Break the silence

By: Riley Holcraft 

Suicide is no new phenomenon and the public has become virtually desensitized to its effects with a surge of TV shows, celebrity attempts and news reports.

Stories like this come and go but rarely do people stop to think about those affected. Volunteer State Community College partnered with The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network by hosting its first annual Break the Silence event dedicated to lives touched by suicide.

On Sept. 20, at the Humanities Plaza, a small group gathered to discuss suicide within the community. The ceremony opened with a song performed by Vol State Students, Kendahl Oakley, and Cole Harper.

Quilts with pictures of suicide victims in Tennessee and pinwheels with names of suicide victims connected to Vol State students were on display. Many of the pinwheels had repeating names.

Oliver Graves, Vol State Student and Spectrum club leader explained the meaning behind the repetition, “When someone commits suicide, not just one person is affected,” said Graves.

Graves had personal experience with a suicide attempt six months after coming out as gay.

“forty percent of LGBT youth have either attempted or contemplated suicide. It is not a joke,” said Graves.

Oftentimes, suicide is overlooked as “selfish” or “overrated.”

However, TSPN Volunteer, Teresa Culbreath explained, “No one is immune.”

The effects of suicide spread to a wide community of individuals, and suicide attempters often have no refuge.

Culbreath lost a brother and husband to suicide, so her personal experience has inspired her to bring awareness to others.

“Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has three main goals when it comes to dealing with suicide: intervention, prevention, and postvention,” said Culbreath.

The best way to implement these goals is by making others aware of available assistance and educating the public of warning signs.

“I have had personal, lasting effects from suicide after my sister attempted. If I could let the student body know one think about suicide, it would be: learn the signs,” said Vol State student, Crystal Hutchins.

Warning signs include: talking about death, withdrawal from social activities, behavior changes, giving away prized possessions, and drug abuse.

The most important thing to do when encountering these warning signs is to approach the affected person with compassion and notify someone of greater authority. It is important to never belittle the feelings of someone who feels hopeless.

Samantha Nadler, a devoted wife, and mother, also shared her personal experience with suicide. She had made several attempts throughout her lifetime and is now an advocate dedicated to helping those that struggle with suicide.

Nadler explained that along with knowing warning signs the most important aspect of suicide prevention is a community. “Community matters. Connections with other people matter,” she said.

Most suicide attempts are related to ending a lifelong pain, emotional or physical. A community typically serves as a buffer between the pain and the thoughts of death. Nadler explained how her community of suicide preventionists “ended up saving my life.”

The event closed with a reflection time. All attendees were offered a small container of bubbles that read “Break the Silence.” Each person thought of a person who is currently affected by or struggling with suicide and blew the bubbles in their honor.

September is Suicide Awareness Month. Students, you are urged to take notice of what is happening around you. Be aware, be compassionate.

In 2016, Tennessee lost 1,110 people to suicide and the number continues to rise. It is happening in your state. It is happening in your community. It is happening in your school.

Help is offered on the school website; students can also be connected with an experienced counselor on campus. If you are in immediate need of help, call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

 

Vol State summer classes have new sessions

 

By Presley Green

Volunteer State Community College is offering more options for summer classes by introducing new summer sessions in three-week, six-week and 12-week portions.

For these changes to happen and to allow students more college credit opportunities, the summer semester is beginning a little earlier than usual. The semester begins May 1 and ends August 10.

“The reason is to have less overlapping of class terms, which allows students to take more classes, and earn more college credits over the summer,” Eric Melcher, coordinator of public relations and marketing, wrote on the Vol State website.

There will be four three-week sessions starting May 21, June 11, July 2, and July 23. The six-week sessions will begin May 21, and July 2. These shorter sessions are described as more intensive. They are held for more hours a day than the twelve-week classes.

The twelve-week session begins May 21 and ends August 10. The twelve-week session is similar to a normal semester. You can visit the academic calendar on Vol State’s website for a more complete list of dates.

Volunteer State Community College is also offering a wider variety of subjects. They are even offering both of the classes need to take the Real Estate Exam, Intro to Real Estate (RES215) and The Course for New Affiliates (RES220).

Vol State is also offering Education Psychology (EDUC2110) in the summer, which is a required class for all education majors.  

This is an opportunity for students to finish those final classes to graduate or further their education.

Summer classes can be taken online or in person.  There is no orientation needed for students who have not attended Vol State before. This makes it easy to apply, register, and earn the college credit needed. Applications can be filled out online or in the Ramer Administration Building.

Vol State commencement ceremony will be May 5

 

By Riley Holcraft

Volunteer State Community College will host its commencement ceremony for all graduating students Saturday, May 5, from 10 a.m. -12 p.m. in Pickel Field House.

Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. for all attendees, and guests who are unable to attend are welcome to watch the ceremony through the graduation website (volstate.edu/graduation).

Amber Regan, graduation associate, provided information on the Commencement Ceremony. There are 784 students pending to graduate in the spring, and 367 students are planning to walk at the ceremony. These graduates include 11 students in middle college, a collaboration between Sumner County high schools and Vol State.  

Each graduate is given five tickets to invite guests to the ceremony. If the gymnasium is filled, the auditorium in Caudill Hall will be used as an overflow for family and friends who do not have tickets. The live video will also be streamed in that location.

This year’s speaker is David Gregory, former chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Gregory has worked for the Tennessee Board of Regents since May of 1998 and was appointed his position as Chancellor in February 2016. Gregory had plans to retire earlier; however, the abrupt resignation of John Morgan led to Governor Haslam endorsing Gregory’s election. After a unanimous vote, Gregory held this position for a year before retiring.

 

Vol State to host student film showcase

 

By Riley Holcraft

Volunteer State Community College is hosting its First Student Film Showcase April 26th, from 7-9 p.m. in the SRB Humanities Building.  Deja Brandeis, video production instructor, is organizing this event to screen student work from the 2017-2018 school year.

The video program at Vol State has been expanding over the past few years, and Brandeis explained that an event like this is important for film students to showcase their work. Her film students have worked on many projects over the year, including a promotional video for Vol State Mass Communications. This year, there are 35 video majors and more joining in the fall.

All film submissions are viewed and reviewed by Professor Brandeis before entering the contest. The content must be a strong piece and the best representation of the student’s work. Submissions can be made in a classroom setting or in the student’s free time.

Videos entered into the contest can include documentaries, narratives, promotional videos, and any creative vision a student may have. After the screening, there will be a Q&A with the participants. The audience will also engage in a vote after the videos are viewed, and an “Audience Choice” will be announced as the winner.

Students are encouraged to attend and vote for their favorite video. Since the event is brand new, it is a great opportunity for students to get involved on campus. The Film Showcase is also an introduction for non-video majors that may be interested in the program. Since video production at Vol State is recent addition, students can come learn more about the program and get a taste of video majors and classes.

Donations are encouraged, and all funds will benefit entertainment media at Vol State.

 

Vol State diversity and inclusion manager headed to Wisconsin

 

By Tayla Courage

Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, manager of diversity and inclusion, is packing up his office at Volunteer State Community College after accepting a position at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

He will be joining the Warhawk faculty as its chief equity diversity and inclusion officer.

Prepping for a move north has not been a simple task, according to Yarbrough, who is simultaneously in the process of completing his fifth academic degree.

“It’s a lot. Unpacking, packing, trying to find a house, and then I have to go home and try to work on chapter three. It’s something that nobody else can do but me, so it’s staring at the computer for days and days, and commiserating like you have got to get this done,” he said.

Having been open for just over a year, the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives is a newer addition to Vol State. It is responsible for coordinating educational trainings and events aimed at identifying various diversity and inclusion issues that exist on and off campus.

He described his time at Vol State as “very educational” and “a growing process.”

“It has helped me to really determine the type of work that I want to continue to do,” said Yarbrough.

While he is unsure of who will be filling the role of manager in his absence, Yarbrough said he is hopeful that the momentum will continue with the aid of faculty members who have become “practitioners of diversity and inclusion.”

“We have wonderful faculty who really have taken an interest in this. I’m hoping that whoever they get to find as my replacement will be able to touch base with those persons and continue the work that I have started here.”

Dr. Michael Torrence, assistant vice president of academic affairs, acknowledged Yarbrough’s “exceptional” role at Vol State and congratulates him on his future endeavors.

“His willingness to connect with students and provide guidance, leadership, and a listening ear will be missed. However, he has a wonderful opportunity ahead of him, and he will be successful,” wrote Torrence.

Dr. Melva Black, chair of the communication department, furthered this sentiment with the Booker T. Washington quote: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

He has worked tirelessly to build awareness, understanding, and compassion among people of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Yarbrough’s contributions have been thoughtful and selfless, which is essential for identifying and pursuing avenues to serve and uplift those with whom he has worked in academia and the community. 

“He leaves a poignant legacy for all to emulate,” wrote Black.

In his concluding words, Yarbrough thanked Vol State for allowing him the opportunity to interact and potentially influence students, who he defines as “the life blood of any institution.”

 

Vol State students sent false email about registration holds

 

By Lauren Whitaker

Volunteer State Community College students under the Tennessee Promise Grant were lied to about holds placed on their account to force them to meet with an adviser to register for fall classes.

Targeted students received an email in April when registration opened. This email was from Dasha Harris, the project coordinator for the Tennessee Promise Forward Grant.

The email told the student that they were receiving it because the student received a letter grade of C or below in one or more of their courses. The email further communicated to the student in bold that they would not be permitted to register for classes until they had met with an advisor.

“Vol State wanted to use their Tennessee Promise Forward Grant for a proactive advising initiative for Tennessee Promise students to have mandatory second year advising as well as advising if they don’t do well in a course,” Harris said. “The holds that were put on registration is from the Forward Grant. We actually didn’t put any holds on students’ accounts, so no one has received a hold from this grant yet.”

The email was sent out before it was decided that holds would not be put on the targeted students’ accounts.

“Two or three weeks later, I sent a follow-up email that just said, ‘Hey, just a follow-up. We would like you to meet with your advisor. It is mandatory advising. I know you don’t have a hold on your account right now,’” Harris said.

Harris then retracted her statement. “I didn’t say that. I didn’t say there was no hold on your account,” she said.

Harris decided to leave students believing there was a hold on their account because she wanted students to take advising seriously she said.

“Honestly, I had already scheduled to meet with my advisor I think a week before I got the email,” said Nick Kieser, a second semester freshman at Vol State who received the email.

Kieser was confused by what made him need to meet with his advisor.

“It caught me off guard. I thought it was biased for making an effort over one class I could possibly be doing bad in. It wasn’t a positive reinforcement,” Kieser said.

Kieser never received a follow-up email from Harris.  

Faulkner commended at county luncheon

By Lauren Whitaker

Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Volunteer State Community College, was commended at the State of the County Luncheon held by the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce Thursday, April 12.

Faulkner was praised by Del Phillips III, the director of Sumner County schools, during the commerce luncheon for his efforts to include and encourage adult students.

“I commend Dr. Faulkner on the progress being made at Vol State, and the advantages of dual enrollment available to students in high school now. High school students that choose, will be able to choose to graduate from high school and Vol State, at the same time,” said Phillips

Phillips also commended Faulkner on the expected attendance coming in the fall due to the Tennessee Reconnect Program.

The Tennessee Reconnect Program will allow adult students to attend college at no cost.

Phillips spoke about the many improvements Faulkner has seen at Vol State.

Parking has had to be expanded due to the number of students enrolling and attendance numbers are growing.

Library hosting finals events

 

By Presley Green

As students near the end of the semester, finals are looming like a storm cloud. Volunteer State Community College offers some small solutions to really take the edge off finals.

Pet Therapy will be in the Thigpen Library lobby April 30 and May 1, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tashi, the dog on flyers all over campus, will be there with her owner Debbie.

Vol State will also be hosting Feasting Toward Finals in the Thigpen Library, Tuesday, April 24 from 4-6 p.m. This event is being offered so students can take a quick break from studying for finals to enjoy free pizza, cookies and coffee, provided by Thigpen Library.

Vol State to open arboretum

 

By Presley Green

The grand opening of Volunteer State Community College’s Parris Power Memorial Arboretum will be Arbor Day, Friday, April 27, 2018 at the Duffer Plaza.

The Duffer Plaza is the area with a fountain between the Ramer Administration Building, Wood Campus Center and Warf Building.

An arboretum is a group of trees identified and listed for nature exploration and scientific study. The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council has certified Vol State as a Level II Arboretum.  

“A certified arboretum must be open to the public with trees that are labeled, properly protected, and well maintained.” according to The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council.

The certification was pursued by Cynthia Hernandez, former student, with the help of the science and math faculty members, specifically Parris Powers and Le-Ellen Dayhuff.

“Parris Powers was a former chemistry professor at Vol State who has since passed away. He was much loved. He truly loved environmental science. He worked with Cynthia Hernandez to begin the process of identifying trees for the arboretum and she continued, eventually naming it in his honor.” said Eric Melcher, coordinator of public relations and marketing at Vol State.

Around the campus, 62 trees have been identified and marked with silver plaques, indicating their place in the arboretum. Vol State will be producing a map for students and visitors to locate and view the trees included in the arboretum.

There is mention of better signage for the trees, possibly one that includes an internet link to easily help onlookers find out more information, according to the Vol State website.

The arboretum is already opened.

There will be many speakers  at the grand opening including Hernandez and Dayhuff. Powers’s children Summer and Christian will also be speaking, along with Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State, and a representative of The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council.

Student art will be on display during annual exhibition

 

By Katie Doll

Volunteer State Community College will host the annual free Student Art Exhibition from April 11 – 25 in the Vol State gallery in the SRB building.

An awards ceremony will be April 19 from 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Everyone is welcomed.

The competition is open to all Vol State art students. Each art studio student is required to submit work produced by the student during the preceding year, according to the Vol State website.

Over 250 students submitted artwork to the exhibit and approximately 60 are shown in the gallery. The submissions include categories like drawing, 2D and 3D design, painting, graphic design, printmaking, photography, and ceramics.

The exhibition showcases students’ hard work and creativity. Students also have an opportunity to learn about the preparation and presentation of art that can help them in their career as artists.   

Some students chose unique routes when creating their artwork. One student, Yingjia Yan, created a sculpture made out of newspapers and napkins resembling a clown. The sculpture is titled “Mushroom Cloud”.

Many students created art made of cardboard and white paper such as Jamie Erwin, who designed a portrait of Jackie Kennedy.

Serious topics were also portrayed through students’ art. Courtney Apedaile created a piece titled “Through Her Eyes” which depicts the subject of rape. The artwork was created using graphite and marker and stands out with the consistent use of the color red.

The reception for the art exhibition will be April 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and free refreshments will be served. Visitors will be able to meet the artists and ask them questions about their art.

Awards will be judged by guest Kathleen O’Connell, assistant professor of art and design at Middle Tennessee State University. The exhibition is judged based on excellence.

Mushroom Cloud by Yingjia Yan