Soul Food luncheon celebrates black literary figures

African American Student Union (AASU), a club at Volunteer State Community College, is preparing for its annual Soul Food Luncheon this Wednesday, at noon, in the Carpeted Dining Room.

The event is open to all students and will concentrate on Black literary figures.

This luncheon is the clubís most highly attended event, with ninety-six attendees the previous year.

Although it will be slightly different this year, since there is no active AASU, the club said they still expect it to be just as popular.

ìLast year there was a huge turnout, we even had a piano brought in,î said Lori Miller, secretary II of the office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives (SLDI).

Traditional soul food, of different varieties, has been served over the years.

From fried, baked, and barbeque chicken all the way to corn bread and sweet potatoes.

The Vol State community supplies, prepares, and even serves some of the food.

While students are encouraged by the college to bring their own lunches, they may want to save room for dessert that will be provided by SLDI.

The Soul Food Luncheon is the second event that AASU has planned Black History month.

ìItís a great club thatís really important, especially with everything thatís been going on lately,î said Miller.

Any student interested in joining AASU should contact its President, Ashlyn Challenger at for information.

VISA and Service Learning encourage participation in upcoming food drive

Volunteer State Community Collegeís student clubs, VISA International Club and Service Learning Club, are asking Vol State students and anyone in the community to help with a food drive for Sumner County United Way to restore pantries in homes around the community.

The food drive is from Feb. 2-13.

VISA and Service Learning are teaming with ìThe United Way of Sumner County Winter Food Driveî to hand out food to families living in the Sumner County area.

ìWe are happy to co-sponsor the food drive. I wish for no person to be hungry,î said Kay Grossberg, associate professor of humanities.

Grossberg said the goal is to try and get people aware that there are very unfortunate families living in the Sumner County area.

The clubs said they want to collect as many food items and volunteers as possible.

ìI would love to see Vol State support the community, for more than just education, but also to support the health and welfare in the community,î said Lauren K. Collier, executive assistant to the president of Vol State.

The clubs said this food drive is for families around the Sumner County that are going through difficult times, and are in need of help.

ìVISA is always looking to get involved with others in the surrounding area and at Vol State Community College,î said Dr. Tonya Daniels, associate professor of spanish.

The Vol State International Club and Service Learning Club said they are challenging all Vol State classes and clubs to donate as many items as possible and that there is also a contest for any classes and clubs that would like to have a pizza party.

All clubs and classes have to donate at least 50 cans to be entered into the contest.

VISA and Service Learning have requested food items like peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, canned fruit, ramen noodles, Mac & cheese etc.Ö but said they will accept whatever donators can give.

Students and staff can drop off items at Caudill 222, Gibson Hall 102, Mattox 101, Ramer Great Hall, Wallace 102, Warf 100, Warf 126, and Wood 217.

Slam Poet Odd Rod visits Vol State and talks about inspiring and giving to people

Slam poet, Odd Rod visited the Vol State Gallatin campus Wednesday, Feb. 4 in the Mary Cole Nichols Tiled Dining Room.

He presented his life story through poems entitled; ìSeen Me Then,î ìPlus Size,î ìPumpkin Pie,î ìVillage Helper,î ìTranscripts,î ìUse Me,î ìPretend,î ìI Donít Need No Mic,î and ìThe Listener.î

Odd Rod interacted with students and opened the floor to questions between poems.

The students even participated in the poem, ìI Donít Need No Mic.î

He wrote the poem ìPlus Sizeî for his mother to encourage her to have a positive self-image regardless of her size.

ìYou ainít got to cut and paste; no need to suck in your gut. You were gorgeous as you came and thereís no need to discuss, making changes. You are stainless and your size… is a plus.

Odd Rod, Roderick Borisade, found his inspiration early in life when he was 13 years old.

His brother died of brain cancer, his mother was on drugs and his father was not around.

He credits Tupac, an American rapper, for inspiring him to get out of the hood and to be a spoken word artist.

He got his self-proclaimed nickname at an early age when he realized he was different from his peers and he would be going up against the odds.

ìSomeone told me that my education would get me anywhere I wanted to go and I put that to the

test,î said Odd Rod.

Odd Rodís hard work and studies paid off when he received a full scholarship to the University of Northern Florida.

He learned graphic design and eventually designed his own cds.

The ìHeroís Sermonî was a poem written to honor his grandfather.

ìI treat my grandpa like my father cause he raised me like his son.

ìHad a dad who wouldnít bother seeing who I would become. Watched my mama fight with drugs.

“They say you cannot choose your folks. Wouldnít change them if I could, because they forced me to hope,î said Odd Rod.

Odd Rod said his most memorable show was at a rehabilitation center where his mother was being treated.

He also said he really enjoys performing at correctional institutions, giving them hope and providing inspiration.

Vol State freshman Terra Cliburn said the performance ìwas heart-touching and relatable.î

ìI really liked it! Hopefully yíall can get him to come again,îsaid Jazmine Reed, a student.

ìIt was very inspirational,î said Dee Durnley, a student.

Odd Rod has created a nonprofit organization in honor of his brother and said that ìgiving is the gift.î He continues to tour the country spreading his message.

Honors Program panel discusses digital technology and millennials

Volunteer State Community College had an Honors discussion panel on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 12:20 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. in the Rochelle Center of Thigpen Library.

It consisted of a panel of students who, when given questions from other Vol State students, would voice and discuss their answers and opinions.

The moderators of the panel were Shannon Lynch, assistant professor of philosophy; and Melissa Tyndall, instructor of communication.

The questions and the discussion were based on Digital Technology and Millennials.

Those panelists were: Honey-Rae Swan, vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA); Elena Cruth; Ariel Cornett; Cliff Taylor; Timothy McCall; Michael Clark, president of the Artisanís Alliance; and Adam Parks, online editor for The Settler.

The first question for the panel was, ìIs there an overblown stereotype of Millennials and their obsession of Digital Technology?î

ìIt is unavoidable to not use technology,î said Cruth.

The consensus of question one was, while some may over use technology, it is an important part of our society that continues to grow.

The second question was, ìDo you think that Digital Technology/Social Media encourage Millennials to be inauthentic online?î

ìI believe it gives people the opportunity to show their true selves,î said Parks.

ìIt literally gives you an opportunity to edit your life,î said Clark.

As the discussion continued, the next question asked was, ìIs Digital Media altering language? For Example: Is LOL or texting acronyms leaking into our everyday language use?î

Dr. Merritt McKinney, director of the Honors Program, expressed his opinion about the subject matter and discussed how the line of formality in student emails has begun to dwindle.

The panelists agreed that words are evolving due to technological advancements and its impact on the younger generations as well as older generations.

Out of 10 total questions, five were thoroughly discussed.

The ones not asked were according to the panel print out, ìHow is Digital Technology changing the way we document history? Is Digital Technology (search engines and social media) making Millennials lazy and also contributing to the spreading of misinformation on the internet? Where do you think ethics, in Digital Technology, should be practiced?, etc.î

McKinney and Clark provided additional comments after the lecture concluded.

ìI will say that a sure sign of a good discussion is that the participants and the audience wanted to keep talking after the presentation officially ended,î said McKinney.

ìThe questions were amazing! They really made me think about the way I use digital technology and its importance in todayís society.

ìThe questions had a lot of audience response, in fact some of the questions were discussed before they were asked,î said Clark.

“I think it was crucial for Vol State to give students the opportunity to voice their opinions on this issue, especially because people in academia are often bombarded with just the negative stereotypes about the Millennial generation,” said Tyndall.

Governor Bill Haslem talks education

Governor Bill Haslam attended the Tennessee Press Associated Winter Conventionís Press Institute and Tennessee Collegiate Media Summitís Luncheon, on Thursday, Feb. 5, as the guest speaker.

The event took place at the Double Tree Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

After recollecting on his history in press, Haslam spoke regrettably about the results of his controversial Insure Tennessee proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans, which failed in The Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

Haslam stressed the importance of the failed proposalís potential to assist low-income Tennesseans while simultaneously assisting issues with healthcare deficits.

Haslam also spoke about his administrationís efforts and hopes surrounding the upcoming changes to primary, secondary and collegiate education throughout Tennessee.

Tennessee Ready (TN Ready) will be replacing the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) standardized testing as the assessment tool for students in primary and secondary education levels during the next academic year.

Haslam stated, under TCAP standardized testing, 70 percent of Tennessee students entering college needed remedial work, while 90 percent tested to be proficient with their TCAP results.

Under new standards, Haslam said he feels their assessment is greatly important to evaluate and prolong their success.

Primary and Secondary education instructorsí assessments will rely on TN Ready results for 35 percent. Haslam projected that 100,000 more students will be proficient at their grade level and 57,000 more students will be proficient in math and science.

Haslam said he hopes TN Ready will better prepare students for higher education and the soon-to-be implemented Tennessee Promise will enable those students to attend community colleges across the state.

Governor Haslam took five questions following his speech, three of which concerned the Tennessee Promise.

Amanda Clark, a student from Austin Peay State University, asked the governor about his plans assisting four-year universities to compensate or combat the loss of enrollment resulting from community college freshman and sophomore influx of Tennessee Promise applicants.

ìFour-year universities need to step up their game, so to speak. These universities will have more junior and senior students to compensate for the loss in their larger introductory courses,î replied Haslam.

Additionally, Haslam spoke about the responsibility of four-year universities to differentiate themselves from community college campuses to recruit incoming freshmen and that their efforts to recruit may become more focused on community colleges as opposed to high schools.

Volunteer State Community College student, Michael Clark, questioned the governor about the possible decrease in quality of education as a result of the sudden increase in quantity of students at community colleges.

Haslam projects that state efforts at the primary and secondary levels will prevent this from occurring, but there is no plan to prevent this in place.

Haslam closed questioning and surprised media students with a parting ìselfieî featuring themselves and their governor.

Unity Day event coming soon to Volunteer State

Unity Day will take place Jan. 28, between 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Wemyss Auditorium in the Noble Caudill Hall at Volunteer State Community.

Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, director of Student Life and Diversity (SLDI), said Unity Day is scheduled to follow Martin Luther King Jr. Day and precede Black History Month. The event will highlight the social movements and people that inspired these commemoratives.

“Though the festivity of diversity on campus will be concentrated, it will still focus on the celebration of minority groups’ culture and history in America,” said Lori Miller, secretary II of SLDI.

In celebration of Unity Day, Dr. Thomas L. Bynum will provide a lecture in his area of expertise surrounding African American History and the American South. Bynum is an instructor, historian, author, award-winner and community leader. Bynum will have a book signing at the 7 p.m. event for his book.

According to his biography on the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) faculty webpage, Bynum is the director of the African American studies program, an associate professor of history and a doctoral graduate faculty member at MTSU. He has been faculty advisor for the African American Student Union and is currently the advisor for Sankofa, a campus based student organization.

Bynum received his B. S. at Barton College, his M. A. at Clark Atlanta University and his Ph.D. at Georgia State University.

Bynum teaches undergraduate and graduate courses concerning African American History and the American South at MTSU. Courses concentrate on civil rights and black power movements, youth activism, antiwar protest and second wave feminism throughout American History.

Bynum’s publications include: NAACP Youth and the Fight for Black Freedom; “We Must March Forward: Juanita Jackson and the Origins of the NAACP Youth Movement”; “Documenting the NAACP’s First Century” in Journal of African American History and “The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee” in Tennessee Electronic History Reader.

Bynum is working on another publication for the Journal of African American History titled “Old Guard verses New Guard: Young Turks, Black Power and the NAACP.”

In addition to publications, Bynum has received awards that include the Southern Regional Education Board Scholars Program Dissertation Award, the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholar, and the W. E. B. Du Bois Fellow (Harvard University) National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute.

Squatter’s Rites looks for writer’s and artists

Every spring semester Volunteer State Community College offers the chance for student writers and artists to be published in the literary publication Squatter’s Rites.

Squatter’s Rites is an art-based publication that any Vol State student is welcome to participate.

“Squatter’s Rites is an excellent outlet for those with a passion for the arts.  People are paying attention, and your creative works can and will be recognized.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by publishing your talents in Squatter’s Rites,” said Michael Clark, art director of Squatter’s Rites.

Squatter’s Rites recognizes paintings, creative writing, photography and poetry. After members submit their art, Squatter’s Rites print booklets to show off the student creations and what the students are passionate about.

Melissa Fox, instructor of communications, said she feels expressing a person’s artistic side is important.  She also said she takes pride in the second place award from the American Scholastic Press, which the publication was awarded last year.

She said she hopes to keep the Squatter’s Rites growing and win another award this year.

Squatter’s Rites has been around since the school was established in 1971. Over the years it has gone through changes and has had different presidents, but the focus has always been the same: to keep students creative and to keep art alive.

Squatter’s Rites works closely with the art department here at Vol State.  They help Squatter’s Rites by taking photos of the student’s original art with a high-resolution camera.

Anyone who is interested in joining Squatter’s Rites can contact Fox at  Although they don’t have an exact date for their first meeting this year, they are accepting members and encourage anyone who is interested in art, writing, or photography to think about participating. The deadline for submitting projects is March 27.

Student Government Association Spotlight

Volunteer State Community College’s Student Government Association (SGA) is an organization that is in place to put the needs of Vol State students first.

“The SGA provides leadership opportunities and helps students discover and learn how to advocate for their passions and what they want. It’s the idea that we as student government can make a change in a student’s life no matter how small or how much it might impact them. We make our decisions based on the student’s wants and needs. Maybe not necessarily what we want, but if that’s what the students want, that’s what we’re for,” said Amanda Steele, president of SGA.

“Clubs all can come to us for a little bit of direction or maybe they need help starting up whatever projects they want to do. We’re required to have a very working knowledge of our constitution and know what clubs are or are not allowed to do,” said Steele.

Within the SGA there are six specific officer positions, two of which, attorney general and secretary of state, are currently vacant.

The attorney general of the SGA can assist the student body with campus related issues which students want legislated action on. In the hypothetical scenario of a Vol State Student receiving a ticket on campus, the student may want to challenge the ticket and ask for it to be appealed. The jury that chooses to appeal the student’s ticket or not would be made up of Vol State students and orchestrated by the attorney general.

Concerning the position of secretary of state, “one thing I think that would help Vol State a lot is maybe more implementation of technology. Currently no SGA records of previous years are available on digital format. So I’m really going to need a great secretary to help me out with that so we can set up future SGAs so that they can be a little more organized,” said Steele.

The only requirement to be a member in the SGA cabinet is that one must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75.

“At SGA meetings we usually talk about future goals, future plans. We rely heavily on the SGA rep and club leaders, student leaders in general, to really help us survey maybe students who aren’t as actively involved in campus activities. So we’re really trying to figure out how to reach out to those students and maybe what we can do that would really benefit them to help get more involved,” said Steele.

“We talk about the goals that we would like to accomplish and how can we really leave a legacy here. And I expect student leaders to come with ideas and participate in discussions. SGA meetings aren’t something that we really take lightly and I think it is important that people know how much of an impact we can make. I hope that people come to the SGA with their ideas and just know that nothing is too small, we can figure out how to tackle it appropriately,” said Steele.

Something Steele mentioned she wanted to accomplish this semester is to replace classroom chalkboards with white boards. “We’re really trying to get some smart white boards that’ll help students be able to connect to their classes on a more electronic level and in a way that really suits our millennial students here.”

Steele also said she wants to “make sure we’re doing everything we can to make our school much more LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) friendly.”

For more information about the SGA one can contact Steele at or go to Wood 213.

President’s Ambassadors program mold student’s into leaders

The President’s Ambassadors is a full ride scholarship given to five girls and five boys at Volunteer State Community College.
In order to receive this scholarship, a student has to take 12 or more hours with a 3.0 or higher GPA. A student who is qualified for this scholarship is invited to apply.
Then, the student must fill out the application that was mailed to them and submit the application by the deadline.

Once applications are reviewed, students that are selected will be notified for their first interview. At the end of the interview process, the final ambassadors will be chosen.
This student is required to have 40 hours a semester and 20 hours of community work around Vol State, which can be accomplished over the summer.

Being in the office, having a campus tour or participating in events/ activities goes toward those hours. These students will partake as servant leaders to the president.

“Vol State needs to have a student representative to make a positive impact on the future students visiting,” said Sydny Simpson, admission specialist.
Lindsey Maxwell is a President’s Ambassador. She went through this process and was selected for this academic year.

Maxwell has maintained a 4.0 GPA and said she enjoys being an ambassador for Vol State because it enables her to be an extension and representative of the college’s mission to the local community.
She said she is passionate about encouraging prospective students by giving campus tours and working with various events on campus.

“I have definitely grown as an individual by being a part of this program,” said Maxwell. “It has given me opportunities to better not only Vol State, but the community and myself.”
Garrett Moore is a President’s Ambassador. He was selected for this academic year and has accumulated a 3.68 GPA through his journey at Vol State.
Moore said that through his many experiences he has had the best two years of his life so far.

“I love meeting new people and helping others. The Ambassador Program has definitely provided an awesome avenue to pursue,” said Moore.
Other events that the President’s Ambassadors have been involved with include: Hispanic Fiesta, TN Promise sign-ups, Sumner County College Night and career fair.

“The Ambassador Program is in its eleventh year at the college.  Students selected for the program are given the opportunity to learn more about themselves and develop leadership skills while giving back to the community and college.

“We keep in touch with many of the Ambassador alums and enjoy watching them continue to grow and succeed after they leave Vol State,” said Tim Amyx, director of Admissions and College Registrar.

The Other Wes Moore book study

For its second year, Volunteer State Community College welcomes One Book, One Community. One Book, One Community is a partnership between the Vol State Thigpen Library and the public libraries of Gallatin, Hendersonville, Portland, Westmoreland, and White House.
New York Times bestseller “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” written by Wes Moore is the selection of 2015.
It explores the life of young Moore and is often relatable to urban America.
It follows the life and the struggles of inner city kids, from drugs and abuse, all the way to absent parents and lack of structure.
Since being published in April of 2010, this book has become an urban American phenomenon, with Moore being placed on Ebony’s Annual Power 100 List, and now hosting Beyond Belief on Oprah’s Own Network.
Now this book is gaining popularity all over the world, and sparked an interest in Cindy Chanin, assistant professor of English, who referred Vol State to the book.
Moore’s story may have started in Maryland, but now it has reached the desks of local students and our community.
Kay Grossberg, associate professor of English, is one of eight who are teaching this book this year.
“One Book, One Community is a program made to establish a connection to reading to college students to the community,” said Grossberg.
In concurrence with the book read, Vol State will also hold a special lecture series that is free and open to the public.

The lecure series is as follows:

Feb. 10: Film: “American Promise”, two showings- noon and 5 p.m., Thigpen library.

Feb. 16: Effects and possible solutions to the issue of “deadbeat dads”, 12:30 p.m., Nichols Dining Room, Wood Campus Center.

Feb. 24: Tense relationships between the police and the African-American community and possible solutions, 12:30 p.m. Nichols Dining Room, Wood Campus Center.

March 2: The effects of Hip-Hop on Society, 9 a.m., Pickel Field House.

March 19: Fear of (or low expectations of) young African-American males and possible solutions, 12:30 p.m., Nichols Dining Room, Wood Campus.

March 24: Final discussion: Lessons learned and where do we go from here? 6 p.m., Thigpen Library.