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.