Editorial: Always remember to try your best

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

Many of us have had a class that has caused more stress than every other class combined. The class could be a subject we are not good at, a subject that is totally new or even one that sounded considerably easier than it really is.

It has happened or will happen at least once, and there may come a time when you study for 12 hours and still do not manage to do well in it.

Everyone becomes discouraged in one way or another. We start to lose hope and it begins to reflect in our efforts and determination. It does happen.

It leaves one to wonder exactly what can be done to improve and where to start.

First and foremost, ask for help. Most of the faculty is willing to help you, especially if you are putting forth the effort to pass.

It cannot do harm to simply ask for help, whether it is extra credit, studying or even a simple “can you condense this for me?” The faculty is willing to help you learn.

The school also offers a variety of helpful resources. There is the Language Center, Learning Commons, Library, as well as online sources. If all else fails, YouTube and Ted Talks have videos that explain some topics very well.

Unless you have totally ignored a class for the entire semester, which is a big no-no, you should be able to find a way to pass. If you do not pass and you tried your best, then do not beat yourself up.

It is important to remember that we are all human, and that as humans we are imperfect. In being imperfect, we cannot do everything well.

However, we can always do our best and give everything we do our best shot. As long as you put your all into something and refuse to give up, then you have not entirely failed. Failure only occurs when we stop trying.

We all have potential to be great in different ways and we should strive to do so. Every person can do something to change the world for at least one other person, even if that person is his or herself.

So, the next time you are stressing over a class when you are trying your best, take a deep breath and remember that you have not failed entirely until you give up. Then, talk to your instructor, seek help and do everything you can to pass.

National Library Week kicks off at Vol State

By: Jessica Peña

The Thigpen Library at Volunteer State Community College will be recognizing National Library Week April 10 – 16.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Libraries Transform.”

“During this week, we encourage students to think about how the library has helped them succeed in their academic endeavors and what we can do to make their experience even better.

“We have an amazing group of people who work at Thigpen Library,” said Laura Sheets, Library Instruction Coordinator.

Sheets hopes students will take this opportunity to say thank you to a librarian or library staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help them.

“When I went to graduate school to get my Master’s in Library and Information Science, most people reacted in one of two ways: ‘I didn’t know you needed a master’s degree to be a librarian!’ or ‘What do you study: the Dewey Decimal System?’

“What we as librarians and library staff members do goes way beyond checking out books,” said Sheets.

Last year was the first year Vol State organized campus-wide activities for National Library Week.

“It’s great that they are recognizing the library staff, because I honestly wouldn’t be able to survive without the library and its resources.

“I spend more time there than I should admit, so I have to give credit to the librarians on duty,” said Michael Burnard, a student at Vol State.

This year, National Library Week on campus will include an open mic event April 11, in the Rochelle Center from 1 – 2 p.m.

On April 14, there will be a game day in the Rochelle Center from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., with ping pong, board games, card games, and more.

The Office of Student Life & Diversity Initiatives will be providing refreshments during the open mic and game day.

All week long, the Thigpen Library will be doing a “Secret Cinema” where students can check out DVDs that have been wrapped to conceal their title.

According to the American Library Association’s webpage, April 12 is National Library Workers Day.

Sheets said she hopes that students will realize how impactful a library and its workers can be to the community.

“To me, National Library Week helps students and the community understand the importance of libraries in our society and remind them that we are more than just books, although we do love books,” added Sheets.

Sheets said she looks forward to giving students the same opportunities this year.

Vol State remembers tornado event



(Pictured, top: One of the buildings after the destruction of the tornado.  Pictured, second: The trees torn apart by the tornado as Caudill Hall rests in the background.  Photos courtesy of Jennifer Easton and Holly Brown.)

By: The Editorial Staff

“I was finishing up a physics test when the storm hit.

“I printed the thing out and I was listening to the radio and they issued the tornado warning…there were a couple of guys weed eating in the courtyard and I went into the courtyard and told them about the warning and that they needed to find a building.

“A student of mine was walking down the library towards Warf so I told him he needed to get in the building.”

“There were only a dozen or so people in the building.”

“We looked out at one point and it was dead calm… so we opened the doors up one more time and the wind was just starting to pick up and within 45 seconds it was over.

“When it started hitting it sounded like a cross between a rush of wind and a train.”

“We were trying to hold the fire doors shut and it was like riding a bronco bull… we were pulling with all of our weight and it was still jerking us around.”

“Then we heard the metal latch break—it was a big pop—and we got under some tables and as soon as the door blew open the ceiling panels came crashing down.

“Then it was over, maybe 30 seconds or so.”

“When it stopped, I went outside, I’m not really sure why I went outside, maybe I was thinking about the two guys who were weed eating or whatever, and I saw what happened to Caudill and Ramer and I turned and saw the tornado heading down toward Gallatin.”

– Dr. Timothy Farris, Associate Professor of Physics


“First off, I was in my office watching the weather on the television and saw the weather reports that the tornado had just touched down in the Rivergate area.”

“Mr. Danny Gibbs was in my office watching all of this. We got on the phone with our building monitors and our vice presidents and told them to be prepared.”

“We watched a couple more minutes and as soon as they came across the television and said Sumner County is under a tornado warning we told all of our building monitors and went over the PA system.

“Everyone got to shelter.  Personally, Miss Gibson and I went to the vault in the business office.

“Dr. Charles Lea, Beth Cooksey- all of us were huddled in that vault. We were probably not in there more than a couple of minutes when we heard the wind and everything start picking up.

“The vault door actually broke up, so we manhandled the vault door back closed and it wasn’t but a minute later that I guess it hit.

“Other than ear popping and things like that I really didn’t feel or hear that much.

“It probably was louder than what I remember because when we opened the vault door there was just utter destruction in the business office.

“Miss Cooksey’s wall had disappeared, debris everywhere, rubble and all of that. We looked out and one of the plate glass windows was completely shattered.

“So I told everyone else to stay in the vault because I did not know where we were with other storms or whatever.

“So I headed out that shattered window towards the campus center and saw all of the devastation and saw the Caudill building.

“My first thoughts were for people’s safety. We talked to building monitors and found out everyone was safe. So then I started making the rounds.

“I did not [feel the building rumble]. I was sitting on the floor of the vault and the vault must be so well protected.

“Power had immediately gone off, so power to our little television that we had in the vault had gone off, so we had no way of knowing [what was happening].

“That’s one of the things we’re going to have to—when we do a critique of this later, and we will—we have to look at how procedures could be bettered. We had no weather radio.

– Dr. Warren Nichols, Former President at Volunteer State

Vol State prepares for annual career fair

By: Aundrea Paredes, Contributing Writer

Volunteer State Community College will host its annual Spring Career Fair on Wednesday, April 20. The event will be located in the Pickel Field House gymnasium from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. This event is free and lunch services will be provided.

According to Dr. Rick Parrent, Director of Career Services and Community Engagement and coordinator of the Spring Career Fair, there will be an estimated 170 employers set up not only for students but also the community.

While some of the employers will offer part-time, full-time, and seasonal opportunities other employers will offer internship opportunities.

“Every kind of a career focus you could imagine like the city government and military will be present, GAP, ServPro, Healthcare, Sumner Regional Medical Center, Nashville Airport…” said Parrent.

Visit the school website www.volstate.edu for a complete listing of registered employers.

Dr. Parrent will provide guidance and assistance to Spring Career Fair attendants.

“I will literally help students connect with an agency, organization or whatever to help them begin that conversation,” said Dr. Parrent.

“The most enjoyable part of it all for me is to see the vendors get the quality and the value of the experience, but even more so to see our students begin to develop a career orientation that may lead to future employment, and it certainly leads to a greater sense of personal and professional brand,” said Parrent.

Faculty and staff also attend the Spring Career Fair to get an insight on the employers and the opportunities that are being offered to students and the community.

“Getting to see the people [employers] I have seen here for 20 years,” is the most memorable part of the Spring Job Career Fair for Bob Berry, instructor of computer information systems.

The Vol State radio station, WVCP-FM 88.5, will host a live broadcast throughout the life of the Spring Career Fair. The radio station and volunteers will also host games and activities for those attending the event.

“We have been doing the live career fair broadcast every semester for several years now. Dr. Parrent likes us to promote the career fair ahead of time, do the broadcast, and also try to do a follow up story on it,” said Howard Espravnik, Associate Professor and WVCP Manager.

The live broadcast promotes the Spring Career Fair in an effort to get students and those from the community to visit Vol State and explore career, job, and internship options provided by employers at the event.

“Dr. Parrent has told us that there have been times in which people listening, driving down the highway here, listening to the station and heard there was a career fair and actually turned their car around to come and visit the career fair,” said Espravnik.

Presidential forum addresses concerns


(Pictured: Panelists answer questions during the forum.  Picture by: Blake Bouza.)

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

The presidential cabinet of Volunteer State Community College held a forum in the cafeteria on Monday, April 4.

All vice presidents on the cabinet were present save for Jane McGuire, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Research, Planning and Assessment.

Student club representatives posed questions for the cabinet members to answer.

Sandra “Domino” Hunt, president-elect of the Student Government Association, asked how the college would be implementing STEM into lessons.

Dr. Jerry Faulkner, President of Vol State, said that Vol State does have a 3D printer and drones. “We’re sending faculty to professional development workshops to learn how to use this technology and we ask our faculty back and see how to best implement it at the college,” Faulkner said.

“We’re trying to be on the cutting edge, but we don’t want to be on the bleeding edge,” he said.

Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President for Academic Affairs, said that the school is working on integrating smart boards into the classroom and added that getting tutor.com availability back is in the works.

“There are certain legal things we have to do as a school, but as soon as that passes we will bring tutor.com back, definitely,” said Pimentel.

On the subject of Supplemental Instruction being disbanded, Pimentel said that SI is a very small, though important part of tutoring.

“It only affects certain classes. Classes where the professor thinks it will be useful,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said that oftentimes a student needs more help with content and writing papers, which the Language Center in the Ramer building helps with, and where SI would not be as helpful.

“What we’ve decided to do in the short term is to turn over to each division dean a budget that they will then use for tutoring or SI,” said Pimentel.

Individual faculty members will then request of that dean what kind of tutoring they need. If the faculty member needs SI, then they will request it from the dean.

“Faculty and deans have the option to put something else together,” he said.

“We know we need more parking,” stated Beth Cooksey, Vice President for Business and Finance. “We have two contracts under way. One will be a temporary gravel lot, the other will be a permanent lot.”

Cooksey said that both lots will be available for the fall semester.

“The whole solution for parking at Vol State, along with TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents), is to move parking to the edges of campus,” she said.

Cooksey held up her phone as she said many students and faculty are not paying attention to where they are going much of the time, and it is for the safety of everyone involved if parking is moved to the edges of campus.

The temporary lot will be located in front of the maintenance building, and the other lot will be an extension of the H lot at the rear entrance of campus.

More sidewalks are also in development, said Will Newman, Senior Director of Plant Operations.

Tami Wallace, Director of Public Relations, said that students could begin to use the Vol State app to be informed of student activities and events happening around campus.


Patty Powell to retire this semester


(Pictured: Patty Howell in her office.  Picture by: Blake Bouza.)

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Since 1985, Patty Powell, Vice President of Student Services, has been working at Volunteer State Community College ensuring student success.

This Friday, April 15, she retires and ends her 45-year career in higher education.

Powell started at Vol State as coordinator of counseling before being promoted to director of counseling.

Before that she worked in counseling for University of Memphis, where her first bit of advice to students would be, “first, find the bathrooms and take it a step at a time from there.”

Dr. Hal Ramer, the first president of Vol State, appointed her vice president of student services in 1992.

She is over enrollment management, which incorporates admissions, advising and testing, disability services, athletics, Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, and TRIO Student Support Services.

Speaking to Patty Powell is like stepping from a chilled shadow into warm summer sun.

“I never aspired to be in charge of anybody. I always liked to be the person who worked behind the scenes to make my boss look good,” Powell, who has worked under all three presidents of the school so far, said humbly.

A first generation college student, Powell attended the University of Memphis back in 1963, where she began as a music major and glee club member before she became a student worker in the records office.

“My boss was just wonderful,” she said. “I got a lot of experience early on. I’ve just never really had any negative experience in my adult life that has really been bad. It’s made my life as an administrator much more positive.”

Powell and her roommate were two of the first African-American women to integrate in a non-segregated dormitory at University of Memphis.

“It was a great experience. I learned a lot about people and about culture. It was all positive,” she said.

At Vol State, Powell said, “we have people from everywhere, of all different cultures. It’s no longer just black and white. People in Japan can take online classes from Vol State. Technology has opened doors. There’s no reason a person can’t get a college education now.”

Powell said she believes that people get what they give, and was reminded of this when at her retirement party.

“There were people from everywhere. I’ve never done things looking for anything in return. I’ve done things because my parents raised me by the golden rule: you treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Powell said that she lives by this golden rule about respecting other people.

“We have to learn to adapt without negotiating our own beliefs,” she said.

Powell is a Christian, and she acknowledged that people she interacts with regularly may not be.

“I’m not going to try and convert you. I’m going to live in a way that, hopefully, you like what you see. You may or may not convert. I can only be me, and you can only be you. And it goes back to my one little word: respect,” said Powell.

Powell has had a hand in getting Degree Works started, the online program students can use at any time to help plan out their academic career. It will give an outline of the classes a student needs to take for his or her major.

“I think it’s time,” Powell said of her retirement.

A cancer survivor, Powell said this last year has been a challenge. On April 13 of 2015, her doctor said to her family that she had made it through the surgery, and to pray that she made it through the night.

“I am richly blessed to still be alive and to tell my story,” Powell said. “Cancer is not always a death sentence. The Lord has allowed me to stay here for a little while longer, so He’s got something else for me to do.”

Powell had a brother who was hit in the face with a bat for dancing with a white woman. As a child, she herself could not enter many establishments from anywhere but the back door.

“I don’t like to see people mistreated,” said Powell.

The legacy Powell said she would like to leave at Vol State is that she wants everyone treated fairly, as she has always tried to treat people.

“In my role, I serve as vice president of students, all students. Everything that has ever happened to me has helped mold me. I wouldn’t change anything about my life,” said Powell.

“I don’t care what color you are, just act right,” Powell said with a smile.

Powell said that it has been a time of reflection for her.

“This is all I have ever done for 45 years of my life. I feel richly blessed that I’ve been able to work with such wonderful people. That includes my staff, my colleagues and my students. I’ve just met so many beautiful people in my life time.”

“I say, this is the best division on this campus,” Powell said while laughing.

“My parents were really good people. They raised me right. And I’m just grateful for that. The Lord brought me to a place where people accepted me.”


“The Women” showing fails to draw a crowd

By: Gayla Collier, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College had a screening of the movie “The Women” on Tuesday March 29.

There were three opportunities to watch the movie in the Rochelle Center, in the Thigpen Library.

The screenings were at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., and they were made available for anyone to come, including the community.

“I showed the movie three different times.

No one came to the 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.… I had four people show up to the 6p.m. showing,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities.

“The Women” revolves around a group of friends who learn how to handle life as women.

“I liked the movie really well and I like how the women came together,” said Leandrew Hayes, a Vol State student.

“I would recommend all my girlfriends to watch this movie, because I think it can help them see how men are, even though it is a movie,” said Jassmyn Alexander, a Vol State student.

The movie was shown as an activity for Women’s History Month.

Vol State to screen “Milk” for LGBT Pride Month

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College is going to be hosting a showing of the movie “Milk” on Tuesday, April 12 at 1, 3 and 6 p.m. in the Rochelle Center.

“I’m hoping that everyone who possibly can go will show up to the event because I believe that it’s an important depiction of a major idol for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Nicole Martie, president of Spectrum.

According to the Internet Movie Database,

“Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk’s career from his 40th birthday to his death.

“He leaves the closet and New York, opens a camera shop that becomes the salon for San Francisco’s growing gay community, and organizes gays’ purchasing power to build political alliances. He runs for office with lover Scott Smith as his campaign manager.

“Victory finally comes on the same day Dan White wins in the city’s conservative district. The rest of the film sketches Milk’s relationship with White and the 1978 fight against a statewide initiative to bar gays and their supporters from public school jobs.”

“This will hopefully give people a little insight and a little more understanding on what we’re fighting for,” said Martie.

Blake Coker, Activities Chair for the Student Government Association, said that he hopes that people will attend the screening.

“Harvey Milk became one of the first openly gay officials in the United States in 1977, when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” according to Biography.com.

Harvey Milk was born on May 22, 1930, in Woodmere, New York. Reared in a small middle-class Jewish family, Milk was one of two boys born to William and Minerva Milk. A well-rounded, well-liked student, Milk played football and sang in the opera at Bay Shore High School. Like his brother, Robert, he also worked at the family department store, Milk’s.

After graduating from the New York State College for Teachers in 1951, Milk joined the U.S. Navy, ultimately serving as a diving instructor at a base in San Diego, California, during the Korean War. Following his discharge in 1955, Milk moved to New York City, according to Biography.com.

In late 1972, bored with his life in New York, Milk moved to San Francisco, California. There, he opened a camera shop called Castro Camera on Castro Street, putting his life and work right in the heart of the city’s gay community.

Editorial: Its okay to not finish something

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

“It’s Okay to not finish reading a book, or anything else.”

This is something serious readers need to realize – if a book is not floating your boat by the 25 percent mark, give it up.

Like I did with The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Nothing against the writing style – the story just did not draw me in. It takes place in what I understand to be an alternate, fantasy reality – which I did not gather to be necessary.

I probably would have given it up before even the quarter-way mark if not for Lu’s words about making her main character a female Darth Vader pushing me forward. There was, unfortunately, just not enough meat here to keep me satisfied with the story.

So, I’ve moved on to an impulse buy, Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and so far I have been immediately drawn in by the stream-of-consciousness style of story telling and the fully-realized characters – and I am only 50 pages in. I am about a quarter of the way through Moby Dick and I’ve started Writing Down the Bones.

Life is too short to spend time reading things that just do not hold our interest. Which can, of course, be applied to other aspects of life. If something is causing you distress or you are not getting what you need from a friend, class, relationship, or novel – cleave yourself from it.

I am not saying be self-centered and to only look for ways you can benefit from something you are involved with. We all have our obligations and our responsibilities and oftentimes there are things we would rather be doing than standing around at work or sitting in a monotonous classroom or sitting at a relative’s graduation.

No, all I am saying is that when it comes to your personal life and what makes you happy – if something is on your own time, be it hobby, interest, friendship – cleave yourself from it if it brings you down. Life is just too full of other opportunities to bring you happiness.

Now do not use this as an excuse to not challenge yourself, not read that classic, or complete that class and to just give up. Instead of festering in your own unhappiness and pitying yourself, often the best remedy is to put yourself among other human being and having an open mind. Have curiosity about life.

Epiphanies strike us at the oddest times, don’t you think? I can be at work and chewing on a personal problem and in the middle of a sentence with someone else, and realization will wash over me like a waterfall. Most of the time, it is because I see myself or what I am going through reflected in someone or something else.

You are more likely to come to one of these epiphanies when you are among natural creation – humans, nature and the air – as opposed to your dark bedroom.

Go see that one well-dressed woman who sits in a restaurant by herself. Go watch yourself connect with a complete stranger in a myriad of strange, amazing ways. Anything from observing someone using a paper towel to open the public restroom door, catching it with your foot, and toss the now-soiled piece of paper into the wastebasket behind them – exactly as you do, to sharing woes about the weather and discovering you are from the same state, to seeing someone reading a book you absolutely loved last year.

You find yourself in other people just as much as you do with many hours of introspection. When you see that none of us are as different as we like to think we are, we make connections in our own minds and with each other. Life was not meant to be lived in solitude – God saw as much when he created Eve for Adam.

Again, I say cleave yourself from what makes you unhappy – it will do well not just for yourself, but also for everyone.

Person of Interest: Star student Seth Walker

unnamed (1)(Pictured: Seth Walker with his assistant Ken Brassell.  Photo by Barbara Harmon.)  

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

You may have seen Seth Walker, a sophomore at Volunteer State Community College, around campus, but how much do you know about him? He is confined to a wheelchair because he was born with cerebral palsy.

“Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing at or before birth) disorders of childhood.

“About 500,000 children in the United States have the condition,” according to kidshealth.org.

There is no cure for this condition, which affects the ability to control one’s muscles.

“I cannot do anything without assistance from others.

“I also have a speech impediment,” he added. “The only thing I can do on my own is think and use my brain.”

In order for Walker to attend Vol State he needed someone to assist him on campus.

Ken Brassell, Walker’s assistant, said he read about Walker needing help with this through their church.

“God kind of spoke to me and said hey you need to do this,” said Brassell.

He said he had reservations about it, because he was not familiar with cerebral palsy or Walker and his family.

Brassell recalled meeting Walker at a birthday party and trying to speak with him, when Walker did not respond he assumed he was mentally challenged.

“Which that happens to him a lot,” said Brassell. “People don’t realize how smart he is or how funny he is.”

Despite his condition Walker has maintained a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) and has been accepted into Lipscomb University with a full scholarship.

Walker said the most challenging thing for him at Vol State has been the workload, because it takes him longer to complete assignments—especially essays.

This is due to him having to control his computer with a metal dot that is on his forehead.

Walker said he has appreciated how the professors at Vol State have treated him.

“They are always willing to assist me with whatever I need to be successful,” he said.

Some of Walker’s favorite things are Alabama (Crimson Tide) football, basketball (he was Station Camp’s basketball manager for three years), traveling, and searching on the internet.

He said Disney in Orlando, Florida was his favorite of all the trips he had taken.

“But most importantly I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.

“He is everything to me,” said Walker. “I would be nothing without Him.”

After graduating from Vol State, Walker plans to achieve his bachelor degree in strategic communications from Lipscomb and then obtain his master’s through seminary, so he can pursue a career in social media ministry.

“I will go wherever God leads me,” said Walker.

He also had some advice he wanted to share.

“No matter what your challenges are—you can persevere and reach your goals,” said Walker.