Monday, October 19, 2020

James Tells His Story

Retired Vol State Music Professor, James Story, battled COVID-19 for more than two months in the hospital. He continues his hard work to recover at home. CBN, Christian Broadcast Network, put together this story about his experience. 

Sumner Adult Education is Back at Vol State

Sumner County Adult Education has returned to Vol State. The free HiSET prep courses (High School Equivalency Test) and basic ESL classes had most recently been administered by Workforce Essentials. The ESL classes start at the most basic levels and include HiSET test prep. They also prepare students to move to college preparatory ESOL courses held at Vol State. Classes meet day and evening, on the Gallatin campus and six other locations in Sumner County. In addition, there is an option for totally virtual learning and testing.

If you have people who should be referred to the program the new contact information is:

Casey Hendricks: 615-230-3621

Kastonia “Sam” Herron: 615-230-3703

Cultural Connections Week/Fall Festival and Food Day

Cultural Connections Week/Fall Festival and Food Day 

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, in partnership with ESL and English faculty, plan a week of fun programs to hopefully help us understand and learn about our different cultures and history.


Monday, October 19, 2020 
Immigration Reform: Where Do We Go from Here?   
James Cobb (Cobb Law Group)  
Presenters:  Attorneys James Cobb and Abigail Mabry  
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will host the Cobb Law Group. Attorneys James Cobb and Abigal Mabry will help the community understand immigration law, the recent Supreme Court decision, and what may be in the future after the elections. Experienced immigration attorneys with extensive experience will help answer questions and hopefully unravel the often-confusing nature of U.S. Immigration policies and practices.  
Open to students, faculty, and staff. 

Time: 12:30 PM –1:30 PM  
Zoom Registration Link: 


Tuesday, October 20, 2020 
Let’s Get to Know Each Other 
Presenter:  Prof. Shirley Gomez 

To celebrate the growing diversity in our Vol State community, we will host a 90 minutes event geared toward providing opportunities for the students on our campus to get to know each other. Let’s Get to Know Each Other will consist of 3 interactive, online activities which will hopefully help open lines of communication among the diverse student groups.  

Time:  1:00 – 2:00 PM 
Registration Link  


Wednesday, October 21, 2020 
American Stew: A Brief History of American Cuisine 
Presenter:  Professor Melanie Cochran, History Dept. 

One area in which Americans have lived up to the "melting pot" idea is with our food. In this talk, we'll examine how imperialism, slavery, immigration, technology, politics and popular culture have shaped a uniquely American cuisine. 

Time:  11:30 AM – 12:30 PM 
Registration Link  


Thursday, October 22, 2020 
Discussing Politics and the Elections – Part 2 
Panelists:  Profs. Melva Black, Nancy Blomgren, Len Assante, Scott McMillan, and Carole Bucy. 
As we are now less than two weeks from perhaps the most pivotal elections of our lifetime, where do we stand as a nation?  What did the debates accomplish?  Will we have a free and fair election and a possible peaceful transfer of power?  Join us for another riveting discussion with our panel of experts.  This discussion will be respectful, civil, and a safe place for differences of opinions. 
Open to students, faculty, and staff.   

Time:  12:30 – 2:00 PM 
Registration Link  


Friday, October 23, 2020 
Fall Festival featuring Food Day, Celebrating the 
th Anniversary of World Food Day 
The Annual Fall Festival and World Food Day celebrates Fall Semester with help from Student Organizations and info stations coordinated by Student Engagement and Support.  World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world in honor of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization through the United Nations.   The day is celebrated widely by many organizations and on college campuses concerned with food security. 
Outside, Wood Parking Lot 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Watch Vol State Student Compete on Netflix "SingOn!" TV Show


How far does Vol State student Seibreanna Alkinani make it on the new Netflix competition “Sing On!”? Pretty far, but you’ll need to watch to find out.

It started with a phone call. “I got a call while I was actually in class,” Seibreanna said. “She told me I was going to be on the show. I took the major here because I want to be an independent artist. It was fitting I got the call while on campus.”

It has been a whirlwind experience that took the Hendersonville singer to London, England, after a series of auditions and interviews. “It was crazy. I had never done anything like this before. For the audition I had to learn the song in two days.”

In the competition for the $60,000 jackpot, contestants had to sing well-known hits matching the original note for note. But personality was a big part of making the cut for TV. “I did a lot of goofy things and they liked it. They kept it in there.”

Seibreanna says her social media is getting busy now that the show has debuted on Netflix. That could help her decide the next step after she graduates in December with a degree in Music Business. “I’m an R and B and soul singer. My inspirations come from Gospel music. I just want to be a recording artist and travel.”

She says the Vol State Entertainment Media Production program has provided her with important tools to stake out her career. “As soon as I got to Vol State I felt relieved. Everything I have learned has been hands-on and I work well that way.”

And that’s a long way from her original views of college. “I did not plan on going to college. When TN Promise came I thought- well this is free, why not take advantage of the opportunity? The kids in the program here are so talented. It really inspires me. I’ve met great musicians and jammed at their homes.”

Her experience with EMP Director Steve Bishir has also had a big impact. “He’s super passionate about teaching. He really wants us to succeed. It’s amazing to have a teacher care about us that much.”

The six-time Grammy award winning Recording Engineer also helps his students make connections with people in the music industry. “The experience of networking has been great for me.”

In the meantime, Seibreanna is enjoying her moment in the spotlight. The show premiered in September. Tune in to Netflix to see how she does. Here's a link to the Netflix "Sing On!" web page:

For more information about the Vol State Entertainment Media Production program visit:

Monday, September 28, 2020

Vol State Celebrates First Nursing Grads

The first group of graduates in the Vol State Nursing program celebrated a virtual pinning ceremony recently. The event was put together as a video highlighting the students and their accomplishments. Seven students from the Gallatin campus and eleven students from the Livingston campus each earned an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Nursing. It prepares them to apply to sit for licensure as a Registered Nurse. Thus far, eleven students have taken the NCLEX and all eleven have passed (a recent update has 12 out of 12).

“We are pleased after many years to have our own associate degree nursing program at Vol State,” said president Jerry Faulkner. “It is exciting to celebrate the completion of our first group of students and to learn of their success on the NCLEX.  They are the first of what will surely be many more successful students.  We know they will be great representatives of the college as they serve as Registered Nurses in our communities.” 

The two-year degree program starts in the summer each year. The second group is taking classes now. Cassie Koester recently joined Vol State as the new dean of Nursing. Koester was most recently on the nursing faculty at Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL.

The Nursing program is taught on the Gallatin and Livingston campuses. Applications for the next class will be available starting in March. All general education, science, and elective courses required must be complete or in progress at the time of application, with a minimum GPA of 3.3. The students most likely to be ready to apply for the A.A.S. Nursing program will be Pre-Nursing students at Vol State and other colleges. For more information about Vol State Nursing visit the web page


This is a list of the graduates by campus location:














White House

































































Chestnut Mound













Vol State in the News

Faculty have been trying new things with online learning techniques this semester. Recently, Channel 4 did a story with Vol State Chemistry Instructor, Chrysa Malosh, on how she is demonstrating lab work virtually.

Our recent release about the first Nursing program graduates was picked-up in the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and in the Overton County News.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Using Your Facebook Friends to Boost Your Program

We've been encouraging faculty, and especially program directors, to consider a social media campaign for their program. The key is to use your professional contacts via Facebook to reach the people most likely to care about your program...and then encourage them to share. It builds an audience that is tailored to your professional area. That makes for much more valuable marketing. We can reach out to the public on social media in a general way. But when your contacts share a post tied to your profession you are reaching people that can be active ambassadors for your program. The personal insight is incredibly helpful and much better than any of the targeting tools that Facebook offers. We do the initial post on the main Vol State Facebook page. All you have to do is share and encourage your Facebook friends to share, as well.

We will need a good student or recent grad that we can profile this way. The student has to be willing to share with their friends. Here is an example that we did recently for Logistics. we had 9,000 views in less than 24 hours and 693 engagements, which are clicks to the Logistics website. If you would like to try such a campaign, and are willing to put in the work to share it with your Facebook friends, email

What can you do with a Logistics degree? Let’s ask Erika Kolecki. The Honeywell Nashville employee will be graduating from Vol State with a LSM degree this fall.

“I really enjoy material ordering. It grabbed my attention. I started to look at going back to college in Logistics. I thought- that’s where I want to go in Honeywell. I would like to get into one of our manufacturing divisions as a planner.”

TN Reconnect even paid for her tuition this semester. “My faculty advisor, Don Ellis, really pushed me across the finish line. All of the faculty have been so supportive.”

If you know an employee who wants to grow into a new career path have them visit

Sunday, September 20, 2020

EYH STEM Workshops for Girls Goes Virtual on October 3

Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) is an annual fun day of workshops to get girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. This year the Vol State event will be held online in conjunction with MTSU. Registration is open to elementary, middle school, and high school girls and their siblings! It is free of charge and you can participate from wherever you are. It will be held on October 3rd.  There will be more than 20 workshops to choose from, including:

·       3D Printing

·       Exploring the Brain - Learning & Memory

·       Microscopic Science and Art 

·       It's so easy! and you can do it without a calculator

Register today at

Monday, September 14, 2020

New Home for Middle College

Plant Operations has been working on a renovation project for the third floor of the Wood Campus Center. It's now the new home of the Sumner County Middle College High School. You may remember that the Middle College office used to be on the first floor of the Wood Campus Center, as part of the Student Services suite. That location was always cramped and the Middle College keeps growing. The new area has plenty of room for students to meet and study. There is also a classroom, a computer lab, and a seminar/lecture room. The space helps as Middle College students are coming to campus each day to take their classes via Zoom. They can spread out and keep socially distant. Middle College staff have also helped students utilize hallways in SRB this fall for even more spacing. The Wood project is almost complete. Middle College administrators plan to have a socially distant open house once the work is done.

APSU, Vol State, and Robertston Schools Team Up for Teaching Degree

Vol State Springfield is partnering with Austin Peay and Robertson County Schools on a new teaching degree program, specifically designed to get teachers into Robertson County classrooms. This is the APSU news release about the program:

Over the last 50 years, the U.S. has suffered from a growing teacher shortage, with fewer and fewer college students majoring in education.

This shortage has hurt schools across the country, but small, rural school districts are often the hardest hit by this educational crisis. In Tennessee, communities such as Robertson County need more teachers, and they need them now.

“Robertson County is a fine school district, but they struggle – our rural counties really struggle – to attract teachers because of the lure of going to larger districts,” Dr. Lisa Barron, director of teacher education and partnerships at Austin Peay State University, said.

“These rural districts have found if they can get people already committed to or with ties to the district, if they grew up in the district, they’re less likely to go somewhere else. They want to grow their own,” stated Barron.

That concept of a rural district “growing” its own teachers is at the heart of an innovative new partnership between Austin Peay’s Eriksson College of Education, the Robertson County Schools System and Volunteer State Community College. This fall, the three organizations launched the Grow Your Own Rural Teachers Residency Program, which is providing recent high school graduates in Robertson County with an accelerated, free path to become full-time Robertson County school teachers in just three years.

“During the day, the candidates will be working in classrooms as teacher’s assistants,” Dr. Benita Bruster, APSU professor of education, said. “It’s a residency model, so they’ll learn their licensure through embedded student teaching. Every day they’ll go to work and shadow classroom teachers. They’ll be placed with some of the highest performing teachers in the county.”

These individuals will earn a full salary with benefits from their jobs. In the evenings, the students will then head to the Highland Crest Campus – a 25,000-square-foot educational facility in Springfield, Tennessee, where they will initially take classes through Volunteer State.

“At Highland Crest, they will participate in classes specifically designed for them,” Barron said. “They will complete their Associate of Science in Teaching degree in two years from Vol State. All those hours will transfer to Austin Peay State University, and then our faculty will go to Highland Crest. It wouldn’t make sense for them to work all day in Robertson County and then come to Clarksville, so we’ll go to them.”

After a year of classes, the students will graduate from Austin Peay State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a K-5 license. They can also add on a special education endorsement, making them more marketable. And the entire program is free, with APSU, Vol State and Robertson County Schools covering tuition and textbooks.

Last year, Austin Peay State University launched the state’s first “Grow Your Own” program, when it partnered with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System on the Early Learning Tennessee Residency Program. That program provided 40 candidates with an accelerated, free path to become full-time CMCSS teachers in just three years.

The new Grow Your Own Rural Teachers Residency Program began this fall during one of the most challenging times in public education with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic causing administrators and teachers to re-think education delivery. These new challenges, however, didn’t stop this important program from moving forward.

“The pandemic did change our strategy somewhat, but the cohort is moving along successfully,” Dr. Anne-Marie McKee, director of Vol State Springfield, said. “Vol State provides laptops and hot spots to participants so they have access to all their classes.”

“In addition to classes, the program is designed so students get together once a week via Zoom to discuss successes and challenges, and provide support to one another. It is rewarding to be a part of an innovated program and I am grateful to Vol State, the Robertson County School System and APSU for the forward thinking to meet the future educational needs of Robertson County,” stated McKee.

When the program’s students graduate in three years, they will be offered jobs in Robertson County.

“I’m very excited to see this innovative partnership begin, and I look forward to Vol State’s continued participation to support the educational needs of Robertson County,” Dr. Jennifer Brezina, vice president for Academic Affairs at Vol State, said.

Austin Peay State University’s Eriksson College of Education is currently working with four other rural school districts to develop similar Grow Your Own programs.