National Portfolio Day

By: Nick Kieser

For students at Volunteer State Community College and who are interested in displaying their artwork, there is a National Portfolio Day taking place at Watkins College of Art in downtown Nashville.

The event is on Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. open to the public and is free of charge.

“We are trying to encourage a lot of our art majors who are interested in pursuing art-related degrees. It includes things for architecture, graphic design, fashion design, and other things as well,” said art teacher Nate Smyth.

According to, National Portfolio Day gives the opportunity to meet with experienced college representatives who will review artwork, offer critiques, discuss college plans, and share information about their schools.

“If they have questions about the school or the program they can answer the questions, and usually have swag to give away,” said Smyth.

“I used to work these events as an assistant director of graduate admissions at the School of Art Institution of Chicago, and we used to give out outrageous amounts of stuff,” said Smyth.

Additionally, on the site as well there is an opportunity to be able to show personal artwork publicly.

The way a student or a young professional can participate in this is to register online.

“Any art school you go to you’ll need a portfolio. This gives students an incentive to show their work and really try to show their best,” said student Taylor Phillips.

According to a flyer that is posted on the second floor of the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black building down the art hallway there will be 23 schools represented at the event including the host school as well.

Student from Egypt pursues programming degree

By: Yvonne Nachtigal

Mina Shahta, a Volunteer State computer programming major, came to the U.S. from Egypt three years ago on an immigration visa. He was selected by lottery through the US Diversity Visa program.

The program selects 3,000 Egyptian citizens annually to come to the U.S. Once here, they receive a green card.  

“Actually, about 5,000 from Egypt are selected,” said Shahta. He explained that applicants go through a qualification screening and only 3,000 are chosen.  

The Immigration Act of 1990 established a select number of immigrant visas to be available in various countries through an annual lottery.

According to the US Embassy & Consulate in Egypt website, the purpose of the lottery is to diversify the immigrant population by selecting applicants mostly from countries with lower rates of immigration to the United States.

“When you are in a poor country like my country, you want to make a better life,” said Shahta, in reference to applying for a visa in hopes of coming to America.  

“There is rich and poor, very little middle class,” he said. “You cannot better yourself. The state you are born is where you stay. Here you can come from zero and make a better life.”

Although the government pays for college in Egypt, Shahta says there are few jobs and no chance for career advancement.  

“You can’t better yourself. The government takes all your money,” said Shahta. 

Safety was another reason for leaving Egypt. Shahta’s family is Christian.  

“Christians know it is not safe to live in Egypt. They kill us. When you are in your church and you want to pray, you find bombs,” said Shahta. 

Violence against Christians in Egypt has caused many Egyptians to emigrate to the US. Many have found a home in Nashville.

According to the Tennessean, Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population of Egypt has suffered from discrimination and violence in the Muslim-majority country for a year.

Shahta explained how attacks against them increased when the Islamists rose to power after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power.  

In 2013, The Tennessean reported that Coptic Christians from churches around Nashville rallied to put an end to the violence in Egypt. Nearly 40 churches in Egypt had been looted and torched, while 23 others were heavily damaged.

Shahta has two older brothers and an older sister. His father is a doctor and his mother works for the government.  

He has not seen his family in 3 years and misses them greatly. He talks to them every day. He would like to go back and visit but says he cannot safely do so.

“I can’t go back there because if I go back there I’d have to join the army and go to Sinai,” he said.

Shahta looks forward to the day when he can become a U.S. citizen so that he can visit his family and eventually bring them to the US.

When he first came to Nashville, Shahta found work at a hotel earning minimum wage, but he has already bettered himself by finding higher paying positions. He was working two jobs in addition to going to school but recently quit one to devote more time to his studies.  

Shahta says he thinks it is difficult for American young people to fully appreciate the opportunities they have in America.

“They have the freedom to better themselves,” said Shahta.


Faculty Recital

By Gloria Cortes

Volunteer State Community College had a faculty recital Oct. 2, and Dr. Nicholas Reynolds played a variety of solo piano pieces.

He said this was his Vol State recital debut, as this is his first semester teaching here.

“I love working with the faculty and the students are all fun. The Vol State faculty has been very supportive of me. Before I even moved here, they set up this recital for me to play. I really enjoy my classes,” said Reynolds.

At the recital, he performed in order: selections from Maurice Ravel’s Miroirs, Frederic Chopin’s Scherzo in B minor, arrangements of Gershwin tunes by Earl Wild, and Bela Bartok’s Sonata.

“I’ve played these pieces on and off for years, but I have been preparing for this specific performance for a couple months,” said Reynolds.

The recital lasted an hour with this selection.  Before every piece, Reynolds would briefly explain the piece he was about to play.

“I love variety.  There’s so much great music out there…. I wanted pieces that were relatable to the audience, so I chose a wide variety,” said Reynolds.

After the finale, the audience gave Reynolds a standing ovation.

“It was really nice. Reynolds happens to be my piano instructor, so it was a cool thing to see how far he’s come. He’s a cool guy, and he’s very talented at what he does,” said student Andrew Corbitt.

Some fellow music faculty and some of his students showed their support, appreciation, and respect for Reynolds at the recital.

“He’s a great guy, and we’re lucky to have him. I think the pieces he played tonight were of wonderful variety and showed off his skills and his ear for music,” said professor Lynn Peterson.

Reynolds said he looks forward to helping build Vol State’s music program.

“The musicians here are very engaged in learning all different kinds of music, and I think that’s one of the most exciting things about teaching here. Being here as the first full-time piano faculty, I’m thrilled to help build to help build a program and to be a part of the future of the music program,” said Reynolds.


Campus Events

By: Nick Kieser

Munching Toward Midterms

On Oct. 9-10 Munching Toward Midterms will be taking place in the Thigpen Library and there will be free pizza and tea.

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and on Wednesday from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Refreshments are limited to a first come first serve basis.

Sponsoring the event is the library.

Science Lecture Series

The science department at Volunteer State Community College is having a lecture series on The Serengeti Ecosystem.

The lecture will be taking place at the Rochelle Center in the Thigpen Library from 11:10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Speaker of the event is University President Dr. Jerry Faulkner.

According to the online Vol State academic calendar, he will be talking about the ecosystem and experience in Tanzania.


Reconnect Spotlight

By: Allison Summers

Tina Hoffmann is a current student at Vol State. She is using the Reconnect program to pursue an Associates Degree in Sociology.

“I needed to be a great example for my family,” said Hoffmann

She has a husband and 2 kids at home. Hoffmann was born in Japan; however, she moved all over the United States. She now resides in Portland, Tennessee with her husband and two children.

Hoffmann’s father and husband are Navy veterans. She dedicated twenty-one years of her life to caring for her husband as he fought to protect the country.

She continues this dedication through her aspirations to be a social worker for veterans. She hopes to work in a Veteran Affairs hospital, or she would enjoy working with the Wounded Warriors Project.

Hoffmann quoted Jojo Moyes, “You only get one life. It’s your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

Hoffmann is active in the Student Government Association, the Returning Students Organization, and the Vol State Veterans of America Club.

She also goes to school during the afternoons while working full-time during the night at the local Walmart. She is a woman on a mission to change the world.

“She is always trying to help even when she does not have to. We had to have a chair for the SGA meetings and she volunteered without hesitation. It is remarkable how active she is considering her obligations,” said SGA member Travis Mefford

“Tina is a very warm, caring individual. She strives to do whatever she can,” said  President of VSVA Donna Payne.

In case it has not been noted, there is most definitely a running theme here; Hoffmann is a very kind, generous person who cares deeply about the people around her. She is a great addition to Vol State thanks to the Reconnect Program.


Banned Book Reading

By: Jim Hayes

The flyer for the Banned Book Reading caught me by surprise  I remember it being a thing in the mid-1980’s and 1990’s but had not heard about it in years.

However, if it was still an issue, I was willing to go and read a few paragraphs from “Huckleberry Finn” for the cause.

But, when I stepped into Steinhauer-Rogan-Black room 150 just short of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Mark Twain classic was nowhere to be found.

“Alas,” I thought to myself, glancing over the selection brought over by the Thigpen Library. But then spotted another old friend.  Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” was sitting there unselected.

The first in L’Engle’s Time Quartet, I snagged it, trying desperately to recall a passage that might have qualified it as a banned book.

Published in 1962, “A Wrinkle in Time” tells the story of Meg Murry, younger brother Charles Wallace and friend Calvin O’Keefe’s mission to rescue Meg and Charles’ father from an unknown evil force.

It has spent most of its life amongst the other books which have been challenged.

Conservative Christians object to the book because it implies that Jesus is simply an advanced human.

So it was time to read.  I signaled to the moderator, Librarian Laura Sheets that I was ready, took the microphone and addressed the 34 people in the room.

“I am reading from Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” I explained and proceeded to read about a  page before giving way to someone else.

In all, 10 people read from titles as diverse as “Go Ask Alice” to “A Clockwork Orange.”


Blood Drive

By: Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College will be hosting a blood drive on Oct. 11 in the Rochelle Center across from the library.

“The event will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The campus and local community is the intended group targeted to come give blood,” wrote Jenny Bartley in an email.

With the event taking place toward the end of the week students will just have only one day to take part in this event next Thursday.

According to the general requirements for donating blood are, “Be in good general health and feeling well. Be at least 17 years old in most states (16 years old with parental consent in some states). Weigh at least 110 lbs. Additional height and weight requirements apply for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school student donors. Must have not donated blood in the last 56 days.”

Generally we have about 30 people to donate.  We always have room for more. You could potentially be saving 3 lives by Donating Blood,” wrote Bartley.

According to Bartley, there will be refreshments provided for the donors as well at this event.

“None of my family has any blood problems, but I recognize this is a large issue and it really does mean a lot to help them. I’ll put my money where my mouth is and donate blood,” said student Austin Capps.

“In response to hearing about this, I would want to give blood. The only setback is trying to fit this into the busy schedule that I have. I have given blood and helping others is good, and it is also good for your body to give blood as well,” said student Brayden Brewington.


Swinging back into pioneer baseball

By: Nick Kieser 


Photo taken by Jacob McKaig

The 2019 Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is back from summer break with a new group of players and some returning as well.

With the regular season not for another semester, the Pioneers are reporting to practices and getting back into form for a full season that is ahead.

“We are still trying to gel together and find out what we have. We want to know who fits best right now,” said head coach, Ryan Hunt.

Just as of late the team has been doing inner-squad games on Garrett Field to see where specific guys will fit and who will make the final squeeze on the roster come opening day.

On Sept. 12, the Cumberland University junior varsity baseball team visited the Pioneers for a preseason matchup.

The Pioneers played 8 innings defeating Cumberland 10-0 which is otherwise known in college baseball as a run rule.

“Everyday you need the same intensity and if you don’t you’re not working hard enough. Coach Hunt doesn’t want us outworked no matter who we play,” said Sophomore pitcher, Chase Haley.

A record of 30-18 last season was good enough to place in third at the NJCAA postseason tournament in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

According to Hunt, this year the Pioneers will be more freshman-heavy than having the returning players come back this spring.

“A big thing is trying to teach guys how to play the game hard and not when they just feel like it. Practice, game, and scrimmage you have to give it everything you’ve got,” said Hunt.

Expectations have been set for the team and coach Hunt has a vision for what he wants to see from his group.

“If you tend to play the game the right way things usually tend to work out. Last year is over with and this year, in my opinion, we play a pretty tough schedule,” said Hunt.

“We are hoping that some of the sophomores can step up and some of the freshmen we’ve brought in should play a key role in getting us there. We lost a lot of pitching and now we have some guys who have a chance to prove themselves this year,” said assistant coach, Jason Barrett.

The other teams in Vol State’s conference are competitive like they are. Leadership is something that will need to be accounted for when the regular season comes around this upcoming spring semester.

“Step up in leadership roles. Leading by example and vocally is a big thing to let the freshmen see how it’s done at this level and what it’s gonna take to compete. Going to have to step up ourselves to take our game up to the next level so we can prove ourselves against teams like Walters State and Chipola,” said sophomore catcher, Zeke Lecomte.

“I am most excited for a chance to just get on the baseball field. When you’re in this business it’s because you love the game. The game will chew you up and spit you out and won’t forget when you are gone, but as coach Hunt would say any day to wake up and be part of the game is a blessing,” said Barrett.

In just four months the games will start and from there on there will be no turning back to just fix mistakes that came up in the fall.

Visiting college representatives on campus

By: Nick Kieser 

Starting today on the Volunteer State Community College campus there will be four university representatives on campus to promote their individual schools on separate days.  

“University Representatives have been invited to share their transfer programs with our student body since at least 1993,” wrote Pamela Lockhart in an email.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville will be here on Monday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then Lipscomb University on Tuesday 25, from 10 a.m. t0 1 p.m. Also Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Western Kentucky University on Thursday sept. 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All of the visiting university campuses will be set up in the Woods Campus Center by the Student Services Office.

“It’s really important to visit with schools for these students. We aren’t recommending these schools for these students, but as even freshman who are asking questions early on is a good thing,” said Advisor Rebecca Adair.

For the 9,000 plus students who are on campus having the opportunity to approach a four-year university can give ideas to those interested in furthering their education past Vol State.

“Very valuable for our students. I encourage our students to go do that. Tennessee transfer pathway guarantees students can go where it matches up for that student,” said Vol State President Jerry Faulkner.

“They will be happy to answer questions and get your contact information. They will share open house event information for campus visits, discuss different degree programs, requirements, financial aid options, and scholarships. For Free! All it takes is a few minutes of your time,” wrote Lockhart.  

“I feel like I do not have a lot of knowledge on where I want to go or like any majors I want to pursue, but I feel like these booths will help me with gaining more knowledge on where I would want to go,” said freshman Seth Gilmer.

Seeking that one school that stands out compared to the rest is what this event can mean for a student.

“The biggest change was that I got to go from being a full-time student living at home to a full-time student away from everything where it’s all about college. It’s better but also more challenging. Having a booth on campus was nice for getting information on how the transferring would take place or just knowing what I needed to become that full-time student somewhere else,” said former student Jeff Swift.

looking into one of the university booths this week can make a difference or none at all for Vol State students who choose to visit a booth or not visit one of the booths at all.


First baseman Bill Hamilton commits to MTSU

By: Nate Kaly 

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers first-basemen Bill Hamilton committed to Middle Tennessee State University on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Photo of Bill Hamilton taken by Jacob McKaig

Photo of Bill Hamilton taken by Jacob McKaig

While Hamilton, who is a sophomore at Vol State this year, had offers from several schools, he knew he would be going to MTSU after he visited the facility last weekend.

“The big reason I chose MTSU is the coaches. I went on my visit Sunday (Sept. 16) and they made me feel right at home when I was there. All really cool guys. They were all just hired and ready to get off to a good start,” said Hamilton.

Although Jim Tomen just took over as MTSUs baseball coach in June, he already has a plan in place to use Hamilton in his system.

“I was able to meet new head coach Tomen on Sunday. We went over how I would fit in with the team and the different areas that he wanted to use me on the field,” said Hamilton.

Because Hamilton’s numbers from the 2018 spring season at Vol State didn’t jump out of the box (.357 AVG. 5 HR. 30 RBI. 25 runs), he knows that there is still a learning curve to go through this season before taking the next step at a division one school.

“The biggest thing for me is to take the next step and have a breakout season. Also probably to see leadership improve. Just talking to the younger guys and always making sure that they know exactly what to do and lead by example,” said Hamilton.

When asked what kind of player MTSU will be getting next year, Hamilton said, “Hard-working.”

“Bill is very deserving of that. You see a big-time prospect by the way he looks. He’s been hungry since he got here, and he’s proved people wrong. MTSU is getting in my opinion, a big-time player,” said head coach Ryan Hunt.

This season Hamilton will try to improve a Pioneers offense that hit the third-fewest runs (278), third-fewest home runs (25) and second fewest RBIs (217) in the conference last season.

Although the fall season consists of expedition games and games that don’t count against the team’s record like the spring season does, it will be an opportunity for the Pioneers offense and Hamilton to work out any wrinkles that they might have, to reach their full potential as an offense in the spring.