Christmas for the Kids


On Friday, Dec. 4, the Student Government Association, under the guidance of the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, will host an event titled, “Christmas for the Kids.” It will be in Mary Cole Nichols Dining Halls A and B from 6 – 8 p.m.


“This is a program to help our students with dependent children 12 years of age and under, that are in need of help during the Holiday Season. It is a fun party with a visit from Santa, craft areas for the kids, games, music a lot of activities for the whole family. At the end of the party, our goal is that each family leaves with a Food box through the help of our Volunteer State Community College Employee Relations Committee, that will have a food drive during the month of November.” said Lori Miller, Secretary with the Office of Student Life & Diversity Initiatives.


Students who would like to get involved with this event can do so with food drive donations and by helping to decorate the day of the party.

Also, we will need key people to be in charge of stations during the party.  On Nov. 23, everyone will be able to sponsor a child and purchase gifts for them during the party. Sponsorships will be available in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Hall A.” said Miller.


Allison Meyers, Vice President of the SGA, is also involved with the event.

“Personally, I believe this is an excellent opportunity to give something special to our fellow students…Christmas for the Kids helps alleviate the financial strain of the holiday season that students with children may face.   I encourage students in need of help to apply, and if you know someone who is in need of help this Christmas, please nominate them,” said Meyers.

An ornament for each child will be placed on a giving tree in the tiled dining room, located in the Wood Campus Center.  The child’s name will remain anonymous, and the ornament will include a list of the child’s clothing sizes, needs, toy wish list, etc.  

“I encourage students, faculty, and clubs to participate and adopt a child off of the tree! The SGA also needs volunteers for the event.  If you are unable to donate financially, donate a few hours of your time!” said Meyers.


Those wanting to submit an application or volunteer for this special event can do so by visiting the Office of Student Life & Diversity Initiatives, Wood Campus Center, Room 215.

Vol State Bookstore offers price matching

Sara Keen// Editor-in-Cheif


The Bookstore at Volunteer State Community College now offers price matching for textbooks.

It can often be difficult to find an affordable textbook, especially when some can cost upwards of 150 dollars.  

Students can look forward to receiving the best deal on their textbook without having to pay for shipping or fear of being “ripped off” in the end.


Jesse Versage, SGA President, has been pressing for the bookstore to implement price-matching all semester.

“I went to a retreat with all the TBR SGA Presidents and proposed the idea of price-matching, and all the TBR students were on board,” said Versage.

He is hopeful that this will improve the bookstore’s sales, as well as help student’s with financial trouble.  

“I contacted the Vice President of Business, and Finance, then pushed the idea on administration as well as the committee,” said Versage.

He received overwhelming support from students as well as support from the majority of the faculty and staff.

“I am incredibly happy that this was finally implemented.  I put in many hours into this project; it is incredible what students can do when they come together,” said Versage.


Students will be able to save money at the bookstore buy bringing in proof of a competitor’s price.  Hardcopy textbooks will be open for price matching if a student buys or rents the book.

The bookstore will be price matching against competitors including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chegg.  They will also be price matching against any local businesses.

If a student is renting a textbook, then the competitor’s rental period must match that of the bookstore.  

The bookstore cannot, however, price-match with any student sellers, Amazon warehouse deals, digital books, or publisher-direct prices.

Students must provide a flyer or screenshot of the competitor’s price at the time of purchase or within seven days of making the purchase.

Any refunds provided within the seven-day period will be on a store gift card.

“I think it’s great! I would definitely be more inclined to buy a book from the bookstore because I know it’s not a rip-off,” said Christian Ferguson, a first-time freshman at Vol State.

Enriching education one language at a time

Blake Bouza


Volunteer State Community College has four foreign language programs available to students: Chinese, Spanish, French, and also English.

“As a native English speaker, we don’t often think of English as a foreign language, but for many students it is,” said Suzanne Previte, Director of the Language Center.

“We no longer use the ESL (English as a Second Language) acronym. For many of the students here English is not their second language,” said Previte.

Previte said that for many students English may be the third or even sixth language that they are learning.

“The new acronym that I tend to use is ELL (English Language Learners),” she said.

This new acronym focuses on the fact that these students are simply learning English as another language as opposed to focusing on the fact that they are non-native speakers, Previte said.

“So often with non-native speakers in any language wherever they go, native speakers will often-times not correct or discuss the language, they will instead smile and nod and walk away,” Previte said.

“We [in the Language Center] don’t nod our heads and walk away. We help them to recognize what they are saying and say it over and over until they get it down,” said Previte.

Michelle Vandiver-Lawrence, Associate Professor of Spanish, has taught the Spanish language for 16 years at Volunteer State.

On the subject of incorporating culture into her class, Vandiver-Lawrence said that she draws from her own personal experiences through travel and studying abroad, as well as the interactions she has had with her native Spanish-speaking friends.

“Language without culture is math for me. Certainly it works, but without the connection to the culture, we miss the feel of the language,” said Vandiver-Lawrence.

Vandiver-Lawrence further quoted a Czech proverb, “‘Learn a new language, get a new soul.’ Language is about communication and understanding those unwritten rules.  I do my best to somehow incorporate culture in every single class.”

Qi Yang, Professor of Chinese, is originally from China. She came to Vol State last fall via the International Education Program at Vol State and the cultural program China has established at Middle Tennessee State University.

Yang said that learning another language is really all up to the person trying to learn it.

“The most famous translator in China right now is Canadian. If you were to hear him speak Mandarin, you would never think he wasn’t Chinese. No accent at all,” said Yang.

Yang went on to say that each language will have influence on other languages because, “the world is a global village and because of that we will influence each other.”

It is especially important for Americans to learn a foreign language, Yang implored.

“Americans have a very strong influence on the world. In Chinese cities, you will see Americans everywhere,” she said.

In Yang’s home city alone, there are five American-based companies, and her daughter works in public relations at an American company in Shanghai.

“For American people if you want to find a good job, you better learn. You can receive a higher salary for a job in China for the same job you would find here,” said Yang.

“I have a student here, a Hispanic girl, who is moving to Austin, Texas to take Chinese as a major at her university,” Yang said.

She advised her student this was a wise course of action.

“If you can speak Chinese, Spanish, and English: you are the job candidate of the future,” Yang said.

Susan Rockwood taught French for 30 years in high school before becoming the Associate Professor of French at Vol State this semester.

Rockwood felt that there are two important and practical reasons for learning a second language.

“You come to appreciate the country you live in and you learn more about the English language. You can improve your command of English when you compare it to a foreign language,” said Rockwood.

Rockwood has been studying French since the 7th grade and says that one of the reasons she enjoys it so much is that there is always more to learn.

“One of the reasons I like it so much, even now, is that you can’t stop learning the language,” said Rockwood.

“There is the study of the literature, the culture and the history. I love to hear the language and learn from those who know more than I do,” Rockwood said.

Rockwood said she believed learning the language itself often illuminates its culture.  

“The literature shows it and the study of history as well. The vocabulary we study evokes cultural discussions.”  

Rockwood said that the best way to experience French culture is to visit French-speaking countries.

Students at Vol state have many opportunities to do that, and study at many other countries, through the Tennessee Consortium of International Studies.

Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, said that one of the goals of his office is to promote diversity and inclusion not just at Vol State but for the whole community.

“By learning other cultural values and references, individuals can expand their mindset and understanding. This, in-turn, leads to a greater appreciation of differences and understanding values,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough said that if Vol State as a community continues to forge pathways to educate and enlighten the community, then the campus is providing individuals with the means to understand and value the importance of differences.

Unity Day, the Hispanic Fiesta, International Education Week, and Around the World in a Day, are just a few cultural events on-campus that highlight and showcase diverse cultures that the entire community has the opportunity to attend, Yarbrough said.

Numerous resources are offered on-campus to help students learning a foreign language.

“There is a Chinese language collection in the main lobby in addition to databases in the Tennessee Electronics Library, a program called Power Speak,” said Laura Sheets, Instruction Coordinator at the Thigpen Library.

“This is available to all Tennesseans, not just at Vol State,” Sheets said.

Rosetta Stone is offered in the Language Center free for all the foreign languages offered at Vol State.

The importance of learning a second language cannot be understated for Vandiver-Lawrence, whose friend’s husband had a stroke in his early 20s.

“Both speak Spanish as a first language. The stroke affected the man’s ability to speak his first language but not his second. His wife even had to translate for him and his parents who did not know English,” said Vandiver-Lawrence.

The man eventually recovered his first language.

Hannah Batchelder, student at Vol State, encouraged students to take a foreign language.

“If you don’t try it you won’t know how much you like it. So many people in Spanish 2 are only taking it because they like it so much,” said Batchelder, who is in her third semester of studying the Spanish language.

Batchelder said that almost everything she knows now about the Spanish language and culture has come from her Spanish class.

“Just try it. I didn’t want to take Spanish, and I’m really glad I did. I had so much fun with it that I decided to take it as my elective,” Batchelder said.

Fantasy Art Exhibit open for submissions

James Butkevicius

A fantasy art exhibit, hosted by the Artisans’ Alliance, will be held in the Carpeted Dining Room on Nov. 30, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Submissions are open to the public. The submission deadline is Nov. 20.

Artisans’ Alliance president Michael Clark is creating the exhibit with the goal of preparing artists for the real world. “They need to know that there’s a process,” Clark said, explaining that the exhibit is an avenue for artists to get their work out instead of just leaving it in their rooms to collect dust.

“Fantasy” became the exhibit’s theme after winning a vote held during an Artisans’ Alliance meeting. Clark encourages participants to interpret the theme however they want.

Art instructor Nathaniel Smyth will be holding a demo on how to “mat” the submissions, a process that involves cutting mat board, a substance similar to a dense foam, to fit the dimensions of the piece so that it will be ready for presentation.

The demo will be held in the Fine Arts Building on Nov. 18 at 11:00 a.m., exact location to be determined.

Smyth will also be jurying the event, meaning that he will make the final decision on which pieces make it into the exhibit.

Participants are allowed up to three submissions, one of which may make it into the actual show.

Clark stresses that the three submission limit is the only rule or guideline for the exhibit outside of the theme, believing that an excess of limitations will restrict artistic expression.

Non-traditional media, ranging from sculpture to performance and everything in between, are strongly encouraged.

“If you have something obtuse or awkward, just let me know,” Clark said.

Student Taylor Matson, who plans to become President of the Artisans’ Alliance next semester, says that he will be submitting an interactive audiovisual piece for the exhibit featuring a projector on three panels and a Microsoft Kinect setup that will respond to the movements of exhibit-goers.

The Artisans’ Alliance is making a comeback this semester after consisting of solely Michael Clark last semester. There are now six members.

A poster for the event was designed by Artisans’ Alliance member Stormie Tibbs, with collaboration and input from other members during a club meeting.

It will be placed in the Fine Arts Building on Wednesday, Nov. 11, to raise awareness for the exhibit and offer a taste of what to expect.

“Drones” make a demonstration at Vol State

Kalynn Meeker

Volunteer State Community College held a free seminar hosted by Director & Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Kevin Cook, to showcase Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology on Oct 30 2015 at the Walington Science Field Station.

Most people as “drones” commonly know UAVs.  However, the Federal Aviation Administration said this is a word to avoid when speaking of the modern police machines.

“The word ‘drone’ has a negative public connotation, because people think of large unmanned military aircraft with weapons,” said Cook.

The correct names are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Unmanned Aircraft Systems said the FAA.

Cook went to Madison, Wisconsin and completed a UAV Law Enforcement Operators course in September 2015.

He was then able to come back to Tennessee and purchase two Phantom 3 Professional UAVs for the Criminal Justice Department at Vol State by means of the Perkins Grant.

He held the seminar as a public service for Middle Tennessee law enforcement, corrections and emergency services personnel to teach them about the uses and regulations of the UAS.

Corrections, Law Enforcement, and Corrections Agencies were invited to the event as well as criminal justice students to be introduced to the two new UAVs at Vol State.

Cook said Hendersonville Police Department personnel, City of Lebanon Emergency Services Unit personnel, Springfield Police Department personnel, Tennessee Department of Corrections personnel and criminal justice students attended the event.

According to a website that sells this specific model of UAV,, they are 1,259 dollars apiece and have these features: 4K Video /12 megapixel photo camera, integrated 3-axis stabilization gimbal, easy to fly, intelligent flight system, live HD view, dedicated remote controller, powerful mobile app with auto video editor and vision positioning for indoor flight.

Since these UAVs are readily available to the public, the FAA is taking regulatory actions for public safety. They are possibly making each buyer register their UAV through the FAA by Nov 20, 2015.

There are current basic regulations put in place by the FAA that owners of the UAVs cannot do including flying  over 400 feet, flying within 5 miles of an airport, flying over stadiums or crowds of people flying  in a reckless manner and flying at night.

Cook said Tennessee has developed its own laws concerning UAVs. For instance, the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, 39-13-902, Lawful capture of images — Use for lawful purposes, and 39-14-405, Criminal Trespass are some of the laws in place to protect civilians from unlawful uses of the UAVs.

Though these laws are in place, Cook said, they are just not tested in courts enough and are vague.

Cook said he taught about topics included case law, legal limitations, usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) (search and rescue (children/elderly), evidence photography, tactical deployments, event security planning, and prisoner escapees, and many other practical lifesaving operations.

He also gave each attendee the chance to learn to fly the UAV in which he said they picked up on quickly.

“The participants of the seminar felt they learned a great deal, and many of them were interested in taking information learned about UAV’s usage and technology; and potentially obtaining one at their agency,” said Cook.

ACE Showcase with Royce Lovett

Barbara Harmon

Royce Lovett performed at Volunteer State Community College on Nov. 4 for the ACE Showcase event.

Lovett opened with an original song that he had written about hip hop.

When his song had finished, he told the audience some things that were going on with him.

“I’ve been on the road since Sept. 11, and I’m tired and excited,” said Lovett, “and extremely happy to be here with you guys.”

He had been hearing positive feedback about his album “Write it on the Wall” that had come out in Oct., he said.

“Yesterday I got some news that it did number 10 on the Billboard Chart for gospel,” said Lovett.

Lovett also sang “Writing on the Wall,” which made 93 on the Billboard Chart in Oct., he said.

“If you like this song, and you want to hear it on the radio, please call your radio and tell them to play it,” said Lovett.  “I would really appreciate that.”

“A lot of my musical career, because my music is different, you’re told it’s not going to get radio play, but it actually did and it got on the Billboard Chart,” said Lovett.  “And I’m really excited about that.”

He said that “Writing on the Wall” is about what is happening in the world today with pointless killings and how he feels that what everyone needs is love.

After the song ended Lovett reintroduced himself and said, “I like writing music or playing a rap, and I grew up listening to hip hop and soul music, so I guess that is how this thing happened.”

When the show was over Lovett signed autographs and took pictures with the students.

Maggie Lewis, a former Vol State student and now owner of Elevated Talent Group, said she met Royce in Jacksonville, Fla., at a conference he showcased.

“I just talked to him and wanted to represent him, so that’s how that happened,” said Lewis.

She said she does his corporate and college bookings, and she has been representing him since March.

“Royce is finishing up his “Write it On the Wall” tour, and then I’m just hoping to get his name and his music out there to just help him share his story,” said Lewis.

Lovett said that he started writing in 2003, after he found Christ.

“I was like, yo God what should I do with my life, and then I felt like it was music,” said Lovett.

“So that’s when I started being serious about being purposeful about something,” said Lovett.

He said when he was growing up he was always in a choir, his mom sang at church, and he had also been in a dance group, but was a lot more interested in sports.

“Things kind of changed after I really fell in love with music, and I just kind of found out who I was after that,” said Lovett.

Lovett feels like his songs are mostly about love, because he believes everything relates back to love, he said.

“Once you find out what love is, then you find out what you love to do and your purpose,” said Lovett.

“Then, after you find your purpose, you find your security,” he said.

Lovett enjoys having the opportunity to perform at colleges, because if the students really like him then they take his music back to wherever they are from, he said.

“Today was a little different, because the atmosphere was a little more relaxed; in the sense that everyone is doing something,” said Lovett.

“But when I perform at colleges with my band, it gets loud and sweaty jumping around.

“I throw water on people; you stage dive and stuff,” said Lovett.

He said he also loves it because it’s his age group, and they are all thinking about the same things.

“All you think about in college is love, purpose, and security,” said Lovett.

As far as his accomplishments go, Lovett would like to “take over the world,” he said.

More seriously: “I hope to do this for the rest of my life, see everything to be seen in the world, pay my bills on time, and inspire people—that’s it,” said Lovett.

“I encourage everyone to continue to learn who they are and who other people are.

“I’m still learning,” said Lovett.  “I think that’s what makes you good at whatever you do, if you keep learning.”

Lovett had something else to add.

He said the first five people that take a picture of this, post it with #VSCCroycelovett and tag him in it, will get a free necklace.

Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities for Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, said Lovett had performed at a national conference (APCA) in March that Dr. Kenny E. Yarbrough, Th.D., CDP, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, and Gabrielle Stanton, a Vol State student, had attended, and they both really enjoyed his performance.

“When Gabrielle came back, she went to the Student Government Association (SGA),” said Sherrell.

“Every year after we come back from APCA we do a showcase at the SGA meeting to show everybody the stuff that we saw and what we thought was good, and then they vote on what they liked.

“SGA voted Royce as one of their top performers that they wanted to see on campus,” said Sherrell.

stigmatizing life

Sara Keen// Editor-in-Chief


People always make statements about embracing who you are.  You have heard things such as “be who you are,” or “don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t be.”

But it seems that when one tries to do just that, they are only struck down by the very society that encouraged it.  It is as if you can only be who you are if that matches society perfectly.

Even worse, you can only embrace the positive, “socially-acceptable” life experiences you have had.  While we happily share grades, acceptance letters, and the happy sides of our past, we often hide the negative parts of our lives.

Why is it that society has forced us to feel so negatively about our own complex being, that we have to hide some of the most important events in our lives?

There is no shame in any incident that changed who you are or made you stronger.  Whether it was surviving an illness or struggling with a mental illness, no person should have to feel ashamed that they have that hardship in their life.  There is no shame in feeling at peace with your past because your past made you into who you are now.

It may be difficult to do, to say that you struggled with something awful or that you’re still struggling.  I have struggled, and more than likely so have most of the people you would encounter every day.

Sure, it probably is not the brightest idea to proudly announce or display some hardships, but there is no need for shame.

There seems to be a stigma on fairly common events that impact lives.  Mental illnesses, miscarriages, abuse, racism, and even sexism have been stigmatized as things we should not discuss.  That is not at all the case.

For a society to grow, that society must understand the problems it faces.  People cannot continue their lives hiding the awful things in life.  If a person keeps too much to himself or herself, then that person is likely to crack under the pressure.

We are not immune to pain, disgust, tragedy, or illness.  We are humans, considered the most intelligent species on Earth.

That intelligence allows us to push ourselves further into advancement.  That intelligence also causes us to think more about the world and the events that take place.

We are also compassionate and empathetic.  We can understand the feelings and emotions of others.  There should be no shame in embracing our experiences.

The human experience may be the only one we get, so do not feel ashamed of yours.