What it means to be a role model

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief


The term “role model” is frequently used in the media lately.  Between the superhero movies, sport players, rock stars, and astounding doctors on television, the options are far from few for children.

That being said, you do not have to be a superhero, rock star or anything huge to be a good role model.  You only need to be a positive influence for others.

Someone can look up to you for small things that you do not even realize you do.  For example, someone who is responsible could be a role model for someone who has trouble maintaining his or her own responsibilities.  

A role model, to a large degree, is acting like the change you want to see in the world.  It is making a difference, big or small, to push the world into a better place.

If you wish the world were a kinder place, spread kindness through the small acts mentioned above.  This could be as simple as a smile or asking how someone is.  It does not take too much to brighten another person’s day.

If you wish people talked about issues that our relevant to our time, broach the subjects with others.  This can help you understand other viewpoints for the topic and broaden your own views on the subject.

Being a role model means embracing what makes you human, including your faults. Let these things strengthen you, let friends know you are dealing with these weaknesses, but they are not to your detriment.   Show others that you are able to accept your own mistakes.  A role model should be able to take all problems in stride, as a lesson rather than a failure.

Being a role model is not about being perfect. It is about not letting your perceived shortcomings get the better of your attitude and the image you put forth to people.

It is important to remember that someone you perceive to be your role model is human, too, that they have probably cried themselves to sleep some nights the same way you have.

No human being is perfect. No human being can be all that you need him or her to be – it’s not a fair burden to put on someone else.

However, a human being can be kind, compassionate and brave in his or her own ways.  That is enough to make someone a role model to many.  


Interest Piece: The wrestler among us

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor




Brian Ferrell, a student at Volunteer State Community College, is also referred to by another name.

While Brian Ferrell is what his fellow classmates hear in class, “Brian Valor” is his name in the ring.

Ferrell is 26-years-old and pursuing his dream as a professional wrestler.

“I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was 5-years-old,” said Ferrell.

“The earliest match that I can remember watching was Macho Man Randy Savage vs The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7.

“Ever since then, I’ve been hooked,” he said.

Ferrell said he grew up with three brothers and they spent a lot of time wrestling around the house.

As a child, he said he collected wrestling video tapes, wrestling action figures, and wrestling magazines.

“From an early age, I always knew I wanted to be a wrestler and had an aspiration to become one,” said Ferrell.

“There were times I tried to shy away from it, because I knew about the risk and injuries.

“Seeing all the old timers who are old and broken down and can barely walk, plus the traveling and never being at home,” he said.

Ferrell said he used those reasons as excuses to pursue other things, but remained a loyal wrestling fan.

“But after a pep talk with my dad, about growing up with no regrets, it got me to thinking again about pursuing this career,” said Ferrell.

“That’s when I started looking for schools to go train at, and the rest is history,” he said.

Ferrell started training early last year in Lewisburg, Tennessee with Mikey Dunn.

After about five months with him, he went on the road with Shaun Hoodrich.

Ferrell continued to train with Hoodrich and became his tag team partner.

“I wrestle for USA Championship Wrestling, and they run shows in Gladeville, Tennessee; Lebanon, Tennessee; Dickson, Tennessee; Covington, Tennessee; and Jackson, Tennessee,” said Ferrell.

He wrestles for the Southern Wrestling Federation (SWF) in Tullahoma, Tennessee and Next Generation Wrestling (NGW) in Newport, Tennessee, as well.

“I am also one half of the NGW Tag Team Champion for Next Generation Wrestling down in Newport, Tennessee,” said Ferrell.

Ferrell has met or been in the ring with famous wrestlers like Ricky Morton, Bill Dundee and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Ferrell explained that depending on which promotion he is with, determined if he was a heel (bad guy) or a baby-face (good guy).

He said wrestling is a typical superhero story—the heel gets heat from the crowd, and the baby-face gets cheered.

“I prefer being a bad guy—I like being a heel,” said Ferrell.

“I’m better at smack talking and feel like I’m a natural heel at heart, too,” he said.

Ferrell said it does not really bother him when people call wrestling fake, because they do not fully understand what wrestlers have to put their bodies through.

Ferrell explained that you do get hurt when you hit the mat, which is metal bars covered by wood and a mat.

“So it hurts when you get slammed on the ring,” said Ferrell. “You feel it every time.”

“Literally you are getting hurt out there, and at times I’m hurting myself more than my opponent,” said Ferrell.

“You have to brace yourself when you are doing moves off the top rope, because you are receiving the brunt of the impact,” he said.

“It’s the best decision I have ever made, and I feel that when pro wrestling is done right, it’s the greatest thing on earth,” said Ferrell.

“My only regret is that I wish I had started earlier, when I was 18 or 19,” he said.

“But now my goal is to make it to the WWE,” said Ferrell.

He will have a tryout with WWE in Nashville, Tennessee at the Bridgestone Arena, Feb. 29.

“I will be an extra talent and will possibly be on TV,” said Ferrell.

“Then, Tuesday, March 1, I will be traveling to Atlanta to have a tryout in front of talent agents and some of the superstars for evaluation.

“And I will also be on the TV taping of SmackDown, as an extra talent,” he said.

Ferrell encourages everyone to check out Monday Night Raw on the USA Network and SmackDown on Thursday nights at 7 p.m.

According to usanetwork.com, “SmackDown delivers a shot of adrenaline to viewers and bring fans over-the-top action, feats of athleticism beyond the reach of mortal men, and WWE’s special brand of drama.”

Tickets can be purchased at bridgestonearena.com, if any fellow students would like to cheer for Ferrell on Feb. 29.

“See all your favorite WWE Superstars LIVE including Roman Reigns, “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Triple H and the Authority, the WWE Divas and many more,” according to bridgestonearena.com.


Honor students to host book drive

By Blake Bouza. Assistant Editor

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Volunteer State Community College will be hosting a book drive Wednesday, Feb. 17 – Friday, Feb. 26.

As a project done for their Honors Leadership Development class, the book drive was started by students Shannon Feaganes, Victoria Anderson, Kyle Homer, and Jenny Hernandez.

“Personally, I believe that it is important for students at Vol State to become involved in donating to the book drive because it’s a great way to join this cause to promote education,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez said that at the end of the book drive the books will be donated to Safe Haven, the only shelter-to-housing program of its kind in Middle Tennessee that accepts entire homeless families.

Hernandez said that Vol State students in addition to the families of Safe Haven will be impacted by the donations.

“Students who donate will be able to be a part of something beneficiary for the community. By donating one book, you are making an impact on someone,” Hernandez said.

She went on to say that there will be designated cardboard boxes all around campus, and that they are aiming for at least one in each building.

“There will definitely be one in the Wood Campus building,” said Hernandez.

Anderson, who is a reader herself, said that she was very fortunate to grow up always having something new to read.

“I am hoping that these donated books will give children, as well as adults, the opportunity to become a fellow book lover,” Anderson said.

Anderson expressed her excitement at seeing how many books the donation would receive.

According to the Safe Haven website, the organization keeps homeless families together and provides services to help them achieve lasting self-sufficiency.

The program helps families experiencing homelessness by providing for their immediate needs of shelter and stability.

“We operate through effective and results-driven programs, integrating services that are evidence-based,” according to the website.

The organization’s mission is to reduce and eventually eliminate family homelessness in Middle Tennessee.

“The best way for students to get involved is by simply spreading the news and donating their gently used books to our book drive,” said Hernandez.


Vol State removes sports scholarships

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor


Volunteer State Community College will no longer be awarding athletic scholarships, beginning in the fall of 2016. With the increasing cost and academic needs throughout campus, Vol State has decided to cut this expense.

“We have been spending approximately $900,000 a year on the athletics program,” said Eric Melcher, Coordinator of Communications and Public Relations at Vol State.

“Of that money, approximately $200,000 has been spent each year on athletic scholarships.

“With the advent of Tennessee Promise Last Dollar Scholarship Program, student athletes who qualify for TN Promise have full tuition paid anyway—just like any other qualifying student,” said Melcher.

Because of this and the availability of academic scholarships and federal grants, athletic scholarships were decided to be cut.

No staff or faculty will be affected by this decision.

“The athletic program will continue as a Division One Program,” said Melcher.

“We will still have men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball teams and they will continue to play games statewide,” included Melcher.

Vol State is not the only community college in Tennessee that will be making similar adjustments.

“It’s been a discussion of the college presidents for some time,” said Melcher.

This change in the budget will be effective starting this fall, 2016.

“Any student athlete who has already signed to Vol State will have the full length of their scholarship fulfilled,” added Melcher.

“We have 15 athletic scholarships this year in men’s basketball, 12 in women’s basketball, 16 in softball, and 22 in baseball.

“This will only impact new players,” he said.

The existing athletes, along with any future athletes will continue to have their meals covered for them through Vol State.

“We certainly think it will have an impact on the out-of-state students that might come here for athletics, because they won’t get in-state tuition labors any longer,” said Melcher.

“Previously we had offered them the same tuition rate as in-state students, and that won’t be possible anymore.

“I think it will have an impact on recruiting students from out-of-state, and we will just have to see how the rest goes,” added Melcher.

No other departmental scholarships are being considered to be cut from the budget.

“A big part of what we do here is making sure the students succeed in college,” said Melcher.

“And we want to make sure we have the funds to do that.

“Academics are our first priority here, and sometimes you have to make some hard decisions when it comes to supporting academics,” said Melcher.

Not everyone feels this is a fair decision.

“I think it’s wrong,” said Savannah Pollard, a student at Vol State.

“If a student works hard for their athletic abilities, they should be rewarded for it—just like at every other school.

“It’s going to make out-of-state athletes not want to be a part of this school, if they won’t be compensated for all the hours they spend playing sports for our school. Bad move,” said Pollard.

Five out of sic students agree that this is not favorable for any future athletes.

“As a student who graduated high school prior to TN Promise, and who has depended on scholarships from the school, I do not feel this is acceptable,” said Kat Lambert, a student at Vol State.

“Many Vol State students do not qualify for TN Promise and depend on other scholarships to help them afford school,” said Lambert.


ACE absorbed as position in SGA

By Preston Neal, Staff Writer


Association of on Campus Events has been absorbed into the Student Government Association at Volunteer State Community College.

While two separate entities for the past several years, Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities, said that ACE and SGA were at one time the same thing.

The Activities Coordinator and Director of Student Activities of several years thought it would be best to split the two, and so ACE was created.

“They had separate budgets. ACE is supposed to be the activities board, they are supposed to help Student Life and Diversity Initiatives put on events, pay for events, advertise for them, and clean up after,” said Sherrell.

Sherrell said there has been a decrease in students who want to participate in ACE since 2012.

“Dr. Yarbrough (Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives) decided to take this year to try and merge them and keep them as one,” said Sherrell.

Now there will be an activities chair on the SGA cabinet as opposed to having ACE be an entire separate entity.

“This is the guinea pig year, the trial to see what we like and don’t like,” said Sherrell.

Sherrell said that Yarbrough said he would keep ACE and SGA joined again for the next year.

“Once we have two years’ worth of data to go on we will make the executive decision whether or not to keep them together or separate,” Sherrell said.

Blake Coker, the Student Activities Chairman, said that the job of running ACE has not changed at all.

Coker said that other colleges across the country and state have, like Vol State, ACE as a part of their SGA too and some colleges keep it a separate entity.

Coker, while still heading what was once ACE, said the only difference is that he is now also a part of SGA.

“We don’t have as many people either, there isn’t a lot of recruitment,” Coker said.

Most responsibility falls on Coker’s shoulders. He updates flier boards and coordinates intramural events.

He also hosts game days, like Video Game Day.

He keeps on top of events and already has March fliers done.

Not having a second chair means that Coker cannot be present at all events, and is currently looking for a second chair.

Any student that wishes to be the second chair for Activities must apply and interview for the position.

That person would ideally run intramurals while Coker runs bigger campus events and bulletin boards, which Coker said he prefers.


Vol State prepares for speech contest

By Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor


Volunteer State Community College will be holding its annual Hal Ramer Oratorical Contest on Wednesday, April 13, at 1 p.m. in the Mattox building, Room 104.

First place winner will receive $100, second place will receive $75, and third place will get $50.

Dr. Melva Black, Instructor of Communication, has chaired the event for the past two years and said that the contest is a collective effort by the professors in the Communication Department.

Black said that the contest fosters a sense of community among students, faculty, administrators, and staff at Vol State.

“The goal is to give students and opportunity to showcase and continue to develop their public speaking skills and award top-ranked contestants for their accomplishments,” said Black.

Jennifer James, Associate Professor of Communication, said that the contest was named for founding Vol State President Dr. Hal Ramer in an effort to recognize the public speaking skills of Vol State students.   

“Students benefit from these types of contests because they reinforce learning objectives, and enhance students’ experience in the study of communication. Plus, who doesn’t want the chance to earn money and fame?” said James.

James said that she generally looks for coherent, organized speeches delivered with confidence and enthusiasm when she has judged in the past.

Sheri Waltz, Assistant Professor of Communication, helps promote publicity for the event and sends reminders for teachers to encourage students to compete.

“It provides an opportunity for Communication students to practice what they are learning in class and gives outlets beyond the classroom for a real life setting,” said Waltz.

The formats presented at the contest have traditionally been persuasive and informative speeches, but the story-telling format was added just last spring.

Waltz, who has been a judge in past competitions, said that it is important to have judges on the panel who are not just Communication teachers.

“Though there are technical things to consider, people outside the public speaking environment can focus more on what the presenter is trying to get across rather than getting hung up on the subtleties,” said Waltz.

Waltz said the competition allows students to hone their ability to communicate in an effective manner, which is not just for lawyers or politicians and implored that employers everywhere are seeking employees with good communication skills.

“From the interview to the board room, employers want someone who will communicate effectively because while you might not always stand up to deliver a speech, you do have to communicate face-to-face with people every day,” said Waltz.

Last spring, the Communication Department established the first Vol State Speech Video Collection.

The three contest winners were invited to participate in an “in-studio” recording of their winning contest speech, which became a part of the video collection. 

“The intent of the video collection is to use it within and outside the institution as a training tool,” said Black.

Students who are a part of the recording are able to earn additional money for their participation.


NSLS broadcast JuJu Chang Feb. 20

By: Gayla Collier, Staff Writer


The National Society of Leadership and Success will be hosting a speaker broadcast event at Volunteer State Community College. It is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Feb. 20, in the Carpeted Dining Room.

NSLS is the nation’s largest leadership honor society, where students nominated by their colleges come together to identify and achieve their goals.

“The society currently has 563,992 members at 519 colleges nationwide,” according to the Society Leadership website.

“NSLS is aimed at helping students create the lives they desire by discovering what they truly want to do and giving them leadership skills,” according to the Society Leadership website.

“In addition to honorable distinction, the Society provides a step-by-step program for members to build their leadership skills through participation at their campus or online,” according to the NSLS website.

The speaker at the event will be Ju Ju Chang.

“She is an Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News’ ‘Nightline,’” according to the ABC News website.

“She also reports regularly for ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘20/20,’” according to the ABC News website.

Chang has covered global events from the earthquake in Haiti to rape on college campuses.

According to the ABC News website, “Chang received one of her two Emmys for team coverage of the California wildfires. She won one of her two Gracies for a ‘20/20’ story on gender equality in the sciences.”

Chang was born in Seoul, Korea in 1965. She was raised in California.

“Chang graduated with honors from Stanford University with a BA in political science and communication.

“At Stanford, she was awarded the Edwin Cotrell Political Science prize,” according to the ABC News website.

“Chang is married to Neal Shapiro and has three sons. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a founding board member of the Korean American Community Foundation,” according to the ABC News website.

Blake’s Book Bag: The Books that Shape Us

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor


My grandparents recently told me they read in the “New York Times” that reading the newspaper to a child at a young age can ensure that they will be good readers in the years to follow.

When I was about three or four, my grandfather made a habit of having me sit on his knee while he read the paper.

He’d read certain articles aloud to me while we both sipped at glasses of orange juice like a couple of Old West barflies.

I would gleefully jab my finger at any picture I could find on the black-and-gray canvas and would get particularly excited at any picture involving an airplane.

While my fascination with airplanes may have faded away, a curiosity with the written word did not.

This spark was stoked into a fire with my first encounter with fiction.

The first series of books that I really remember getting into was given to me in third grade by my school librarian, Mrs. Daughtry, a kind, willowy woman who fit the description of a librarian right down to the horn-rimmed glasses.

I was having issues being away from home and making friends and she told me that while she couldn’t sit in class with me, she could give me some books until I saw her again. (Psst, you know how people always say librarians are great people? It’s true.)

These were not just any books. These were books that didn’t have check-out/return stamps in the front covers and said she trusted me to return the books when I was done reading them.

I, eight, accepted that solemn duty.

To this day I still feel guilty about never getting “Vacation Under the Volcano” back to her.

I think she knew exactly what she was doing by introducing me to those books. Namely, this was “The Magic Treehouse” series by Mary Pope Osborne.

The main plot of the series follows the adventures and of the brother-sister duo Jack and Annie as a, well, magic treehouse transports them through space/time into whatever book they happen to be holding.

These books were able to transport me right along with Jack and Annie into histories long past and make them seem relevant and interesting to my eight year-old brain.

I still remember laughing at the scene in The Knight at Dawn when Annie uses her “magic” flashlight to ward off superstitious knights that were bent on capturing the adventurers.

I did end up making good friends that I stuck with through fifth grade before leaving that school, but something was sparked in me and though the loneliness had faded away, I still craved the adventure the stories brought.

Soon after, my mother began reading the “Boxcar Children” mysteries out loud to my sister and me, followed by “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

The rest is pretty much history.


True Blue Event had successful turnout

By Sam Walker, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College hosted an event on Thursday, Feb. 4, for students interested in transferring to MTSU.

In the Rochelle Center there were many tables set up with specialists tending to each of them.

They offered free refreshments and MTSU merchandise to all participating students.

There was an abundance of available information from pamphlets, illustrations, and sources directly from the university.

Like many schools around the country, MTSU has adopted the One Stop program.

The idea is for students go to one office to ask questions about anything on their campus.

From registration to financial aid One Stop is the office to go to.

They also are the scholarship specialist and help students find the most affordable route to not only going to college, but graduating.

“The MT One Stop provides the one essential office for all student needs on campus,” said Enrollment Coordinator Doug Daigle.

MTSU offers over 200 student activities a year. There are many clubs, fraternities, and other extracurricular available for students.

When looking to join any of these programs, go to the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership(CSIL).

When asked about his thoughts on new students interested in transferring to MTSU, Jacob Walker, Treasurer of Sigma Chi Eta Gamma chapter, said “we are always looking for new pledges to join, I’m part of the best brotherhood in the world as far as Greek institutions go, and I think with our Christian values and heavy public presence that Sigma Chi would be a great way for people to conform to life at a big university.”

MTSU has a variety of different majors. One major particularly is the Concrete Industry Management program which was originated at MTSU.

Advising Manager Eric Miller of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences said, “we just got a brand new science building on campus that cost 147 million dollars to make, so we are constantly growing not only in our number of students, but also our resources for these students.”

Chris Rochelle of the Student Services and Admission Center stated, “the transfer program they have now is much easier and more effective than it used to be.”

“When I transferred to MTSU when I was in college pretty much none of my credits were transferred. Now they even offer guaranteed transfer of scholarships,” said Rochelle.

If students are interested in transferring, contact Mark Murphy, the Transfer Enrollment Coordinator for MTSU.  


Thigpen Library gives free Lynda.com access

By: Shannon Feaganes, Staff Writer


Free access to the educational website Lynda.com is now available for student and faculty use at Volunteer State Community College through the partnership of Kevin Blankenship, Chief Information Officer, with the Thigpen Library.

Lynda.com is an online learning website founded in 1995 by professional network company LinkedIn, which allows users access to a video library from which they can learn business, software, technology, and creative skills.

Lynda.com offers video tutorials and training under developer, design, web, photography, business, education, 3D and animation, video, and audio and music categories, allowing access to 5,750 courses in total as well as downloadable exercises that will help students learn material.  

Blankenship believes that what sets Lynda.com apart from most learning sources is the quality of the education that students will receive.  

“The quality of the videos and training on [Lynda.com], it’s all provided by experts in the various fields,” said Blankenship.  

“We wanted to use resources like this to create learning environments wherever students are, not just in class,” he said.

Sarah Smith, Director of Library Services and Learning Resources, hopes that Lynda.com will appeal to students because of its ease of use and broad range of learning material.  Students can find videos on anything from learning basic skills such as how to use Microsoft Word efficiently, to learning advanced techniques such as how to develop games for iOS systems.     

“Ideally we see a real link between students using Lynda.com and acquiring the skills that they’ll need to be productive employees and achieve their career goals after leaving Vol State,” Smith said.  

“It’s for your future, to develop your professional skills,” said Smith.

“It’s a valuable resource,” said Livy Simpson, Librarian and Electronic Resource Manager for Lynda.com at Vol State.  

“You can build up a lot of skills to put on your resume.  If you’ve been looking for a job and they say you don’t have skills for something, you can build up a lot of skills to help it,” said Simpson.

To access Lynda.com’s features, students can either download the Lynda.com app or find a link to the site through the Thigpen Library’s home page.  

After clicking on the Lynda.com link, students will be prompted to input login credentials, which are the same login credentials used for eLearn and the Vol State Portal, and then students will be redirected to a page on which they will create a new, separate account that is for Lynda.com.