Patty Powell to retire this semester

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(Pictured: Patty Howell in her office.  Picture by: Blake Bouza.)

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Since 1985, Patty Powell, Vice President of Student Services, has been working at Volunteer State Community College ensuring student success.

This Friday, April 15, she retires and ends her 45-year career in higher education.

Powell started at Vol State as coordinator of counseling before being promoted to director of counseling.

Before that she worked in counseling for University of Memphis, where her first bit of advice to students would be, “first, find the bathrooms and take it a step at a time from there.”

Dr. Hal Ramer, the first president of Vol State, appointed her vice president of student services in 1992.

She is over enrollment management, which incorporates admissions, advising and testing, disability services, athletics, Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, and TRIO Student Support Services.

Speaking to Patty Powell is like stepping from a chilled shadow into warm summer sun.

“I never aspired to be in charge of anybody. I always liked to be the person who worked behind the scenes to make my boss look good,” Powell, who has worked under all three presidents of the school so far, said humbly.

A first generation college student, Powell attended the University of Memphis back in 1963, where she began as a music major and glee club member before she became a student worker in the records office.

“My boss was just wonderful,” she said. “I got a lot of experience early on. I’ve just never really had any negative experience in my adult life that has really been bad. It’s made my life as an administrator much more positive.”

Powell and her roommate were two of the first African-American women to integrate in a non-segregated dormitory at University of Memphis.

“It was a great experience. I learned a lot about people and about culture. It was all positive,” she said.

At Vol State, Powell said, “we have people from everywhere, of all different cultures. It’s no longer just black and white. People in Japan can take online classes from Vol State. Technology has opened doors. There’s no reason a person can’t get a college education now.”

Powell said she believes that people get what they give, and was reminded of this when at her retirement party.

“There were people from everywhere. I’ve never done things looking for anything in return. I’ve done things because my parents raised me by the golden rule: you treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Powell said that she lives by this golden rule about respecting other people.

“We have to learn to adapt without negotiating our own beliefs,” she said.

Powell is a Christian, and she acknowledged that people she interacts with regularly may not be.

“I’m not going to try and convert you. I’m going to live in a way that, hopefully, you like what you see. You may or may not convert. I can only be me, and you can only be you. And it goes back to my one little word: respect,” said Powell.

Powell has had a hand in getting Degree Works started, the online program students can use at any time to help plan out their academic career. It will give an outline of the classes a student needs to take for his or her major.

“I think it’s time,” Powell said of her retirement.

A cancer survivor, Powell said this last year has been a challenge. On April 13 of 2015, her doctor said to her family that she had made it through the surgery, and to pray that she made it through the night.

“I am richly blessed to still be alive and to tell my story,” Powell said. “Cancer is not always a death sentence. The Lord has allowed me to stay here for a little while longer, so He’s got something else for me to do.”

Powell had a brother who was hit in the face with a bat for dancing with a white woman. As a child, she herself could not enter many establishments from anywhere but the back door.

“I don’t like to see people mistreated,” said Powell.

The legacy Powell said she would like to leave at Vol State is that she wants everyone treated fairly, as she has always tried to treat people.

“In my role, I serve as vice president of students, all students. Everything that has ever happened to me has helped mold me. I wouldn’t change anything about my life,” said Powell.

“I don’t care what color you are, just act right,” Powell said with a smile.

Powell said that it has been a time of reflection for her.

“This is all I have ever done for 45 years of my life. I feel richly blessed that I’ve been able to work with such wonderful people. That includes my staff, my colleagues and my students. I’ve just met so many beautiful people in my life time.”

“I say, this is the best division on this campus,” Powell said while laughing.

“My parents were really good people. They raised me right. And I’m just grateful for that. The Lord brought me to a place where people accepted me.”

 

“The Women” showing fails to draw a crowd

By: Gayla Collier, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College had a screening of the movie “The Women” on Tuesday March 29.

There were three opportunities to watch the movie in the Rochelle Center, in the Thigpen Library.

The screenings were at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., and they were made available for anyone to come, including the community.

“I showed the movie three different times.

No one came to the 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.… I had four people show up to the 6p.m. showing,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities.

“The Women” revolves around a group of friends who learn how to handle life as women.

“I liked the movie really well and I like how the women came together,” said Leandrew Hayes, a Vol State student.

“I would recommend all my girlfriends to watch this movie, because I think it can help them see how men are, even though it is a movie,” said Jassmyn Alexander, a Vol State student.

The movie was shown as an activity for Women’s History Month.

Vol State to screen “Milk” for LGBT Pride Month

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College is going to be hosting a showing of the movie “Milk” on Tuesday, April 12 at 1, 3 and 6 p.m. in the Rochelle Center.

“I’m hoping that everyone who possibly can go will show up to the event because I believe that it’s an important depiction of a major idol for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Nicole Martie, president of Spectrum.

According to the Internet Movie Database,

“Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk’s career from his 40th birthday to his death.

“He leaves the closet and New York, opens a camera shop that becomes the salon for San Francisco’s growing gay community, and organizes gays’ purchasing power to build political alliances. He runs for office with lover Scott Smith as his campaign manager.

“Victory finally comes on the same day Dan White wins in the city’s conservative district. The rest of the film sketches Milk’s relationship with White and the 1978 fight against a statewide initiative to bar gays and their supporters from public school jobs.”

“This will hopefully give people a little insight and a little more understanding on what we’re fighting for,” said Martie.

Blake Coker, Activities Chair for the Student Government Association, said that he hopes that people will attend the screening.

“Harvey Milk became one of the first openly gay officials in the United States in 1977, when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” according to Biography.com.

Harvey Milk was born on May 22, 1930, in Woodmere, New York. Reared in a small middle-class Jewish family, Milk was one of two boys born to William and Minerva Milk. A well-rounded, well-liked student, Milk played football and sang in the opera at Bay Shore High School. Like his brother, Robert, he also worked at the family department store, Milk’s.

After graduating from the New York State College for Teachers in 1951, Milk joined the U.S. Navy, ultimately serving as a diving instructor at a base in San Diego, California, during the Korean War. Following his discharge in 1955, Milk moved to New York City, according to Biography.com.

In late 1972, bored with his life in New York, Milk moved to San Francisco, California. There, he opened a camera shop called Castro Camera on Castro Street, putting his life and work right in the heart of the city’s gay community.

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.

Person of Interest: Star student Seth Walker

unnamed (1)(Pictured: Seth Walker with his assistant Ken Brassell.  Photo by Barbara Harmon.)  

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

You may have seen Seth Walker, a sophomore at Volunteer State Community College, around campus, but how much do you know about him? He is confined to a wheelchair because he was born with cerebral palsy.

“Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing at or before birth) disorders of childhood.

“About 500,000 children in the United States have the condition,” according to kidshealth.org.

There is no cure for this condition, which affects the ability to control one’s muscles.

“I cannot do anything without assistance from others.

“I also have a speech impediment,” he added. “The only thing I can do on my own is think and use my brain.”

In order for Walker to attend Vol State he needed someone to assist him on campus.

Ken Brassell, Walker’s assistant, said he read about Walker needing help with this through their church.

“God kind of spoke to me and said hey you need to do this,” said Brassell.

He said he had reservations about it, because he was not familiar with cerebral palsy or Walker and his family.

Brassell recalled meeting Walker at a birthday party and trying to speak with him, when Walker did not respond he assumed he was mentally challenged.

“Which that happens to him a lot,” said Brassell. “People don’t realize how smart he is or how funny he is.”

Despite his condition Walker has maintained a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) and has been accepted into Lipscomb University with a full scholarship.

Walker said the most challenging thing for him at Vol State has been the workload, because it takes him longer to complete assignments—especially essays.

This is due to him having to control his computer with a metal dot that is on his forehead.

Walker said he has appreciated how the professors at Vol State have treated him.

“They are always willing to assist me with whatever I need to be successful,” he said.

Some of Walker’s favorite things are Alabama (Crimson Tide) football, basketball (he was Station Camp’s basketball manager for three years), traveling, and searching on the internet.

He said Disney in Orlando, Florida was his favorite of all the trips he had taken.

“But most importantly I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.

“He is everything to me,” said Walker. “I would be nothing without Him.”

After graduating from Vol State, Walker plans to achieve his bachelor degree in strategic communications from Lipscomb and then obtain his master’s through seminary, so he can pursue a career in social media ministry.

“I will go wherever God leads me,” said Walker.

He also had some advice he wanted to share.

“No matter what your challenges are—you can persevere and reach your goals,” said Walker.

 

Understanding Sexuality: Being TQ

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief, and Mackenzie Border, Layout Manager

Trans is the broadest of the umbrella terms used in the LGBTQIA acronym. Trans covers most of the gender identities, with the exception of the queer and intersex identities.

Queer is the umbrella term that covers any identity outside of the gender normative. This can include gender queer, gender neutral, gender fluid, and others.

These three communities of people face constant scrutiny by medical professionals, politicians and the public.

For example, during the Caitlin Jenner transition, many people spoke on opposing sides about their feelings. Some supported Jenner and respected her, while others were thoroughly against it.

The TQ community is more likely to face “physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual violence than those who are cisgender [identify as their born sex],” stated Jamie Fuston, Instructor of Sociology.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the majority of hate crimes in 2013 (72 percent) were transgender, and 67 percent of them were trans women (male to female) of color.

“Transgender women are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence and transgender people in general are 3.7 times as likely to experience police violence and seven times more likely to face physical violence when interacting with police as those who are cisgender,” said Fuston.

Fuston also said that this has not improved, as 2015 has seen more transgender homicide victims than in any other recorded year.

Many states also do not provide laws to protect trans individuals from discrimination, including Tennessee, added Fuston.

TQ individuals experience high suicide rates for a number of reasons, including “mental health factors and experiences of harassment, discrimination, violence, and rejection,” said Fuston.

Fuston added that research shows individuals who are “out” as a TQ individual are more likely to attempt suicide than those who do not.

This often ties in with gender dysphoria, a term used to describe distress or confusion over one’s biological sex and gender identity.

“Sociologically, the notion of gender dysphoria itself is socially constructed to label those who do not agree or feel comfortable with their assigned gender or assigned sex at birth,” said Fuston.

Multiple circumstances can affect gender identity, including hormonal composition, chromosome type and environment.

In addition to this, non-cisgender individuals experience higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, physical and verbal abuse, and self-harming behavior, added Fuston.

The lack of social acceptance and anxiety experienced in the TQ community leads to a negative influence on a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health.

Outside of the U.S., however, the transgender community can see a range of different reactions.

Keith Bell, Associate Professor of Geography, stated that in some Asian countries, such as Thailand, views on gender are different from the U.S.

The Thai have a term referring to either transgender woman or an effeminate gay man, Kathoey, which literally means “lady boy,” added Bell.

“Thailand’s traditional definition of ‘male’ or ‘female’ is far looser than here in the West.

“A man or woman’s gender is much less a matter of chromosomes and more about personal choice,” said Bell.

India also has a transgender community known as the hijras, a 4,000 year-old group who has built their community around religious practices.

While members of the group were once seen as spiritual figures representing fertility, there has been a growth of discrimination within the country over the past few decades.

 

 

 

 

“Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” Review

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(Pictured: Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman, in promotional art for the new film.  Photo courtesy of The Telegraph.)

By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer

In a way, it feels like “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a teaser film for more to come. The substance of the film was duller than it was gripping, but it manages to keep our attention, nonetheless.

As someone who was never deep into the comics, seeing the film was a bittersweet experience indeed.

Henry Cavill returns as Clark Kent/Superman with a truly heroic flair. Cavill is excellent and impressive as the red-caped crusader.

Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne was not too boring. We can give him credit for a solid performance. We can only hope that Affleck’s Batman settles well into his character for the next Justice League films to come.

The introduction of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was definitely a moment to cheer for. Her presence in the next Justice League films will be an overdue performance.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther was rather child-like and confusing. Is it just me or would an actor of Bryan Cranston’s capacity have been better for the role?

As decent as the performances were, that alone does not make the film. To say that BVS was a cinematic masterpiece would be a far reach. Director Zack Snyder takes on the film with a more Batman centric theme and tries to deliver a solid Superman intertwined story.

As the world questions whether or not a god-hero should operate with such unchecked power, Batman and Superman brawl in the streets of Gotham and Metropolis.

Terrorism, paranoia and torture are woven into more standard superhero tenets. This is a battle between God and man, and the film also has plenty of moments worthy of a classic Greek tragedy.

Ideas are plentiful and often repeated, as are dream sequences and Snyder’s patented wide-angle slow-motion set pieces. And really, do we need another ‘young Bruce Wayne watches his parents get shot’ sequence?

BVS is filled to the brim with comic book references and it begs the question, “Did Zack Snyder make this film for everyone?” It is easy to understand how these films would reconnect to the comics, but it does leave a good chunk of its audience confused.

If you are a comic fan, give this film a go and you will probably enjoy the heck out of it, even just for the references, but if you are not all up to your knowledge, as I am, then give it a go with a clear head.

There is a bunch to wrap your head around, and it turns out to be more ‘Dawn of Justice’ than ‘Batman vs Superman.’