Vaping is a dangerous habit that we need to take immediate steps to stop

Humanity must have a death wish.

As a species we choose to ingest substances which have been scientifically proven to have harmful effects on our bodies.

Over the years, we have experimented with LSD, cocaine, heroin, tobacco, and now, vaping.

For those who don’t know the mechanics of this new age vice, a nicotine- or THC-laced (THC is the chemical which causes the high produced by smoking marijuana) liquid is vaporized by an e-cigarette, and then inhaled into the lungs where it apparently has been doing significant amounts of damage.

Just last week, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, in its weekly update on vaping, attributed 39 deaths in 24 states and the District of Columbia to e-cigarette use. Further, it said that 2,051 cases of vaping associated lung injuries had been reported from 49 states (Alaska is the lone exception), the District of Columbia and one US territory.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of lung injury are cough, shortness of breath or chest pain, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills or weight loss. It can develop over the course of several weeks or in just a few days.

That weekly update from the CDC also contained this little nugget of information, the samples of fluid collected from patients suffering lung injuries who vaped contained vitamin e-acetate which, when consumed orally, or applied to the skin, does no harm. However, research suggests that vitamin e-acetate can interfere with the normal function of one’s lungs.

This research and these numbers have been in the news for the last several months but, for whatever reason, we continue to use these products.

The sales of e-cigarette devices have gone from 2.2 million in 2016 to 16.2 million in 2017 and the industry leader Juul forecasts its revenue for this year to be $3.4 billion.

It is estimated that the US market for e-cigarettes will reach $16.5 billion by 2024.

Apparently, as a species, our craving for the high brought on by consuming the THC in e-cigarettes overwhelms the common sense which is telling us that sucking this stuff into our lungs is damaging them.

Given the sub-glacial speed with which our government moves, there is no real hope of legislation to curb the sale of e-cigarettes. Besides, any such attempts would likely be met with a hail of lawsuits launched by the tobacco industry which owns most of the companies producing vaping paraphernalia.

It would seem that the bottom line is that we must be left to our own resources to combat this latest assault on our common sense.

Yes, the choice to ingest any harmful substance is just that, a personal choice. But what rightminded person would willingly make that choice?

It is the equivalent of walking blindfolded across the Indy 500 race track on Memorial Day. You might survive, but chances aren’t good.

So, let’s not take that walk across the race track. Let’s let common sense dictate our choices for a change and not find ourselves in a hospital faced with the prospect, as one vape using patient did, of a double lung transplant.

If we’re going to suck something into our lungs, let it just be air.

This is the last issue of The Settler which it has been my honor to edit. I have been extremely lucky to have had the assistance of a talented staff of writers, photographers and advisors.

Thank you.


VSCC Fall graduation plans are announced

By Luis Quintanilla

Volunteer State Community College will hold its Fall Commencement ceremony on Dec. 14th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Pickel Field House – Moore Gymnasium at the Gallatin campus. The commencement will include graduates who graduated in the summer as well students who have applied to graduate in the fall. According to the Vol State website, “Participation in Commencement is optional, but strongly encouraged. Participating in the ceremony in no way confirms completion of requirements or official graduation. All program requirements must be completed before the credential can be posted to the student’s transcript or diploma.”

For those planning to participate in Commencement, there are a few things to do before hand according to the Vol State website. First students should have had ordered their caps and gowns before November 8th. They will receive an email when they are ready to pick up at the bookstore, and students will also pick up their guest tickets at this time. These are to be picked up before Dec. 13th.  Students may decorate their cap as long as they are tasteful according to Amber Regan , Graduation Associate. According to Regan, the number of tickets per student this year will be 8. The number of guests allowed to attend in the gymnasium is limited, but the ceremony will also be live streamed for those elsewhere according to Regan.

Rehearsal for the ceremony will take place the day before Commencement on Dec. 13th at 10:00 a.m. at the same location.

The ceremony, according to Regan and Tim Amyx, Director of Admissions, will closely follow previous ceremonies.  “It’s a typical collegiate commencement ceremony. Family and friends arrive. There’s usually a commencement speaker that address the group as well as a greetings from the Alumni Association that kind of thing. They sing the national anthem and then the students commence, go across the stage, get their names read. We read every name so that way every family can can hear their student’s name called and then at the end we sing the college alma mater and that’s the end of the ceremony,” said Amyx. Once the students and guests are dismissed, “there’s usually whooping and hollering,” remarked Amyx.

According to Regan, rehearsal the day before will be practicing the student part of it. At the rehearsal students will practice walking across the stage, hear announcements, receive a reward for attending and even be able to have their names drawn to win extra guest tickets. According to Amyx, the rehearsal is also meant to make the students more comfortable with the ceremony. “We have a lot of students that this is the first college graduation that they participated, them or their family, so it’s helpful for the students to have a few minutes to just be more comfortable, and to get some announcements and that kind of thing, so that’s why we have rehearsal,” said Amyx. The other thing that is important in attending rehearsal remarked Amyx is that students make sure the person reading their names knows how to say their names correctly as they walk across the stage.

Although attending the commencement is optional, both Amyx and Regan said they highly encourage students to attend. They stated that in the fall ceremony, less than half attend, and in the spring a little more than half attend. “I wish that every single person would commence and would  participate, but there are students who don’t for various reasons, but I really think that from the bigger picture that really everybody should participate,” said Amyx.

Amyx stated some students may not look at Commencement as a big deal, and instead just as stop along the way. “They don’t see it as the real accomplishment that it is. So I really wish that more students would take a moment to celebrate themselves and realize that they’ve done something by graduating from college that really not many people do if you take everybody into consideration. It’s an opportunity to celebrate. It’s an opportunity for you to get your family together,” said Amyx. “But I think a lot of people think this is just a stop along the way, it’s not that big a deal, but in reality it’s a big deal. And the college and faculty want to celebrate that accomplishment. Your family and friends want to celebrate that accomplishment, and by not participating in commencement you don’t allow that opportunity that to happen and it really might be your only chance,” continued Amyx.

Amyx remarked that at least someone, whether a parent, faculty or family member, spouse, or friend has invested in a student to ensure he or she reaches graduation, and these people wish to see it come to fruition.  “I think that a lot of students don’t think about the fact that Commencement isn’t just for them. Commencement is an opportunity for the folks that have helped them along the way to celebrate. I don’t think that you will ever find a person that graduates from college that didn’t have at least one other person that invested in their life in order to make that happen. This isn’t just about the student who’s graduating, but it’s a chance for all those people who sacrificed and supported to see the results of that work,” said Amyx.

Regan pitched in, “Rehearsals only like an hour and a half long. And then the ceremony itself is only two hours. So you’re talking about taking three and a half hours out of your schedule to come and celebrate.”

Amyx stated that a lot of students tend to be focused and honed in only on their bachelor’s degree and overlook this occasion. “A lot of students say, ‘Well I’m just going to get my bachelor’s degree so I’m going to wait till I get my bachelors degree and participate then.’ What they don’t realize is that there’s a lot of life that can happen between your associate’s and your bachelor’s degree. There’s quite a few students who something ultimately happens and their life gets redirected so they don’t get to the bachelor’s degree when they think they’re going to and so they’ve missed that opportunity to celebrate,” saidAmyx.

Regan said although the ceremony is a celebration and intended to be fun, another reason students may not attend is due to the attention given to them on the day of the ceremony. “They don’t want the attention on them. They don’t want people looking at them. It makes some people uncomfortable. They don’t want it to be about them. So for the very reason they should sometimes, I think that’s why they don’t,” said Regan.

Amyx added on, “For those people that are shy, it’s just a few seconds walking across the stage. You don’t even know you did it practically.”

Another reason stated Regan is that students often overlook their communications and are unaware of the commencement. She implores students to check these such as their Vol State email often. “A reason that they may not attend is because that they didn’t read the email, or they didn’t pay attention to the postcard we sent to them, and sometimes we send messages. It’s important things like this you may miss like an opportunity to participate like commencement,” stated Regan.

Amyx detailed a story of when he implored someone to attend someone to Commencement when she was planning to skip out on it. After the ceremony, Amyx said this person came up to him and thanked him for encouraging her to come. Amyx then added, “What we really needed is for students to come participate and make their own story.”

Regan added on by saying the ceremony is meant to be fun and a point of celebration with family and friends. “It’s all wonderful things packaged up very nice,” she said.


Santa’s on the way to Vol State’s needy kids

By Katelyn Marshall

The Student Government Association at Volunteer State Community College, with the assistance of other student organizations annually sponsors an event known as Christmas for the Kids, to benefit the children of Vol State students, whose families are experiencing significant financial hardship going into the holiday season.

Gifts for the children will be sponsored by campus organizations and individuals within the Vol State community, up to $50 per child.

“Christmas for Kids started by the Student Government [Association],” said Tabitha Sherrell, who coordinates student activities and has been at Vol State for almost 8 years. Sherrell said that she is currently working on writing a dissertation to earn her doctorate degree in education. “It was started because SGA wanted to give back to the student body. So, this way of giving back is if you are a Vol State student and you have children, then you can apply for Christmas for the Kids.”

Sherrell explained in more detail about how Christmas for the Kids operates. “It’s basically, like if you go to any other store in the community and they have an angel tree, it’s the same concept.”

She added that a parent who is a Vol State student will come in and fill out an application for their child, called a Santa Survey. The Santa Survey will tell about what the kids needs or want, the child’s size and age.

The Christmas for the Kids committee, which is a committee of currently enrolled students in student government, will create ornaments, which is a paper ornament.

Sherrell said that this year there will be multiple ornaments from Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Santa, and an Elf hat. On the back of that ornament will be information that pertains to the child, which will not be their name.

“It will be a number,” Sherrell said. “Only us and the Office of Engagement and Support will know who the child is. But it will be a number and it will say how old the child is, if it’s a boy or a girl, and then it will list all the stuff on that Santa Survey [such as] their clothing size, things that they need, and things that they would like to get.”

After that, SGA will put up a Christmas tree and hang the ornaments up in the tiled dining room.

“Then my office sends out a push or an advertisement to ask the Vol State community, but it really can be anyone,” Sherrell added. “For example, my mom lives two hours away from here, but she knows that we do Christmas for the Kids every year, so I always grab two ornaments off the tree. I have one and she has one and we shop on black Friday for whatever children we selected. It could be anybody that adopts an ornament off the tree.”

The deadline for the application was Monday, November 11. “It does have to be a har deadline. It’s a firm deadline because once we have the applications in, we have to get to work on those ornaments. There are multiple deadlines in a row,” Sherrell explained. November 15 was the deadline for the committee to have all ornaments up on the tree. “We learned that it’s a whole lot easier if those ornaments are up on the tree and available for the community to take before Thanksgiving. A lot of people shop on black Friday or

on Thanksgiving, so having this ornament available to them before Thanksgiving really helped.”

Specific items needed, based on the survey, according to Sherrell, include winter coats, scarf, gloves, hats, winter boots, socks, underwear, pants, and shirts.

According to Sherrell, there is not a limit to how many items someone can purchase, however, it is asked of people who take an ornament off the tree to spend at least $50 on that child, although it could be more than that minimum price.

For those who take an ornament, the gifts are due back to the Office of Student Engagement and Support by Wednesday, Dec. 4. Also, it is asked by the Office of Student Engagement that the gifts are not wrapped but put in a gift bag instead.

“There is a Christmas party on December 6,” Sherrell added. “This year, that Christmas party is going to be open to all Vol State students to bring their children, not just those who are in the Christmas for the Kids program. Essentially, anyone who applied for the Christmas for the Kids program, they will be able to pick up their gifts from this office, Wood 215, the week of finals.”

Sherrell explained that they are trying to make it more convenient for parents. If they come to the Christmas party with their kids, Sherrell said that they found out that their children see the gifts right then and want to open their gifts.

“SGA, this year, said, ‘what if we don’t do that? What if we just offer a fun party for anybody to come to, and then if you’re someone who is a recipient of a Christmas for Kids gift. You can come right your last final, when your kids are not with you, you can

pick up the gifts, and hide it if you want, and it really does work for Christmas day,” Sherrell said.

In the past, Christmas for the Kids has been very successful according to Sherrell. “It’s honestly always successful. In the 8 years that I have been here, we’ve never seen zero. The number has been between 50 and, honestly, this year we have 125 children that will go under the tree.”

According to Sherrell, this is the largest number that she has seen. She also said that it is usually between 50 and 80 and that there was one year where there may have been 40 children.

Sherrell said her platform quote to the world was, “In a nutshell, be kind to one another. Be kind in what you do. This also goes along with Christmas for the Kids. Think about, it’s 125 kids, that are going to have a present under the tree that they may not have if SGA hadn’t done this program, so I would say be kind.”

VSCC music major also dabbles in comedy

By Fay Kabasu

Meet Cameron E. Davenport, a 20-year-old student majoring in Music Production at Volunteer State Community College. Born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, Davenport grew up surrounded by music. “I was born in a musical family where we all had our own gift,” said Davenport. He can play the drums, the saxophone, the piano, and the talk box.

Not only does he have a talent in music, but he’s also a comedian. When asked about why he loves comedy, Davenport replied, “I first realized comedy was the main thing that has stuck in my system that was lost and found… I started to challenge myself with my stories and jokes.”

He tests his jokes on his family and oftentimes performs and makes up funny stories for students in the lunchroom. When asked who inspires him, Davenport noted stand-up comedians like Bernie Mac, who he described as his “idol”, Cedric The Entertainer, Kevin Hart, J.B Smoove, and Eddie Griffin.

Davenport also mixes his entertainment with motivational speaking. He enjoys speaking to the youth about how to navigate through life and relationships.

When asked about his goals for the future, he said, “My goals are to keep doing music and comedy as my second job. I want to show people that I am more than just doing music.”

Cameron E. Davenport is a Music Productions major at Volunteer State Community College. Davenport dabbles in music, comedy, and public speaking. Photo courtesy of Davenport.

Cameron E. Davenport is a Music Productions major at Volunteer State Community College. Davenport dabbles in music, comedy, and public speaking. Photo courtesy of Davenport.

Registration now open for State math competition

By Velma Crochet

Volunteer State Community College is participating in Tennessee Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (TYMTYC) state competition on Nov. 19-21. Students can sign up through the announcement in their eLearn.

The competition is open to any student who has not earned a two-year degree or higher, part-time students are eligible according to Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Lingli Ni.

The competition is comprised of five examinations administered locally at each college. The examination the student must take for the competition will last one hour. If the student is taking; math 1130, 1630, 1710, 1720 and 1730 they will take the precalculus test; math 1005, 1010, 1410 and 1420 the student will take the survey of mathematics test; math 1830 or 1910 they will take the calculus A test; math 1920, 2010 and 2110 they will take the Calculus B test; math 1530 they will take the statistics test according to the announcement sent to all the students in eLearn.

“For the first time, we are going to have two locations for TMATYC math competition, one at the Gallatin campus and one at the Cookeville campus,” said Ni.

The test dates for all five tests are, Nov. 19, Tuesday, for the precalculus test, Nov.20, Wednesday, for the tests of survey of math, calculus A and calculus B or Nov. 21, Thursday, for the statistics test. All test will take place in the Learning Commons Breakout Room located in the Thigpen building room 125/126 or at the Cookeville campus. Please come between 4 p.m.- 6 p.m. to take the one-hour test, bring your calculator said Ni.

“We want to make a difference to students by showing them what they can achieve with their knowledge, what we are offering here at Vol State, and we are passionate about math competitions,” said Ni.

Jonathan Kenigson, Instructor of Mathematics at VSCC since the fall of 2017 said if a student would like to take a practice test before the competition all they have to do is meet with one of the four coordinators Lingli Ni, Leah Frauendienst, Elizabeth Forrester and himself to up a time to take it.

TMATYC awards 15 cash prizes for the top three contestants from each exam. The cash prizes awarded will be in the amount of $75, $50 or $30. The top ten contestants from each exam are recognized. Vol State students win the top three prizes every year and students benefit from the experience very much, said Ni.

Starting this year, Math and Science division will be awarding prizes of $35, $25, and $15 to the top three winners among our own students. There will be an award ceremony for the winners on Dec. 13, 4 p.m. in the Learning Commons. Everyone is cordially invited to celebrate VSCC students’ accomplishments, said Ni.

“TMATYC math competition is only in Tennessee, with six community colleges participating,” said Ni.

“I have worked at VSCC for almost six years. I started to manage the VSCC math competition in 2017. In TMATYC math competition, we were doing very well in 2017, and we had 60+ students who participated in 2018, which is a record-high number of participations in five years. In order to have more winners, we need student and faculty participation,” said Ni.