One Book, One Community book read has a series of events to discuss the challenges Malala addresses, and also to look at the struggles of students here in Sumner County. Money, family issues, crime, and even war in their native country, are all challenges that local students have faced on their road to education.

Vol State will host a screening of the movie “He Named Me Malala” on March 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rochelle Center of the Thigpen Library. There will be a “Struggle for Education” panel held on March 23 at 12:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., also in the Rochelle Center of the Thigpen Library. The events are designed to get people talking, even if they have not yet read the book.

There are many events coming up at Sumner County libraries. There will be a Gallatin Library book discussion on Wednesday, March 16 at noon. A discussion luncheon will be held at the Portland Public Library at 11:30 a.m. on March 22. Millersville Public Library will hold a discussion brunch on Saturday, March 23 at 10:30 a.m. For a complete list of events and more information about the book visit

Football Player Injury Leads to Long-Term Plan

(L-R) Lou Caputo, CEO TriStar StoneCrest, Heather Bratcher, registered nurse and TriStar StoneCrest director of emergency services, Caleb Victory, Charlotte O’ Neal, registered nurse and TriStar StoneCrest director of trauma and Art Bratcher, Rutherford County EMS 
Medical professionals respond to the call of duty, even when they're off the clock and enjoying a daughter's band performance at a football game. That was the case for Art and Heather Bratcher. They were recently honored for rendering life-saving emergency medical care to a middle school football player with a severe head injury. Art is an instructor in the EMS Education program at Vol State. His wife Heather is director of Emergency Services at Tristar StoneCrest Medical Center. HCA recently highlighted their call to action and the long-term plan that Heather Bratcher spearheaded, to help if an emergency happens on the field in the future. Check out the HCA blog for the details.

Dr. Faulkner: Words from a Student

I often receive communication from students.  Sometimes it comes in the form of a complaint or a problem.  But very often it comes in the form of gratitude and appreciation for what the college community has contributed to the student’s life.  I received this e-mail from Logan Jernigan before the holiday break.  It affirms for me why our number one Core Value is “students matter.”  With Logan’s permission I have included his e-mail below.

Dear Volunteer State Community College,

I'd like to thank you. Thank you for the good times and the bad times. I've been here for three years now, and graduating this December.  I've realized, in a weird way, that I'm going to miss this quaint little campus. I've learned more about myself in these three years than I ever have in years prior. I've met so many wonderful people on my journey. From professors to fellow students, I've been inspired eternally.

Frances Bennett was one of my first professors, and assisted me tremendously while taking MATH 810. On our first test, we weren't allowed to use a calculator. I was distraught. I've always struggled whenever it comes to math, and not being able to use a calculator to assist me, I was destined for failure. If I remember correctly in order to move on in the course you had to earn a 75% and higher and if my memory serves me, I made an 18% on my test. Due to an immense overwhelming feeling of embarrassment I just sat in my chair, staring at the computer screen, too ashamed to ask Mrs. Bennett to reopen the test to try again. She soon approached me, saw what I had earned, and asked if I'd like to join her at her desk. I was quiet. Whenever she opened my test on her computer I began to cry, disappointed at my inability to complete the task at hand. I felt so inadequate. She comforted me, reassured me that I was capable, and taught me great techniques when faced with difficult equations. After about my second or third try, I completed the test, without a calculator, scoring high enough to move on to the next unit. Without her assistance, encouragement, and passion I wouldn't have passed the course.

Michelle Vandiver-Lawrence was my foreign language professor and she taught me in both Spanish I and II. Her energy and passion for not only what she taught but for life itself was so inspiring. She had an eccentric, unique style of teaching which really set her apart. During Spanish I, I was unsure of my future as I had recently changed majors and was overwhelmed by the thought of having to start all over again. I discussed some of my concerns with her. While doing so, she asked if I'd like to take a walk. A walk around the campus is what we took. We walked and talked about school, life, traveling, affirmations, family, everything really. I will never forget how candid she was and how she genuinely seemed to care about my well-being, taking time out of her busy schedule to take a walk around the campus grounds to simply allow me to get a lot off of my mind. I'm forever inspired by her.

Daniel Kelley was my English comp II professor. My English comp I professor was a poor example of how a teacher should conduct themselves, and I was concerned that my English Comp II professor would be similar. I was proven wrong. In the beginning of the course he had all of the students gather around in a circle. We had to state our names, majors, and something interesting about ourselves like a hobby or hidden talent or something. By the end of the class we had to recite everyone's name, majors, and their interesting fact. It really helped ease first day of class anxiety and allowed all of the students to bond in a unique way. I could still probably recite everyone's name from that class. During this course we were required to write a ten page argumentative research paper. Sounds like a lot right? Not exactly. Professor Kelley broke down the paper into parts. He'd allow us to turn in rough drafts and we were to schedule an appointment with him so he could discuss with each student one on one what was good and what wasn't so good and would allow us to turn in a final copy of our revised first draft. I never really had a professor dedicate so much time into making sure his students were staying on track and doing well with their assignment. He really wanted us to succeed and that was comforting to know.

Stephen Gallup was my psychology professor. He was a big man with a big voice and an even bigger heart. He was passionate about psychology and you could see it. He always emphasized the importance of empathy. He also really loved his students and I've run into him after many semesters have passed and he talks to me, recognizing my face and even remembering my name.

Wanda Grimes was my literature professor. She was a very intelligent, kind woman who spoke with such eloquence and thoroughly enjoyed discussion. Unfortunately, I struggled with putting myself out there and got really anxious whenever it came to in class discussion. I'm much better at writing my thoughts, so sometimes after class dismissed I'd email what I got out of the poem or short story we were assigned to read and she'd reply, making me feel as if I really did understand the assignment and would encourage me to open up in class as I had made great points.

Billy Dye was my biology professor. On our first day of class he lectured to us not on biology, but life. He encouraged us to take advantage of the opportunity that is education. He was very passionate not only about science but about our time here at college. He was very intelligent but not in a way that intimidated students, in a way that lured you in and made you want to learn. He always implored that if we ever had any trouble, to schedule a meeting with him as he'd really enjoy assisting us.

Last but not least, Dana Davis for being a great advisor through the years. On my journey at Volstate, I've also met many students, all pursuing the same thing; an opportunity for a better future. The students I remember most all inspired me for different and similar reasons. Abby, Alexa, Alexia, Ann, Brenda, Caitlin, Carrie, Cliff, Collin, Cheyanne, Holly, Jenny, Josh, Libby, Lindsay, Mandy, Natalie, Nicole, Priscilla, Ray, Robert, Sam and many more. Some of the things I've learned from them are things that will forever benefit me.

Speaking of learning a thing or two, how about I discuss some of the things I've learned while in attendance? The most comforting words a student can hear are: "I haven't started on it either." I've learned that procrastination never gets you the best results. Sometimes decent results, but who wants to settle for anything less than best.  Am I right? As easy as it is to procrastinate, try and opt out of doing so before it's too late. Trust me on this one. I've also learned to open my mind. I'm more open to pretty much everything now, ranging from the genres of music I listen to and literature I read to listening to people's opinions on certain topics, whether I agree with them or not. I've fallen in love with people. I enjoy talking to people now, as I feel I've learned how to properly do so. I used to be so shy, but am no longer. I love to talk, and feel capable of striking up a conversation with just about anyone willing to do so. I want to know people's life story. I could listen to someone talking about their life, failures, dreams and goals, and anything else they feel comfortable discussing all day long. Although I will forever be challenged in the math and science departments, I feel overall that I've become more intelligent, especially in the "communications" department. I feel more confident about myself. I think that students who go to school, work, and have children deserve more than a degree. They deserve a Medal of Honor of some sort. It's hard enough being a working part time student, I couldn't imagine being a full time student with the responsibilities of working as well as raising a family. Another important thing I've learned is that until you learn not to compare your journey with that of others you will never be content. I used to compare my life to that of others, whether it was old friends from high school who were getting married or getting accepted into the program that I failed to do so or students in my college classes who seemed to have their lives together, a plan, and always passed their assignments and tests with ease. I convinced myself that they were better than me and I would never get to their level or be good enough. Life is a journey, not a competition. Everyone struggles, no matter how perfect their life may appear. Just because you're not at the same level in life achievements as a friend or family member doesn't mean you won't ever be. Just be content with yourself and where you are, work hard towards your goals and your dreams will eventually become a reality. "When you wish for someone else's life, you waste the limited life energy you've got to face your own challenges and opportunities." - Lysa TerKeurst.

One of the most important things I've learned is that my worth is not determined by a grade earned on a test, like the math test mentioned earlier. The American education system has some things that need fixing. We spend more money on education than any other country in the world but whenever it comes to the leader boards we rank so low. From elementary school until high school graduation, the amount of standardized tests we were required to take was ridiculous. After taking the ACT test three times, my highest score being an 18, I truly felt like my intellect was determined by a test. In order to get certain scholarships and even be accepted into some colleges/universities one has to score a 21 or above on their ACT. Even in college, for a majority of my courses, we'd cram in as much content as possible for one test and then move on to new, different content for the next test, leaving the old material in the dust to be forgotten about all too soon until it was time for finals, where comprehensive exams were required, forcing us to study and regurgitate so much information that we learned in such a short semester. It's easy to believe ones worth is determined by a test when that's really all he or she is being graded on. Here are a few personal qualities a test doesn't determine: Empathy, creativity, leadership, compassion, self-awareness, resilience, motivation, enthusiasm, reliability, resourcefulness, sense of wonder, and humility. Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant minds of all time said: "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." I think it's time we start thinking of a different education system, first getting rid of the amount of tests students are having to take in order to make the grade and feel adequate. I think college should be more hands on. I want to be able to choose a career path and get in the trenches as soon as possible. You're not going to learn what you're going to be doing for the rest of life by writing papers and studying notes from a PowerPoint presentation. You learn most from hands on experience. Now that's tuition I'd be willing to pay for.

Now back to giving thanks. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank my parents. I could not have done it without their constant encouragement, assistance, reassurance, and love. They're unconditional love for me and our family is so beautiful and inspiring. They're the two most selfless people I've ever known. They have become my motivation and I want nothing more than to make them proud. You wouldn't believe how many students had told me that they're in school because their parents are forcing them to go. I couldn't imagine having to do something I disliked simply to receive approval from my parents. Although I complained a lot during my time here at school, I really did enjoy being a Volunteer State Community college student. I've learned more about life and myself than any subject and I think that's so important.
I'm currently undecided and in over $10,000 in student loan debt without a plan as to what I want to do, I don't find it practical getting into any more debt simply to pursue the "college experience" at a university. Unfortunately I missed the Tennessee Promise by a couple of years, and will start paying back my student loan debt soon. I used to be so afraid of my future. The future is quite terrifying. It's so uncertain. But you know what else is uncertain? Adventures. I'm now viewing my future as an adventure and instead of being so scared of it I'm embracing it, thrilled by what's around the corner for me. It will be tough, but that's life. Am I right? I've decided that no matter what's thrown my way, I'm going to take it with a smile on my face and from a positive, I could learn something from this attitude.

Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe in this. So again, thank you. Thank you for teaching me things I couldn't have learned otherwise. I wish anyone whose reading this the best of luck in all of your future endeavors, keep up the good work, follow your heart, and never give up on something YOU want. I can't wait to keep learning more and more about myself as time progresses! 

A now former VSCC student,

Logan Jernigan

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vol State to share in funding for undergraduate research

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.5 million to a network of community colleges that includes Volunteer State Community College for the expansion of research opportunities to students.

The grant was awarded to the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), a project launched by Finger Lakes Community College in upstate New York. FLCC received a $3.35 million grant in 2011 to share its model for teaching science through research with other community colleges across the country.

Over the last four years, FLCC provided training and support for Vol State to launch its own research projects. Students in several Vol State science classes are learning scientific principles and procedures as part of green and microscale organic synthesis, water quality analysis, genomic annotation of prokaryotes and biodiversity using non-invasive camera trapping.

“I didn’t think I was going to enjoy my environmental geology class, but the research helped me to understand how this is so important,” said Vol State student Genna Batchelder. “It brought together my chemistry, physics and geology classes. It meant more to me when I had a practical application for what I was learning”

“At FLCC, we believe he best way to teach science is to do science,” said James Hewlett, FLCC professor biology and director of CCURI. “Vol State has been a great partner in implementing this approach across the country.”

Vol State will share in the latest four-year $1.5 million grant, along with FLCC and dozens of other schools in the CCURI  network, including Mesa Community College in Arizona, Ivy Technical Community College in Indiana, Oklahoma City Community College, Moreno Valley College in California, and Seminole State College in Florida.

The grant is part of the National Science Foundation’s fund for improving undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). For more information on the grant project, called “Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative, Creating a Culture of Change,” visit

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Inside the New Humanities Building

Faculty and staff had their first look inside the new Humanities building on Tuesday during tours of the facility. What can't be conveyed in these pictures is the width of the hallways- plenty of room for class change times and the overall scope of the building. It also has some of the best views on campus. There are three stories of classrooms, offices and many different types of specialized instructional spaces. Faculty offices are organized to put people from the same department near each other...and near to their classrooms. Here are some of the highlights.

The live recording room of the new music studio
This first floor hallway will have a bank of big picture windows looking out on what will be the new plaza.
The music area will include special soundproof practice rooms.
Tough to capture the size of the multi-use instructional space. It will be home to theater instruction and more.
This second floor hallway will connect to the Wood Campus Center via an elevated walkway.
The view across what will be the outdoor amphitheater and plaza.
Wide hallways reflect the overall roominess of the building.
This adjunct faculty work room may have one of the best views on campus.

The Newest Pioneer

Ryan Hunt of Gallatin is the new head baseball coach at Vol State. Hunt has been an assistant baseball coach at Cumberland University in Lebanon since 2003, the school where he also played second base as a student.

“Ever since I got into coaching professionally, Vol State stuck out to me as someplace I’d like to coach someday,” Hunt said. “There’s a history of winning at Vol State. I’m familiar with the program and it’s close to home and family.”

Hunt has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Cumberland. He arrives at Vol State as the team is preparing for the spring baseball schedule. The Pioneers start play in February.

“I hope to take the program to new heights,” he said. “Being part of three national titles at Cumberland, I’d like to see that happen here someday. The biggest thing is to have a positive impact on the program and the players.”

Everyone is encouraged to come out and root for the Vol State teams during home games in Gallatin. For the complete Pioneers baseball, softball and basketball schedules visit

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thanks from Seth Walker

Faculty members will tell you that Seth Walker is a top-notch student at Vol State. Many of you have had a class with Seth or seen him around campus. He has high tech tools to work on his computer and has a personal assistant, Ken, to help him get around on campus and communicate. We asked Seth to write a blog post about his experiences at Vol State thus far. If you see him around campus be sure to say hello. Here's the post:

Going to college seemed daunting to me. Being at a new school in a totally different atmosphere scared me. However, those fears were put to rest shortly after coming to Volunteer State Community College. From the moment I came on campus, I could sense I was welcomed with open arms.

The faculty at Vol State have gone above and beyond to make sure of my success. Whether it was shortening a test or giving me extra time on an assignment, they have been more than accommodating. The faculty have  also taken an interest in me as a person. They want to get to know me and my personality. In addition, the offices and administration at Vol State have been more than helpful to me. Whenever my assistant, Mr. Ken Brassell, and I walk into an office for help, the staff is always eager to assist me with any needs that I may have. I would like to give a special thanks to Ms. Kathy Sowell and the staff in the Office of Disability Services for their help throughout my time at Vol State. I would not be as successful as I am today without them.

The student body at Vol State have embraced me. They treat me as if I did not have Cerebral Palsy. I love hanging out with my peers on campus. They brighten my day and make college interesting. I am thankful that I can always count on my peers for help. Whether taking notes in class, giving me a ride home, or just hanging out with me on the weekend, my peers are always there for me. Even something as simple as holding a door open for me means a lot.

Vol State is a very disability friendly college. Everyone at the college truly values inclusion. I could not ask for a better first two years.

-Seth Walker

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dental Tips

In celebration of National Dental Hygiene month, the Vol State Dental Assistant Students. along with instructor Marilyn Sweat, completed their Service Learning Project at the DCI dialysis clinic in Lebanon. The students provided oral hygiene instructions to the patients by performing a skit demonstrating the proper methods of brushing their teeth, caring for their dentures, and the importance of healthy eating. Each person received gift bags that included toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, denture container, and facts relating to brushing to maintain good oral hygiene. The patients and students enjoyed their time together.