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.

 

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.

 

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

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.

 

St. Patrick’s Day has a rich tradition in the US

 

By Katie Doll

St. Patrick’s Day is a global celebration of Irish culture on March 17. Parades and celebrations for this holiday are popular in American culture, but the history and traditions are important to note.

The Irish holiday originated as a Roman Catholic feast day to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, Patrick. St. Patrick died March 17, 461, and was credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

While originally an Irish holiday, Irish immigrants moved to the United States and brought their traditions with them. Irish soldiers in the Revolutionary War held the first of the now famous St. Patrick’s Day parades.

Mike Cronin, a Dublin-based historian and Boston College professor, explained the holiday has changed over time to appeal to American celebrators.

“The tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day grew across the U.S. and became a day that was also celebrated by people with no Irish heritage,” wrote Cronin, in his article in Time magazine.

The historian also explained the modern marketing strategies behind the holiday.

“By the 20th century, it was so ubiquitous that St. Patrick’s Day became a marketing bonanza,” wrote Cronin. “Greeting cards filled drugstores, imported Irish shamrocks (indeed anything green) showed up on T-shirts, and the food and drink that became associated with the day became bar promotions.”

Many original traditions of St. Patrick’s Day have stuck around, but few are purely American inventions, according to History.com.

The shamrock was a sacred plant that symbolized the rebirth of spring in ancient Ireland. Soon it became a symbol for Irish pride after the English banned the Irish language and Catholicism.

A traditional dish for Irish Americans to eat on St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef and cabbage. Cabbage has been an Irish food for a long time, but corned beef was an American alternative for Irish bacon that was too expensive for Irish immigrants.

One of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in America is in Savannah, Georgia. According to the official website of Savannah, Georgia, the parade will start at 10:15 a.m., Saturday, March 17, 2018. The parade will feature up to 15,000 people and 350 marching units.

 

New Movies at Thigpen Library

 

By Katie Doll

The Thigpen Library has a new selection of movies available to borrow. Here are reviews of five new movies you may enjoy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The group of misfits known as the Guardians of the Galaxy are back after their 2014 origin movie. Peter Quill (Star-Lord) learns about his parentage in this epic Marvel movie. Audiences will be laughing at the spot-on comedic comebacks. Although not as fresh as the previous film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 definitely has the charm and thrill to make a great sequel.

Wonder Woman (2017)

This origin story of the classic DC superhero gives an empowering and intense two hours and thirty minutes experience for audiences to return to any day. While on her sheltered Amazonian island, Diana Prince comes across an American pilot who informs her about the war to end all wars. Diana chooses to fight while adjusting to the outside world. Although the DC cinematic universe had a rough patch with their previous movies, Wonder Woman comes out as an entertaining and action-packed story.

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

The eighth installment of the action-packed serious, The Fate of the Furious follows Dominic and his wife as Dominic is forced to betray his friends after meeting a woman named Cipher. The rest must unite to stop Cipher and bring their friend home. This film is the first after Paul Walker’s death, and while the absence shows, the film still brings the action and cast chemistry.

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Feeling left out at home, nine-year old Max turns to the land of the Wild Things where he promises to be their leader and create a kingdom for the community. Imaginative and majestic, Where the Wild Things Are is a film for anyone who dreams of escaping the real world. This film will make your inner child come out and run wild.

Selena (1997)

Jennifer Lopez portrays the late musician, Selena Quintanilla, in this biographical drama. The film follows her life growing up in a musical Mexican-American family and finding love with her guitarist. This film is a warm and moving tribute to the beloved performer.

Photos via imdb.com

Spring break fun that won’t break the bank

 

By Tayla Courage

Are you looking to have an eventful, yet inexpensive spring break? Here’s a list of five staycation options that won’t break the bank.

Nashville Public Library Community Yoga (March 3 & 10)

If you are looking to relax and destress, the Nashville Public Library offers free Saturday morning yoga sessions as a part of their “Be Well at the NPL” campaign. Yoga will take place in Hadley Park from 10:15 – 11:15 a.m. According to the Nashville Public Library’s website, people of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate in this beginner-friendly activity. The sessions will feature both breathing and stretching exercises, and attendees may choose to borrow a provided mat or bring their own.

The First Saturday Art Crawl (March 3)

If you are more interested in the downtown artistic scene, the city of Nashville hosts a free art crawl on the first Saturday of each month. Over twenty galleries participate in this monthly event, many of which offer free wine and refreshments, according to the Nashville Downtown Partnership’s website. Art crawlers will have the opportunity to view the works and exhibits of both local and world-renowned artists. Parking options for this event can be found here.

The Frist Center

If you happened to miss the art crawl, Nashville’s Frist Center offers free admission to college students with a valid student ID on Thursday and Friday nights from 5 – 9 p.m., excluding Frist Fridays. As of now there are three exhibitions available for viewing, but the Frist is constantly rotating its collections.

The Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame benefits locals by offering free admission for youths aged 18-or-under from Davidson, Cheatham, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson Counties as a part of its Community Counts program. According to the website, an adult Nashville Public Library cardholder and a plus-one from Davidson County can receive free admission by picking up a Community Counts Passport from any of the NPL locations. Proof of residency is required. The Hall of Fame is open every day from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Tennessee State Museum

If you’re interested in learning more about Tennessee’s history, the Tennessee State Museum offers free admission to the public Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The museum’s permanent exhibitions are free year-round, but the changing exhibitions may be charged, according to tnmuseum.org. Visitors may also explore the Military Museum or take a guided tour of the State Capitol free of charge. Hours may vary.

English professor offers students chance to relax through breathing

 

By Katie Doll

College can be stressful, but Betty Mandeville, professor of English at Volunteer State Community College, has a few techniques to help students take the time to relax and breathe.

Mandeville hosts breathing exercises from 2:15-2:45 p.m. every Monday upstairs in Thigpen Library.

Abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes a day reduces anxiety and stress, according to the American Institute of Stress. By breathing deeply, the parasympathetic nervous system of the body is stimulated, bringing about a state of calmness.

At the beginning of every class, Mandeville takes the time to make sure students are fully focused. Students are encouraged to close their eyes as they are walked through a series of slow deep breathing exercises to help stressful thoughts leave their minds.

Ten years ago, after she resigned from teaching, Mandeville started her own form of exercises to help calm her down while home with her son. Five years later, she returned to teaching and thought the exercises would be helpful for students.

“My hope would be that they then use it anytime when they’re about to study for a test or have a complicated conversation or do something that makes them feel anxious,” said Mandeville.

Some of her techniques are what she would want to hear, in hopes that students would want to hear the same, she said.

One of her techniques involves simple phrases or analogies, such as “thinking of your breath as an anchor.”

Mandeville went through a certification program at Duke University. She uses some of her training for in-class exercises.

“Their scale is a bigger scale where it’s class that you take,” said Mandeville. “I offer some longer classes, but consistently, I always do whatever we can do in class to get settled in, so to speak.”

Students like Elise Piliponis, a middle college student in Mandeville’s class, have often found these routines helpful in dealing with their everyday lives.

“I don’t get a lot of sleep, so it’s like really nice to get my brain focused,” said Piliponis. “Because I have stuff going on everyday after school.”

MAN ON THE QUAD 2/20/18

 

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 are some hoops you’ve had to jump through as a working student?

Oh goodness, a lot. Time management, scheduling. Scheduling classes around a work schedule is terrible. I can only come up here once a week so all my classes are crammed in from early morning to late at night. Finding time to do homework. Overall exhaustion. – J

Just getting my homework done and also having free time and a social life and things like that. – N

Driving everywhere. I’m always driving I feel like. – L

I have to manage my time really well because I pretty much work all on the weekend and that’s most people’s time to make sure that they’re getting all their homework done because most things end up being due Sunday nights. Well, I’m working Sunday nights and when most students can put it off till Sunday morning, I have to do it Wednesday night or Saturday morning or something. I can’t put things off. I have to stay on top of things because if I don’t, everything falls apart. – J

Having to schedule work around school instead of the other way around. I had to find a job where I could only work at night or on the weekends. – F

Trying to balance your income to pay for food and gas and tuition. – T

Trying to leave here and get to work on time. – M

I have to manage my homework schedule around when I get off and my study schedule so that can get pretty hectic. – A

I guess where I’m having to put my education on hold, or miss out opportunities to do better in my education because I have to work. –  T

I’m very blessed to have the opportunities that I have, but sleep is not something I experience very often. So I guess that’s the hoops I have to jump through. It’s just like prioritizing my opportunities or prioritizing like my health. – S

I have to get up super early for an eight o’clock class just so I can have my afternoon free. –K

I had to quit my job because of school. -S

Man on the Quad 2/13/18

 

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. This week we asked students about some of the weirder things they’ve seen on campus. Here are their responses. You can send your question ideas for this segment to aperham1@volstate.edu.

You told us your craziest Valentine’s Day stories:

It was Valentine’s Day, and I had been asked to have dinner with a guy I had just recently begun seeing. We had only been around each other a handful of times and never alone. He took me to Logan’s Roadhouse to eat because all the restaurants were packed, and we were poor 20-year-olds. I got up to go to the restroom, and I slipped on the peanut shells and bust the floor wide open. Instead of immediately getting up like most humans, I lay there for a good five minutes laughing. I realized he was not laughing. Needless to say, that was our last date. – L

When I was in 5th grade, there was a boy in my neighborhood who had a huge crush on me. On Valentines Day, he brought a box of chocolates and flowers to my house when I was in the shower. My older sister thought it would be funny to tell him I was pooping. My mom was laughing too hard to take up for me, and he waited at my front door until I was done in the shower. I was so embarrassed I said thanks and shut the door. – P

One time I had a boyfriend, and he literally got me a toy car for Valentine’s Day. No chocolates, nothing else, just a toy car. And his reasoning was because my car was a piece of crap, and he wanted to get me a new one. We’re not together anymore. – C

I got like this singing valentine one year, and it was from my boyfriend freshman year. And it was supposed to be cute, but it was also his way of breaking up with me, tied to one of the little roses I got. – J

So I’ve actually never had a valentine, but last year my girlfriend broke up with me a couple of days before Valentine’s Day. I was so excited to have my first valentine then she was like bye – N

In first grade, my parents and grandmother set me up with this other little girl because they knew their parents, and I remember being back behind where we’d put bags up and what not. Because it’s in first grade, so everything’s just kind of awkward, and I handed it [the valentine] over because I didn’t want anyone else to see because the other kids would make fun of me “eww you got cooties” – C

My first Valentines with my boyfriend was on campus. He tried to deliver them to me in one of my classes. I was so embarrassed I pretended like I didn’t know who he was. -R

My first Valentines with my boyfriend, he didn’t get me anything. He gave me something a few days later, and I asked him why. He said, “Everything was on sale, and I could buy you the big stuffed bear.” -H