Annual security report

By: Jim Hayes

The Volunteer State Community College Police Department released the Annual Security Report, detailing campus crimes reported to the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for 2017.

The department reported 17 crimes to the FBI and 40 to the TBI. The numbers do not match
because of differing reporting requirements between the two agencies.

In 2016, only one crime was reported to the FBI and none were reported to the TBI.

“I think the crime rate is low because of officer presence, and the fact that we don’t have dorms
here, that makes a huge difference,” said Lisa Morris, Senior administrative assistant to Police
Chief Angela Lawson.

“People are here a shorter amount of time. They go to class and then go home,” said Morris.

Only the Gallatin and Livingston campuses reported incidents to the FBI in 2017. The TBI
statistics are not broken down by individual campuses.

The Gallatin campus had 13 incidents to report to the FBI. They included three in the burglary
and drug law arrest categories, two in the domestic violence category and one each in the
aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, stalking, weapons law violation referral and weapons law
arrest categories.

Livingston reported single occurrences of domestic violence, liquor law arrests, stalking and
weapons law arrests to the FBI.

The TBI reporting was highlighted by 13 intimidations, and 11 thefts from buildings.

The Vol State police force consists of 9 full-time officers supplemented by part-time police
officers from local law enforcement departments.

To qualify to be reported to the FBI, an incident has to meet the parameters for Uniform Crime
Reporting as set forth by the bureau.

Blood Drive

By: Gloria Cortes

The American Red Cross held a blood drive at the Rochelle Center in the Thigpen Library of Volunteer State Community College Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re the collection side of the blood drive. So, we come out, we get a schedule, we go to the places that have set up with us,” said American Red Cross blood drive supervisor Howard Anderson.

“We’ve had 36 sign up, but that’s not including the people that signed up online, that’s just the signup sheet I have from the school,” said Anderson.

“I’d like to donate blood, but I don’t think I have the time to do that right now,” said sophomore Thomas Williams.

He said 16 people had been able to donate so far that day.

“Our goal today is 39 donations,” said Anderson.

He said the turnout has been good and steady throughout the day.

“A lot of people were there, outside the library, so I’m sure the blood drive went well,” said sophomore Rachel Spurlock.

He said he also hopes that the blood drive will raise student awareness about giving back to the community.

“I hope it makes the students aware of their ability to give back something because the blood drive helps people. With one pint of blood, you are affecting three lives. We take one unit back to our lab and break it down into platelets, plasma, and red cells. So that’s three different people you’re going to affect,” said Anderson.

“I would consider donating blood. I have before,” said adjunct history professor Melanie Cochran.

She said she believes that the blood drive is good because donating encourages positive community involvement.

“I think it’s good. It gets people to be more involved with the community, and help out our neighbors,” said Cochran.

TN Reconnect spotlight

By: Riley Holcraft

The Tennessee Reconnect Program gives eligible, nontraditional students the chance to attend community colleges free of tuition, and Volunteer State Community College is home to several participants.

Lindsay Williams is a reconnect student enrolled in the Vol State Dental Assistant Program; she is also president of the Dental Assistants Club.

Williams is passionate about leading a club dedicated to real-life, hands-on experience that encourages students to get an authentic taste for a career in dental assisting.

“I have come to Vol State twice before and just never really found the degree I was truly passionate about,” said Williams.

After she job-shadowed a dental assistant at a local office in Hendersonville, she discovered her love for the career.

In August, Williams was admitted into the program as a Tennessee reconnect student. She revealed that finding her interest and becoming president of the Dental Assistants Club, “has completely changed my life!”

Enrollment at Vol State is not her only recent milestone. The former Miss Kelley became Mrs. Williams in August of last year.

Her husband, Phillip, is a preacher at a local church. Williams upholds certain responsibilities as the preacher’s wife that includes teaching Sunday school, getting involved in church activities, and showcasing positive energy.

She is recognized as “a Tennessee girl at heart” that is proud of the Christian faith, and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, church family, and friends.

Williams hopes to become a mother in the near future and raise her child within the church culture.

In her free time, she operates a craft business making and selling wreaths and home decor. She remains busy by juggling school, church, and other hobbies, but her main goal in life is to use her compassion and humility to help and inspire others.

Since serving her community is vital to her, Williams always tries to find a way to intertwine her daily routine with the helping of others.

Her value of service blends well with The Dental Assistants Club since it is involved in multiple service-learning projects throughout the year.

Williams admires “the daily opportunity we have to improve someone’s self-confidence, the excitement of preparing treatments for patients, and our positive influence on people.”

Being a part of both the program and the club encourages students to not only perform the job correctly but also become ethical people dedicated to quality care for patients.

TN Reconnect spotlight

By: Yvonne Nachtigal

Volunteer State Community College Spanish major Ch’Mar Butler loves language.

“I love to speak and read, also write. It helps stimulate me,” said Butler.

Butler was eight credits from his degree and took advantage of the TN Reconnect program to return to college.

“I know the benefits of a degree. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Reconnect,” said Butler.

Butler is a classically trained tenor who sang for President Clinton.

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Butler went directly to Tougaloo College in Mississippi after high school. He received a scholarship for singing in his school’s concert choir.

Butler says his college experience now is much different from when he was younger.

“People were more involved on campus then. Clubs, organizations. I mean, they’re still here, but not with the fervor they had,” said Butler.

He is vice president of the Black Student Union formerly AASU, which will be meeting Wednesdays at 11 a.m., in the Woods Campus Center building, beginning the week after fall break.

Butler has been married for 14 years to his wife, Keesha, and the couple has four children.

“Being married and working full-time. It’s a challenge to find time for school,” said Butler.

Having formerly worked as an entrepreneur, he is now a bilingual insurance analyst. His goal is to be a translator for the court system, go abroad and teach English in Spanish speaking countries.

He encourages students to step out and be more involved at college.

“Go out for that club, say hi to that person you think is cool. It’s ok to be afraid use that fear. Because once it’s over, it’s over. Regrets can be haunting and unforgiving,” said Butler.

TN Reconnect spotlight

By: Gloria Cortes

Tari Pearson is a mother, a nurse assistant, and a Vol State TN Reconnect sophomore.

She said she came back to school to become a registered nurse now that she does not have to raise her children.

“Basically, to better my life. I started out later in life after taking care of my kids, and now my kids are grown. So, I needed to do something more than just be a housekeeper or things like that, so I decided that I wanted to become a registered nurse, which kind of ties into what I do now,” said Pearson.

Pearson said she is a nurse assistant for a private company.

“You could say I’m a caregiver, so to speak,” said Pearson.

She said she was surprised she was able to get the TN Reconnect grant.

“I was in school in the past and had to put it on hold. I couldn’t get a pell grant so it kind of helps me more and it helps me save more money. School is not cheap, and it’s expensive to go back and start over. It has helped me financially,” said Pearson.

She said she chose Vol State for a few reasons.

“It’s out of Nashville. I wanted to get out of Nashville because I’m from Nashville. And Vol State has an excellent program. I did a little background research on Vol State and they have excellent programs. And it has good connections with other universities in case I want to continue with my career path that way,” said Pearson.

Pearson said she has received different reactions from her family about her going back to school.

“My children are supportive, but other family members, you know how critical some people can be. But a lot of them are supportive, and they want to see me do better and strive in life,” said Pearson.

She said some of her classes have been challenging for her, and it is hard for her to make time for her online classes.

“Anatomy, microbiology, and chemistry. Those are my biggest challenges, but I managed to pass microbiology and anatomy and physiology. Trying to learn formulas and trying to redo math in your head after you haven’t taken it in years is a bit of a challenge,” said Pearson.

She said that Vol State has helped her become stronger.

“I’m a lot stronger than a lot of people think I am. And I can take criticism, whether it’s destructive or constructive,” said Pearson.

National Portfolio Day

By: Nick Kieser

For students at Volunteer State Community College and who are interested in displaying their artwork, there is a National Portfolio Day taking place at Watkins College of Art in downtown Nashville.

The event is on Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. open to the public and is free of charge.

“We are trying to encourage a lot of our art majors who are interested in pursuing art-related degrees. It includes things for architecture, graphic design, fashion design, and other things as well,” said art teacher Nate Smyth.

According to www.Watkins.edu, National Portfolio Day gives the opportunity to meet with experienced college representatives who will review artwork, offer critiques, discuss college plans, and share information about their schools.

“If they have questions about the school or the program they can answer the questions, and usually have swag to give away,” said Smyth.

“I used to work these events as an assistant director of graduate admissions at the School of Art Institution of Chicago, and we used to give out outrageous amounts of stuff,” said Smyth.

Additionally, on the site as well there is an opportunity to be able to show personal artwork publicly.

The way a student or a young professional can participate in this is to register online.

“Any art school you go to you’ll need a portfolio. This gives students an incentive to show their work and really try to show their best,” said student Taylor Phillips.

According to a flyer that is posted on the second floor of the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black building down the art hallway there will be 23 schools represented at the event including the host school as well.

Student from Egypt pursues programming degree

By: Yvonne Nachtigal

Mina Shahta, a Volunteer State computer programming major, came to the U.S. from Egypt three years ago on an immigration visa. He was selected by lottery through the US Diversity Visa program.

The program selects 3,000 Egyptian citizens annually to come to the U.S. Once here, they receive a green card.  

“Actually, about 5,000 from Egypt are selected,” said Shahta. He explained that applicants go through a qualification screening and only 3,000 are chosen.  

The Immigration Act of 1990 established a select number of immigrant visas to be available in various countries through an annual lottery.

According to the US Embassy & Consulate in Egypt website, the purpose of the lottery is to diversify the immigrant population by selecting applicants mostly from countries with lower rates of immigration to the United States.

“When you are in a poor country like my country, you want to make a better life,” said Shahta, in reference to applying for a visa in hopes of coming to America.  

“There is rich and poor, very little middle class,” he said. “You cannot better yourself. The state you are born is where you stay. Here you can come from zero and make a better life.”

Although the government pays for college in Egypt, Shahta says there are few jobs and no chance for career advancement.  

“You can’t better yourself. The government takes all your money,” said Shahta. 

Safety was another reason for leaving Egypt. Shahta’s family is Christian.  

“Christians know it is not safe to live in Egypt. They kill us. When you are in your church and you want to pray, you find bombs,” said Shahta. 

Violence against Christians in Egypt has caused many Egyptians to emigrate to the US. Many have found a home in Nashville.

According to the Tennessean, Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population of Egypt has suffered from discrimination and violence in the Muslim-majority country for a year.

Shahta explained how attacks against them increased when the Islamists rose to power after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power.  

In 2013, The Tennessean reported that Coptic Christians from churches around Nashville rallied to put an end to the violence in Egypt. Nearly 40 churches in Egypt had been looted and torched, while 23 others were heavily damaged.

Shahta has two older brothers and an older sister. His father is a doctor and his mother works for the government.  

He has not seen his family in 3 years and misses them greatly. He talks to them every day. He would like to go back and visit but says he cannot safely do so.

“I can’t go back there because if I go back there I’d have to join the army and go to Sinai,” he said.

Shahta looks forward to the day when he can become a U.S. citizen so that he can visit his family and eventually bring them to the US.

When he first came to Nashville, Shahta found work at a hotel earning minimum wage, but he has already bettered himself by finding higher paying positions. He was working two jobs in addition to going to school but recently quit one to devote more time to his studies.  

Shahta says he thinks it is difficult for American young people to fully appreciate the opportunities they have in America.

“They have the freedom to better themselves,” said Shahta.