Long Story Short #1

Kathleen Long// Contributing Writer

Hi! My name is Kathleen Long and this is my new column called Long Story Short. For those of you who know me (which is pretty much everybody) this is hilarious. For everyone else, you are confused. Let me clear it up for you. In this column I will tell a story of some kind, and will try to have a take-away point, or lesson in the end.

I am the President of the Association of Campus Events (ACE) Club. I enjoy being in a club, and I also enjoy holding the title of “president.” But, even more than that, I enjoy being involved with my school. I think it is important to network and get to know people. Most students come to school, go to their classes, and then leave. They think this is the right way to do it. WRONG! That is the dumb way to do it. Volunteer State Community College has clubs, planned events and tries to do as much as possible to make the stress of college as great of an experience as they possibly can. I would say they are doing a good job for only being a community college and not having the budget and resources of universities.

I suggest that you find someone who is in a club and ask them how they like it. Almost all of them will encourage you to join a club and get involved as well. Being a club member also has perks: You have the chance to get to know the staff and teachers; if you get a board position you can get paid; and you are always in the know.

Long story short: My last name is Long, I am short, this is my new column where I tell it like it is and you should join a club.

Important Road Closure Information


Due to the construction of the new humanities building, there will be multiple changes to the structure of the campus, including the entrances.

For the next few months, possibly longer, the back entrance connecting to GreenLea Avenue will be shut down.  Because of this, it is in the students best interest to take the entrance next to the Pickle Field House.

Parking will also soon become an issue, as the right turn after the entrance on Gap. Blv. will be shut down, requiring students to park towards the Fine Arts building.

As stated earlier, there is no set day as to when the traffic will die down, but it is recommended that all students attempt to alter their schedule and find the easiest way possible to get to and from school.

Keep your eyes posted on the Settler Newspaper, Website, and Social Media for all the updates regarding everything Vol State related.

Math and Science Dean Nancy Morris to retire after 35 years of service

Nancy Morris, dean of the Math and Science division, has announced her retirement from Volunteer State Community College, after 35 years of service to the school. Her official last day is July, 31 of this year.

Morris said she started at Vol State when she was recruited from teaching in Sumner County.

“I was in White House Junior High and I felt like I had more to share, in content, with students at a higher level. I came to Vol state in 1980 and I’ve always been a member of the faculty but in a series of changing roles. Coordinator of Biology and then Science department chair, and then dean,” said Morris.

Before she arrived at Vol State, Morris said that she did her undergraduate degree of chemistry at Austin Peay State University, before doing her graduate program at Vanderbilt where she became interested in teaching.

“I found the research in my graduate program of study, at Vanderbilt, so interesting that I really felt compelled to share that interest and insight with other folks,” said Morris. “Once you learn to teach yourself, then every discipline is available to you. You can become a scholar in almost any area that you choose. … We begin learning isolated skill sets and you realize, at my age, that little job or that little experience that you had way back when, in college, pays off with this kind of mind set.”

Morris said that the diversity of opportunity is what she has enjoyed the most at Vol State.

Morris also said that she admires her fellow staff members.

“Vol State’s greatest resource here, is its human resource. This is an amazing compilation of educators and professional staff and administrators. You know we often don’t realize what we have until we lose it or we are gone, “ said Morris. “What I quickly realized is that beyond teaching content, we are really teaching human beings. You are changing someone’s life and shaping insights in the context of a given course.”

Dr. Jeffery Kent, professor of Biology, said he that thinks Morris has done an outstanding job.

“Sometimes [being a] dean is a thankless job, because nobody is going to agree entirely with what is being done, but I think she has handled the job with enthusiasm. She has relished trying to move our division forward with new initiatives to try and improve what we do, especially in sciences, as well in Math,” said Kent.

Dr. Robert Carter, Science department chair, also said he thinks Morris has done fantastic job in her role as a dean.

“She has improved the quality of the education, the motivation of the faculty, new invitations in what we do, new types of science that we do, new types of math. We’ve had a lot of challenges. Redesigning our math program, dealing with developmental studies and learning support. These are very, very, challenging types of things, particularly for a dean to juggle from all those different angles,” said Carter. “A great part of my success is due to her. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be as good of an instructor, I wouldn’t be as good of a chair, as I am. So I rely on her for basically every aspect of what I do, be it everything from encouragement to actual, her getting on the phone and making sure I get what I need.”

Morris said that education should continue to be practiced and celebrated.

“Realizing the difference that education makes in your life is sort of a review mirror realization. You don’t know how important it is until you have done it. I think we, as a public, as a society, have to do whatever it takes to support folks in their academic journey so that education is not the thing that prevents anyone from reaching their full potential and achieving all they can be and being the most productive and healthy individuals and citizens. We need to be an educated and literate society,” said Morris.

When asked what she considered her greatest achievement in her time at Vol State, Morris said it is difficult to focus on a certain one.

“I wouldn’t say that there is any great personal achievement. I would say there are many small personal contributions to the greater good. It’s been my privilege to help identify and recommend some exceptional faculty who have joined this community. It’s been my great privilege to help design new science labs that were constructed on this campus. It has been my great privilege to work with my peers in creating this phenomenal undergraduate research program [and] redesigning the math curriculum,” said Morris.

As for what she plans to do after retirement, Morris said that she plans to travel.

“I will be going to France in September and ill be going to Guatemala in January of 2016. I have some remodeling projects already scheduled in my home, and there are some opportunities that I will pursue in Kentucky, in my hometown. I have family there so I am there often.”

Dr. Kimberly Caldwell, mathematics department chair, said her thoughts on Morris, and how she thinks Morris has benefited the college.

“Dean Nancy Morris has dedicated her life’s work to VSCC in her roles as faculty member, advisor, mentor and administrator. She is a true academician.

“For 35 years, she has gone above and beyond in giving of her time, talents and energies to the college. Nancy has worked tirelessly, leading the Math and Science Division into the national spotlight.

“She has mentored students and colleagues alike, guiding them toward academic excellence. She has touched our lives in many ways both personally and professionally.

“She has been a champion on many fronts; promoting women in higher education; undergraduate research, National Science Foundation grants and programs devoted to promoting girls in math and science.

“She leaves a giant footprint at the college. Her legacy and contributions to VSCC will endure for many years to come,” said Caldwell.

“There are countless opportunities to make a significant change”

Ann Roberts// Editor-in-Chief

Around the New Year, there are many people who make resolutions to make a change or take an action within the next coming months.

According to statisticbrain.com, 47 percent of the resolutions that people make are focused on self-improvement or are education related. 38 percent is weight related and 34 percent is money related. The website also lists that 31 percent of New Year’s Resolutions are relationship related.

In the top ten list of resolutions for 2014, to “lose weight” is in first place followed by “getting organized.” Third and fifth are “spend less, save more” and “staying fit and healthy.”

All of these things are admirable goals, but there seems to be something missing. These aims carry an air of being self-oriented.

There is nothing wrong with trying to stay healthy or being more frugal with one’s possessions and planning abilities. However, consideration for your fellow creatures is hardly thought of with these ambitions.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” said Albert Einstein.

Recently there has popularly been a movement to perform “random acts of kindness.”

“Carry out random acts of kindness, with no expectation of reward. Safe in the knowledge that one day, someone may do the same for you,” said an unattributed quote on searchquotes.com.

Random acts of kindness sound like you did the act without a second thought. Doing something small that was not planned makes it somewhat impersonal. I am not against them but I would like to suggest that we take more interest in our fellow man.

What about a slightly alternate resolve? I propose that more people begin executing “intentional” acts of kindness.

A random act of kindness sounds so thoughtless. In some ways they are nice, it can show that a person’s default reaction is well meaning.

Why can’t one go out of their way to help another person with that specific intention in mind beforehand? Just because an action is premeditated does not mean that the do-gooder should or thinks they should receive recompense for their efforts.

Why don’t we try to go out of our way to make someone else’s day better? The world can be a hard place to live. We can help and love each other instead of always thinking about ourselves.

Children often hear from their parents and babysitters to be kind to each other. My request for us adults to do the same sounds a bit ridiculous.

“When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people,” said Abraham Joshua Heschel.

On this campus at Volunteer State Community College, there are countless opportunities for one to make a significant change in another person’s life. No matter how little you think about it, your actions and words are noticed by somebody. You see people at school everyday. Going out of your way to intentionally help a fellow classmate or associate can start the first stages of a healthy friendship.

This appeal is not like a regular New Year’s Resolution that one can cross out at the end of the term like the achievement of losing fifteen pounds or finally working out an organizational system. This resolution is one that should be practiced without a prompt or a banner.

“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble,” said Charles H. Spurgeon

A Plethora of Movie Reviews

by Madison Mathews// Contributing Writer


“Edge of Tomorrow,” directed by Doug Liman

Director Doug Liman’s sci-fi action flick was one of the best surprises from the summer season. Tom Cruise stars as a soldier who dies on a futuristic battlefield over and over again, reliving the same day he’s dropped into action. Emily Blunt plays the face of the military, who just so happens to hold the key to Cruise’s “Groundhog Day” scenario. With “Edge of Tomorrow,” Liman is more interested in the journey than sticking the landing. The final act is a bit of a mess, but Cruise and Blunt’s chemistry and the action make the film a must-see adventure.

“Guardians of the Galaxy,” directed by James Gunn

Marvel Studios stepped their game up this summer with the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a film about a group of outcasts who band together to take down a threat to the universe. Yes, there’s a talking raccoon and a walking tree, but don’t let that kind of weirdness keep you from seeing one of the best blockbusters to be released this decade. James Gunn’s film is full of humor, heart, and action. It’s an old fashioned adventure in the vein of the original “Star Wars.” “Guardians” is the type of film you’ll come back to time and time again, and that’s the mark of a truly great movie.

“Gone Girl,” directed by David Fincher

I never read Gillian Flynn’s novel, but based on her screenplay David Fincher was the perfect person to adapt her story of marriage. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play the couple at the center of this pulpy story of romance, lies, and murder. Fincher is an A-list director, but his sensibilities are perfectly suited for this kind of material. It’s a dark, cynical film, but the murder mystery at the center will keep you pinned to your seat.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” directed by Matt Reeves

The “Planet of the Apes” series is one the staples of science fiction cinema. It was given a fresh approach a few years ago with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” With “Dawn,” the new approach went even further, taking more time to craft the world of the apes as we get to know Caesar and his community. The motion capture technology has grown so much just within the last few years, and Andy Serkis’ work as Caesar has never been better.

“Interstellar,” directed by Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. The release of a new Nolan joint has become reason for celebration. Matthew McConaughey leads an all-star cast in this tale that spans both time and space. The film might not make a lot of sense, and some of the characters might be horribly underwritten, but Nolan’s visuals are worth the entry price. There are some tremendous set pieces throughout the film, and McConaughey’s performance ties all of the loose ends together. “Interstellar” is Nolan’s most divisive film, but it’s also his most ambitious, and that’s something to praise.

“The Lego Movie,” directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

The joy of playing with Legos comes to life in Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s latest comedic masterpiece. “The Lego Movie” is the best animated film of 2014, and one of the best animated films released in a very, very long time. On paper, the idea of a moved based on Legos sounds terrible, but Lord and Miller’s inventiveness creates a fresh and truly hilarious story that celebrates creativity. In the world of Lego, anything is possible and everything is awesome.

“Boyhood,” directed by Richard Linklater

The passage of time has long been a thematic through line in the work of Richard Linklater. In “Boyhood,” that fascination is taken literally as we watching a group of characters mature over the course of 12 years. Filmed over the same time period, Linklater captures life as it happens in one family. We see the characters grow and change both physically and emotionally. It’s an amazing cinematic achievement that something like “Boyhood” exists.

“Selma,” directed by Ava DuVernay

Biopics can be a tricky thing, but Ava DuVernay skips the paint-by-numbers approach and focuses on one singular event in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. instead of telling us the story of his entire life. By following the march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965 DuVernay captures the raw emotion that was at the tipping point of the civil rights movement. David Oyelowo performance as King anchors the entire film. For a film that follows events that took place in the mid-1960s, DuVernay’s film is just as relevant today. “Selma” is required viewing.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” directed by Wes Anderson

It’s no wonder Wes Anderson has finally been nominated for an Oscar for his work directing “Grand Budapest Hotel.” It’s his crowning achievement, and that’s saying something for a guy whose entire filmography has been included in the prestigious Criterion Collection. His decades-spanning tale weaves together a quirky cast of characters in an alternate history version of Europe in between the two great wars. Anderson’s penchant for quirk over substance has gone by the wayside. If you were tired of his schtick before, give “Grand Budapest Hotel” a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

“Nightcrawler,” directed by Dan Gilroy

Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut is a throwback to the kinds of unnerving characters studies from the 1970s. It’s old fashioned in the best kind of way. Jake Gyllenhaal embodies the role of Lou Bloom, a bloodthirsty cameraman at the center of a seedy news network. Gilroy takes a page from “Network’s” Paddy Chayefsky and skews the news cycle of today’s 24 hour world. It’s a dark satire, but Gilroy balances a story that manages to be both hilarious and disgusting.