Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Graduate Profiles: Overcoming Obstacles and Realizing Dreams

Kelsie Piercey of Portland is graduating with a Vol State associate of science degree and a high school diploma. The Sumner County Middle College High School student has also built up more than 60 college credits that she plans to use at Berea College in Kentucky this fall. She is the first in her family to attend college. The journey hasn’t been easy.

“I’ve been couch hopping. I have to juggle school and work. I work about forty hours a week,” Kelsie said. “If I don’t have WiFi where I’m staying, that makes it hard to do homework.”

Despite the obstacles, she has done well on the Vol State campus, taking classes for both high school and college credit. “I’m probably going to cry (at graduation). I didn’t see myself going to Vol State. I just wanted to throw it out there to see what I could do. I like how it’s challenging,” she said. “I’ve met a number of eccentric and interesting people. There’s a lot more freedom. There’s no dress code.”

Kelsie said she plans to pursue a career in social services when she graduates from Berea. “I was in foster care once. We had one really good social worker and one that didn’t care. I want to make a difference.”

Crystal Sloss of Gallatin said she didn’t take college seriously when she first attended in Kentucky.  But that all changed on her second try. “I came to Vol State in 2015 with my aunt, who had just lost her job. I said – let’s do this together,” she said. “I had matured and by my second semester I decided to get involved in student activities.”

Those activities included work as a President’s Ambassador, representing Vol State at events. It’s a prestigious scholarship at Vol State and Sloss credits the people she worked with for much of her success.

“It’s opened up so many doors for me. Tim and Annette (in Admissions) believed in me. I’ve gained supportive friends with the other ambassadors. Having a group of people to support you helps you have a better outlook on school.”

It wasn’t just one activity, Crystal led several student groups, including in her most recent role as vice chairperson of the Campus Activities Board. For her service to the college, Crystal was recently awarded the Robert M. Ruff Distinguished Leadership Award.
She manages classes and extracurricular activities, while also raising two young girls as a single mom.

“I work a full-time job at Chili’s,” she said. “Being a mom with all that is really hard, but my family has been able to support me.”

Crystal isn't content with just one degree from Vol State. She graduated with a pre-nursing degree and will head back to Vol State in the fall to work on a biology degree. And it’s more than just a career step for her. She has another reason for wanting to succeed in college.

“My girls are my everything,” she said. “I want to show them that if you put your mind to something you can do it no matter what the obstacles.”

Les Lyle of Lebanon has embraced change with a new career path and at the age of 55. He spent most of his life in the printing business.

“They had another layoff and I was gone after 35 years with the same company,” Les said. “I met with a really wonderful lady, Guin Tyus, with Tennessee Career Centers. She had me take a Myers-Briggs personality inventory and it showed that I really like working with people. She showed me a list of career fields for my personality type.”

Les knew how important physical therapy can be. His father received treatment and in the process found a bond with his therapist. So, Lyle chose the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Vol State. He even enrolled in a Health Sciences cohort program that has a small group of students work together. One of those students was his daughter.

“She was great. We had similar study styles. She was like my teacher,” he said. “The cohort was tough academically, but it was one of the best things I have ever done. I have new best friends and none of them are over 24 years old. The PTA program has opened doors for me. I have several job opportunities available to me now.”
It’s all in the family for Morgan Seay. When she walks across the stage at graduation she will join her mother and family as Vol State alumni.

“My mom is a nurse. She got here degree from Vol State,” she said. “My dad has an associate’s degree in Fire Science from Vol State.”

Morgan says she has wanted to pursue a medical career for most of her life. “I’m planning on becoming a doctor. I hope to be either an OB-GYN or a trauma surgeon.”

Her experience in medical science began at an early age. “I grew up learning to read nursing manuals as my mom studied out loud.”

The dream of delivering babies as an OB-GYN comes from being the oldest of seven kids. “I’m eight years older than all of my sibilings. Babies have always been a part of my life. I have always wanted to be part of something that special in someone’s life.”

Morgan is a Sumner County Middle College High School student. She is graduating with a Vol State associate’s degree and a high school diploma. “I’ve always been a lot more mature for my age,” she said. “I was bored at high school. I have had all this freedom here to choose my path- that means a lot.”

Morgan plans to pursue a pre-med or biology degree. “Since I have 74 credit hours already they say I may be able to graduate in three semesters at WKU (Western Kentucky University).”

“My parents are really proud and glad that I got to get my degree. My mom has always pushed me to be a doctor, because she could see that was always what I wanted to do.”

Vol State in the News

The Tennessean ran our story about Vol State being recognized as StormReady by the National Weather Service,

Monday, April 24, 2017

Dr. Faulkner: Seven Blunders

A few years ago I had the opportunity to hear Arun Gandhi speak at Cleveland State (he also spoke here at Vol State).  Arun is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.  Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in1869 in Porbandar, India. He led India's movement for independence from British rule.  Gandhi is honored by his people as the father of the Indian nation and is called 'Mahatma', which means Great Soul.
During his presentation, Arun spoke of his grandfathers’s efforts to obtain freedom for India through non-violent resistance.  He spoke of Mahatma’s messages of peace, love, and tolerance.  His actions and words make him one of the most respected spiritual and political leaders of the 20th century.  

Arun also spoke of what his grandfather called the Seven Blunders of the World.  They are:

1. Wealth without work
2. Pleasure without conscience
3. Knowledge without character
4. Commerce without morality
5. Science without humanity
6. Worship without sacrifice
7. Politics without principle

To these Arun modestly added an eighth – Rights without responsibility.

Mahatma also referred to these as seven social sins and collectively as “passive violence.”  His premise was that these individually and collectively lead to manifestations of violence.  Left unchecked they can destroy a person or a society.

As I watch the TV news and read the newspaper (Yes.  I’m and old fogey that reads a real newspaper every day.) I observe that every criminal act, expression of violence, or terrorist attack has one or more of these blunders at its foundation.

Mahatma Gandhi’s real impact was not just in the words he said but in the actions and lifestyle that demonstrated what he said.  What could our college, our community, our state, our nation be like if we individually and collectively pledged ourselves to not commit the Seven Blunders?

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

Monday, April 17, 2017

Vol State Recognized by National Weather Service

We have been fine-tuning the campus severe weather response for many years. Now the college has the title of StormReady to add to its list of accomplishments. The National Weather Service presented the recognition recently. The program is a national effort to prepare communities and institutions for all types of severe weather.

“It’s not an easy task to be recognized as StormReady,” said Krissy Hurley, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS). “Congratulations, you should be very proud. It’s fitting that this recognition comes on the 11th anniversary of the tornado.”

The Vol State Gallatin campus was struck by a tornado on April 7, 2006. At the time, the college officials said that safety drills were one of the reasons that there were only minor injuries on campus. In the years since, Vol State Campus Police have worked to upgrade emergency speaker systems, video monitoring and held CERT emergency response training sessions for faculty and staff. The latest upgrades include tornado shelter signs for all storm-safe areas on campus.

“Things were already pretty well figured out here,” Hurley said. “My congratulations for great work that was already done.”

“It’s not if it happens, but when it happens,” said Vol State president, Jerry Faulkner. “That’s the attitude that our folks have when planning. It’s created a safe environment here on campus.”

Pictured: The StormReady presentation. From left to right: assistant police chief, Angie Lawson; police senior administrative assistant, Lisa Morris; president, Jerry Faulkner; warning coordination meteorologist, NWS, Krissy Hurley; police dispatcher Larry Ashlock; and police chief William Rogan. 

Meet Erik Jessse

Erik Jesse is the Director of Emergency Medical Services at Vol State. He's been serving in that role for a few months now. He comes most recently from Erlanger Health Systems, where he was operations supervisor. He has also been a critical care paramedic for Warren County EMS for the last eight years. Jesse was clinic manager and emergency medical instructor at Fort Campbell in Kentucky from 2007 until 2016.

“I’ve been working in EMS education for 15 years,” Jesse said. “That’s what I did for the Army for 10 years. When the opportunity came to get back into education full-time, I wanted to go for it. Vol State has a great program. The growth potential is tremendous.”

Jesse holds a B.S. degree in Public Safety Administration and Emergency Disaster Management from Grand Canyon University in Arizona. He also has two master’s degrees from Grand Canyon, a M.S. in Public Administration and a M.S. in Accounting.

Retirement Celebration

The annual retirement celebration was held last week. It was a smaller than usual event, due to the fact that many of the retirees left earlier this year. Still, warm wishes for everyone and thanks for the many years of service. No matter where you are, you are remembered for your work and achievements here at Vol State.

Congratulations to:
Carolyn Chaffin
Cherry Creasy
Steve Etheridge
Sharon Hebb
Eloise Hitchcock
Deborah Snelling
Kathleen Sowell

George Wilson

Vol State in the News

Dr. Faulkner was the member of the week profile in the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce newsletter recently.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dr. Faulkner: Cracker Jack Has Gone Too Far!

From my previous blog posts, presentations, and conversations you know that I’m a technophile.  In recent months I've been fascinated by the potential for technology to impact our lives.  But I've also opined that there are limits to technology.  I recently stated that, “while a computer may be more proficient at diagnosing a cancer, I don’t want a computer to tell me I have cancer and discuss my treatment options.”

This weekend I encountered another instances where technology has gone too far and spoiled a good thing.  Wanda knows I’m a fan of Cracker Jack.  I try to limit my consumption but occasionally she will surprise me with a box.  That’s what happened this weekend.  Of course every Cracker Jack aficionado knows part of the enjoyment is the prize in every package.  And so as I crunched and munched I retrieved my prize from the package.  I imagined it would be a temporary, press on tattoo or a decoder ring or maybe even a plastic spider.  You can empathize when what I retrieved was a “Stick It Blipp It.”  On the cover it was hyped as a “New Prize Inside!”  When I unfolded it inside was a baseball sticker and these instructions:

Bring The Ballpark to Life.  Follow these simple steps to Blipp the ball game!
-Download Blipper App
-Aim & Frame Prize Inside Sticker
-Experience It Come to Life

My Cracker Jack prize required an “app” to make it work and it implied that I needed extra stimulation to enjoy a baseball game.  Cracker Jack has gone too far!  You shouldn’t need a smart phone app to enjoy your prize.  Maybe I’ll switch to Fiddle Faddle.

Vol State in the News

Community College Week ran a story about our Dental Assisting Program upgrading to digital radiography equipment.

A Fun Weekend on the Gallatin Campus

High School Music Day, an Easter Egg Hunt and Home Plate Day baseball and softball games were just a few of the fun community events at Vol State this weekend. Here are some pics:

National Service Event

Volunteerism was once again in the spotlight at Vol State last week as mayors from across Sumner County gathered to salute community service. The Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service event acknowledged the importance of service work in the community, and the contributions of Vol State students, faculty and staff in that effort. The event recognized Vol State Service Learning student projects, which are tied to specific classwork. 

Mayors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico participated in the national event. It’s estimated that more than 6,300 people, of all ages and backgrounds, are helping to meet local needs, strengthen communities, and increase civic engagement through national service in Tennessee. 

Custom Bow Ties

You may have heard about Bow Tie Friday. Many people on campus have been participating. The latest group takes it one step further - they made their own custom bow-ties. Learning Commons staff show off the creations designed and crafted by Carolyn Harlan, Beverly Peden, and Delois Reagan. Delois is also a quilter and showed off a project for her granddaughter.

Monday, April 3, 2017

New Vol State Food Pantry

Our students have many needs and among the most significant is food. Between  the high cost of family expenses and college expenses, food can be a source of real concern. There is an effort to start a food pantry on the Gallatin campus. The organizers, Team Change, need your help. They are holding a food drive to stock the pantry. Here is what they need:
  • Canned meats and nut butters (tuna, chicken, salmon, peanut butter)
  • Low-sugar fruit, dried fruit, jams and jellies, unsweetened apple sauce
  • Canned and dried beans (pinto, navy, kidney, refried)
  • Canned stew, chili, hearty soups and broth
  • Pasta, rice, cereal, corn meal
  • Canned tomato products (whole, paste, spaghetti sauce)
Donation boxes are located in Division Offices, Student Services, and Public Relations
You can Email Le-Ellen Dayhuff or Kelly Ormsby for more information.

Vol State in the News

What does Ohio State University, the University of Georgia and UT-Knoxville have in common with Vol State? It's more than great students and education, we also share the spotlight for sustainability endeavors. We have had a number of projects recognized lately, including solar panels and electric car charging. The latest effort is highlighted in Facilities Manager magazine. It's about our switchover to LED outdoor lighting on the Gallatin campus. Schools are listed alphabetically.