Be Involved in your Community

By Hope McKinney
Welcome back Vol State students, faculty, and staff. We here at your Settler newspaper hope you had a great summer. We at The Settler would like to be the first to welcome you to our campus whether you are a first time, or returning student.
The staff at The Settler have gathered before the first day of regular classes to ensure you are up to date on all the recent events and changes that have happened while some of you were taking summer classes, and some of you were vacationing and enjoying some time away.
Upon returning to campus you may notice a few things that have changed about the campus. The new humanities building is finished and ready for the 2016-2017 school year. The building not only includes The new home of The Settler, but includes a number of faculty offices and classrooms.
With a large amount of windows covering the entire building, you get a full view of Gallatin all the way to Station Camp. Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building is completely up to date with the newest technology including projectors, computers and furniture.
With the amazing privilege of using the new building, there comes responsibility. It is imperative that we take great care of the carpets, chairs and floors all over the building to ensure it is just as beautiful for the coming upcoming Vol State students as it is for this year’s students.
Keep a special look out around the newsroom to get a special look at the freshest news circulating.
Have a great school year and make sure you follow us online.We hope to become more interactive with you this semester on social media and on our online website.
I know college can be very stressful for many students and even staff, but a few words of wisdom I can provide for you are to always attend your classes, not attending can result in consequences, furthering your frustration with school itself, so just make sure you always attend and are active in the classroom. IF you find yourself with extra time outside of the classroom it is always wise to add some clubs and organizations to your college application, especially if you are planning on attending a four year university.
Some involvement with Student Government, NSLS, or The Settler can be the difference between a college acceptance letter and a rejection. Involvement in your community college or university will not only add to your own success as you further your education, it will enhance your people skills as you network yourself through the campus and meet new, and important people.
Networking makes a huge difference in your college experience as well. My family has always told me that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I have found that to be extremely true in my college experience and through out life in general since I started here at Vol State last year.
Any event that is being hosted at Vol State that you are able to attend, I encourage you to go and get your name out thee to people. There ate so many people, students,a nd staff, here at Vol State that can get you started in life, just by making a simple connection with them.
If you find yourself wanting to network through news media please contact me at The Settler is a great opportunity to do so!
Have a great returning, or first year here on campus and remember to commit to graduation. Each day you are getting closer to your diploma, don’t let anything stand in your way!
You can do it!

Editorial: Wishing the graduates good luck

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

As another semester closes at Volunteer State Community College, we will be saying farewell to the graduating class of 2016.

Many of us find ourselves on the verge of a new challenge, whether it is going into the workforce or beginning at a university.

Some will remain here on campus for another semester, at least, while their friends begin a new journey. It is important to remember the people you have met and grown with on this campus.

We would like to thank all of the instructors who have worked hard to help us in our education. Those who have inspired students or even pushed them to do great things deserve our gratitude.

It is also important to remember the others who have helped your during this school year. Those such as the cafeteria staff or the bookstore staff who help us when we need help.

The library staff has helped students immensely over the course of this year, whether it was with studying, research or even creating an environment for both.

I could go on about the many people who work hard for the students of this campus, from Student Life and Diversity Initiatives to Student Services and Advising. The campus has a community that has worked to help its students throughout the year.

The people on this campus deserve to be remembered as you travel on in life, from friends to staff and faculty.

So, to those of you who are moving on after this spring semester, I wish the best of luck to you all.

All of us will continue to work hard and achieve our dreams and hopes for something better, be it a college diploma, our dream job or stability.

Editorial: How distractions affect your life

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone has faced a distraction, most likely several distractions, throughout his or her life. Whether it is as simple as a pleasant looking object or a troubling thought in the back of your mind, distractions are everywhere.

They can make college difficult as well.

Distractions cost us our ability to put 100 percent into everything we work on. When writing papers, we have a lingering want to check social media or watch YouTube videos of cats. When we try to study, the subtle “buzz!” of our cell phones is enough to ruin our focus.

Distractions are literally everywhere, often finding a way to pry us from our focus and ruin our ability to perform the task at hand.

Even now, I am struggling to write this editorial because of my buzzing phone and the sounds of television from the next room.

This leads us to wonder how we can possibly avoid a foe as formidable as the dreaded distraction. Something that seems so innocent at first, but has the destructive power to ruin our thought process entirely.

The key to fighting distractions is as simple as it is complicated. You fight a distraction by refusing to be distracted.

When you are writing that paper, remind yourself that the rest of the internet will be there later, but that deadline will hit fast. If you are studying for a huge test, remember that you can (and should) silence your phone so that it is not tempting you.

If you lack self-restraint, as I sometimes do, have a space away from your worst distractions. Leave the phone in another room, download an app to lock your computer down—save for that word document—and remind yourself to focus on the task at hand.

Sometimes our own minds work against us. We find ourselves stuck on some troubling or exciting thought in the back of our minds that keep us from giving full attention to our work.

We naturally wander from the tasks we need to finish, especially when we are bored or uninterested. However, once you focus and finish what you are doing, you will find that your stress is significantly lessened.

Do whatever works for you, whether it is simply ignoring your phone, finding a quiet place to work or even pushing yourself through to get finished.

Once you are able to finish your homework, projects, papers, and other assignments without the constant hassle of going between one thing and another, you will find that not only will your grades improve, but so will your overall attitude.

The next time you need to finish something, put the phone down and ignore social media because your future is a lot more important that texting or Twitter.

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.

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.

Editorial: Taking responsibility for your actions

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

We all have a tendency to lay blame elsewhere when something goes wrong, but we happily take credit when something is right.  Whether that something is a class, assignment or relationship, when something goes wrong put the blame somewhere else.  

Everyone does it, and we often find ourselves giving reminders that maybe we are blaming the wrong person or thing.

As adults, we have to take responsibility for our own actions and contributions to what happens in our lives.  Whether you understand that you are partially to blame or receive credit, you know that you did something to affect that situation.

If you fail a class after a semester of procrastination, laziness or anything non-academic, then the blame is yours.  The educator cannot be entirely to blame, and sometimes you are not either.  For example, you can fail because of medical issues or personal issues that are repeatedly inhibiting your own ability to learn.  

Even with a legitimate reason, however, there is still blame that can fall to you.  Seldom is a situation so black and white that the blame falls solely on a single individual.  

We all have to make choices, and those choices can inevitably “make or break” us.  When a friendship ends, we want to blame the other party because we feel better by thinking that we are innocent in its downfall.

That just tends not to be true.  Both parties have an effect on a friendship, and typically when things end there is a reason on both sides.  Maybe you were not a good listener, or they were terrible with secrets.  Both people have their own reasons, and it tends to blame the other person.

As adults we have to learn that, as Spiderman puts it, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”  We have the ability to make decisions that affect not only ourselves, but also others, and that needs to be considered.  

So the responsibility falls on our shoulders, not to lay blame for our actions or the actions of others but to find a way to repair or cope with our decisions.  When you make a mistake, own it, and fix it if you can.

Mistakes and decisions are not reversible, and often take a long time to repair when they go considerably bad.  Life is not a video game, and you cannot undo, repeat or start over without saving when you mess up.  

We all want that ability, but all we have is the choices we make.  Those choices today can affect the rest of your life, so choose wisely.

Making sure to do your own thing

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

We have all been in a situation that leaves us questioning what to do.  On one side, we have people telling us what we should do, and on the other is our own thoughts and experiences arguing to do something else.  

One of these situations that many of us are facing right now is what we will do with the rest of our lives, or what we will major in.  According to, 80% of students will change their majors at least once, and on average three times, before graduating.

It affects you and your future more than anything else. I could not count the number of times that someone has said, “I want to major in this so I can be this, but my parents/friends/family think it is stupid.”

When our entire lives centered on listening to these people as our elders, we can forget that we are adults and these decisions are ours to make.  In a community college setting like at Volunteer State, many of the students still live with parents and just as many still do not know what they want to major in.

This can make college exceedingly difficult when the people you respect disagree with what you wish to do.  It can cause additional stress, which no student needs, as you are not able to explore the field you want to be in.

That decision is ultimately yours and no one else’s.  If you find a major and a career path that you love, then do not let someone else steer you away from it because they do not believe in it.  

The phrase “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” has substance to it for good reason.  Certainly, you may not be able to do your favorite thing in life, but you can still find something you love.  

You can look into your interests, take career quizzes or tests, and look at what you are good at.  There is an entire array of career possibilities that you can look into, from photographing kittens to being paid for traveling.  

I urge my peers to really think about the future that they want, and make their decisions based on that.  You will be discouraged, ridiculed, and judged no matter what you do in life, so do what makes you feel fulfilled at the end of the day.  You cannot aim to please everyone, and sometimes not even yourself, but you can certainly live life the way that you want to because it is yours to live.


Avoiding offense in modern society

By: Mackenzie Border, Layout Manager

In today’s society, it is not uncommon to see a blog post or a news story about an offensive word or piece of imagery.

Usually, the word or image is targeting a specific race or sex, but sometimes the subtext is what is offensive to people.

Whenever this happens, there are usually two main sides to this kind of issue.

One side will look at the word or image and use the history of its use to determine if it is okay or not.

The other side will look at the word or image and only see it at face value to determine if it is offensive or not.

Whether or not the two sides agree on if the word or image is offensive or not is not the big question that a lot of people ask.

The real question is which side is right and which side is wrong in their judgment of the word or image.

To figure out the answer to this question, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each side of the argument.

For the side that looks at the history of the word or image, there is the advantage of knowing the possible reasons that the word or image in question would be considered offensive.

Over the course of history, there have been multiple cases of words and images that have been used in a derogatory way toward specific ethnicities around the world.

These have ranged from the use of the N-word toward African Americans to the swastika, a symbol that was originally sacred to multiple world religions but has now become a symbol of racial purity due to its incorporation into Nazi propaganda in the 1930s.

As the social attitudes toward the use of such words and images have changed with time, it has become an offense to use such things at all without the purpose of historical documentation or academic research.

People have seen a downside to this way of thinking due to the idea that the people who take this side, especially in the event of a derogatory word or image targeted at a specific sex, are considered to be overreacting to the situation and overanalyzing something that others did not find bothersome at all.

For those who take the word or image at face value to determine the possible offenses it could pose, they would only observe how the item was being used instead of looking at the potential symbolism.

The observers would look at the word or image and observe the message that is being sent through the piece of work that uses the word or image, and they would determine the offensiveness from the message rather than the word or image.

This can cause some problems for others, however, as someone could still associate the word or image with an event that took place in their personal past and become uncomfortable because of the personal connection.

Whichever way people decide to look at the topic, it is important to understand the effects that certain words or images might cause, either from personal experiences or social views, and to consider these possibilities when deciding whether or not to use them for whatever the word or image is needed for.

Living the full college experience

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief


With the prices of rent, food, and utilities as high as they are in some places, students are reportedly choosing to stay at home with their parents during and after college.  Volunteer State Community College has a variety of students with different approaches to how they live off campus.

If you are considering moving away from your parents, it may be smart to look into the pros and cons first.  The website Simple Dollar ( provides an excellent list on deciding if you would benefit more from moving out or staying.

One very obvious reason to stay with your parents is money.  College is expensive, and so are apartments and houses.  Even the dorms at universities are not the cheapest.

If you live within a reasonable distance from campus, and you get along well with your family, it may benefit you to stay at home.  You would be able to save up some money for the future, and hold off on some of those student loans if you’re really lucky.

It also depends on how you schedule your classes.  Some students choose to only take classes two days a week to save on gas and avoid driving every day.  If you live in close proximity to campus, your schedule may not need to be so specific.

If you are set on moving out, no matter what your reasons, it is also possible to set something up with your parents to help you pay for your new place.   This could be as simple as your parents paying for your cell phone bill.

You may also have to give up some of the luxuries you are comfortable with, such as cable television.  Your money will have to go to bills, rent, food, and gas before anything else.  

Moving out also has its upside.  You get to experience the freedom of living alone.  You also get to find out why your parents are constantly exhausted.  It is a great way to grow up, make your own doctor appointments, and gain your independence.

Moving out also requires some self-restraint.  You cannot always buy that video game you want as soon as it comes out, or maybe you cannot afford going to your favorite restaurant whenever you want to.

It gives you the chance to realize all of your own annoying habits as well.  If you are a slob, then your mom’s nagging might seem a little more reasonable after a while.  If you think that eating an entire cake in one sitting is genius, you will find out why your parents said not to.  

Living on your own can be an adventure, but it is one that you have to be prepared for.  If you are considering moving out, look online for tips on how to prepare for it.  You could change your mind entirely or be as prepared as possible when the time comes.  

After all, college is about making your own decisions and starting your life.  Sometimes the freedom of living on your own is worth it and sometimes it is not.  You just have to find out for yourself.


What it means to be a role model

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief


The term “role model” is frequently used in the media lately.  Between the superhero movies, sport players, rock stars, and astounding doctors on television, the options are far from few for children.

That being said, you do not have to be a superhero, rock star or anything huge to be a good role model.  You only need to be a positive influence for others.

Someone can look up to you for small things that you do not even realize you do.  For example, someone who is responsible could be a role model for someone who has trouble maintaining his or her own responsibilities.  

A role model, to a large degree, is acting like the change you want to see in the world.  It is making a difference, big or small, to push the world into a better place.

If you wish the world were a kinder place, spread kindness through the small acts mentioned above.  This could be as simple as a smile or asking how someone is.  It does not take too much to brighten another person’s day.

If you wish people talked about issues that our relevant to our time, broach the subjects with others.  This can help you understand other viewpoints for the topic and broaden your own views on the subject.

Being a role model means embracing what makes you human, including your faults. Let these things strengthen you, let friends know you are dealing with these weaknesses, but they are not to your detriment.   Show others that you are able to accept your own mistakes.  A role model should be able to take all problems in stride, as a lesson rather than a failure.

Being a role model is not about being perfect. It is about not letting your perceived shortcomings get the better of your attitude and the image you put forth to people.

It is important to remember that someone you perceive to be your role model is human, too, that they have probably cried themselves to sleep some nights the same way you have.

No human being is perfect. No human being can be all that you need him or her to be – it’s not a fair burden to put on someone else.

However, a human being can be kind, compassionate and brave in his or her own ways.  That is enough to make someone a role model to many.