Melva Black: Educator, encourager, radio DJ

 

Black, Melva

Photo via volstate.edu

By Riley Holcraft

Dr. Melva Black, chair of the communications department at Volunteer State Community College, is a woman of many talents, passions and experiences.

Her responsibilities at Vol State include supporting goals, interests and ideas of the department; hearing from students; and keeping up with the schedule.

She has worked for Vol State for six years but has consistently served others throughout her life.

Her parents, both educators, were always committed to community service, and she has followed their selfless example. Her giving spirit plays a large role in her life as she volunteers for multiple organizations.

Black volunteers at the First Response Center, a program responsive to the community’s HIV/AIDS needs. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated that participates in a number of service projects. She is the immediate past chair of the United Way Ryan White Program where she holds a roll in advising and overseeing grants. She organizes international education and health projects for her church. She is the president of the Faculty Breakfast Club, a collaborative club consisting of four historically black colleges and universities in Nashville.

Black is also the owner of a dog named Anastasia LaFontaine. Students can ask to see the pup’s picture if they ever stop by Black’s office.

While one would think all of these responsibilities would create a full-enough plate, Black is also a jazz radio DJ for WFSK at Fisk University. She has been volunteering at this radio station for 13 years. She also studied classical piano for eight years. However, music is not Black’s only area of expertise.

She began college at Dillard University in New Orleans and was recruited by LSU to study in East Berlin at Humboldt University, becoming the second African-American to study at the institution. She then attended the University of Illinois to study Germanic languages and literature where she returned to Germany to finish her master’s program in the city of Regensburg.

She came back to her hometown of Nashville after 13 years to complete a master’s degree in corporate communication at Austin Peay State University.

After this, she worked in nonprofits, travelling to South America and Haiti to focus on health and education.

In 2013, Black earned her doctorate in education from Lipscomb University.

Her undying passion for service combined with her brilliant mind makes Dr. Melva Black a valuable asset to the Vol State community. Her determination has taken her all over the world, but now Vol State is lucky to have her on staff.

She gave Len Assante, Vol State communication faculty member, all the credit for “taking a chance” on her and went on to explain that her job at Vol State has been one of the most inspiring and enriching professional experiences.

“I was interested in navigating out of the nonprofit world and into higher education. I really thought the work that I had done in the nonprofits provided a space for me to give through an educational landscape. Hopefully, one day you will have this experience in your professional career where you will feel like you were born for this. That’s how I feel: like I was born for this,”

said Black.

 

The Age of Anti-Enlightenment? (Part 1 of 3)

 

By Blake Bouza

Editor-in-Chief

In 2017, the second-most hated phrase in America was “fake news” according to a survey conducted by The Marist Poll. It came second only to “whatever.”

We have Pope Francis to thank for the blurb on the front page.

“I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into – no offense intended – the sickness of coprophilia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true,” he said. “A lot of damage can be done.”

Coprophilia is the sexual fixation on fecal matter, and given the state of news information and the way we consume it today, I don’t think we can fault the leader of the Catholic church for using such terminology.

The state of disinformation our world finds itself in, I think, can be attributed quite easily to the Internet and our newfound interconnectivity, and perhaps the general inclination to believe things we hear the first time.

Entire communities exist online though that can strengthen and support ideas that are objectively and universally accepted as wrong or unproven.

Let us examine perhaps the 21st century’s most glaring example, which also happens to have been the 5th century’s hot-button issue: the “supposed” roundness of the earth.

If this is the first time you are hearing of this issue, I would like to express my deepest condolences for opening your eyes to the strangest, most absurd controversy you will hear this year.

A rapidly growing number of people are taking hold of the idea that the Earth we are living on is, in fact, flat, as our enlightened ancestors of hundreds of years ago believed.

As a reminder, these ancestors’ greatest hits include: feeding people to lions for entertainment, burning supposed witches at stake, and, thanks to Roman propaganda, believing their emperor was also a literal god! Good times, right?

The way that the current flat earth movement claims that we are on a flat earth with none of the 50 space agencies, both privately and publicly funded, world governments, and International Space Station knowing about it is because we are being lied to by these entities.

The reason for such a conspiracy? No one knows.

I sought help with this conundrum in the form of three Vol State professors: Charles Hicks, associate professor of biology; Dr. Clark Hutton, chair of philosophy; and Dr. Philip Clifford.

I asked these gentlemen how people could be deluded into believing something like the flat earth hypothesis.

“Set out to prove something, and you’ll find a way. Set out to disprove something, and you may fail,” Clifford said.

If it can’t be disproven, Clifford put forth, it is a tautology, an idea that supports itself.

Everyone had this one guy that said the sky was falling. I called this person the village idiot.

“Now they have their own village,” Hutton said.

“They’re no longer isolated,” Hicks said, “they have a platform.”

“Abe Lincoln once said, if you call a tail a leg, how many legs does the dog have?” Clifford said. “Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it one.”

In the next couple weeks we’ll get more into the why and how people believe things and what makes people disregard information with the help of the gracious professors above.

Email me! What do you think of our state of information?

Pioneers hope to finish strong in last half of season

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 8.51.59 PMBy Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has played 22 games and is halfway through the season, as of Sunday, March 18.

The Pioneers split a series to visiting non-conference team the Joliet Junior College Wolves, March 13.

The first game against Joliet had a score of 8-5, and Bill Hamilton, first baseman, hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to score the last four runs in. Hamilton now has two home runs on the season.

Lawson Factor, pitcher, made his starting debut in this first game at home against Joliet.

“No pun intended, but Lawson can be a factor for us when we need him,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

Lawson finished the game with four innings pitched and had three strikeouts.

“We were able to scrap together a win in game one with some heroics. A six-run inning in the seventh doesn’t happen often,” said Jason Barrett, assistant coach, about the late first game rally against Joliet.

The Pioneers’ momentum from that play did not transition into the next game.

“The hitting and pitching was not fully there. This was the first time this season that a team has worked harder than us,” said Hunt.

Hunt continued speaking about being the loss to Joliet, 7-2.

“The split is fine, but the effort and drive wasn’t there. We did not deserve to win the first game but we did.”

The Pioneers will go on to a conference game against Walters State.

Individually, one player has stuck out to Barrett, Brent Richey, sophomore outfielder.

“Good to see Brent Richey kind of snap out of an early season swoon,” said Barrett.

“I don’t think our guys will have any trouble getting up for the game with the ranking they have. I am sure we’ll be ready to play focused,” said Barrett, referring to the game versus Walters State. “Early wins and loses don’t matter much. It’s all about how we develop over the season.”Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 8.51.53 PM

Hunt is clear on what he expects of his team when they go head-to-head with Walters State.

“Be ready to play as hard as you can. Don’t worry about the scoreboard,” said Hunt.  

The Pioneers are playing well at home with a record of 9-2 so far going into the conference games versus Walters State.

Hunt commented on facing Walters State, the top-ranked team in TCCAA standings.

“If we play afraid, we’ll get whats headed to us,” he said.

Cumberland JV is the next team the Pioneers will play after Walters State on Wednesday, March 21, at 3 p.m. The home games will be live streamed on @VSCCPioneersBSB, the team’s Twitter page.

Photos by Emanuel DeJesus

Vol State to host Story Slam

 

By Story slam poster 2018Katie Doll

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting its first Story Slam March 20, from 11:10 a.m. – 12:10 p.m., in the Nichols Dining Room in the Wood Campus Center.

The event will be hosted by Jon Goode, according to the Vol State website.

Story Slam is a competition in which performers can tell two to four minute stories about topics that can range from hilarious to heartbreaking. There will be scheduled performers and an opportunity to perform at an open mic. First and second prize winners will win cash prizes, and snacks will be served.

All students, faculty and staff are invited to participate.

Sheri Waltz and Shellie Michael, professors in the communication department, worked together to make the Story Slam project a reality. They wrote a proposal for a Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) grant, and the project was selected for funding. Michael stated the project gave students an opportunity in two speech classes to learn storytelling and increase student engagement.

“In addition to developing a storytelling curriculum in SPCH 1010 and SPCH 103, the project aims to build a culture of storytelling through the Story Slam event,” said Michael.

After this event, the next Story Slams are planned to be held annually every fall semester, as the Hal Ramer Oratorical Contest for public speakers is held each spring.

The event will be recorded and posted on eLearn for students who could not make the event. Online students can also participate, as videotaped stories will be shown.

Michael hopes for students to be entertained and connect over universal experiences.

“Through stories, students can share similarities while celebrating diversity,” said Michael.

Students participating should focus on one specific event with a lesson that was learned from their experience.

Book review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

 

By Tayla Courage

Becky Albertalli’s young adult novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” is a contemporary, gay love story that examines the perils of coming out and emphasizes the importance of being authentic to oneself.

This book follows 16-year-old Simon Spier, a mostly-closeted Atlanta teen who would rather save the drama for his part as “Fagin’s boy” in his school’s production of “Oliver.”

In fear of not fitting the mold his friends and family have created for him, Simon chooses to keep his sexuality to himself; that is, until he comes across a poem on his high school’s gossip Tumblr blog revealing that he is not, in fact, the school’s resident gay kid.
Simon, or Jacques as he is better known online, messages the poet parading under the username “Blue,” and the pair sparks an anonymous email-based relationship, which quickly goes awry when the emails fall into untrustworthy hands.

To keep his secret safe, Simon is blackmailed into playing the role of wingman for fellow theater kid, Martin, who inevitably outs Simon to the entire school.

Following one audaciously mean-spirited Tumblr post, Simon goes from coasting through junior year as a well-liked Harry Potter nerd to being the absolute center of attention.

While he is generally well-accepted by his peers which is surprising considering the fact that he lives in Bible Belt, U.S.A. people treat him as though he’s made this life-altering proclamation.

In actuality, Simon is the same person he’s always been, but this new-found attention makes him question why he, of all people, is constantly forced to “reintroduce himself to the universe.”

While there could have been a stronger dynamic between the people Simon calls his best friends, and the identity of his secret lover is blatantly obvious in retrospect, this book gives a realistic depiction of adolescent woes.

The book’s film adaptation “Love, Simon,” starring “Kings of Summer” actor Nick Robinson was released to theaters March 16.

 

Vol State needs mental health counselors

 

By Blake Bouza

Editor-in-Chief

The last two weeks we discussed part of the gun problem our country is faced with: the guns themselves. I would like to devote a final week to this problem before moving on. I feel we do that a little too easily in the state of desensitization we find ourselves in with shootings such as Parkland.

This week, let’s talk about the mental health problem our country faces.

The Parkland shooter suffered from mental health.

“There is a clear relationship between mental illness and mass public shootings,” according to the LA Times.

But this does not, of course, mean everyone suffering from a mental illness are potential mass shooters, I want to make it clear that we all understand that point going forward.

The article continued, “At the broadest level, peer-reviewed research has shown that individuals with major mental disorders (those that substantially interfere with life activities) are more likely to commit violent acts, especially if they abuse drugs. When we focus more narrowly on mass public shootings — an extreme and, fortunately, rare form of violence — we see a relatively high rate of mental illness.”

The book “Mass Murder in the United States: A History” makes the observation that at least 59 percent of the 185 public mass shootings that took place in the United States from 1900 – 2017.

These were carried out by people who had either been diagnosed with a mental disorder or demonstrated signs of serious mental illness prior to the attack.

MotherJones.com found a similarly high rate of potential mental health problems among perpetrators of mass shootings, 61 percent, when the magazine examined 62 cases in 2012, according to the LA times.

As has come to light since the Parkland shooting, we now know the shooter had been treated for mental illness in the past.

I have seen a case made that teachers should be allowed to bring firearms into the classroom. Teachers, though, are just as human as the rest of us and just as susceptible to dealing with mental illness.

As we saw when a teacher in Dalton, Georgia fired a handgun out a window after he barricaded himself in his classroom.

Though it is not explicitly stated the Dalton teacher had a history of mental illness, and the police state he claims to have had no intention of harming anyone, it seems clear the teacher was under some strain to have acted out in such a way.

So what is our solution? Can we solve this problem of isolation, depression and fear with policy?

I do not think I’m saying anything radical when I put forth this idea: we should solve it with conversation. At the ground level. At schools – which also, I think, will help the issue of adult mass shooters.

By that I mean, with school counselors. People who will take the time and make themselves available to students who perhaps feel isolated in their struggles. Counselor(s) to get to know students and be able to watch out for warning signs.

This counselor should not only be limited to students; faculty could very much benefit from a person like this as well.

A counselor would be invaluable here on our campus in the aftermath of a shooting like Parkland, when people feel vulnerable, perhaps a little fearful of going to campus, when 17 very fragile lives were so swiftly taken in a matter of minutes. Tell me what you think: bbouza@volstate.edu.

Vol State sophomore has musical career outside school

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 10.32.16 PM

By Lauren Whitaker

Dillon Kruppa, a sophomore at Volunteer State Community College, is a multifaceted person whose identity exceeds the realms of a normal college student.

Kruppa’s long, blonde hair cascaded past his shoulders in waves as he spoke about his life outside Vol State.

“I write music. I work a photo booth gig. I drink coffee. I read books sometimes, and I talk to chicks,” Kruppa said.

Kruppa’s vibrant clothing, down to his four-leaf-clover belt buckle, and silent confidence emphasizes the creative character he is.

“I have been playing music since 2007. I have done a number of gigs at night around here. I have performed at Café Coco, Family Wash, I have played some stuff out in Chattanooga and plenty of stuff at Vol State like the Christmas concerts and the spring concerts,” Kruppa said.

Kruppa’s talents go beyond simply strumming a guitar or mastering the keys on a piano. His musical skills are dexterous.

“Mainly, I play guitar, piano and voice. Beyond that, I play alto, tenor, bari sax, clarinet, trumpet, French horn, ukulele and whatever I can get my hands on,” said Kruppa.

Kruppa is drawn indie folk music. He is a solo artist, and he markets his music by means of social media.

“My stuff is on Instagram under Dillon Kruppa. There is a video out on YouTube of a live session done out on top of a parking garage in downtown Nashville,” said Kruppa. “There’s a beautiful cotton candy sky backdrop in the video.”

Kruppa spent a period of his life driving a pedicab in downtown Nashville. His stories driving pedicab are adventurous.

“I was chased by a homeless man, presumably on drugs, because a drunk passenger kept yelling obscenities at him. He bolted after us down dark streets, and I ended up kicking the intoxicated passenger out of the cab,” Kruppa said.

Kruppa drove pedicab from July to September. During this time, his biggest event was taking passengers from Justin Timberlake’s Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin.

“I made a bunch of money. Somebody even paid me in very important person tickets,” said Kruppa. “By the last day, I was like forget pedaling. I’m just going to enjoy the festival.”

Kruppa commutes to Vol State from south Nashville. His major is entertainment media production with a concentration in music business.

“In my major, we divide up into teams and try to balance out the concentration the best we can. Then, we select an artist. It could be anything from a painter to a musician. It’s usually a musician, so right now we are recording an extended play for the website,” said Kruppa. “We are recording a music video, developing a business plan, coordinating the social media stuff and pretty much the whole package.”

After all of this project is completed, the students involved, including Kruppa, will venture out into Nashville and present their project to record labels.

After Kruppa finishes at Vol State, he plans to optimally be recognized by the projects Vol State has allowed him to do and use them to get a job.

In the meantime, Kruppa plans to pursue his endeavors in music.

 

Man on the Quad 3/13/18 – Luckiest Thing To Happen To You

 

We here at The Settler have one goal: to let the student’s voice be heard. So we’re beginning a new segment called Man on the Quad to get students’ opinions, thoughts, and ideas. You can send your question ideas for this segment to aperham1@volstate.edu.

What is the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to you at Vol State?

There was a rainbow, and I found a four-leaf clover, and a leprechaun kicked me in the shin, and then I aced my exam. – A

Editor’s note: The Settler is unable to verify this information. However, we would be interested in your reports on any other sightings of the wee people.

My original song got used and might be on the album in jazz ensemble. – R

I found $5 in my lab on the floor once. – K

I finished last semester. – D

I met the love of my life three months in. – J

Going here. – A

I guess I got stopped and questioned by campus police for taking pictures around campus once. I guess that’s the unluckiest thing that happened to me at Vol State. – M

I guess like kindness like if you probably do something good for somebody then it’s probably gonna be good for you. If you’re nice to your teachers, they’re probably gonna be nice to you. – E

Vol State theater department to perform “California Suites”

 

By Riley Holcraft

The theater department at Volunteer State Community College will be performing “California Suites” by Neil Simon, March 16-17, at 7:30 p. m.; March 18, at 2:30 p. m.; and March 23-24, at 7:30 p. m., in Caudill Hall.

“California Suites” is a full-length play divided into four one-act segments. The production follows the separate stories of families from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and London. All of the action takes place in the same room, but characters change for each act. This comedy dives into a quick preview of the characters’ lives during their short time in California.  

The play is set in the 1970s, and Noah Geerholt, cast member, stated that the time period is one of his favorite aspects of the production.

“This is a period I don’t see a lot of onstage. Typically, I see settings in modern times, or in the much farther past,” said Geerholt.

Edmon Thomas, director, commented that he is most excited about the play because it has been in the back of his mind for years, and the time has finally come to perform it.

“If you haven’t seen a good live play, you have to see one,” stated Thomas, “It inspires you and allows you to escape for hours as you see it come alive right before you.”

All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to experience this live performance.

Most of the cast are performing arts majors or theatre veterans.

Cooper Atkins, who plays Marvin Michaels and Stu Franklyn, is well versed in the world of theatre.

“This is my second college production. I’ve done a lot of high school shows and a handful of professional and local shows, but this is the first time I’ve done a straight comedy, and it’s nice to be able to put myself in a new position as an actor,” stated Atkins.

He went on to explain that the cast is full of interesting and talented individuals. The chemistry of the pairings makes for a good laugh, and this production is something everyone can enjoy.

Librarian has worked at Vol State since the start

 

By Presley Green

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Picture by Presley Green

Marguerite Voorhies has worked in the library at Volunteer State Community College since the day it opened, July 1, 1971.

She started as a reference librarian, but has worked many different positions in the library from her favorite, catalog librarian, to her current position, library associate.

She has had a diverse career at Vol State. She worked under Virginia Thigpen, the lady that the current library is named after. She oversees the law library section, although she said books about law are not her favorite reading material.  

She spoke fondly of the coworkers and students she has worked with throughout the years.

“The people and students make me enjoy my job so much. Now, there is not much connection in the back, but I do try to smile at students who aren’t too busy,” she said, speaking of her workspace in the back of the library.

She has been an associate at Vol State through many changes and moves. She laughed while remembering the first library move from the administration building.

“Moving was an ordeal. We moved the books on book trucks with lots of volunteers. The whole campus was just mud. It was a rainy February,“ she said.

Voorhies shared one of her favorite books, “Black Stallion” by Walter Farley. When she was in fourth or fifth grade, she stayed up all night to finish the book, she said.

She recalled walking past the public library everyday on her walk home from school and stopping every few days when she ran out of reading material. Her summers as a child were spent reading.

Now, she does not read as much, but on her commute to her home in Colombia every weekend she listens to audiobooks.

Voorhies has rented a room from a former Vol State employee for 20 years. On the weekends, she goes to her home in Columbia where her grandnephews live. She drives home every Friday and back to Gallatin every Monday.