Campus Events

By: Nick Kieser

Munching Toward Midterms

On Oct. 9-10 Munching Toward Midterms will be taking place in the Thigpen Library and there will be free pizza and tea.

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and on Wednesday from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Refreshments are limited to a first come first serve basis.

Sponsoring the event is the library.

Science Lecture Series

The science department at Volunteer State Community College is having a lecture series on The Serengeti Ecosystem.

The lecture will be taking place at the Rochelle Center in the Thigpen Library from 11:10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Speaker of the event is University President Dr. Jerry Faulkner.

According to the online Vol State academic calendar, he will be talking about the ecosystem and experience in Tanzania.


Reconnect Spotlight

By: Allison Summers

Tina Hoffmann is a student at Vol State. She is using the Reconnect program to pursue an associates degree in Sociology.

“I needed to be a great example for my family,” said Hoffmann

She has a husband and 2 kids at home. Hoffmann was born in Japan; however, she moved all over the United States. She now resides in Portland, Tennessee with her husband and two children.

Hoffmann’s father and husband are Navy veterans. She dedicated twenty-one years of her life to caring for her husband as he fought to protect the country.

She continues this dedication through her aspirations to be a social worker for veterans. She hopes to work in a Veteran Affairs hospital, or she would enjoy working with the Wounded Warriors Project.

Hoffmann quoted Jojo Moyes, “You only get one life. It’s your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

Hoffmann is active in the Student Government Association, the Returning Students Organization, and the Vol State Veterans of America Club.

She also goes to school during the afternoons while working full-time during the night at the local Walmart.

“She is always trying to help even when she does not have to. We had to have a chair for the SGA meetings and she volunteered without hesitation. It is remarkable how active she is considering her obligations,” said SGA member Travis Mefford

“Tina is a very warm, caring individual. She strives to do whatever she can,” said  President of VSVA Donna Payne.

In case it has not been noted, there is most definitely a running theme here; Hoffmann is a very kind, generous person who cares deeply about the people around her. She is a great addition to Vol State thanks to the Reconnect Program.

Banned Book Reading

By: Jim Hayes

The flyer for the Banned Book Reading caught me by surprise  I remember it being a thing in the mid-1980’s and 1990’s but had not heard about it in years.

However, if it was still an issue, I was willing to go and read a few paragraphs from “Huckleberry Finn” for the cause.

But, when I stepped into Steinhauer-Rogan-Black room 150 just short of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Mark Twain classic was nowhere to be found.

“Alas,” I thought to myself, glancing over the selection brought over by the Thigpen Library. But then spotted another old friend.  Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” was sitting there unselected.

The first in L’Engle’s Time Quartet, I snagged it, trying desperately to recall a passage that might have qualified it as a banned book.

Published in 1962, “A Wrinkle in Time” tells the story of Meg Murry, younger brother Charles Wallace and friend Calvin O’Keefe’s mission to rescue Meg and Charles’ father from an unknown evil force.

It has spent most of its life amongst the other books which have been challenged.

Conservative Christians object to the book because it implies that Jesus is simply an advanced human.

So it was time to read.  I signaled to the moderator, Librarian Laura Sheets that I was ready, took the microphone and addressed the 34 people in the room.

“I am reading from Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” I explained and proceeded to read about a  page before giving way to someone else.

In all, 10 people read from titles as diverse as “Go Ask Alice” to “A Clockwork Orange.”


Blood Drive

By: Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College will be hosting a blood drive on Oct. 11 in the Rochelle Center across from the library.

“The event will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The campus and local community is the intended group targeted to come give blood,” wrote Jenny Bartley in an email.

With the event taking place toward the end of the week students will just have only one day to take part in this event next Thursday.

According to the general requirements for donating blood are, “Be in good general health and feeling well. Be at least 17 years old in most states (16 years old with parental consent in some states). Weigh at least 110 lbs. Additional height and weight requirements apply for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school student donors. Must have not donated blood in the last 56 days.”

Generally we have about 30 people to donate.  We always have room for more. You could potentially be saving 3 lives by Donating Blood,” wrote Bartley.

According to Bartley, there will be refreshments provided for the donors as well at this event.

“None of my family has any blood problems, but I recognize this is a large issue and it really does mean a lot to help them. I’ll put my money where my mouth is and donate blood,” said student Austin Capps.

“In response to hearing about this, I would want to give blood. The only setback is trying to fit this into the busy schedule that I have. I have given blood and helping others is good, and it is also good for your body to give blood as well,” said student Brayden Brewington.


Visiting college representatives on campus

By: Nick Kieser 

Starting today on the Volunteer State Community College campus there will be four university representatives on campus to promote their individual schools on separate days.  

“University Representatives have been invited to share their transfer programs with our student body since at least 1993,” wrote Pamela Lockhart in an email.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville will be here on Monday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then Lipscomb University on Tuesday 25, from 10 a.m. t0 1 p.m. Also Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Western Kentucky University on Thursday sept. 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All of the visiting university campuses will be set up in the Woods Campus Center by the Student Services Office.

“It’s really important to visit with schools for these students. We aren’t recommending these schools for these students, but as even freshman who are asking questions early on is a good thing,” said Advisor Rebecca Adair.

For the 9,000 plus students who are on campus having the opportunity to approach a four-year university can give ideas to those interested in furthering their education past Vol State.

“Very valuable for our students. I encourage our students to go do that. Tennessee transfer pathway guarantees students can go where it matches up for that student,” said Vol State President Jerry Faulkner.

“They will be happy to answer questions and get your contact information. They will share open house event information for campus visits, discuss different degree programs, requirements, financial aid options, and scholarships. For Free! All it takes is a few minutes of your time,” wrote Lockhart.  

“I feel like I do not have a lot of knowledge on where I want to go or like any majors I want to pursue, but I feel like these booths will help me with gaining more knowledge on where I would want to go,” said freshman Seth Gilmer.

Seeking that one school that stands out compared to the rest is what this event can mean for a student.

“The biggest change was that I got to go from being a full-time student living at home to a full-time student away from everything where it’s all about college. It’s better but also more challenging. Having a booth on campus was nice for getting information on how the transferring would take place or just knowing what I needed to become that full-time student somewhere else,” said former student Jeff Swift.

looking into one of the university booths this week can make a difference or none at all for Vol State students who choose to visit a booth or not visit one of the booths at all.


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.


Voter Registration

By: Gloria Cortes 

The Volunteer State Community College’s Student Government Association is hosting a Meet and Greet with a Treat: Grab a Float and Register to Vote on Sept. 25.  

If one would like to vote SGA will have a register to vote table Sept. 25. from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the Carpeted Dining Room. We have registration forms available and it is quick, easy, and your information is secure. You can also visit,” wrote SGA Vice President Mary Dobbs in an email.

This event allows students to interact with the SGA and other faculty members while raising awareness for voter registration.

SGA Meet and Greet with a Treat is an event hosted by The Student Government Association that allows SGA, the student body, and staff to engage with one another. Grab a Float and Register to Vote is the September event because September is National Voter Registration Month. September 25th is National Voter Registration Day,” wrote Dobbs.

The SGA has set up voter registration booths earlier in the fall semester.

“We have 23 people who have registered to vote thus far,” wrote Vol State Coordinator of Student Activities Tabitha Sherrell.

To register to vote, eligible students must be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen, a Tennessee resident, and must not be a felon; however, some felons may vote if they have had their voting rights restored according to

Eligible students who plan to register need to bring one of the following acceptable types of identification: their Tennessee driver’s license or their Tennessee Department of Safety, and Homeland Security ID, according to

The voter registration deadline for the upcoming general election in Tennessee is Oct. 9.

“The elections that we are helping people get registered for is for the Federal and State general elections. Tennessee will be voting for a new Governor, House of Representative members, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. This is a big election because the people elected will be in office for 2-4 years depending on their position,” wrote Dobbs.

Banned book week preview

By: Jim Hayes 

The Thigpen Library and Volunteer State Community College English Department will celebrate Banned Books Week with open mic readings from 12:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Sept. 26 in Steinhauer-Rogan-Black room 150.

“Any student who wishes to volunteer can read,” said Librarian Laura Sheets who is overseeing the readings.

“Students wishing to ensure that they get to read can talk to a librarian,” said Sheets

The Banned Book Week has been observed since 1982.  Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the 10 most challenged books.

“It is a time to promote awareness about intellectual freedom,” said Sheets.

“Most books are challenged by parents who are concerned about the content in those books and they are concerned about having their children exposed to things they aren’t comfortable with,” said Sheets.

First generation student experience

By: Jim Hayes 

Dr. Frank Dobson, Associate Dean of Students for Social Justice and Identity at Vanderbilt University, and faculty will discuss “The First-Generation Student Experience” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rochelle Center on Thursday, Sept. 27.

“He’s just going to be talking about his experience as a first generation student,” said, Jeff King.

“He will compare some of the obstacles faced by students today with what he faced. He will engage them about what issues they are having. Sometimes you had to make a choice between buying books or buying food,” said King.

“Dobson will talk about at one point living in his car before his academic career took off and he became an author. Lots of us have similar stories,” said King.

“My older siblings did not go to college, and I felt a lot of expectations on my shoulders because they sacrificed so that I could go,” said Dobson

Dobson received his bachelor of arts degree from the University at Buffalo in English, Literature, Black Studies and Education in 1973.

He earned his masters in English and literary Studies in 1976 from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

His doctoral degree was earned at Bowling Green State University in literature and writing in 1985.

Dobson’s first novel, “The Race is Not Given was published in 1999.  His second, “Rendered Invisible, was released in 2010.

He has been at Vanderbilt for 14-years.

Dr. Faulkner goes undercover

By: Nick Kieser 

Dr. Faulkner casual outside

Vol State President Dr. Jerry Faulkner

The Volunteer State Community College President, Dr. Jerry Faulkner, has made an appearance acting as a student for a day and attended classes.

Faulkner credits his idea from the San Diego State President Adela de la Torre.

He was incognito on Aug. 30, during the regular school hours and posed as a student.

“I got rid of my coat and tie. I tried to look more casual so I would not stand out. I don’t know that I did anything outstandingly different, but I did go online and complete the application form.

I wanted to see if there were any impediments,” said Faulkner.

Undergoing a full day as an undercover student is something not common for a college university president to do.

“I sent out an email only to faculty that asked for volunteers to let me sit in on their classes. The response was overwhelming, and I got dozens of invitations to be in people’s classes,” said Faulkner.

The build-up of the secret event broke when the faculty got the notification that he was looking for willing teachers.

“I announced two Fridays ago at convocation that I was going to do that. I went to four classes. I was originally signed up for five. I did all four classes continuously,” said Faulkner.

He also added that while he was walking through the Woods Campus Center that he stopped to get the free food offered since it was the same day as the campus kickoff.

“He was just hanging out and seeing what it was like. He wanted the full student experience,” said English Department Chair, Deborah Moore.

Moore had the experience of having Faulkner in her Modern World Literature class.

“I think it’s great that he put that much interest into finding out more about the students and how it feels to be a student at Vol State,” said student Hollee Mattei.

The president was viewed seriously after he had revealed himself to Moore’s class.

“None of the students had much to say at the end, and I just made announcements about SGA and Coffee with the President. I did not park differently. I confess I did use my reserved parking place,” said Faulkner.

With the attire and no parking change, Faulkner still considered himself a student that day

One of the announcements that Faulkner made was in regard to how the students of Vol State could interact with him.

That event is known as Coffee With the President.

“We started that I would say about three years ago. Kenny Yarbrough was Director of Student Life and Diversity, and it was his idea to do Coffee with the President,” said Faulkner.

The Steinhauer Rogan-Black-Building was where Coffee with the President took place, and Faulkner said that he planned on doing that again.

“I certainly hope that this will result in more students feeling like they can approach me and talk with me about the things they have on their mind,” said Faulkner.