SGA Vice President Steps down

By Wesley Anderson// Web Editor


Dorie Williams, Vice President of the Student Government Association, stepped down from her position earlier this month. She made the decision after accepting a job that would leave her little time for the responsibilities of the SGA.

“Usually the President takes over if there is no Vice President before the next SGA meeting, but we are going to have another Vice President,” says Jesse Versage, President of the SGA.

The SGA has already made arrangements for a replacement Vice President, but they could not release a name as of yet.

Though it was a hard decision, Dorie said that the amount of recruiting made it easier for her to leave and for the SGA to find a replacement in a short time.  She went on to say that the concept of commitment is very important and for those interested in the SGA that it was a great opportunity and looks good on a resume.

“I’m happy for her, and I would have done the same thing,” said Versage when asked if he had anything to say to the former Vice President. 

There are currently two open positions for the SGA, Attorney General and Treasurer.  Students can stop by the SGA office in the Wood Campus Center to get more information on how to apply.

“We would love your participation, put in an application you get paid for it,” said Versage when asked if he had any words for the student body.  


Blake’s Book Bag


By Blake Bouza

Welcome back to The Settler’s book review! I’m here to sift through the hundreds of thousands of books (for free) that are released each year to bring you the best of the bunch (good thing I love it so much).


Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day. He must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character.


The Dresden Files will always be a pure adrenaline ride with lots of moments that will make you think and reflect on the power of faith, love, and hope, often taking us to the darkest places in the Nevernever to do it. This is book 15, but let me persuade you to jump on the Harry Dresden, down-on-his-luck wizard for hire, bandwagon.

A major thing I love about this series is that it just never gets stagnant. Butcher always keeps it fresh and hilarious. You can get world-shattering events in one book (zombie-T-Rex stomping-through-downtown-Chicago doing battle with necromancers, no big deal) to intense character study in the next book. Both are equally fascinating. Never have I found myself saying, “here we go again,” a rarity with a series so long. These characters grow and change like real people should.

This urban fantasy series is a breath of fresh air in that it does not treat the topic of power – political or magical – lightly. Everything has a consequence; from accepting a favor to being the guardian of a special sword. It harps on this without seeming cliché or filler. This series has also tackled predestination and come out on top. Respectful and enlightened views on religion, too.

Skin Game itself seemed a bit disjointed in the beginning, the urgency of the mission undermined by the side trips Harry and company kept going on – but as always, every side adventure furthers the story and the characters so it is kind of necessary. These kinks are ironed out as we see that the side trips were necessary, like whoa.

If you’re new to the series give Storm Front, the first book, a whirl. You won’t be sorry.

A solid 4 out of 5 Stars.

President’s Ambassadors

Anthony Davidson//Contributing Writer


Dr. Jerry Faulkner, President of Volunteer State Community College has announced the following students as the new Ambassadors:

Jenny Hernandez of Gallatin; Brenly McDonald of Westmoreland; Brandon Herbert of Mount Juliet; Sarah Cody of Cookeville; KJ Kitchens of Lafayette; Peyton Leach of Hendersonville; Megan Ratliff of Gallatin; Charlotte Masiongale of Byrdstown; Whitney Dickerson of Riddleton; Kristen Dedman of Lebanon; and Allison Goodpaster of Hendersonville.

What exactly is a President’s Ambassador? “Ambassadors do a lot of door holding and other general public services for the community.

“Generally speaking, Ambassadors are very busy.

“We do a lot of tours for incoming students and act as a bridge between the Faculty and newer students.  We go around asking ‘Do you need any help; is there anything we can do for you,'” said Ratliff.

Ratliff says that students that wish to become Ambassadors must undergo a rigorous interview process, maintain 20 volunteer hours during the summer courses and the Maymester, and maintain 40 volunteer hours during the Fall and Spring Hours.KJ Kitchens also had some insight to the interview process and a clue to the rigidity in choosing Ambassadors.


“My interviews were really intense. This program is a really big deal because they have to make sure you meet the very precise criteria to represent Vol State as an

Ambassador,” said Kitchens.


Kitchens says “It’s almost impossible to give you a description of what my duties are other than this: Do anything anyone asks you to do.


“We give campus tours, but sometimes our duties could be figuring out how to plug in a crockpot and tape the power chord under a table so people won’t trip over it, holding doors, speaking at an event, or serving food.”


President Faulkner’s own testimony reinforces Ms. Ratliff’s point. “The Ambassadors are chosen through a rigorous process that begins with an application.  The process includes both written assessments and face-to-face interviews,” said Faulkner.



Along with this volunteer hour requirement comes a 3.0 GPA academic requirement.   “Even if you have your volunteer hours met, you should never be complacent and should continue volunteering,” commented Ratliff.


What does it mean to be an Ambassador?


Ratliff says that being an Ambassador means “giving your 110%.  Whenever we don’t do tours we help around the offices and serve at dinner events.  You have to give your best at all times, you are the face of the college,” said Ratliff.


Kitchens says “It really means a lot to me to be an Ambassador. I take pride in representing Vol State at all the events and showing it off to perspective students who come on tours.


“It’s sort of scary to think that what I do reflects on Vol State, but this has made me a better person because I love Vol State and I always want to be a good representative for the college.


“Being an Ambassador is a huge honor, and I am so thankful to have this incredible opportunity.


“Being an Ambassador has positively affected my life in more than one way. Being an Ambassador has allowed me to make friends and meet new people that I wouldn’t have met before, as well as becoming a more well-rounded student and person.”


The Settler also interviewed with President Jerry Faulkner.


Faulkner says “The Ambassadors program is a service scholarship program.  In return for serving as an ambassador for the college, students receive a scholarship that covers their tuition and fees. 


“Money for the scholarship is raised through the Volunteer State College Foundation, a separate non-profit organization that supports the mission of the college.”


Faulkner also says “Ambassadors serve in a variety of ways.  They give campus tours to visiting prospective students and represent the college at a variety of events.  They help out with both college and foundation functions. 

“Very often they are the “face” of our students in very public events.  They are often called on to share their personal stories with groups from outside the college.”

A Nation of Americans

Dustin W. Hodges//Contributing Writer 


Every generation has their special date in American history that will, to quote FDR, “live in infamy.”  For my grandparents generation this was the 7th of December in 1941,  For my parents it was the 22nd of November in 1963.   For me it was the 11th of September in 2001.   My grandparents and parents always said they would never forget where they were when their big event happened, and this generation should be no different.  

At precisely 8:46 AM on September 11, 2001 America’s destiny and that of its citizens  changed forever.  This tragic event brought America together in a way not seen in sixty years.  For a brief time there was no black or white, no Christian or Jew, no rich or poor, no Republican or Democrat.  On that horrible day, and for years to come, we were all simply American.  Just as after Pearl Harbor, Americans bonded together, donated, volunteered, and enlisted in record numbers to fight evil and bring freedom to the world.  

With all the controversy and violence in 2014/2015, people attacking cops, burning down neighborhoods, even shooting at firefighters, America needs to remember the ideology that attacked us 14 years ago has not been eradicated.  All this infighting is just what they want, to destabilize and destroy this great nation.  Each time our country is attacked, America has come together as one. It is a shame it takes such a tragedy to make us see that our minor differences really do not matter.  If we can remember what brought us to stand together, nothing can tear us apart.

Thousands have died fighting terrorism since September 11, 2001.  Many people know someone close to them who has given the ultimate sacrifice to defend your freedom.  Many of those who do return become first responders. Let us not forget the hundreds of officers, and firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11.  So the next time you see a police officer, or firefighter, know that one way or another they have risked their lives to keep you free, say thank you.   Next time you see a military veteran, buy that person dinner, she or he risked their life in defense of your freedom. If by chance you are lucky enough to meet George W. Bush, shake his hand and say thank you, his decision to fight terrorism head on is the reason an attack like September 11 has not happened since.  

Editorial on Staying Grounded in Situations

By Sara Keen//Editer-in-Chief

Society today seems to focus more on the bad in the world than the good.  It has become increasingly difficult to turn on the news without hearing of tragedy, war, violence, or crime.

Even social media is covered with upsetting news stories.  So often do you see posts of people “giving up on humanity” or not wanting “to live on this planet anymore.”

So how is it possible to stay vibrant or optimistic when it seems like everything is gloomy?

One has to remember that the world is complicated.  There is no split difference between good and bad.  The good often has some bad in it just as the bad often has some good.

Tragedies are capable of bringing people together, as well as making individuals stronger.  For example, following Hurricane Katrina, the devastation and destruction brought people together to rebuild the effected areas.

On a smaller scale, families can be brought closer by death or illness.  Individuals can even become stronger mentally, and grow as a person.

There is also bad found in what we conceive as good stories.  For example, society always thinks about how glamorous and great it would be to become famous.  In reality, a lot of people were not able to handle their newfound fame.  Some would succumb to drug abuse; others would unintentionally break away from their families.  

Even outside of the “limelight,” things we often wish would happen, like winning the lottery, have had very negative results on people.  Lottery winners have been known to be murdered for their money while everyone else dreams to be them.

Too much of a good thing can be bad, and some things that seem good actually aren’t that great.  

When an individual is faced with both good or bad news, the best thing to do initially is to stay calm, if at all possible.  This can help the individual to think over and take in what has happened, or even allow the capability of rational thinking.

Sometimes it could help to turn to a friend.  A good friend will welcome anything you have to share, and may help in any way they are capable.  Some individuals require this in order to remain rational.

Overall, do what you must to cope with, understand, or enjoy the news you have received.  Once you have overcome the initial news, it’s best to focus on how this impacts you.

If the news is devastating, it could have a “bright side,” that is not initially seen.  There could be something good that could come from it, so it is best not to focus entirely on the negative aspect of an event.

Good news can have a dark side to it.  Perhaps one’s high hopes are let down shortly after receiving the news, or what seemed like excellent news did not turn out as well as anyone had hoped.

It is perfectly okay to enjoy and celebrate when you hear good news.  It is simply helpful to remember that not all good things end as well as they started.

Everyone should remember to keep their heads on their shoulders, feet on the ground, and hopes held high.  It is not helpful to focus entirely on the bad or the good, but to understand that they intermingle, and exist together in the world.

Giving our veterans a chance to reconnect

By Melissa Farmer// Staff Writer 

Volunteer State Community College has quite a few veterans around campus.  One thing that will soon be available for veterans is a Veterans Center on campus.

Starting college after you have been in the military is quite an adjustment. Often times coming to college can be overwhelming for any students, and when it comes to veterans it can be more overwhelming than average. Being used to a strict schedule while serving in the military, then switching to college life where you get to schedule your classes whenever you choose, and just the over all freedom is a rough time.

“Veterans are kind of a different group, they’re used to being very structured, they’re used to working with adults. Once they get to college it’s usually a totally different environment for them. They can usually handle it, but it’s that transition period,” said Ken Hanson, who is a veteran himself and knows first-hand how this transition goes.

Working with the state, Vol State has plans to open a Veterans Center on campus “Veterans can go there to spend some time studying, work on computers, things they need for school. Or as a one stop shop for veterans so that way they don’t have to go all over campus as much.”

Hopefully with veterans connecting with each other, and other veterans who have gone through what they are experiencing it can be a more smooth transition and their college experience will be enjoyable.

The location of the veterans center is undetermined, so far, but there are plans to get this center up and running by Oct or Nov. Veterans connecting with other veterans is a very unique bond, “They know that each other have, as we’ve always said it, ‘stomped the same dirt’.”

Connecting with a group that has the same experiences and can know where you have come from can be an extremely beneficial bond when someone is in a new environment and trying to settle into a new life.

The ultimate goal is to get veterans to achieve their goal “We want to get them from the time they start here, till we can get them to the point where they can finish their program, graduate and hopefully move on to a much better world,” said Hanson.

The Veterans of Vol State definitely have something to look forward to in the upcoming months. When the Veterans Center is prepared and ready to be the base for these brave men and women, ads will be put out and more information will be available.

In the mean time, should you have any questions, contact Ken Hanson ( for details, questions or concerns.    


Letter on creating a cleaner campus

By Beth Cooksey// Vice President of Business and Finance

I would like to officially welcome all of our returning and new students to the fall semester at Volunteer State Community College.  I have had the privilege of serving as the Vice President for Business and Finance for over eleven years now.  Volunteer State is a great place and I am very proud of it.

As a new or returning student, I hope you are also proud of this College and the Gallatin campus.  In the time I have been here, I have seen plenty of changes to the physical campus.  We have had two major construction efforts, the completed Allied Health South construction and the Humanities Building that is currently underway.  We also had a significant construction project back in 2006 when a tornado did over $9 million in damages to our campus.  Following the tornado, we all pulled together and sacrificed some creature comforts while the campus was rebuilt.  For a while, it just wasn’t too pretty around Vol State, but eventually, the campus started to look nice again.

There are a lot of us on this campus who take a great deal of pride in how this campus looks and how it is evolving.  My point in writing this article is to ask for your help.  Please help us keep our campus beautiful.  When I see little things like gum on a campus sidewalk, I am distressed.  I am distressed because I personally know the hard working custodial team at Vol State will have to clean up something  that just shouldn’t have happened.  Our entire Plant Operations team is dedicated to creating a culture and atmosphere that are conducive to learning.  We want you to be comfortable in your classrooms and in the recreational space.  We want a clean and inviting campus.  Please help us keep Vol State beautiful.  

Thank you in advance for doing your part.  Together we can all have a great fall semester!

Movie night to feature Marvel film

Contributing Writer Anthony Davidson


The first logical question that a student asks when they hear about Movie Night: “What is it?”

According to Tabitha Sherrell of the Student Life and Diversity Office: “It is a community event.  You do not have to be a student to come and view the movie.  It roughly starts at dusk, approximately 7:30 or whenever the sun goes down that day. You can bring your blankets and your lawn chairs, and there will be concessions available. I know one of our student clubs will be providing popcorn.”

That said, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend and enjoy the movie.  The movie is free because the college’s Student Government Association (SGA) has its own “blow-up screen.”

Movie Night allows students to bring their friends and families out to enjoy a free movie and have some fun, and non-students get the chance to watch a movie and enjoy an autumn night.  “If you are a student with your own children, this would be a perfect opportunity to bring your kids on campus and enjoy some time with them,” said Sherrell.

The next logical question: “How many students know about Movie Night?”

On a survey of students, the Settler found that 4 in 5 students asked did not know about the event. Advertisement of the event is strongly encouraged by Faculty and Staff.

This free showing takes place on the Volunteer State Community College quad, in the middle of Warf Sciences, Thigpen Library, Wood Campus Center, and the Pickle Fieldhouse.

This year’s showing will be Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron on Sept. 18, 2015.

For students who haven’t kept up with the series and related films, the movie stars Scarlet Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Spader as the voice of the AI, Ultron.  The movie follows the storyline of the Marvel comic book series. The film is rated PG-13, due to language and thematic violence.

The  viewing is scheduled to be played on the quad, however, if the weather should not permit, it will be shown in the  carpeted dining room of Wood Campus Center.

Concessions will be sold and the proceeds from concessions will benefit the school’s clubs and programs.  The Settler does not currently have a list of specific concessions, but concessions will be available at the event.

Coffee with the Prez

By Kalynn Meeker// Staff Writer 


Volunteer State Community College invites students and faculty for a handshake and conversation with President Dr. Jerry Faulkner at Coffee with the Prez.  

The reason the event was created is to “try to get him acquainted with the students and let them see, yes, we have a President. Here he is and you can talk to him about some sort of issue, if you’re really happy with Vol State or you just want to compliment a professor or somebody on campus that’s changed your life. He is right there and is easy access for students to talk to,” said Tabitha Sherrell, the Coordinator of Student Activities, who planned the date this summer.

A table will be set with free coffee, sugar, and creamer. Other free foods will also be served such as muffins or chicken biscuits. A sign in sheet will be on the table where students are asked to sign up. In the past, there has been anywhere from 10 to 40 people at Coffee with the Prez. With this in mind, it is a first come first serve.

The event is informal, like sitting down with a friend at the local coffee shop. Faulker comes in and mingles with everyone in the dining room.

Jessie Versage, president of the Student Government Association, attended last year and plans to go this year.

Versage encourages all students to join him and ask questions “to get more insight on what the college is doing for their students.”

To give an example of what kind of questions could be asked, Taylor Matson, a student at Vol State said if he could ask the president a question it would be, “How is college paid for when it’s free for the Tennessee Promise students?”

Save the date for Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Room A or what is known as the Tile Dining Room.

Three different dates are set to ensure everyone who wants attend can choose a date to better fit their schedules.

Other dates available to attend Coffee with the Prez are Tuesday, Oct. 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 and Thursday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Both meetings will also be in the Tile Dining Room.


Brenda Buffington’s Farewell

By: Barbara Harmon

Students and staff of Volunteer State Community College got their final hugs from Brenda Buffington, Director of Adult Learners and Evening Services, on Aug. 31st.  This was her last day at Vol State and even though there were cake and balloons around the department, there were that many more teary eyes.

Buffington was employed by Vol State over three years ago and feels she has made the most of that time.  She has enjoyed working with the student organizations, such as The National Society of Leadership and Success, overseeing many other student events and truly listening to what the students had to say.

When asked by students why she was doing all that she did, her response was, “because of you,” said Buffington.

Her work with the adult students led to her contribution to the Launch and Learn project for the upcoming year, which will offer workshops and free career assessments to the students who participate in this program said Buffington.

While reminiscing about her time at Vol State, Buffington recalled how she strove to turn the student gatherings into special events.  “We did not do it every day, but when we did—it was an event,” said Buffington.

There is one last event that Buffington planned for the students at Vol State.  “I will not be here, but my final event will be here.  I planned, on Nov. 19th, which is during the week of homecoming, a Clearly You event,” said Buffington.  “It will be in the carpeted dining room from 1-7pm, and then starting at 5:30pm there will be a dinner.”

You are welcome to bring your family to this event and have your image scanned into a three dimensional cube said Buffington, and she hopes that you will attend her event.

Judy Schuelke, Coordinator for Adult Learners and Evening Services, said Buffington will be missed incredibly.

Schuelke worked with Buffington slightly more than a year.  “Hugs were her trademark.  Regardless of the kind of day you were having, students and staff would come into her office just to get a hug, because they knew it was “ok,” said Schuelke.

Having worked under the guidance of Buffington, Schuelke said Buffington was centered on helping students.  “Brenda was a very giving person, genuine and sincere,” said Schuelke.

Tracey Toy had only worked with Buffington since January, but said it was common for students to come to the office just to see Buffington, even students that had already graduated.  “She is a rarity, not just to students, but with everybody that she works with,” Toy said.

Toy said that there is going to be so many people that are disappointed that Buffington is gone.  “I am happy for her though, because wherever she goes she will be a star,” said Toy.