Monday, February 29, 2016

Meet Our New Chinese Scholar

Ellen Gao and Chinese language students Karlee Hicks and Brady Duncan.
Gao Yang, who goes by Ellen Gao here, is new to the Nashville area, but she has already made five trips to the United States, visiting relatives and getting ready for her latest assignment. Gao is the new Chinese visiting professor of language and culture on the Vol State campus. She joins us for the next few years as part of the Confucius Institute program at MTSU. The Confucius Institute is an international Chinese project to share faculty with colleges and universities across the globe. It's coordinated here as part of International Education. You may remember that we have had three Chinese scholars at Vol State in the program thus far. It has been exciting to see the benefits of the program. Vol State has three levels of Chinese language classes going this year, including, for the first time, an advanced level.

“To my delight these students all have plans to go to China,” Gao said. “If they complete level three and successfully apply for a scholarship, they can study in China for a year with all expenses paid.”

The Hanban Institute in China runs the program. The goal of the Confucius Institute is not only to have Chinese scholars teaching at American colleges, but also foster an exchange of ideas and cultures.

“My students don’t know much about China, but they do have a lot of curiosity. I want to nurture that interest. I love the dynamics in my classes. I feel that they have strong enthusiasm and motivation. It’s not just about learning the language. We have a lot of fun.”

Vol State will offer Chinese language classes again in the fall.

Gao is the daughter of professors, who moved around China from university to university. She considers home to be Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, a city of seven million people in Northeastern China. She is an assistant professor of Language at Hanban Institute. You can find her in our directory under Ellen Yang.


A Civil Rights Learning Moment

Carole Bucy moderated a conversation last week for Black History Month featuring Nashville civil rights veterans Matthew Walker, Jr. and Kwame Lillard. Their experiences and perspective made for a fascinating learning moment. Carole is pictured here with the two men, raising a Nelson Mandela style salute. The discussion was part of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant program.

Dr. Faulkner: Heads Up

As a botanist and wildflower enthusiast, I spend a lot of my walking around time looking down.  I’m looking for flowers and lichens and fungi and mosses.  Like today (Feb. 23), I noticed that crocuses are blooming in the grass in front of Warf.  Even when I’m walking on the sidewalks in my neighborhood, I tend to look down even though there aren’t many wildflowers to see.

I recently became aware of this tendency and have made a conscious decision to look up more.  As a result I’m noticing things that previously escaped my attention.  I’m observing trees and buildings and perhaps most importantly the people around me.  Vistas and landscape that I previously ignored are now obvious.  It is still a struggle and even on a short walk, I have to remind myself to look up.

Sometimes this happens in my mental state as well.  I become fixated on my immediate surroundings and on what is currently close to my feet.  I have to make an effort to look up – to do an environmental scan. And I have to look further down the road to what opportunities lay ahead.

So my challenge to myself and to you is to purposefully take some time today to look up.  Heads up!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New Feature for Students on My Vol State

There's a new feature on the student My Vol State page that we wanted to let everyone know about. It's a place for students to seek help if they're having academic problems. It's called the College Success Zone on My Vol State. As you may know, the College Success Zone has been our branding name for our academic support programs for several years now - the Language Center, SI and tutor.com to name a few. The College Success Zone at My Vol State is just the latest addition to that line-up. Here is what we're telling students:


College Success Zone on My Vol State
We have several resources available on your My Vol State web page. Login to My Vol State.  Click on the “Resources” tab.  Login to the College Success Zone using your same Username and Password.
What you will see:
  • 1.       My Success Network--- Displays the people and services that are available to help you succeed.  -Your Success Network is where you can find key contact information.
  • 2.      Need Some Help?  Have a question but don’t know who to ask?  Raise your hand!  We will come to you!
  • 3.      Service Catalog---A catalog of services at the click of a button.  A listing of all services offered at the college.

TCCAA Basketball Tournament comes to Vol State

Hundreds of basketball players, coaches and fans will descend on Vol State for the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region VII basketball tournaments for men and women. Teams from ten colleges will be playing in the tournaments, from as far away as Memphis and Chattanooga. The TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII Tournament games are open to the public and free as always for faculty, staff and students, with college ID. The Tournaments begin with men’s and women’s games on February 29 and continue all week. They culminate with championship games on Friday, March 4. All games will be held at the Pickel Field House gym.


Participating teams include Chattanooga State, Cleveland State, Columbia State, Dyersburg State, Jackson State, Motlow State, Roane State, Southwest Tennessee, Vol State, and Walters State. Game times and team assignments will be posted the week prior to the tournaments on the Vol State Website at www.volstate.edu. Admission is $5 for the general public.

Dr. Faulkner: If I Only Had a Brain- Part Two

An article in Training Magazine titled “Brain Power” (November / December, 2014)   explores how we should use all the new information about brain function to inform our teaching.  Although targeted at corporate trainers, the ideas are very relevant to formal education.  One of the side boxes of the article featured 10 tips for applying what we know about the brain to training / teaching.  The side box is reproduced below.

ENGAGING YOUR LEARNER'S BRAINS FOR LASTING RESULTS
By Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO, Herrmann International

It’s often reported that our knowledge of the brain doubles every 10 years; the recent explosion of research and methods means we may be learning much more, much faster.
In some ways, this has been a mixed blessing for training professionals. While learning is a mental activity, and understanding how people think and process information is essential to engaging them and getting long-term results, I’ve heard more than one leader say, “It’s all very interesting, but what do I do with it?”

Scientific theories are helpful, but what really matters is application. Here are 10 key points for applying the research to engage your learners’ brains and increase your own efficiency:
  1. Every learner’s brain is unique, specialized, and situational. We all have preferred modes of learning and thinking. Plan for a full diversity of styles, and be aware of how your own preferences affect you as the designer or trainer. The more important the learning points, the more important it is to bring in a “tapestry” of approaches that appeal to all the thinkers in your group.
  2. Mindsets frame how we see the world and can interfere with learning. To overcome the brain’s resistance to change, use a “Whole Brain” approach: Provide context, engage emotions, introduce novelty, create meaty challenges, and provide time for processing and practice.
  3. The brain looks for patterns, and those patterns form the way we think. The brain will “fill in the blanks” based on prior experiences, so you can use this to your advantage to accelerate learning, but be careful of the mindset trap.
  4. The greater the mental stretch, the more energy it takes to learn. To make sure learners are mentally prepared for the challenge, prepare the brain by providing context and aligning design with the learner’s needs.
  5. Learners need stretch, NOT stress. Stress alters neuron growth. As you challenge learners, watch for too much stress, which will shut learning down.
  6. Learners don’t pay attention to boring things. Particularly now, when there is almost an addiction to the constant stimulus of e-mails and other interruptions, if the brain doesn’t have an array of different activities to engage in, it becomes bored.
  7. The brain isn’t multi-tasking, it’s task switching, and a wealth of research shows that it just isn’t good at it. But face it: Your learners are multi-tasking, so plan for it. Provide e-mail breaks and other options to keep them focused during the training.
  8. Memories strengthen during periods of rest, even when we’re awake. Staggered training and breaks will help learners retain information they just learned.
  9. What isn’t rehearsed doesn’t stick in long-term memory. For critical content that must be processed and moved to long-term memory, make sure there is adequate learning, practice, and reinforcement time.
  10. The brain is wired to be social. Take advantage of online collaboration tools, and don’t forget the “old-fashioned” methods such as mentoring and group work challenges.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Irish Visitors

Vol State has a long-standing relationship with Limerick Institute of Technology in Tipperary, Ireland. Vol State students and faculty have visited on several trips for several years. Last week a couple of their faculty members visited us. Donnacha McNamara and Dr. Maria Beville of LIT made a quick stop in Nashville and at Vol State, talking with our faculty and administrative leaders. We are told International Education is planning another Ireland trip for 2017.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dr. Faulkner: If I Only Had a Brain- Part One

The recent live telecast of the musical, The Wiz, brought to mind this scarecrow quote and started me thinking about the amazing brain.  As educators it should be of interest to us as learning takes place in the neuron connections of the brain.
In recent times we have gained significant understanding of the brain and how it functions.  MRI scans give us great insight into what happens when we learn.  In a recent speech, President Obama called for a national effort to fully “map” the brain.

For example we now know that learning increases the number of brain cells.  A study from the Beijing Institute of Technology (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2011) involved 19 adults learning to match four shades of green and blue to made up color names.  The before and after MRI results showed that all the participants demonstrated a noticeable increase in brain gray matter in the critical left visual cortex which is associated with color vision and perception.

And what about the ability to control objects using the power of the brain?  On a recent flight while perusing Sky Mall magazine, I came across and ad for the Mind Controlled UFO.  Via a “headband and earlobe clip that measures electrical activity produced by your brain,” one can control the mini flying device.  It pairs with your smart phone turning it into a Bluetooth remote control.  Yours for only $229.95.

Mattel’s MindFlex Duel is a two-player game where opponents control a floating ball with the power of the mind.  Headbands scan your brainwaves and control the floating ball through a series of obstacles.  The game is to see who has the greater brain power.

And of course there has been much in the news about controlling prosthetic limbs using the power of the brain.  A May 20, 2015 New York Times article reports on the development of a Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL).  “Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab have developed a next-generation prosthetic: a robotic arm that has 26 joints, can curl up to 45 pounds and is controlled with a person’s mind just like a regular arm.”

With all this new knowledge about the brain and how we learn, we need to make informed decision about how we teach.  That is the topic of Part Two.

Get Ready to Ride and Free Pizza!

It’s Just Like Riding a Bike!  Join Vol State’s Pedaling Pioneers this Monday


•  Group rides twice per week from the Main Campus. 
•  Rides include people at every level, beginner to advanced.
•  Check out scenic rides and greenways in the area.
•  Learn about a variety of different types of bikes and gear.
•  Get information about other organized rides and races.
• No experience necessary! More than half of the current Pedaling Pioneers did not even own a bike prior to March 2015!

Come join us to learn more!

For more information, come to our Pizza Social Monday, February 22
Mary Cole Nichols Dining Room, 5-­6 p.m. Then come test out different bikes with David Hardin of Biker’s Choice 6-7 p.m.
or
Contact Coach Chrysa Malosh

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 www.volstate.edu/adult. 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.


Tutor.com

Vol State has established service with an online tutoring company called Tutor.com. 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:

Tutor.com
All Vol State students have free access to the online tutoring service Tutor.com. It is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The link to Tutor.com 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 Tutor.com 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 www.volstate.edu/OneBook.

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