Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Fall 2017 Outstanding Graduate Nominees

As we celebrate Fall Graduation 2017, we are reminded that every student walking across the stage faced unique challenges. Much hard work was required for them to arrive at a degree. Each student has a set of personal accomplishments and dreams for the future. Here are the stories of the three Outstanding Graduate nominees.

 Joanne Layton admits that she slept through her high school American History class. Now she says that American History fascinates her. “I yell at the TV news about things I know from class. I got so much out of it.”

Joanne will be graduating from Vol State at the age of 62.  Age buys plenty of perspective when it comes to college. “When you’re young you don’t appreciate education.”
She had a long career at AT&T, rising to management, all without a college degree. A forced retirement left her in a fix. “I found it difficult to find employment doing anything because I didn't have a college degree. When I worked with AT&T I handled projects with multi-million dollar budgets. I had all of this experience and I wanted to use it. It was demeaning.”
One company even suggested she seek employment as a hotel maid. Joanne had another idea. “My Vol State degree is in computer information technology. My AT&T experience was all main frame. Now I’m working with client-server and networking.”
The road to that degree wasn’t easy. She had to cope with the death of her brother, and her mother-in-law coming to live with her and her husband, Bruce. “He has been extremely supportive. My kids are very proud and supportive of me.”
That includes one son who actually attended Vol State at the same time as his mom. “My son thought it was cool. We were both inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success together, which was fun.”
Joanne plans to use her degree and IT certifications to have a different job search this time, one where her years of experience will actually be considered. In the meantime, she is simply proud to be graduating. “I was one of five kids. I’m the first to get a college education. When we were growing up girls just didn't get to go to college.”

Matthew Miller is a Tennessee Promise graduate who says his reason for attending college is simple: “I just wanted to get something more out of life. Tennessee Promise gave me the opportunity to get a quality first two years of education for free.”
His 3.9 GPA is just one number to consider when it comes to his future. Matthew is an accounting major.
“I like the numbers and the challenge,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed business. I like the aspect that you can see how a business is succeeding or failing with numbers.”
Matthew will take that ambition to Austin Peay University in the spring where he plans to pursue a degree and a certification in personal or managerial accounting.
Faculty member John Hoover nominated Matthew. “His academic work has always been exceptional. He has always been engaged and attentive….He will, in all likelihood, have a great career as a practicing account.

Many students travel to take advantage of a college opportunity. Anuradha Nugawela voyaged for more than 9,000 miles to make his dreams come true.
“I came to the United States on a student VISA,” he said. “Sri Lanka had a war going on and my parents didn’t have money for college. I always wanted to come to the United States, since I was a kid.”
Flash forward several years and Anuradha faced a new challenge at Vol State- and this time it wasn't a geographical or cultural struggle, but rather one that many adult students face.
“I was pretty nervous at first. I didn't know how to balance school, being a dad and work. I just put my head down and studied hard.”
He majored in information systems at Vol State and the hard work has paid off. He’s graduating with honors, the result of a 4.0 GPA. His wife Kaitlyn, and his three year-old daughter Harper, will celebrate with him. And then it’s off to the next leg of his journey at Middle Tennessee State University.
“I want to do my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree together. I want to study data science and predictive analysis. My dream job would be to work for a sports franchise.”

The Outstanding Graduate award will be announced at the ceremony on December 16 at 10 a.m. Commencement will be streamed live at www.volstate.edu/graduation

Congratulations to all of the Fall 2017 graduates.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Parris Powers Memorial Arboretum is Now Official

Vol State officially has an arboretum.  What's an arboretum? “It is a place with an exhibit of trees and other plants for display or scientific study. An arboretum is a single site or place, whereas arboreta, the Latin plural, refers to several sites or places.” That comes from the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC).

There are 62 trees on campus that have been identified and certified as a level II arboretum by the TUFC. It’s thanks to the work of Vol State alum Cynthia Hernandez and Math and Science faculty, including Le-Ellen Dayhuff. It’s named for former Vol State Chemistry Professor Parris Powers, who was not only an inspiration to students, but had a great love for the environment.

What is the point of a certified arboretum? TUFC says: “A certified arboretum must be open to the public with trees that are labeled, properly protected, and well maintained.” And that’s really the point- the tree labels are designed for education. If you step outside of the Ramer building you will see several trees on the Nashville Pike side of the building with silver name tags. If you didn’t know what a Black Gum tree looked like…now you do. The plan is to have even better signage identifying the trees and then some sort of Internet link so people can find out more about that type of tree. You could walk around campus and learn about trees as you go.

There will be a public event announcing the Parris Power Memorial Arboretum on Arbor Day, Friday, April 27, 2018.

Congrats again to Cynthia and Le-Ellen for the certification.

Story Slam Winners Announced

The Vol State Storytelling Project held a first for the college- a Story Slam competition. And here are the winners:

1- Evan Decker for “The Grandfather and the Chainsaw” – SPCH 103 A01 (Honors)

2- Abigail Vance for “Pinewood: The crowds, the coffee, and the celebrities” – SPCH 1010 010

Storytelling Project co-directors, Shellie Michael and Sheri Waltz, have more on the competition:

The SERS grant project gives students a wider audience for an assignment in some SPCH 1010 and SPCH 103 courses at Vol State: the Storytelling Speech, a short personal narrative about a meaningful life event. The project enhances storytelling pedagogy, the role of storytelling in our Speech curricula, and students’ public speaking abilities.

Online and on-ground students share their work by posting videotapes of their Storytelling speech online. Students in each class section watch each other’s speeches and vote for winning stories in various categories. The winners advance to inter-class competition, and outstanding presentations receive prizes. Students can participate in the competition entirely online, though the project may include an opportunity for winners to tell stories and/or receive recognition at an on-campus event, offered in conjunction with Vol State’s Office of Student Life & Diversity in Spring. Students who don’t usually get to participate in on-campus events, especially online students, can participate in the online Story Slam events (in their classes and in the inter-class finalists’ round) as spectators and competitors.

Engagement has a positive impact on students’ college success. In particular, at-risk students “need validation that not only are they capable of succeeding in college, but that they belong on campus as well” (“Moving Beyond Access: College Success for Low-Income, First-Generation Students,” The Pell Institute for Opportunity in Higher Education, 29). Storytelling provides validation as well as engagement. Through this speech, students can experience a heightened sense of belonging since their diverse backgrounds are celebrated. Many students often fear that they do not belong at college because of experiences they perceive as setting them apart from others. The process of sharing shows students that though struggles are unique to each individual, other students have wrestled with difficulties, and often the same kinds of challenges. Learning about one another, students find commonalities and forge connections, share similarities and celebrate differences. Together, they reflect on turning points in their lives, whether hardships or lessons learned, or joyful or comic incidents. Students feel valued because their classmates have emotional responses to their stories. Storytelling builds students’ self-assurance and skills, and it also creates tighter bonds.

-Shellie Michael and Sheri Waltz

Monday, November 27, 2017

Vol State #GivingTuesday Scholarships November 28

Help us spread the word!

#Giving Tuesday is coming up this Tuesday, November 28 and Vol State is participating in the fundraising effort.The money raised on #GivingTuesday this year will be used specifically for student book scholarships. The College Foundation has set a 24-hour goal of $5000, which would fund ten such scholarships. Donations can be made with a credit card on the college website at www.volstate.edu/foundation and then by clicking on the Giving tab. The College Foundation has been sharing messages from donors and student recipients on social media to kick-off the campaign.

#Giving Tuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Organizers of the event say they want to “inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.” 

Pictured: Vol State graduate and donor, Andrew Finney of Perkins Drugs, is just one of many community members participating in the Vol State social media campaign.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Meet Jessica Buchanan

Jessica Buchanan has been hired as Special Assistant for Strategic Initiatives. She will work directly with President Faulkner in developing community partnerships and special projects.

“It’s all about collaboration,” Buchanan said. “I’ll be making partnerships in the campus community and working on initiatives that cross academic divisions. I think a large part of my job is listening; trying to understand what people need.”

Buchanan comes most recently from Be Better Advertising in Franklin where she was operations and data analyst. She was assistant director for Student Success Services and Career Services at Midway University in Kentucky. She has also held career development positions at Berea College in Kentucky and Polk State College in Florida.

“I like this community," she said. "My boyfriend lives here in Sumner County and he graduated from Vol State last May. I was here for the graduation and I looked around and thought the campus looked pretty amazing.”

Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communication Arts from Warner University and a Master of Science in Information Technology from Florida State University.

Vol State in the News

Health Sciences faculty got creative recently, attracting attention from Fox 17. The TV station did live reports before the opening of the Metro Schools Career Exploration Fair. Kevin Alspaugh, Lindi Boyd, Edward Carlton, Kimma Hammers, David Linn, Mel Matthews, and Brandie Park created a Health Sciences booth with a common theme. It was an interactive display featuring Bernie the Sim-Man ( one of our EMS high tech training mannequins). The scenario explained that Bernie had fallen asleep at the wheel, leading to a car accident. Students were able to experience how sleep problems are diagnosed, the emergency medical response, and the diagnostic roles of medical lab, radiology, and ultrasound. Here's the story.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Successful Hazardous Waste Collection on Campus

Vol State hosted a Household Hazardous Waste Event on October 28th. Organizers report that 194 households attended the event.
  • Flammable Liquids (Lighter Fluid, Gasoline, Lamp Oils)-998 lbs.
  • Non-Flammable Liquids (Antifreeze, Soaps)-1,113 lbs.
  • Poisonous Material (Pesticides and Herbicides)-2,231 lbs.
  • Aerosols (Spray Paint and Cleaners)-443 lbs.
  • Fluorescent Lamps-57 lbs.
  • Corrosive Materials (Oven Cleaner, Bleach, Draino)-307 lbs.
  • Oxidizing Materials (Peroxide, Pool Chemicals)-71 lbs.
  • Mercury-35 lbs.
  • Sharps-18 lbs. 
  • Event Total - 7,391 lbs.
Congrats to all of those involved on a successful day!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Help Get the Word Out About Health Sciences Associate of Science

A new Vol State degree can provide the education for a career on the front lines of public health. The Health Sciences associate of science (not to be confused with the longtime AAS) is the stepping stone towards employment in public health administration. It's a new option for students who may not make it into our highly competitive specialty programs in Health Sciences. Here's a story we did that explores employment in public health. Help us get the word out to students!

The kids hold up their hands excitedly inside the dark tent. There are patches of glowing white here and there. It’s a fun way for the Whitten Elementary School students to learn about handwashing. Sumner County Health Department public health educator, Beth Gray, assists them in the project, making sure they use the glow in the dark lotion correctly. Then the kids head off to wash off the lotion. They return under the black light in the tent to see how they did. The splotches show places they didn’t get “clean”.  Out in the gym, Kimberly Bonds, a health educator II, talks to the third graders about scrubbing beneath their nails and making sure to get the backs of their hands. The demonstration is on the front lines of public health and the simple lesson has big implications for all of us.

“We want to keep them in school,” Bonds said. “When they’re not sick, they’re learning. They may work in fast food restaurants as teenagers, and this can remind them how to keep their hands clean. When they enter the workforce they better understand how to be responsible when you have a cold or flu.”

Vol State has a Health Sciences associate of science degree program that is designed to train workers for public health administration jobs. Working in public health, as an administrator, educator or in community outreach, means a wide range of activities.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Gray. “We go to many different schools. Rather than sit in the office, we go out into the community and meet people. We have an impact on their lives.”

The Vol State Health Sciences degree includes courses that you might expect, such as Medical Terminology and Anatomy and Physiology, but it also includes other important education for a public health worker, including Fundamentals of Speech Communication and Introduction to Ethics. The program is intended to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program in Health Sciences at a university. Most public health jobs require at least a four-year degree. The Sumner County Health Department handles many responsibilities, including the operation of health clinics, promoting immunizations and preventing the spread of disease. Public health administrators have many roles within the field.

“The roles of Public Health administrators are evolving to include community economic development, community planning, and design,” said Hal Hendricks, county director for the Sumner County Health Department. “We live in a global society, even in what we still consider rural communities. That, along with changes in healthcare, make public health an integral part of community safety and quality of life.”

“We are on the front lines of education and prevention with four major areas of concern: obesity; not getting enough physical activity; tobacco use; and opioid drug abuse,” Bonds said. “One day you can be teaching cute kids and the next day adults. You’re doing something that impacts the community.”

For more information about the Health Sciences associate of science degree program visit www.volstate.edu.

Vol State in the News

The Health Sciences associate of science degree publicity campaign got some help from the Sumner County Health Department. The Tennessean has our news release.

The Foundation recently completed the fundraising requirement for our portion of the Warf Math and Science Building renovation project. The Tennessean has the details.

The Tennessean also covered a recent "To Kneel or Not to Kneel" discussion organized by the Office of Diversity Initiatives.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Why a Vol State Mascot?

We recently unveiled the new physical mascot for Vol State and now we're in the process of taking suggestions for a name. Why are we going to a Pioneers mascot logo and physical mascot after all of these years of not having one? The answer is simple: students in our traditional age groups respond strongly to mascot identities for colleges and universities. This first dawned on those of us in PR after a student panel at a community college PR conference two years ago. The students all expressed regret that community colleges didn't have a stronger mascot presence and to them it reflected a boring campus life. Those who attended colleges with a mascot responded enthusiastically. This generation connects with mascots.

We understand that a community college mascot will never match the marketing power of Smokey the Dog at UT or Big Red at WKU. But a mascot can be a valuable part of student life and student culture, allowing us to share that our campus has many activities and events to offer students.

The mascot logo and character will be used in athletics and student engagement events. However, it will be used sparingly. Our academic foundation is the heart of what we do and student success will continue to be our calling card. Strong academic instruction and support is the primary focus for our marketing and outreach, as always.

A mascot does have a role in retention work interestingly enough. Studies show that students who are better connected to their college tend to do better in courses. A strong campus life and campus identity helps connect students to campus. A mascot can help in that process.

If you're interested in reading more about mascots and marketing, check out this blog article that brings up some of the main points.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Earthquake Drill and Tips if you Missed it

The New Madrid fault line is a couple of hundred miles away from us, but the risk of an earthquake in our area is still something to consider. Experts agree that a large quake on the New Madrid line would impact Middle Tennessee. And there are other fault lines in the region. With that in mind, there was recently a regional earthquake drill called ShakeOut, which Vol State participated in. If you missed it- here’s what it looked like here at the college.

This is the advice from emergency response coordinators:

“You cannot tell from the initial shaking if an earthquake will suddenly become intense…so always Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately!

In MOST situations, you will reduce your chance of injury if you:

DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.

COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand

If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter

If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows)

Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs

HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts
No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.

If there is no table or desk near you, drop to the ground and then if possible move to an inside corner of the room. Be in a crawling position to protect your vital organs and be ready to move if necessary, and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

You Can Still Walk Across Sumner County

You don't really walk across Sumner County for Walk Across Sumner County. The goal is to walk for fitness and keep track of your miles during October and early November. You can still participate with your Vol State colleagues. Just see Lesa Cross in the PR office, Ramer room 103 for a form. You simply fill in the form to record how much you walk each day. If you walk on campus there is a marker near the Library that shows how many laps equal miles. Some of the walkers joined the Walk Across Sumner organizers and Dr. Faulkner this week for a photo. It's great walking weather....we hope to see you out there!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Vol State in the News

We announced recently the upgrade of the Radiologic Technology to fully-digital equipment. It's a big deal for the program. The Tennessean ran the story.

Two local TV stations surprised us by running stories about the unveiling of our new mascot the morning of the announcement. We certainly appreciate the coverage...perhaps some Pioneers working at those TV stations? Here is the Tennessean story about the new mascot.

The Tennessean sent a photographer to the Fall Fiesta at Vol State. He put together this nice photo gallery.

A Vol State student, who found international success in New York as a doll maker, has returned home to Gallatin. She has a show this month in the Vol State Art Gallery. It's an interesting story, as the Tennessean shows.

The media covered the lockdown situation on campus. A man with a knife made some strange statements at a business across the street from the Gallatin campus. Thanks to Campus Police and the Building Coordinators for the great work in locking down campus. Here is the Tennessean's story about the incident. The man was eventually found by police.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Remind Students to see their Academic Advisor

It's time to get students ready for Spring Priority Registration. We're doing a big push on social media this week and we could use your help. If you get a moment to mention in class that they should see their academic advisor, that would be appreciated.

If they're not sure who their academic advisor is, the answer is just a few clicks away. Have them go to their personal information on their My Vol State page- the advisor will be listed there.

Priority Registration for spring classes for current students opens on November 6 for sophomores (students with 30 credits of more) and November 7 for freshmen (students with less than 30 credits).

Dr. Faulkner: LQ

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”  If you recognize that as the lyrics to a song and remember the original Dionne Warwick version, then you have been around a while.
Jack Ma is the founder of the world’s largest retailer.  Alibaba is the Chinese e-commerce giant that made Ma worth nearly $29 billion.

In a recent address at the Bloomberg Global BusinessForum he made two really important points.
First he made the point that we must embrace technology and develop the skills to use it effectively.  We must not fear technology and fret over the possibility of lost jobs.  He illustrates that the invention of the steam engine was predicted to cause the loss of jobs as was the automobile and electricity.  All resulted in changes in jobs but not net loss.  We can’t train to out-smart or out-work technology because a “machine never forgets, never gets tired, never sleeps or drinks.”

His statement reminds me of the Ballad of John Henry.  Again, if you remember this you are likely getting a little “long in the tooth.”  The story is of John Henry, a steel drivin’ man who won the race against a steam powered driver but ended up dying as a result.

The lesson is that we must embrace the technological changes surrounding us and teach our students how to use and capitalize on them.

The second of Ma’s points is somewhat surprising.  He offers that while we can’t beat technology in many roles there is one area where we humans can excel.  It isn’t IQ (intelligence quotient) or even EQ (emotional intelligence).  It is LQ.  “The quotient of love, which machines never have.”  Ma went on to say, “A machine does not have a heart, machine does not have soul, and machine does not have a belief.  Human being have the souls, have the belief, have the value; we are creative, we are showing that we can control the machines.”  Our feelings of love result in justice, creativity and our ability to empathize deeply and respond wisely. 

So while we teach technology we must also teach the uniqueness of humanity.  Ma says that we shouldn’t create machines to be like humans and not try to make humans like machines.  “Let humans be humans.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Furry Fundraiser

A big thanks to all who attended the Dog Wash and made it successful.  We had roughly 26 students here throughout the day washing the dogs.  The students bathed 29 dogs and raised $335.00 for a local rescue group (which one has yet to be decided).  

The smallest dog was a 15 week old Daschund weighing approx. 4 pounds and the largest dog was Tucker Winfield ( Saranne Winfield’s pet) an Alaskan Malamute weighing in, according to his owner, at 115 pounds.  He liked his “spa” treatment!

DJ Smith, Veterinary Technology Program

Connie Smith Art Exhibit at the Vol State Gallery

The creations of doll maker Connie Smith will be on display at the Vol State Art Gallery through November 2. Smith’s work has found its way into high-profile collections, including those of Nashville music producers Mike and Linda Curb, as well as actress Whoopi Goldberg, and Disney animators Eric and Susan Goldberg.

“Connie adapted the practice of hand-building hollow forms from high-fire clays, acquired a kiln and began reinventing the figures of her early childhood,” her biography said. “From 1991 to 2005, she honed her oeuvre in her family's art studio, The Lamb’s Ear, attending local art festivals and enjoying a cadre of collectors who hosted salons of her work in their Nashville homes and commissioned custom pieces. By the mid-1990’s Connie's work began to appear in trade magazines, and she’d discovered the National Institute of American Doll Artists. Her first ten years in the organization saw the more mature development of her signature anthropomorphic style, which found its way into collections across the country.”

Smith is an alumnus of Vol State.  She has just recently moved back to Gallatin after living in New York City. The Connie Smith exhibit is free and open to the public. There will be an artist reception on Saturday, October 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The Vol State Art Gallery is located on the first floor of the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black (SRB) Humanities Building on the Gallatin campus at 1480 Nashville Pike. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 615-230-3202.

Pictured: Alsacia diptych by Connie Smith

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Chat with the New Dean of Math and Science

Tom Ekman took on the new role as dean of Math and Science in August...just in time for an Eclipse event and the start of the fall semester. 

He has taught chemistry at Vol State for the last four years and served as chair of the Science Department. Previously he was at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, as project consultant at the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. He was associate director in the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations, and later director of the Medical Center Development and Alumni Relations. Ekman also taught Chemistry at Vanderbilt as an adjunct and visiting associate professor of Chemistry. He has held teaching positions at two other universities. He earned a B.A. degree in Chemistry from Lyon College, and a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Louisiana State University.

“I am a problem solver. In my experience at Vanderbilt, I spent 13 years on the support staff there solving problems,” Ekman said. “I see that as a big part of the dean’s work.”

And his goals for the new position?

“I want to strengthen and support the disciplines and courses we currently have, and then expand our relationships with other institutions,” he said. “I want to provide more experiences for students in undergraduate science research and have more professional development opportunities for faculty members.”

Where did Eclipse Visitors Come From?

The Eclipse was a big event for the college. It brought in more than 3,000 people from all over the globe. Dr. Faulkner put together this list. At the end you will find yet another letter from visitors who expressed gratitude for the event.

Dominican Republic

United States
New Jersey
New York  
North Carolina
South Carolina
Washington D.C.                              

Dear Dr. Faulkner,
Thank you for making your campus an eclipse watching location. I drove to Tennessee from Gettysburg, PA with my husband and adult daughter. We planned our eclipse adventure based on the information you submitted to the American Astronomical Society website. We arrived on your campus at 6:30 am and stayed until 2:00 pm. The security guard at the entrance gave us such a warm welcome that we knew we had come to the right place for this "once in a lifetime" adventure. 

Every volunteer was informative, helpful, friendly, and seemed to share our excitement. We loved your welcoming remarks, the lectures on history and math of eclipses, the shared telescopes, the maps, restrooms, and the way your campus made it an affordable day for everyone. 

My most memorable time was sitting on the library lawn listening to a NASA specialist and a science teacher narrate the eclipse by conversing with each other. When they told the crowd to remove their glasses to witness totality, the communal gasp of wonder was exhilarating! Your staff gave us an amazing day. Please share my gratitude with the people that worked so diligently to make August 21, 2017 truly meaningful. Bravo to Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee!
Sincerely, Eileen Mathias

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Fall Fiesta and Potential Student Projects

The Fall Fiesta at Vol State is coming up on Saturday, October 21 from 10am to 3pm on the Gallatin campus. We encourage faculty to use this event to tie into course work, through community service or extra credit assignments. 

Topics could include Latino music, art, education, health care and cultural studies. How are Latinos keeping Aztec culture alive? What are the different types of Latino music and food. How does food tie into cultural perspective in a country? How are Mexicans different from Guatemalans? How are different states in Mexico different from each other?

If you're interested in participating with your call email eric.melcher@volstate.edu

As always, you and your family are invited to this free event! Here's the basic info.

The Miss Princesa Americas Pageant will come to Volunteer State Community College on Saturday, October 21 as part of the Fall Fiesta at Vol State. The competition will be held live on the plaza stage. The annual celebration of Latino culture will include a soccer goal kicking contest with several age categories from kids to adult. The Fiesta is a free event featuring food, music, and fun.

“Vol State hosts the Fiesta each year to help showcase many of the nations and cultures that we call Latino,” said Eric Melcher with Vol State. “We want to show how diverse Latino culture is around the world. It’s also an opportunity to welcome people to the Vol State campus. We have hundreds of Latino students at the college each semester.”

The food cook-off contest features dishes from many different Latino nations. After judging at 11 a.m., the public is welcome to sample. There will also be a free Mexican lunch and drinks starting at noon. The family event, held outside on the campus grounds, includes live music, dance groups, art activities, and games for kids.

The Fall Fiesta at Vol State will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will happen, rain or shine, on the campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. The rain location is the Pickel Field House. The Fall Fiesta is free and open to everyone. Families are encouraged to bring a blanket and chairs and spend the day. The soccer contest age schedule can be found in Spanish and English on the web page: www.volstate.edu/espanol/Fiesta.php For more information in English or Spanish call 615-230-4846.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Remind Your Students: Career Fair September 20

Dozens of employers will be on site for the 2017 Fall Job Career Fair at Vol State. Please remind students of this event. It provides an opportunity for job seekers to talk directly with the people responsible for hiring at many area companies. Participants are encouraged to bring their resumes. Everyone is invited to attend. The Career Fair will be held at the Pickel Field House on Wednesday, September 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information call 615-230-3307 or visit www.volstate.edu/CareerFair

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Relay for Life on September 23

Relay for Life will be held on the Vol State Gallatin campus on Saturday, September 23 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be some other activities on campus that day, as well. Relay is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. It is now held in 5,200 communities across the world. If you would like more information or you want to sign up to walk and collect donations, please visit the website.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Your Donations at Work in Texas

Vol State Senior Director of Plant Operations, Will Newman, recently led a relief trip to Texas to help people hit hard by flooding. Many of you helped with donations. He's back and has this account of how it went.

Now that it's over I can look back and see how it all happened. What started with a simple Facebook post on Aug 29th quickly snowballed into a full blown relief effort for the flood victims of east Texas.  Within hours of the post, support for the mission was established and the true American spirit was shown.  This lead to a budget, logistical planning, seeking assistance for operations, and the goal to load up boats and pack as much food, water, and supplies on 2 trailers. 

Within 48 hours the "Wet Donkey Team" was up to 7 volunteers which included my poor wife. Word spread quickly about the mission and the funding and support grew. The Vol State community donated monetarily and by filling 2 pallets with supplies.

Food for thought.. as a good example of how amazing Americans can be, in less 72 hours task force #wetDonkey secured over $5400 in donations as well as over $4000 in food, water, hygiene, and baby supplies. Our team made multiple convoys in and out of flood damaged cities and drove over 34 hours in 3 days.

$.79 of every dollar donated went to providing food and water or some sort of comfort item to a flood victim. Any money not spend on donation or recovery supplies was spent on fuel and transportation costs.

I want to thank absolutely everyone that donated money, food, and said a prayer for the mission from the bottom of my heart.

I'm proud of my team. #wetdonkey

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Meet the New President's Ambassadors

Vol State has a new group of President’s Ambassadors for 2017-2018. You may have seen them recently at Convocation. The Ambassadors represent the College at events, conduct campus tours and help with public relations. Students selected for the President’s Ambassadors scholarship program go through a rigorous vetting and interview process.  Successful candidates are selected from over two thousand eligible students.  To be eligible for the program, students must have a cumulative 3.0 grade point average and have completed at least 12 college-level credit hours at Vol State.  The scholarship covers full tuition and fees at the in-state rate, as well as a $300 per semester book stipend.  Students selected serve a one-year term.

The 2017-2018 Vol State President’s Ambassadors from left to right. Back row: Joshua Thompson of Greenbrier; Dylan Brewer of Lyles; Daniel Hannett of Old Hickory; Jason Smith of Cookeville; Alisea Turc of Gallatin; and Lisa Green of Gainesboro. Front row: Nicole Boone of Celina; Leighanne Simmons of Portland; Jacie Boyd of Sparta; Adriana Sanchez-Xalate of Murfreesboro; Kendra Marin of Cottontown; and Sarahi Villasenor of Hendersonville.

Dr. Faulkner: How to Learn by Elon Musk

You likely have heard of Elon Musk.  He co-founded PayPal and is the founder of the Tesla electric cars and SpaceX.  He is also a proponent of the mission to Mars and a project to connect America via a system of underground tubes containing hyper-speed vehicles.

So this guy is no slouch.  He is an entrepreneur extraordinaire and you would think he is very intelligent.  As reported on the Inc. website, in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), a fan asked, “I know you’ve read a lot of books and you hire a lot of smart people and soak up what they know, but you have to acknowledge you seem to have found a way to pack more knowledge into your head than nearly anyone else alive.  

How are you so good at it?”

Musk’s response was very interesting.  He give two pieces of critical advice.

      “I think most people can learn a lot more than they think the can.  They sell themselves short without trying.”

      “One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree – make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

As we begin a new academic year and a new semester at Vol State these are good lessons for us to remember as we teach students (We are all educators.) and as we seek to continue our own education (We are all learners.)

First we need to challenge our students and ourselves to stretch beyond what we think we are capable of attaining.  As a faculty member and department chair I’ve heard the same things you have.  “I’m just not good at math.”  I’m just not good at science.”  I have a learning block when it comes to languages.”  “That’s just the way I am.”  Saying these things is making an excuse for not trying.

Second we need to practice good andragogy by structuring our lessons to be sure we cover the fundamentals before diving into the details.  There is much research that show that learning occurs when we connect something new to something we already know.  If there are no branches then there is no place to hang the leaves.  We must construct our lessons so that there is a sound framework while at the same time understanding that student will have their own construct based on their own experiences and prior learning.

Who can know if the next Elon Musk is attending Vol State right now?

Vol State Art Gallery - Richard Painter Exhibit in September

Vol State has a beautiful new art gallery on the first floor of the SRB Building. It's open to everyone. It can be a nice way to spend a few minutes over lunch. There will be displays by regional artists throughout the school year and a student show in the spring. The work of internationally known artist Richard Painter will be on display through September 28. Painter creates large scale images and three-dimensional objects by a unique process of using fire resistant coating and blow torches to char wood.

“My work since 1995 has utilized burning,” Painter says on his website. “Either rapidly or slowly, everything burns- the stars, planets, rocks, earth, plants and animals, molecules and atoms, quarks and maybe tachyons--everything that springs into tangible existence starts being consumed by the oxidation of time. Some say that I'm really an arsonist at heart and have simply found a polite and productive way to deal with that tendency.”

Painter is an alumnus of Vol State.  He went on to build a career exhibiting across the nation and internationally. The Richard Painter exhibit is free and open to the public. The Vol State Art Gallery is located on the first floor of the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black (SRB) Humanities Building on the Gallatin campus at 1480 Nashville Pike. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 615-230-3202.

Pictured: Winter Note #6. Charred wood, pastel and acrylic, 25" x 49" by Richard Painter.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Much Easier Discussion Board

The Vol State employee Discussion Board is now much easier to use. We have set up links in three different locations. You simply click the link and enter your normal computer credentials and you'll go right there. The links are: one the right hand side column of this blog; under the Faculty and Staff tools links on the website; and also on your My Vol State page under Employee Menu.

The Discussion Board is a way for you to reach campus with any non-work related comments or offers. It could include selling a car, a puppy up for adoption, tickets for sale, or cookies available from your kid's school. If you see a snake on campus or a deer wandering the back lawn, and it's not a problem, you can post about it there and talk about it there.

We hope the new links make it easier to use the Discussion Board. We hope everyone has a great semester!

Vol State Book Read Examines Incarceration with “Just Mercy”

According to numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the United States has the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world. The number of American prisoners has increased from 300,000 in the 1970s to 2.3 million people today. The Volunteer State Community College One Book, One Community initiative will examine these issues this coming school year with a group read of the non-fiction book "Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson. This is how the publisher, Spiegel and Grau, describes “Just Mercy.”

“Bryan Stevenson takes us on an unforgettable journey into the broken American criminal justice system in his much lauded New York Times bestselling “Just Mercy.” After Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School he started the Equal Justice Initiative, a law practice dedicated to defending some of America's most rejected and marginalized people. Among the first cases he took on was that of Walter McMillian, a black man from Monroeville, Alabama who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case would change Bryan's life and transform his understanding of justice and mercy forever. “Just Mercy” follows the suspenseful battle to free Walter before the state executes him, while also stepping back to tell the profoundly moving stories of men, women, and even children, who found themselves at the mercy of a system often incapable of showing it.” 

Bryan Stevenson. Photo by Nina Subin.
The One Book, One Community initiative joins Vol State, local schools, libraries and readers from across Sumner County for the group read. There are three speakers coming to the Vol State campus in Gallatin to discuss issues raised by the book. Everyone is welcome to attend these free events.

Jeannie Alexander will be speaking on September 13 at 1 p.m. in the Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium. Readers of the Nashville Scene will recognize her as the publication’s “Best Advocate” in 2017. Alexander, who has been involved in advocacy for those affected by homelessness as well as the prison system, now heads up the No Exceptions Prison Collective, a nonprofit focused on the abolition of prisons as well as the establishment of basic treatment standards for prisoners. Alexander will talk about her experiences as an advocate and more generally about the prison system.

Vanderbilt Philosophy Professor Lisa Guenther will discuss the prison system in America on October 24 at 1 p.m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Room. Guenther’s areas of focus include mass incarceration, capital punishment, the carceral state, race and racism, and the effects of solitary confinement.

The Reverend Joseph B. Ingle will present on November 15 at 1 p.m. in the Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium. Ingle is an expert on the history of incarceration in the United States. The Reverend founded the Tennessee Committee against State Killing, and has served as the director of the Southern Coalition on Jails and Prisons as well as the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Justice Center, a Nashville based coalition focused on restorative justice.

“Just Mercy” is available at many Sumner County libraries and all Vol State library locations. For more information on One Book, One Community and “Just Mercy” visit www.volstate.edu/onebook.

Here are the references for the above stats:
Highest Incarceration Rate
Number of Americans in Prison