Editorial: Taking responsibility for your actions

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

We all have a tendency to lay blame elsewhere when something goes wrong, but we happily take credit when something is right.  Whether that something is a class, assignment or relationship, when something goes wrong put the blame somewhere else.  

Everyone does it, and we often find ourselves giving reminders that maybe we are blaming the wrong person or thing.

As adults, we have to take responsibility for our own actions and contributions to what happens in our lives.  Whether you understand that you are partially to blame or receive credit, you know that you did something to affect that situation.

If you fail a class after a semester of procrastination, laziness or anything non-academic, then the blame is yours.  The educator cannot be entirely to blame, and sometimes you are not either.  For example, you can fail because of medical issues or personal issues that are repeatedly inhibiting your own ability to learn.  

Even with a legitimate reason, however, there is still blame that can fall to you.  Seldom is a situation so black and white that the blame falls solely on a single individual.  

We all have to make choices, and those choices can inevitably “make or break” us.  When a friendship ends, we want to blame the other party because we feel better by thinking that we are innocent in its downfall.

That just tends not to be true.  Both parties have an effect on a friendship, and typically when things end there is a reason on both sides.  Maybe you were not a good listener, or they were terrible with secrets.  Both people have their own reasons, and it tends to blame the other person.

As adults we have to learn that, as Spiderman puts it, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”  We have the ability to make decisions that affect not only ourselves, but also others, and that needs to be considered.  

So the responsibility falls on our shoulders, not to lay blame for our actions or the actions of others but to find a way to repair or cope with our decisions.  When you make a mistake, own it, and fix it if you can.

Mistakes and decisions are not reversible, and often take a long time to repair when they go considerably bad.  Life is not a video game, and you cannot undo, repeat or start over without saving when you mess up.  

We all want that ability, but all we have is the choices we make.  Those choices today can affect the rest of your life, so choose wisely.

Off-Campus art exhibit celebrates Black History Month

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(Pictured: Resistance is Futile by Samuel Dunson.  Photo courtesy of Barbara Harmon.)

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College hosted events dedicated to Black History Month. Those events commemorated historical events and observed occurrence in today’s society.

The Hendersonville Arts Council at Monthaven Mansion, which will annually host “Art Off-Campus,” an exhibit for Vol State students’ art, also featured a special exhibit during this time.

“Men of Winter: a fine art exhibition in celebration of Black History Month,” was curated by Carlton Wilkinson, proprietor of Wilkinson Arts and former photography teacher at Vol State.

“This exhibition represents a collective of Tennessee-based, male artists who are addressing their creativity in consideration of these contemporary times.

“They will be showcasing their perspectives of circumstances, in terms of one’s own existence,” according to the “Men of Winter” statement.

Some of the artists included in this exhibition were James Threalkill, Leroy Hodges and Samuel Dunson.

“We are in the still winter as there is an environment of social and economic chilliness in our world.

“However, there remains the projection of hope, continuity and productivity as we prepare for the spring season for renewal,” according to the statement.

Included in the exhibit was “I am a Man,” by Leroy Hodges.

“This picture was based on the sanitation workers in Memphis protesting for higher wages and the removal of glass ceilings, in terms of promotion.

“And this march took place right around the time Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated  in 1968,” said Wilkinson.

“Resistance is Futile,” by Samuel Dunson, relates to Michael Brown.

“This piece is an eye-opener. He’s relating to black males shot by police.

“It could happen anywhere—it could be in Ferguson, which by appearance isn’t ghetto, but poor or rich it doesn’t matter,” said Wilkinson.

The blood the man in the picture bleeds is an American flag.

“Dunson, who is also a professor of studio art at Tennessee State University, speaks about the subject of his work—the misrepresentation and mistreatment of African-Americans—with a warmth that might seem to mask his intensity, but which often underscores how ordinary incidents of violence against African-Americans have become.

“For him, it culminated with reports of the shooting of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old South Carolina man who was shot in the back eight times as he fled from a police officer after a traffic stop,” according to nashvillescene.com.

James Threalkill’s painting, “Wrapped in Glory,” is of a young African-American man wrapped in an American flag and bleeding in the area covering his heart.

“It’s the mood—the black and white, and the only thing he wanted in color was the blood—the symbolism of blood.

“I think you could probably relate that to a gunshot wound,” said Wilkinson.

“Destined for Greatness,” another piece by James Threalkill, is of an African-American child with a graduation cap on and ambitions surrounding him: teacher, scientist, judge, president, engineer, artist, doctor, CEO, inventor, mayor, athlete.

Wilkinson said Threalkill’s work is usually uplifting like this one, and “Wrapped in Glory” was a different piece for him.

“He was obviously thinking of contemporary issues concerning Black Lives Matter,” said Wilkinson.

“I think there is a lot of misunderstanding that is relating to that, because people see it as anti-police, but it’s about anti-corruption.

“And so, no one’s saying not to have police—I don’t think anyone would want that, but there are elements of the situations where black young, black males are treated differently, in terms of arrest and what have you,” said Wilkinson.

This exhibition ended on March 12, but these pieces and other African-American art can be purchased through Wilkinson Arts.

The next “Art Off-Campus” exhibit for Vol State students’ art will be May 14-June 14, said Dan Titcomb, Executive Director of Hendersonville Arts Council.


Vol State participates in virtual college fair

By: Jessica Peña

Volunteer State Community College was among 27 institutions in the state to participate in the first statewide virtual college fair March 16, from 1-6 p.m.

Tennessee Pathway Day was coordinated by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and offered a new way for current and upcoming college students to familiarize themselves with potential colleges of their choice.

The Tennessee Board of Regents has created a virtual college for the tech savvy generation.

According to the TBR website, participating colleges included all TBR institutions like Austin Peay University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and University of Memphis.

Participants of the college fair could register and login from their computers, tablets or smart phones and visit any of the available colleges, and were able to chat online with advisors to ask any questions they may have about their institution.

“It was a fairly simple, straightforward process,” said Virginia Moreland, Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Moreland said the Tennessee Pathway Day was a new event created to enhance what institutions were already doing.

“Many students may not have the time or resources to attend a physical college fair, especially with a campus located far away.

A virtual college fair provides a convenient means of communicating with a variety of colleges from across the state in a single afternoon without leaving home,” said Moreland.

Each college had an online booth with links to download and view books, or other materials about their institution.

The booths also included links to specific information on the universities’ websites and videos about the schools.

Just as a physical college fair, participants could visit with as many or as few colleges as they chose.

Moreland said one objective of the event was to build awareness of the Tennessee Transfer Pathway program, so potential students could explore their options.

“Students that were considering starting at Vol State and then transferring onto one of the four year public universities, had the opportunity to talk to representatives at both colleges about that major, and the transfer process.

“It’s a great way for students to start mapping out their college plans,” said Annette Wagner, Assistant Director of Admissions at Vol State.

“It was a very user friendly format, so Vol State was confident that the students would be able to navigate it without a problem,” said Wagner.

Wagner said that the fair does not replace any other programs they have going on, but it is another way to showcase and share all about Vol State to prospective students.

“As a college, we are always looking for different ways to reach out to our prospective students. We want to connect with them in a format that works best for them.

“This is simply a new avenue that we can use to help them explore all that Vol State has to offer,” said Wagner.

Any students who missed Tennessee Pathway Day still have a chance to check out information on their institution.

College booths will be available online for another 30 days for anyone who would like to visit and learn more about the participating colleges. The link is tnpathwayday.org


Vol State to screen “The Women”


(Pictured: Poster for The Women.  Photo courtesy of Shannon Feaganes.)

By: Shannon Feaganes, Web Editor

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting a screening of the movie “The Women” March 29, in celebration of Women’s History Month.  

“The Women” will be screened in the Rochelle Center of the Thigpen Library.

The movie stars Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, and Jada Pinkett Smith, and tells a story about a woman named Mary Haines (Ryan), a wealthy clothing designer in New York who chooses to leave her husband after discovering that he has cheated on her with a perfume salesgirl named Crystal Allen (Mendes).  

In the beginning of the movie, Mary confronts Crystal and then her husband about the affair before breaking off her marriage to him, and receives emotional support from her friends.

Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, the Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives and Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities, select movies to screen during each month, such as “Selma” during Black History Month and “Milk” scheduled to screen in April.  

“I wanted this movie to be more light-hearted and fun,” said Yarbrough.  “It’s comical but these women demonstrate the complexities of the lives of some women, and I felt people, both male and female, could relate.  

“You have demonstrations of very successful women in their respective careers which denotes how far women’s suffrage has come, but yet have further to go,” Yarbrough said.

Sherrell hopes that the movie will attract students.

“I would love to have 30 people at least sign in between all three [screenings],” said Sherrell.  

Sherrell explained that the screenings are at different times, 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m., in order to allow students to work a viewing into their schedules.  

“I would like to watch it,” said Abigael Pence, a Vol State student, “it seems really interesting.”  

“It sounds really cool because it sounds like women drama in general,” said Lexi Long, a Vol State student.  


Vol State hosts annual Family Day

family day and easter egg hunt

(Pictured: Marla Shelton Kissack with daughters Ella and Natalie after the egg hunt.  Photo by Shannon Feaganes.)

By: Shannon Feaganes, Web Editor

Volunteer State Community College hosted a Family Day and Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 19 on the Quad.  

The event was open to the public free of charge and ran from 12-1:30pm, with two Easter egg hunts as well as activities such as Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, a coloring station, and a prize drawing.  

The Easter Bunny also made an appearance and was available to take photos with.    

During registration for the event, each attendee was given a raffle ticket that would be entered in a drawing to win a themed Easter basket at the end of the event.  

The Easter Egg Hunt had two rounds with Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, commenting.

The first round was for children aged 6 years and under and the second round was for older children as well as any remaining children who had not yet participated.  

Children ran across the Quad full of Easter eggs, and each egg contained a piece of candy.

Between rounds, attendees were directed to the grass across from the Wallace building to play a game of Simon Says.  Winners received a candy prize from the Easter Bunny’s basket.  

Attendees also participated in Red Light Green Light, with winners also receiving candy.

After Red Light Green Light, the second round began and attendees were encouraged to partake in the refreshments available, which were hot dogs, chips, cookies, and Hawaiian punch.  

During this time the coloring station was also open, which had board games such as Candyland and Connect4.  

The event came to a close when Yarbrough and volunteers from the crowd drew winning raffle tickets for themed Easter baskets.  Among the announced winners were Layla Loftis, Rosalia Becerra, and Aleya Bacheldey.  

Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities, estimated an attendance of at least 65 people.  “I was nervous because of the weather, but we had a nice turnout,” said Sherrell.  

“Given that it was supposed to rain and it didn’t, I was very pleased,” said Yarbrough.   

“The last two years I’ve been going to the Easter Egg Hunt at the Streets of Indian Lake, but this is better,” said Marla Shelton Kissack, a Vol State graduate from 1998.  “The kids here are more polite, and this is my favorite school.  It [Family Day and Easter Egg Hunt] has a good setup, with the hunts broken up into age groups.”     

Humanities discusses ancient culture


(Pictured: Professor Jaime Sanchez giving the lecture.  Photo by Preston Neal.)

By: Preston Neal, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College hosted a presentation from the Humanities Matter Lecture series in the Rochelle Center on March 15.  

Presented by Dr. Jaime Sanchez, the “Nahuatl Literature and Culture” presentation served to inform students about the Nahuatls a culture of Mexico.

“Most people in [America] have heard of the Aztecs, because that’s the culture that clashed with the Spaniards, but actually the Aztecs were a subgroup of a much larger [culture],” said Sanchez.

As a result, the Aztecs and Nahuatls spoke the same language, which is still spoken by 1.5 million people in Mexico today. The Nahuatl were widespread, inhabiting most of northwest and central Mexico.

While building the subway system of Mexico City, a coincidental discovery of Nahuatl ruins was made. This led to a large scale excavation, with several old buildings being demolished in order to excavate further.

Sanchez, so many artifacts were found that an entire new museum was built to accommodate them. After studying Nahuatl architecture and artifacts, experts came to the conclusion that their culture was relatively advanced.

This was evidenced by mathematical precision, medicinal practices, and complex art.

“They also practiced some procedures like fillings for teeth, and even had treatment for diabetes,” said Sanchez.

Evidence of these medicinal practices is given by the “Little Book of the Medicinal Herbs of the Indians,” a text which was taken to the Vatican during the Spanish Conquest.

Sanchez said the Pope, during the 1970’s, returned it to Mexico as a cultural gift.

Sanchez then proceeded to discuss some of the sculptures, paintings, and other artifacts of the Nahuatl culture, drawing attention to the complexity and intellectual depth of Nahuatl art.

Sanchez expressed his desire to provide clarification in regards to Nahuatl culture and human sacrifice, an aspect of their culture that was not as central to Nahuatl and Aztec society as pop culture has articulated.

Sanchez then concluded his presentation by reading excerpts from Nahuatl literary works. The students appeared to be interested in the content.

“Ever since middle school I’ve enjoyed studying ancient civilizations,” said Casey Adams, a Vol State student.

Another student, Grace Johnson, commented that although she enjoyed the subject matter, she found the presentation to be less than desirable.

Those who are interested in further presentations from the Humanities Matter Lecture series are advised to stay tuned for further announcements.


Vol State studies local wildlife with trail cams



Maryam at Yellowstone(Pictured: Maryam Flagg poses in front of a herd of bison at Yellowstone National Park.  Photo courtesy of Maryam Flagg.)

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Maryam Flagg, Instructor of Biology, has been shooting animals all over campus for the last two years.

That is, shooting pictures of animals using undercover infrared cameras.

An organization called Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) tries to get more scientific research opportunities into community colleges to provide funding and train teachers.

Flagg was sent to a field methods workshop in August of 2014 to Canandaigua, New York, where she learned how to use the cameras used to take pictures of and identify the animals.

Vol State, in addition to CCURI, purchased some of these cameras for the research.

The cameras have been set up on the outskirts of campus for the past two years near the stream and the softball field.

Coyotes, deer and raccoons are only a few of the animals seen on camera, which

use an infrared flash and motion sensors in order to capture the images.

Flagg and some of her students go out and secure the cameras to the trees with chains and padlocks.

“The cameras can be set out for a month and survive any sort of weather. They’re kind of like the ones the hunters use,” Flagg said.

Flagg asked some students from her class if they would help her set them up.

“We can get a thousand pictures of deer over the weekend. There’s a raccoon party at 3 a.m.,” Flagg said with a laugh.

Three of Flagg’s students have done full research projects. One of them analyzed every animal in the data and the times the animals showed up.

“We found the peak time was at 3 a.m.,” Flagg said, and that they were surprised by the amount of diversity found in the results.

They found in one study that deer typically stuck to the edges of campus, especially by the stream.

Flagg used cat food as bait in order to lure a coyote near the stream.

Groundhogs were also the subject of one study, a student having crawled into the bushes in order to find the groundhogs.

“Anyone who is interested can do it,” said Flagg.

Deer selfie

(Pictured: One of the deer roaming Vol State gets curious about the wildlife camera.  Photo courtesy of Maryam Flagg.)

She now gets her classes involved with using the cameras.

“We have three cameras set up in Springfield campus and some in Highland Crest campus,” said Flagg.

Students are going to compare the results between all Vol State campuses to see the diversity of wildlife.

CCURI has created a network of 20-30 community colleges, which collaborate with one another in the research process.  

Within the last three years CCURI has sent Flagg and her students to New York, South Carolina and Wyoming for further training and poster sessions.

Poster sessions are opportunities for students to show the results of various projects they have been working on all over the country.

Vol State will be hosting a national poster session for CCURI in April, Flagg said, and that CCURI will be providing travel scholarships to students who are participating.

Flagg said it looks great for students transferring to universities, and looks great on a resume in general.

“It’s fun and a lot more hands-on. They get to learn about the animal communities in their environment,” Flagg said.

Flagg wanted to add that she thanks Vol State for supporting the research and the students who had participated in the project thus far.


(Pictured: A groundhog roams around Vol State campus.  Photo courtesy of Maryam Flagg.)