Dr.Ming Wang’s “From Darkness to Sight” Presentation

Melissa Farmer


On Oct. 22, Dr. Ming Wang came to Volunteer State Community College to give a presentation called “From Darkness to Sight.”

Wang has published at least eight textbooks that are used for students to study the eye and the science behind it. Wang does surgeries for people that help them get rid of their glasses permanently. People who could not see without a heavy prescription could see after Wang performed a surgery for them.

Wang has performed on many optometrists so that they can continue on with their practice. He is well known all over the world for his Eye “Ball” that he holds each year where ball room dancing is the main event.  

The presentation talked about how he was born and raised in China. Dr. Wang said he wants to help blind, orphaned children. He spoke of how he wants to encourage children young people to work harder. He wrote a book, and all of the proceeds of the book go to a foundation.

Dr. Wang grew up with an atheist family, who put a strong emphasis on education. Disaster occurred in 1966-1976. There was a massive deportation of junior and senior high graduates. The dictator did this so that he could continue dictating in China without any upraises or riots.

The children who were deported were condemned of a lifetime of poverty and hard labor. Any of the children that escaped would be jailed or killed. There was no option for the children to continue on with the education.

By keeping the next generation ignorant, they wouldn’t have the possibility of an uprising. Students in America get lucky enough to study for as long as they want. There is an infinite amount of knowledge available. For the children there was only one kind of exemption, if you could play an instrument or if you can dance, they wouldn’t send you to the fields to work. Wang picked up an instrument.

Eventually, the government saw that children were learning music to avoid being sent away and put an end to the music.  Wang began to pick up dancing in an effort to avoid being sentenced to a life of poverty. When he thought all hope was lost something good happened. In 1976 the dictator died and China reopened colleges. Wang skipped three years and started the 12th grade the very next day. Only 12 grade graduates will be allowed to participate in the college examination and they had to be in the top one or two percent to be permitted into college.

“Here in America we sometimes take freedom for granted. We think ‘freedom is here, freedom will be here tomorrow,’” said Dr. Wang.

Dr. Wang said if his father wouldn’t have pushed him into college that year, then they didn’t know what the next year would hold. They could shut down colleges at any moment.

“Freedom is what is most precious about America,” said Wang. We often take things for granted because we truly can’t imagine what it is like to not have freedom.

Halloween Party Preview

Halloween Party Preview

Barbara Harmon// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College will be having a Halloween Party Oct. 30, at 6:00 p. m., in the Tiled Dining Room.

“Student Life and Diversity Initiatives is paying for food and we are hosting it as our family event for October,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities for Student Life and Diversity Initiatives

“Artisans Alliance is going to do pumpkin painting,” said Sherrell. “And the International Student Association (Visa) is going to do the costume contest.”

Sherrell also said the cheerleaders at VSCC are going to be running the spider ring-toss game and corn hole, and the Veterans Club is going to have a photo booth to take pictures and print out 4×6 photos.

“Those photos can be taken to the foam picture frame making station that RSO will be running,” said Sherrell.

Sherrell said SLDI would be having a superhero-themed coloring contest.

[The contestants] will be given a flier for homecoming, where all their cute superhero colored pages will be displayed in the hallway. They will announce the winner of the contest at homecoming, and the winner will need to be present to receive their prize,” said Sherrell. The Prize will be movie tickets.

The food at the Halloween party will consist of pizza, chips and dip, Halloween punch, and cookies.

“Every station is going to have candy, so it will also be like trick-or-treating,” said Sherrell.

Only about 20 children attended last year’s event, but Sherrell said she is hoping for at least 50 children this year.

“I’m hoping since Student Life is trying this family friendly series; I’m hoping that helps,” said Sherrell.

This is a community event so anyone is welcome to attend, she said.

Brittany Villa, president of RSO, has been making the fliers and as well as the decorative, plywood frame with holes to have your picture made in.

“The Returning Students Organization has put a lot of effort into making the fliers and advertising for the party, and they are also supplying the games for each station,” said Sherrell.

Villa said she just wants people to come out.

“[People] can pick and choose which booths they want to participate in, and we are going to have music, so we can just hang out while the kids have fun,” said Villa.

She said that Artisan Alliance was able to get miniature pumpkins donated from a local church for their pumpkin painting booth.

Villa said the RSO is hoping, by making this a family event, everybody will get involved, both on campus, and in the community.

“I feel like community support, as far as school goes, is very important, and I like that we have the capability to make it something cool,” said Villa.

Jesse Versage, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said he wants to encourage participation at this year’s Halloween party.

“Halloween is once a year,” said Versage. “Better take advantage of it.”

Blake’s Book Bag

Blake Bouza// COntributing Writer 


Welcome back to The Settler’s book review. I am going to besorting what you should be reading from what you could be reading – because I care.


The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson


In early 21st century Thailand, Scott is an ex-patriate slacker. Then, one day, he inadvertently witnesses an impossible event: the violent appearance of a 200-foot stone pillar in the forested interior. And the inscription chiseled into it commemorates a military victory–sixteen years in the future.

Shortly afterward, another, larger pillar arrives in the center of Bangkok-obliterating the city and killing thousands. Over the next several years, human society is transformed by these mysterious arrivals from, seemingly, our own near future. Who is the warlord “Kuin” whose victories they note?

(from goodreads.com)


The Review:

I wanted to love this book so much. The premise has one of the most interesting science fiction ideas I have ever heard of. An egotistical warlord sending monuments of himself back through time to commemorate his victories? Sign me up.

Unfortunately, the execution of this premise left a lot to be desired.

Seemingly more by random circumstance than by fate, Scott runs into his old college professor, Sue Chopra, after the first Chronolith touches down. Sue Chopra gets put in charge of finding a way to avoid this future fate, and Scott, a coder, gets invited to be on the team. The logic to having a cause-and-effect coder on the team seems reasonable, but Scott never really does anything.

Sue is probably my favorite character in the whole book, a gay scientist who basically believes she is the time period’s savior and may or may not be a megalomaniac because of it.

I wish we had seen the story told from her point-of-view.

What could have been a very interesting military/science novel was instead turned into an unrealistic family drama. Which can be a very effective vessel with which to tell a larger story – but none of it was believable.

Now that is not to say I did not enjoy some elements of the story. It was more the peripheral things about it I enjoyed, the social aspects the Chronoliths bring with it, specifically the generational psychology and the effect the Chronoliths have on the average person.

The book also depicts a believable future despite the speculative premise. Water shortages, new bills that are passed to combat the economic collapse in America after Asia is thrown into turmoil. Little things that are mentioned in passing that lend to the greater story.

So on the grander scale, it is an interesting story if a bit dry. It is not the best character story I have ever read, and it did not need to be – but it left a lot to be desired.

2 out of 5 stars.

Annual Faculty Art Show Ending Soon

Barbara Harmon// Staff Writer 


The Volunteer State Community College Annual Art Faculty Exhibit in the Ramer will last until Oct. 9, in the Ramer Building and Thigpen Library.

There is still time for students to observe that their teachers are working from experience.

Nathaniel Smyth, Art Faculty, has digital art on display in the Ramer building.

Smyth said that these images are actually 100-250 images within these pictures.

“I’m usually surprised at the figure that emerges in the end. They feel to me like a kind of archetype in the end,” said Smyth.

He said that even if those who view his art do not understand what goes into making digital art, he hopes they have that same thought upon looking at it.

Smyth said he started working with digital art in 2001 and learned the basics from a course he took, but taught himself after that.

“Digital art is still a new and strange field. There are a lot of different approaches people take with it, but some of the most interesting work is when the artists embrace the medium and work in some way with data or external information, using the computer to process it in ways that can’t really be done in an analog fashion,” said Smyth.

He said people are surprised that he does not consider himself a very creative person.

“I’m always right in the middle on those tests that tell you if you’re left-brained or right-brained,” said Smyth.

He does not believe that art is just about creativeness by itself.

“Creativity alone is confusing and mostly uninteresting, it takes a balance of creativity and focus to really make interesting things that people will be interested in. Usually, the stuff I want to make, what I like about it, is that it reveals something to me that I didn’t know or expect,” said Smyth.

He said his art has most frequently been shown in Chicago, Ohio and Texas.

Holly Nimmo, Public Relations Receptionist, said she has heard several people comment about looking at Smyth’s images.

She said they might view one and feel frightened, but move to the next and feel comforted.

“People perceive and experience the process differently,” said Nimmo.

She said that she was surprised to learn that Smyth’s digital image of Jesus was more than 200 images layered on top of each other.

“He is studying how people perceive deities that they have never seen,” said Nimmo.

She said she herself did some research on the other deities that she was not familiar with and said Smyth’s work is not the only subject of several people’s discussions she said.

“There were several people that came through the Great Hall that really enjoyed Claire Hampton’s painting of the hill at the quarry and have commented about how it is more intact than it is now,” said Nimmo.

She said that many people who are familiar with that area enjoy observing Hampton’s “Station Camp Quarry 3” (oil on canvas).

“It reminds me of how the landscape looked in that area, when I was attending school at Vol State,” said Nimmo.

Laura Black, Department Chair of English Faculty, is purchasing this painting and was familiar with Claire Hampton, but said she had not seen this painting until the show.

“When I first saw the painting, I was emotionally overcome by the subject because I recognized it as Pilot Knob or at least what’s left of it.

“Claire Hampton’s work is one of Ecofeminism in that it makes an argument about the destruction of the natural environment, generally the result of patriarchal forces,” said Black.

She said that upon viewing this painting, memories of it from her childhood resurfaced. Being a native of Gallatin she said she has seen Pilot Knob gradually mined away.

She said she still travels by this area when she visits her parents.

“I pass the quarry from 386 each Sunday as it is represented in the painting, and seeing it, in real life and in the painting, fills me with a sense of loss thinking about the scarring of the environment, the change over time. The subject of the image brings me sadness, but the light in the painting is warming,” said Black.

She said she will display the painting where she can get enjoyment from it everyday.

“It was strange to purchase it for me.  I don’t know if I believe that anyone can ‘own’ art.

Like the use of land, we can only be stewards of it.  I’m thrilled to be its steward,” said Black.


Lady Pioneers to Host Fall Scrimmage

Abby Brogden// Staff Writer


On Saturday Oct. 10, the Volunteer State Community College Lady Pioneers, or women’s basketball team, will be hosting a scrimmage against Cumberland University at 10 A.M. in the Moore Gymnasium at the Pickel Field House.

Head Coach of the team, Otis Key, is excited about the scrimmage. This will be the second time the Lady Pioneers have played Cumberland. “We played the them last year and it went pretty well. I’m expecting big things to come from this,” said Key.

The Lady Pioneers have been conditioning for the last three weeks and are eager to get a ball back into their hands for actual practice during the next week.

The team consists of seven first-time freshmen and five sophomores. “Youth and inexperience are going to be one of our main problems. Most of the girls on the court with the exception of one are freshmen.

“And that is difficult in itself because the expectation of how hard to play and learning each and every night what works and doesn’t work, just experience over all. Once we get that balance down, we should be fine,” said Key

Key is a former basketball player from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Just after graduating from APSU, Key was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, which is a basketball team that puts on shows to entertain with forms of stunts and tricks.

“I was very fortunate to not only be able to play the game but have to charisma to go with,” said Key

This season the Lady Pioneers will travel far and wide including to Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama.

“[The girls} want to play. They all come from very successful high school back grounds, very successful programs, and tough coaches. The will and the want are there so I’m just eager to see them get out there and play,” said Key.

What Matters? Movie and discussion.

Melissa Farmer//Staff Writer 

On Oct. 9 in Mattox 104 there will be a screening of What Matters?, a documentary about three men who decide to learn what it is like to live in extreme poverty.

The film is extremely eye opening. It is a film to make one ask themselves “Do I care about what is happening in third world countries? If I do, what am I doing about it?”

The men start out trying to live in American poverty, even then they had dumpsters to eat out of, homeless shelters to stay at, and sidewalks to stand on and beg for money.

David decided to take it a step further and asks the guys if they’re up for a trip to Africa to get a first hand experience of poverty. As they continue on with their journey to Africa they sleep in parks and random places they find around the cities.

Two of the men are Christians and the other is an atheist. There is conflict in the film between them due to differences of attitude and religions.

The film shows the men on their journey, they see what it is like to be homeless in America, and a few other places before they make their long journey to Nairobi.

When the men make it to Nairobi they meet with Tony, a man that David had met on a previous mission trip to Nairobi, who gave them some advice about their time in Nairobi.

The men continue on with their very difficult journey to experience what extreme poverty is truly like. Rob, who seemed to have a bad attitude before leaving for Nairobi, has changed his views and saw it “in a very positive way.”

As they continue to go around the slums and impoverished areas, stepping through piles of trash, fecal matter, and dodging wild animals that roam, they think it would be a good idea to have Dan (the third man who came along) sleep in one of the houses made of mud, sticks and trash to truly understand the poverty the people live in.

Dave and Rob decide to take a plane above the slums of Nairobi to get some better footage. In a dramatic turn of events the plane goes down, both men are rushed to the hospital.

Dan sees the crash and eventually joins them at the hospital to check on them. From here these men have to figure out how they are going to get home, or if they will ever make it.

If you’d like to know how the film ends, go to Mattox 104, Friday at 9 a.m.


Not voting insults those who fought for the right

 Dustin W. Hodges

The ability for Americans to have a voice in our government was created by centuries of men putting their lives on the line, however in modern day America the average citizen has no interest in politics, resulting in an abysmally low fifty percent voting rates, and this is the high percentages during presidential elections.

Having no desire to vote, and exercise the right of consent of the governed is a direct slap in the face to not only our founding fathers, but also all political theorists.

Living in a world of ruling elites, and a vast separation of classes, Plato and Aristotle could not envision a world of true equality, yet still developed the concept that the state and the citizens are not separate.  They set the building blocks for majority consensus, and thus consent of the governed.  

This belief would be expounded upon by Martin Luther King Junior to include all peoples, not just one race, gender or class.

Living under a sovereign ruler, Thomas Hobbes developed the belief that the sovereign is bound by consent, and could be removed if that contract is broken.

Not be left out, Thomas Aquinas believed rulers should be part of the aristocracy, while being chosen by the people; thus continuing the long developed theory eventually put into practice by the Declaration and Constitution of the United States, consent of the governed.

The aforementioned political and religious thinkers all developed slightly different ideas for how their respective countries should operate, yet all had a major concept in common.  It took thousands of years for the concept of consent of the governed to come into practice, and thankfully it was practiced here, in the good ole’ USA.

John Adams and his fellow patriots risked their lives so future generations could have the freedoms and liberties outlined by theorists over time.  In creation of the United States, these men created the ability for everyday citizens, and over time this would evolve into every adult, the ability to have a say in who governs their lives.  

Every adult American should embrace their ability to practice consent of the governed, being ignorant on issues is not an excuse; not voting is like slapping Plato, Aquinas, Adams and Martin Luther King Jr.  in the face and saying, “your efforts were pointless.”

Generational Anchors

Dustin W. Hodges// Contributing Writer 

Thomas Jefferson was one of America’s brightest and most influential founding fathers. It was this intelligence that afforded him the ability to see beyond his years and realize it is wrong to set laws for a future world he knew nothing about.

It was this forethought that led him to the belief in generational sovereignty, the belief that no laws or debts should be passed down beyond the generation to which they apply.  

In current American society, at least part of Jefferson’s belief still exists, no one is saddled with debt from a previous generation, except the debt of the federal government, which is continually kicked down the road.

The other half of Jefferson’s belief that laws should not be in effect once the generation who levied them is no longer living, does not apply today.  

Beginning with the New Deal in the 30’s, through the Great Society in the 60’s, and continuing today with the Affordable Health Care Act, the American government has continued to enact policies and laws that may, or may not, help the generations they are created under, however over time do not evolve to fit societies evolving needs.

These programs were all designed with the best intentions to help the American people in a time of need, however with any government program they are altered and changed over time and usually in the wrong direction.  

Social Security was designed as a safety net to keep citizens from starving and keep a roof over their heads. In today’s society it is viewed as a complete retirement program that should provide anyone and everyone a beach house in Florida.  This is a key reason social security is not a long term solution for any country, under its current format.

These type of social programs create an unwanted obligation to the next generation to pay for something they did not have any say in enacting.  

In theory, any generation has the power to enact its own laws and policies through government legislation.  However, in practice when policies are enacted creating a welfare society, any legislator viewed as a threat to those programs is met with resistance from a society that has become accustomed to government handouts.  

Thus the government continues to create new legislation for each and every generation that continues to saddle the next with debt.  

Jefferson’s belief in generational sovereignty would have been the second greatest gift our founding fathers could have left for future generations, the first being the greatest country in the world.  Yet instead, generation after generation are tied down by generational anchors.

Health and Wellness Week

Barbara Harmon

Health and Wellness Week at Volunteer State Community College has been successful.

The purpose of this week was to bring awareness to both mental and physical well-being, and to show the students options for achieving this.

Vickie Dretchen, Associate Professor of Psychology, gave an informative presentation on differentiating between anxiety and stress and how to successfully cope with them, she said.

“Number one would be time management.  To learn what time management is, and to incorporate those strategies,” said Dretchen.

She said developing study skills is very important and needs to be implemented into a time management program.

Dretchen said she does feel that students at Vol State are stressed.

“If you take into consideration the schoolwork, in and of itself, then 90 percent of our students work.

“A lot of them are parents, even among the parents a lot of them are single parents,” said Dretchen.

She also said that their social life needs to be considered as a possible form of stress.

“What I’m most concerned about is our students not getting enough sleep, and that worries me because of the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

“It impairs your ability to learn, your ability to recall, your ability to concentrate, your ability to focus—all the things you need to do well on a test or take in a lecture,” said Dretchen.

She said she advices her students to have a helpful outlook on their college careers.

“Even though earning a degree is positive stress, it is still not going to be something you are going to be doing for the rest of your life.

“I just try to tell my students, ‘look, go ahead while you’re here, do what you need to do to get your degrees and you’re laying the foundation for a better life, for the rest of your life,’” said Gretchen.

She said she feels this week has been very beneficial and has created awareness.

“We will have covered it all—healthy eating, optimism, stress and anxiety, and even exercise—in four days,” said Gretchen.

Kenny E. Yarbrough, Th.D., CDP, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, said that they have had a Health and Wellness Fair for two years, but this year they decided to pair up with the Social Science and Education Division, which normally has a mental health week in their department, so the two thought their efforts would go good together.

“I think it is important to show the student body that both academic affairs and student services are able to partner and bring programming that is relative and relevant, and to make sure that they know we have a united front, and that is that we are always concerned about students,” said Yarbrough.

This week was an effort to bring awareness to students, because of how unhealthy people generally are in today’s society—mentally and physically, he said.

“The students have been engaged and we have had good crowds,” said Yarbrough.

Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities, said that she has noticed a big difference in attendance this year, which she contributes to the partnership.

She said all the seats were filled to hear Odell Bizzell on Tuesday and that the week has been a great success.

“I think this has helped [the students] think about health and wellness from a different perspective,” said Sherrell.

She said students even inquired about the juicing process from Yarbrough and recorded Dretchen’s presentation on their phones.

“It gets you looking at your life in a different way,” said Sherrell.


Editorial on Self-Care


Sara Keen//Editor-in-Chief

It is often a necessity that every person takes care of his or herself in order to properly function.  This could be as simple as taking a 30-minute break from your day to read or watch funny videos.

It is not uncommon for people to need to unwind each day or every few days to make it through the next.  Some require alone time to recharge after social activities and others may simply need to de-stress after a long day.

People on and off campus can find a way to recharge and take care of themselves each day.  

Some may need a daily work out, time spent painting or reading; some may even need a cup of coffee or a drive alone to gather their thoughts.  We have our own ways of coping with the day-to-day struggles we face.

The first thing everyone should understand is that it is common to have a routine time and thing to do that helps to recharge after a long day or week.  

For some people, perhaps having some time alone with their own thoughts or their favorite thing to do can help them discharge.  For others, they may need social time or an activity to recharge.  Perhaps one person reads every day to recharge after a long day of classes, while another goes out with friends to watch a movie.

Every person is different, and what helps one may not have that affect on another.

It can also boil down to whether a person is an introvert or an extrovert.

Introverts often use a lot of energy in social situations, and need a quiet setting alone to recharge afterwards.   Extroverts, on the other hand, thrive in social settings and can actually recharge in those settings, while quiet or controlled situations may use more energy for them.

Some people often turn to healthy activities when they recharge.  Exercising is a common form that also allows a person to take care of their physical health as well as mental.

Others may lean towards more academically inclined ways of taking care of themselves.  It actually helps some people to read, take part in the arts, or even to catch up in their homework or get ahead.

Ensuring that you have time to relax, take care of your needs, and to escape your daily struggles can help with stress, mental health, and physical health.  

It can allow you to sleep better at night, feel more energetic each day, and live life with less weight on your shoulders.