Friday, May 13, 2016

Vol State in the News

Graduation had so many great stories this year. Here's the coverage in the Gallatin News-Examiner.

This is the Cookeville Herald-Citizen posting of the Meness family graduation story.

Our graduate award winners have received coverage for their honors. Here's just one example from Mt. Juliet.

And in case you didn't know about Merit Pages, it's how we also share those student awards and accomplishments on social media. Every student has a page and their achievements can be shared with friends and family via email and social media. It's a great way to get the whole family involved in educational achievements Here's a look at recent awards on our Merit Page.

It's a national honor for Angel Carrier, who took her business plan to the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Vol State. Now she's been honored as Small Business Administration Woman Owned Business of the Year. The Tennessean has the story.

Pioneer Partner Day is coming up on June 11. Everyone is encouraged to join the Vol State Alumni Association at Gallatin High School for a spruce-up day. Here is a Tennessean article explaining.

Everyone has been wondering what the guns on campus law will mean at Vol State. News2 talked to Dr. Faulkner for his perspective.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pioneer Partner Day June 11

Here's an opportunity for Vol State folks and students looking for a TN Promise community service project:

Pioneer Partner Day
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Registration at 8:30a.m.
Volunteering from 9:00a.m. – noon
Gallatin High School

Pioneer Partner Day, scheduled for Saturday, June 11th from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Gallatin High School, is sponsored by the Volunteer State College Alumni Association, and co-sponsored by Gallatin Noon Rotary. This day of community service promises to engage Vol State Alumni with the community and current Vol State students, faculty and staff.  The event is collaborating with tnAchieves to provide service hours to Tennessee Promise Students who need to fulfill their obligation to continue their scholarships.


Volunteers will be painting rooms indoors and possibly mulching outdoors (if weather permits) at Gallatin High School. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Debra Daugherty at 615-230-3526 or debra.daugherty@volstate.edu.  Volunteers who RSVP by May 24 will be guaranteed an event t-shirt.

Service Learning Award


Congrats to Betty Williams! She was named Faculty Member of the Year for Service Learning. She received an award from Service Learning Club advisor Kelly Ormsby. Betty's Introduction to Wellness class helped with a Children Are People sports camp.

Vol State Student Art at Monthaven


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Patty T. Powell Award Announced


For those of you who were unable to attend the annual graduate Awards Night, it was a special one this year. It's always a great event, as outstanding students are honored. The recently retired Patty Powell returned to campus for the evening. Patty was there to present students with awards. But the students had awards of their own for her. The Student Government Association (SGA), both from this past school year, and the upcoming school year, presented Patty with awards to show their appreciation. It was an emotional moment. Vol State also announced a new student award that will be given out each year in her name. The Patty T. Powell Award will be presented to a graduate who has shown respect and compassion for others. Seth Walker was recognized as the first student to receive the honor. You can see the reaction from Patty and Seth.



One Hardworking Family

To culminate our graduate stories for 2016, we share with you- one family on a mission.

Brandy Meness says she is both tired and proud. Chris Meness says this will be the first time he has ever walked the stage at a graduation. The Cookeville husband and wife will graduate from Volunteer State Community College during the commencement ceremony in Gallatin on Saturday. Many adult students face challenges balancing family, work and school. The Meness family handled all of that on a much larger scale. The couple attended Vol State at Livingston at the same time, while raising an 18-month-old, twin four-year-olds, a six-year-old and also taking care of two teenagers. Chris worked two jobs and went to school full-time to make ends meet. Brandy says her husband hasn’t had a day off in six weeks.

“We worked really hard for this,” Brandy Meness said. “We sacrificed a lot for this. We are both the first in our family to do this. We want to give our kids the best life possible.”

“It’s a life-changer for me,” said Chris Meness. “It’s going to help me break the chain. My mother, father, brothers and sisters- no one has ever graduated from college. It feels phenomenal.”

Despite the massive workload the two have taken well to college. “Even though he has been working so much, Chris has a 3.3 grade point average,” Brandy said. “Hopefully I’m going to have a 4.0.”

They have only had one class together. Brandy laughs and says she found out her husband has a different learning style than her.

“My husband is a back of the classroom person- quiet and reserved,” she said. “I’m usually in the front of the classroom asking questions.”

“When other students are talking about how they don’t have anything to do after class my wife and I are talking about going to work and picking up the kids,” Chris said.

The couple is already enrolled for Tennessee Tech University to continue their studies, Brandy in Human Resources and Chris in sociology with a criminal justice emphasis. Chris actually took some TTU classes while finishing up his Vol State degree this spring. While they’re both excited about the future, they do have one small wish.

“He’s exhausted. I’m exhausted,” Brandy said. “We just want some family time this summer.”


Monday, May 2, 2016

Vol State Graduate Stories - Part Two

There are hundreds of Vol State 2016 graduates and each one has a great story. We highlight just a few more here. Congratulations to everyone!

William Curran, Sr. and William Curran, Jr. are father and son firefighters who will be graduating with a Fire Science degree from Vol State.

“I will have to say that I really didn't anticipate ever finishing my degree. I had started my degree over 10 years ago and when the Nashville fire department quit paying for it, I quit going. So advance 10 years later and my son has joined the department and figured that he could finish his degree pretty quick, therefore asking me to finish mine with him. At first I said no, but after realizing that I only needed six classes that I would give it a shot. I wanted him and my other three kids to see that dad could do what I have asked them to do, finish college. The other reason I chose to finish school was because I was number eight of ten children and had the desire to be the first to earn a college degree in my family. I will say that it was no easy task learning many techniques on the computer and writing essay papers after years of being out of school. Being in school with my son is what drove me to get this degree. Knowing that he would do well in classes challenged me to do well also. I felt a real need to set an example for my son William Jr., but also for my other three children. You will never know how glad that I am to be done. It was definitely a challenge, but one that I am glad I followed through with.” 

-William J. Curran Sr.


"Going to college with my father has been different, to say the least. I never would have thought that we would be in school together. We had one class together while we were in school, which has been a competition, at least in my eyes. I have tried to get a higher grade on all of my assignments. That matchup was the veteran Captain verse the young firefighter and I guess we will see who comes out on to as soon as our grades are posted. Now, graduating with my father is very special to me. When I decided to come back to school, I had no idea that we would graduate together. Having my father walk across the stage with me, at graduation, will be a moment we will never forget."

-William Curran, Jr.


Donna Fair is a single mom graduating with an AAS in Vet Tech. She traveled to Ireland and Mongolia as part of the International Education program.

Why did you decide to return to school after so long? 

While in high school, I had every intention of going on to college. My family moved several times while I was in high school, so I attended 4 different high schools, in 3 different states. When I got to my senior year, here in Tennessee, I didn't have all of the needed classes to graduate, without taking some freshman classes and even a night class in economics. Needless to say, I was pretty burned out by the end of my senior year, so I decided to take a one year break after I graduated. Life being what it is, I didn't make it to college, instead, I fell in love and married at 20. Our first daughter was born 3 years later and the second daughter followed 3 years after that. Unfortunately, when the baby was just 2, we divorced and I became a single mother, raising two daughters and working full time. Fast forward to 2012. By this time, I have been managing apartments for 15 years and my girls are grown and off to college themselves. I knew that I didn't want to manage apartments for the rest of my career life, so I decided to quit and go to school. It was my turn.

Why the Vet Tech program?

When trying to decide what to get a degree in, I thought about what I would enjoy doing and what brought me pleasure. I'm a cat person. I have been since I was a small child. I don't remember a time that cats and I didn't go together. But, I love all animals. Being 49 years old when I started, I knew that becoming a veterinarian was going to be too long and too expensive for the career years that I had left, so Vet Tech it became.

You have had some unique experiences while at Vol State. How did Ireland and Mongolia trips impact you?

My mother is half Irish and I have always thought that I would love to go to Ireland, so it became my chosen destination for study abroad. I found out about the scholarship that helped pay for the trip and I set out to get one! Those 3 weeks were so fantastic! I enjoyed the countryside, the people, the food, the sights, the places, the experiences, the castles... I would not have been able to travel to Ireland for 3 weeks without having pursued the study abroad program!

If not for having traveled to Ireland with Dr. Espey, I would not have gone to Mongolia. The trip to Mongolia was VERY different from the trip to Ireland, on every level, really. The reason we went, how we were chosen, how we were hosted, no studying, only representing (the college), our schedule, the food, the customs, all of it. Everything was planned for us by our Mongolian hosts. They made sure to fit lots of fun into our trip, as well as plenty of delegation opportunities, with several schools. Where I was able to experience Ireland and enjoy their country, we learned much more history of Mongolia and the people and were immersed in their daily lives much more.They are a delightfully fun people, but very serious about education. I was blown away by how simply they live, but how seriously they take education, from a very early age!

What would you say to other adult students considering going to college? 

It is never too late to follow your dreams or to change your path. It might take a little longer and be a little harder than when you were 20-something, but it is very do-able. You are never too old to learn. Honestly, I feel that my mind is younger and stronger for having exercised it so well these last couple of years!

-Donna Fair

Maram Almansour will graduate with her University Studies degree.  She came here to study from Saudi Arabia.

Why did you travel from Saudi Arabia to study in Tennessee?
In Oct 2010, I came to the states with my husband. I think we chose the United States rather than any other countries to better our education. In another word “It is better to get my degree from the US than any other place”. In 2010, I was not able to do much English. I just had very Basic English, so I had to get in an English program for a year. 
How has your experience been at Vol State?
 Vol state is a very amazing school. Great and high level of education. Good locations, smaller classes where you get to know better about the course and participate to instructors easily. So helpful staff, all the material that we need to success in our studying are available. 
What do you hope to do with your degree now that you are graduating?

I am going back home since it has been almost two years away. Then I will try to find a job over there and get my bachelor degree in the same time. There is a big possibilities that I come back to the United States and get my master and PHD degrees in the future.  
-Maram Almansour 

Join the Pedaling Pioneers on May 14


The Pedaling Pioneers have cool new shirts thanks in part to sponsors Biker's Choice, Endeavor Performance and a couple of anonymous donors. Don't let their snazzy appearance overwhelm you...these riders would love to have you join them on Saturday, May 14 for the Vol State Cycling Classic. Some of these Vol State folks just started riding this semester.

There's a ride for all levels at the Cycling Classic: 15 miles, 33 miles and 63 miles. All rides start and finish on the Vol State campus. Best of all- there's a party afterwards with food and music. It's all part of the registration. Rides start at 8am in three waves. There is still plenty of time to register. Visit www.volstate.edu/cycling for details.

If you would like to join the Pedaling Pioneers on their after-work rides for riders of all abilities (they even have a bike you can use) email Chrysa.malosh@volstate.edu to be added to the Pedaling Pioneer email list.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Graduation Stories- Part One

Spring graduation for Vol State is coming up on Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m. The entire ceremony will be streamed online at www.volstate.edu/graduation. Each year we have viewers from across the country and around the world.

A community college graduation is really a celebration of lives. It’s a singular moment when we pause to recognize hard work and achievement. We will be sharing some graduate stories this week in a variety of places. Here's an update on a student many faculty and staff will know.

Seth Walker is a 2016 graduate. He would be notable just for his 4.0 GPA, his leadership on campus and his sense of humor. But Seth accomplished his Vol State education with the challenge of a neurological condition called Cerebral Palsy. It impacts the ability of the brain to coordinate muscle movement. Seth can’t control his limbs and it is difficult for him to speak. He is in a wheelchair and has specialized high-tech equipment to use a computer. His constant campus companion is his assistant Ken Brassell.

We asked Seth a couple of questions leading up to graduation:

How does it feel to be graduating?
It seems surreal. I feel like I entered Vol State yesterday. However, at the same time, it is rewarding because I have worked so hard. It is another milestone in my life. 

You have had to overcome many physical challenges along the way. Can you describe a few of those challenges and how you dealt with them?
Since I cannot use a regular mouse, I have to use an electronic HeadMouse to type my papers. This takes about twice as long as the normal student. I have to allow myself extra time to write papers. In addition, since I am unable to hold a book, I have to have special software to display my textbooks on the computer screen. It can also read the books to me. 

Do you think overcoming those challenges helped to make you a stronger student?
 Definitely because I know what it takes to go the extra mile to get the grade. 

What are your plans for university and beyond to your career?
I will go to Lipscomb University in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communication. From there, I hope to pursue a seminary degree for a career in social media or writing ministry, but I will go wherever God leads.

Congratulations to Emily

Congratulations to Emily Short. She is the new Vice President for Student Services at Vol State. She had been Assistant Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management. Dr. Short has been working full-time at the college for 24 years, in a variety of roles. She takes on the new position after the retirement of long-time vice president Patty Powell.

“We’re already a great college division because of what vice president Powell and Mary Cole Nichols created for us,” Short said. “I want to take that foundation and build on it, to make us even greater.”

We asked when she first became interested in Vol State administration.

“In the last five to seven years I began to consider being part of senior leadership,” she said. “You get an opportunity in senior leadership to see how all facets of the college work together. But my favorite thing is working with students and getting to see them grow as individuals. Same with the staff.”

Short points out that the recent enrollment increase at Vol State, due in large part to the Tennessee Promise program, creates challenges in continuing to offer students quality admissions and advising help.

“Our students come to us with a lot of different issues,” she said. “Some are personal issues and some are academic. We have to work to get our arms around that to help the students succeed. I really look forward to working with staff and faculty members to make improvements in what we do, to ultimately help faculty in what they do in the classroom.”

Dr. Short has a bachelor’s degree from Belmont University; a Master’s in Education from Western Kentucky University; and an Ed.D. in Leadership & Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.