Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Vol State in the News

Vol State retiree and Covid-19 survivor, James Story, was recently named Gallatin Citizen of the Year by the Gallatin News. The story is also a good update on his condition, as he continues to battle the long-term impact of the virus.

Our Fall 2020 graduation ceremony was virtual. Here's the release in the Upper Cumberland Business Journal.

Vol State placed third for the Nashville area in the Public Colleges section of the Tennessean Community Choice Awards recently.

The new Digital Radio concentration in Entertainment Media Production is a big push for the spring semester. Here is a story in the Robertson County Connection.

Our 50th Anniversary county proclamations are the public kick-off to our celebration. Here is a story in the Upper Cumberland Business Journal.

We recently announced the P-16 BEST awards recognizing supporters of education in our area. Here is a piece in the Robertson County Connection.

The 100 percent Vol State Nursing pass rate release for the NCLEX RN licensure was picked-up in the Overton County News.

Monday, December 7, 2020

50th Anniversary Proclamations

County leaders in our service area are issuing proclamations honoring Vol State and recognizing residents who have received a degree or certificate from Vol State in the last 50 years. It’s a part of our 50th Anniversary Celebration.

This is the picture of the Sumner County presentation: County Executive Anthony Holt; Jerry Faulkner, Vol State President; and Scott Langford, Chairman of Sumner County Commission.

You can see the other proclamation photos here: https://www.volstate.edu/news/county-leaders-issue-vol-state-50-year-anniversary-proclamations

Graduate Profiles for Fall 2020

Graduate Profile: Andrea Benson

Imagine attending two different colleges, three different times, over 30 years. Graduation for Andrea Benson of Westmoreland is a big deal. It’s especially significant because she had to drop two classes this semester and didn’t think she would graduate. The problem was one many people are facing- Andrea had several coworkers sick with COVID, which left her struggling with a 65 hour work week. She did the right thing, though, she contacted an advisor before giving up for the semester. They pointed out that with a major change she would have enough credits to graduate. The fifty-eight year old has been on a long journey to get that degree.

“I started college at 28 years old at Nashville Tech. I transferred to Vol State in 2000, when the company I worked for closed up. We made NASCAR caps,” she said.

She stopped taking classes after a few more years, leaving the degree unfinished, until just recently.

“My daughter went back to school for a social work degree and she said – mom, why don’t you go back?”

And Andrea is taking the virtual graduation ceremony pretty seriously.

“Me and my grandchildren are planning to watch with a celebration party. We have invitations and everything,” she said.

Graduate Profile: Nyalat Bidit

College assignments can be tough, so imagine how hard it would be if English wasn’t your native language? That was the case for fall graduate Nyalat Bidit. The Ethiopian mother of four came to the United States in 2005 from South Sudan.

“I went to school in Ethiopia, but it was in other languages. I knew English, but don’t speak it that well. It was really hard. I appreciate all of the ESOL instructors. They lifted me up so I could learn to write a paper and do college level work.”

She went through Vol State ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes and then to college level courses. The road to a college degree wasn’t just hard because of the academics. “I live in Lavergne. I have to travel two hours a day. It’s a long commute.”

Bidit said many people helped her on her path to a degree in pre-nursing. But some Vol State faculty members went even further. “Karen Hutson was more like a mentor to me. She helped me through a lot. She would tell me- keep pushing, you can do it. I don’t know how I can thank her enough.”

Graduate Profile: Patrick Collum

Vol State has many students seeking a mid-life career change, but Patrick Collum’s past career and future calling make him stand out.

“My experience was a decade of emergency medical services. I was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and Captain of the Sumner County Basic Life Support Division,” he said. “I was glad for my years of service, but I want to spend more time with my children.”

Normally, you would expect that someone with a background in emergency medicine would find another career in the Health Sciences. Collum chose a brand new path.

“Growing up my father was a police officer. Today, most cybercrimes go unsolved. People are paying large ransoms and the perpetrators can be operating from the other side of the world. It seems like a challenge.”

And thus the EMT is graduating from Vol State with a Computer Information Technology degree in CyberDefense.

“I just got hired with the Sumner County Board of Education in the IT department. The degree worked.”

His career change is a big milestone in his life. “This last year has been so hard for everyone in healthcare and completing my degree while serving the community has been challenging to maintain momentum toward graduating. My wife, three daughters, and my mother have continued to motivate and support me through this difficult time and encouraged me every step of the way.”

Graduate Profile: Andrew Burgess

Andrew Burgess chose the Vol State Cookeville campus because of close proximity. But he said his decision to go into Computer Information Technology (CIT) was based on conversations with faculty members.

“I talked to professors Imam and Said about the CIT program. I could tell from our conversations that the program was about collaboration and studio thinking, where everyone brings something to the table.”

Burgess is due to graduate with a CIT degree this fall. It’s actually the second step in his IT education. He received a certificate from a CISCO Networking Academy in California nearly 20 years ago. “I went to Vol State to have a second chapter in my IT work and to focus on security and forensics.”

Cyber defense isn’t just an area of study for Burgess. He has personal experience as a victim. “My medical records were wiped out in a cyber attack this year. Cyber crime effects every American eventually. I wanted to be engaged as part of the solution.”

The TN Reconnect student said the support at the Cookeville campus helped him through some challenging times. “They had the same level of passion that I did. They never let me get to a place where I would give up. They advocated for my success at Vol State, from the beginning.”

Burgess is headed to Tennessee Tech next year to continue academic work for a bachelor’s degree.

Friday, December 4, 2020

New Performing Arts YouTube Channel

out Vol State musicians on the new Performing Arts YouTube Channel. They have created a Performing Arts 2020 Christmas/End of Semester playlist for everyone to enjoy. It’s a work in progress, so also check back next week for more additions. The songs are a variety of styles, some holiday and some other themes. And subscribe to get all of the playlist updates.

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

Monday, November 30, 2020

Vol State in the News

You may remember Vol State student Austin Bonebrake. He was the Outstanding Graduate a few semesters ago. He's doing well at WKU now. WBKO TV in Bowling Green has an update.

The P-16 council, organized by Vol State recently recognized people in the community who are supporters of education with the BEST Awards. The Gallatin News has this story about the winners.

We recently issued a news release announcing that our inaugural nursing class had a 100 percent pass rate on their RN licensure. Here is a copy in the Upper Cumberland Business Journal.

Music Department Goes Virtual for Performances

You may have been wondering about the annual Vol State Christmas concert. While the in-person event was canceled the Music Department has been working with students on songs virtually. They will be putting those up on a special You Tube page soon and we will share the link so everyone can enjoy the performances.

And speaking of performances, faculty member and Pianist Nicholas Reynolds will be performing this Friday, December 4 via You Tube. The live stream
recital will feature works for solo piano, and piano with pre-recorded electronics, by composers Franz Schubert, Missy Mazzoli, and Modest Mussorgsky. Click on the YouTube Live link for program details.

Friday, December 4, 2020 at 7:00 PM CST, https://youtu.be/Drwt9R1yNbM

Virtual Holiday Celebration Tuesday

Holiday Virtual Festival of Lights
Tuesday, December 1st • 12:30-1:30 PM.
Zoom Link: https://volstate.zoom.us/j/94843133988

To ring in the holidays, we will have performances from several Vol State Performance Ensembles. Members from our campus community will also briefly share what this season means to them and how they will remember 2020 and look towards 2021.

Organized by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Department of Performing Arts.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

100 Percent Pass Rate for Nursing Grads

The first group of graduates in the Vol State Nursing program had a perfect pass rate for Registered Nurse licensure. Eighteen of eighteen students took and passed the NCLEX on the first attempt for a pass rate of 100 percent.  NCLEX is the National Council Licensure Examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

"It’s a remarkable achievement considering it’s the first year of the program and even more impressive when you consider that all classes moved online in March due to COVID-19," said Vol State president, Jerry Faulkner. "Congratulations to the students, faculty, and staff on a job well-done."

The two-year degree program offers an A.A.S. in nursing and is preparation to apply and sit for RN licensure. The second class of Nursing students are currently taking hybrid, online and on-ground, courses on the Gallatin and Livingston campuses.  The application cycle for the next cohort will open beginning December 1.  That’s earlier than last year. All applications will be due before April 1 for a summer 2021 start. 

Massive Effort for Huge Food Project

Many Vol State staff members and student volunteers worked together to pull off a major food distribution project at the Vol State campus in Gallatin this week. The Springfield campus participated with student distribution, as well. The Farmers to Families Program is providing food to be distributed each Wednesday through December 23rd. They have approximately 400 boxes to give out each week. It starts in Gallatin with Vol State students at 10am and then opens to the community at 10:30am. Springfield students should contact the Springfield office. Kudos to the Office Of Student Engagement and Support for organizing this expanded food distribution. And thanks to Plant Operations and Campus Police for the support in pulling it off. Student Services has worked since the start of the pandemic to get students food support in new ways. The need is great. You can support the Feed through a donation via the College Foundation. Visit www.volstate.edu/foundation for details.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Student Food Giveaway Now Includes the Community

Vol State is working to keep students and their families fed. A new program is expanding that effort to also help the community. The Gallatin campus will be a pick-up site for a Farmers to Families Program food giveaway each Wednesday through December 23. There will be approximately 400 boxes to give out each week. The distribution will start with Vol State students at 10 a.m. and then, if supplies allow, continue for the public starting at 10:30 a.m. Each box contains two packages of meat, a gallon of milk, cheese, yogurt, or cottage cheese, fruits, and vegetables. Vol State at Springfield is participating for student distribution only. Students should see their email for details.

This is part of an ongoing effort by the Vol State Office of Student Engagement and Support. They have operated the FEED student foodbank for several years. Organizers say the need for food support has increased greatly with Covid-19 economic issues in the last year. The distribution will happen at the campus in Gallatin at 1480 Nashville Pike. Attendees should use the main entrance to the college, with the electronic sign, and look for the posted signs. For more information call 615-230-3492.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Vol State Virtual Event Features Nelson Mandela Jailer

Christo Brand, former prison warden and friend of Nelson Mandela, will share a living testimonial of Mandela’s time in prison and his release. Brand is one of a select few who can offer authentic insights into Mandela’s thoughts, reflections, and hope for humanity. It’s part of International Education Week at Volunteer State Community College and the public is invited to attend.

Brand was Mandela’s warden for twelve years and became a close friend of his – right up until his death in 2013.  At Mandela’s insistence, Brand co-wrote his autobiography titled Doing Life with Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend.  Mandela chose the title of the book. The presentation features slides showing personal letters, notes, and pictures. Participants will then have the opportunity to ask questions. The free event will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, November 17 at 11 a.m. at www.bit.ly/3kZWrbn. The International Education program at Vol State includes student study abroad opportunities and special events.

Vol State Veterans Day Events

Honoring the Legacy of Our Veterans:  A Visual Tribute

Tuesday, November 10th • 12:30 PM

Zoom Registration Link:  https://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJckceitrjoqGNEeaJcMaA0jNlvzf-jmAmvq

Wednesday, November 11th (Two showings)

11:11 AM

Zoom Registration Link:  https://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMtdumgqzguHNLDxOOJYzFe2h4Quay87U3c

4:00 PM

Zoom Registration Link:  https://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqdO2tqTksGNNeLyX9E9KYoqB9Nv6P5TKj

For more information contact:  diversityandinclusionatvolstate.edu

Vol State in the News

Political science professor, Scott McMillan talked to WSMV recently for a story about the elections.

International Education Week at Vol State

International Education Week is coming up at Vol State. Learn about Study Abroad opportunities for students and how you can participate. And join us on Tuesday for a very special guest speaker.

Monday, November 16: Study Abroad Student Information Session at 10 a.m. Zoom, https://volstate.zoom.us/j/97099105343 

Tuesday, November 17: “Nelson Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend – a virtual presentation and discussion with Christo Brand” at 11 a.m. Zoom, https://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqdeyuqDguH9wS-1sYOUq8di4tSPmRT1yF

Wednesday, November 18: Faculty International Education Information Session at Noon, Zoom, https://volstate.zoom.us/j/99358696804

Thursday, November 19: Study Abroad Showcase at 11 a.m. Faculty members talk about the experience of Study Aboard. Zoom, https://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJErdeGprzMjHNUSqnSg697gxns_J6lfSESH

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Vol State Student in Statewide TBR Video

Vol State student LaDarius Roberts was featured in the opening video of the Tennessee Board of Regents “We All Rise” Biennial Conference recently. The diversity and inclusion conference was attended by educators across the state. Roberts is an adult learner at Vol State and a Peer Mentor in the Pioneer Connections Peer Mentor program administrated by the Office of Adult Learners and Veterans Affairs. He was interviewed about his experiences at Vol State and the importance of diversity and student success iniatives. He did a great job, so we wanted to share the video with campus. It's about 11 minutes long and Ladarius appears in it several times.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBPp5hG9rwc  

Vol State in the News

Vol State has a program called MOCAS (Men of Color Achieving Success). Part of the mission is to help student athletes do well academically in college. Community College Daily highlighted MOCAS in an article recently.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

First-Generation College Student Celebration

A First-Generation college student is defined as a student whose parent(s) did not complete a bachelor's degree and who is resilient, determined, driven, persistent, tenacious, hopeful, supportive, AND is a trailblazer who inspires others!

Vol State is joining in the national celebration of First-Generation college students with profiles of students this week and a series of events next week, marking the official First-Generation College Student Week.

· First-Generation student stories on social media.      

      Monday, November 2, 2020

·      Early Registration (Spring 2021) for students with 30 or more credits! Opens 8am.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

·         Early Registration (Spring 2021) for all currently enrolled students! Opens at 8am.

·         SGA meeting - TRIO will speak about First-Generation and TRIO services.

o   All Campus Locations: Zoom, 11:15AM, Zoom ID: 326 397 332

 Wednesday, November 4, 2020

·         TRIO Virtual Open House - Hop on to learn more about TRIO. Students who are First-Generation, eligible for Pell Grant or who are registered with the Access Center could be eligible for TRIO services.  Applications are OPEN at www.volstate.edu/trio.

o   All Campus Locations: Zoom, Hop on Anytime between 10:00-11:00AM or 1:00-2:00PM

o   https://volstate.zoom.us/j/5054265318


Thursday, November 5, 2020

·         Grab-n-Go for Livingston and Springfield students. Information tables including The Well, financial aid, and The Feed.  Students can schedule Spring 2021 advising appointments. We will hand out t-shirts, goodie bags and provide First-Gen information with First-Gen Buttons, limited availability.

o   Livingston:  10-11AM and 3-4:30 pm

o   Springfield: 10-11AM and 3-4:30pm


·         Student Engagement & Support will host a Just In Time virtual Jobs Fair.

o   All Campus Locations: 10:00AM-12:00PM

o   Participants RSVP to Student.Engagement@volstate.edu to receive the zoom link


·         Vol State’s 2nd Annual First-Generation Celebration, 1st Virtual event to celebrate First-Generation students, faculty, and staff. Everyone encouraged to wear First-Gen t-shirt or Vol State gear. Bring your lunch… Eat while Zooming.  Panel of First-Generation students, faculty and staff.

o   All Campus Locations: Zoom Webinar, 12:00-1:00PM


·         National Joint Virtual First-Generation College Celebration by the Center for First-generation Student Success and the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). You are welcome to participate by registering below. (You do not have to join to participate):

o   https://naspa.org/events/joint-virtual-first-generation-college-celebration 1:00PM-2:30PM 

Friday, November 6, 2020

·         Student Engagement & Support will provide The Well Tables and coordinate The Feed drive-thru.  We will hand out t-shirts, First-Gen wrist bands and provide First-Gen information.

o   Gallatin: 12:00PM, Wood Parking Lot

o   Cookeville: 11AM-2PM; Drive Thru T-shirt and swag bag

Monday, October 26, 2020

Story Slam - Watch Student Stories and Vote

We invite you to participate in the 2020 Vol State Story Slam! It’s simple - just watch and vote. Students in Communication classes created amazing video stories of hardship and triumph. You watch the four finalists on You Tube and decide which is best: https://bit.ly/34t9UCB

Then vote at: http://bit.ly/votestoryslam

The Virtual Story Slam will run Monday, Oct. 26 through Friday, Oct. 30 at 11:59 PM.

ALL members of the Vol State community are invited to vote (including staff, faculty, friends, and family).

Monday, October 19, 2020

James Tells His Story

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

Sumner Adult Education is Back at Vol State

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

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

Casey Hendricks: 615-230-3621

Kastonia “Sam” Herron: 615-230-3703

Cultural Connections Week/Fall Festival and Food Day

Cultural Connections Week/Fall Festival and Food Day 

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


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

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


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

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

Time:  1:00 – 2:00 PM 
Registration Linkhttps://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsceCppjgvHt1dV1y8gyOPasXn8rh-mk1h  


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

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

Time:  11:30 AM – 12:30 PM 
Registration Linkhttps://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcvceirpzouE9cuy8B04kWdx2VpEUoE89l4  


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

Time:  12:30 – 2:00 PM 
Registration Linkhttps://volstate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAude2pqT4oHd3viN7DMNVFByoKYcZbxmGv  


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

Monday, October 5, 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, Seibreanna is enjoying her moment in the spotlight. The show premiered in September. Tune in to Netflix to see how she does. Here's a link to the Netflix "Sing On!" web page: https://www.netflix.com/title/81024999

For more information about the Vol State Entertainment Media Production program visit: www.volstate.edu/entertainment