The Importance of College Friends

By Sara Keen// Editer-in-Chief

The new school year at Volunteer State Community College marks a time of change and beginnings for many. This fall is the beginning of Tennessee Promise, which has brought a flood of new students ready to tackle the challenges to come. Many of these students will also be experiencing new people they’ve never seen before with different backgrounds and opinions, some of whom will become great friends throughout the year. These friends are far more important than many would believe, as often freshman befriend upperclassman. Their experiences will be passed down to help their inexperienced counterparts. They will find themselves in need of guidance, joining a new realm of clubs, and inevitably having a better experience as a result of the friendships they will develop this year.

Often, new students will befriend Vol State veterans.They will be shown the “tricks of the trade” and shown around buildings. For veterans, this is an excellent opportunity to leave your mark on someone’s college experience in a positive way. For new students, take the opportunity to learn as much as possible about campus life and gain advice regarding classes. One may find that the knowledge gained from others may be helpful in many situations. For example, veterans can help new students learn who to go to for certain types of help, such as where the Writing Center is.

Involvement in campus clubs and organizations can also be helpful for new students. These will introduce students to others with similar interests. A student interested in politics may join the Student Government Association, for example. Students involved in organizations will be able to socialize and succeed more across their academics, both inside and outside of class.

The friendships created in college can help you academically. A student may receive help from others in the form of study groups or general guidance. These friendships may be carried throughout the rest of one’s life. Some people are able to use their friendships in future networking for certain careers. The friends you made here can hold a great impact over one’s life and overall will help succeed in college.

It is a great thing to make new friends, get involved, and succeed both academically and personally.

The Humanities Building

Mallory Burysek


The Humanities Building was blue drafted fifteen years ago in 1999 by former Dean of Humanities, Dr. Mickey Hall. He created this building because thirty-four percent of classes each semester are Humanity related, making it the largest division on campus. The Tennessee Board of Regions placed the Humanities Building sixth for funding for ten years. Once Vol State received the funding they needed to begin, they jumped right into building the three-story building. Vol State received a lot of help from the community due to donations. Volunteer State Bank pledged $100,000, David and Diane Black pledged $1 million, and The Sumner Foundation pledged $300,000. “We want Vol State to be the cultural center of Sumner County,” said Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State. “This building is another addition to that commitment.” Before they could start the full construction they had to make a few changes to the campus. Roads had to be rerouted, the cafeteria added a service elevator in order to receive their packaged food and drinks, and more parking lots had to be created. The goal for adding this building is to make Vol State more of a walking campus for students.

The Humanities Building is slightly larger than originally planned, but this will help Vol State’s overcrowding dilemma. This building will include English, Communications, Art, Music, Theater, Philosophy, and Foreign Language departments. It is uniquely connected to the Library and Campus Center. The first floor of the Humanities Building will include Music-related classrooms. The second floor will include Communications, English, and Art Studios.  The third floor will continue with English and then extend to Foreign Language, Philosophy, and Computer classes. “This is exciting because our students need more state-of-the-art facilities in order to be more marketable in the workforce,” said Humanities Dean, Alycia Ehlert. “We’ll have many special lab spaces and collaborative areas to allow for more group work.”  Some special features include a large patio on the backside of the building where events can be held, a tear-shaped amphitheater adjacent of the building, and a walking bridge connecting to the Woods building.  Glenda Godwin said, “The furniture will be bright and reflective like the creative talents that will be housed in that building.” Any students and faculty that attended the celebration this past Tuesday signed the last beam. The exterior of the building will most likely be finished before winter, making the interior the final project. The Humanities Building is right on schedule and should be ready by fall of 2016.

Pioneering the Parking Lots

By Kalynn Meeker

Fall semester of 2015 at Volunteer State Community College is full of changes. One is an expected 20% increase of students.  No matter if you are a student or a faculty member, freshmen or upperclassmen, traffic can be a challenge.  In an interview with Angela Lawson, the Assistant Chief of Police, these changes were cleared up.

To aid the increase of traffic, there is an increase of parking spaces. The H Lot, which is convenient for anyone entering from the Greenlea Boulevard, has been extended to approximately 200 spaces. Also added on to is the largest parking lot, the E lot, by approximately 50 spaces. For anyone coming through the main entrance, this lot is most accessible. A new, real four-way stop can be used to enter into the parking lot;  however, the spaces will fill up quickly for students and staff alike. Rebecca Flentge, a freshmen but not a newcomer to the Volstate campus, said, “I think that the new parking lot and the roads make it impossible to get anywhere and it makes getting to class a longer process.”

When asked how students and staff will know where they can park, Lawson explained that there would be signage placed in the spots where students can park and staff can park. Along with the signage there will be color indications: yellow lines are for students and white for general parking. Most general parking is located in front of the Thigpen Library.

“The mornings between 7:30 and 8:30 will be the busiest. Fridays will not be so bad,” Lawson said when asked about the peak traffic times. There will be a two or three-week grace period for all students and staff when it comes to parking in designated spots and decals. Additionally, for the first two weeks there will be heavy police presence to help those in need of guidance around campus, not to give citations.

In order to avoid getting a citation, decals will need to be on cars within two to three weeks after classes begin. To make the transition smoother into the new school year, Campus Connect is supplied all new freshmen with parking decals on August 22nd, during Welcome Day.

ELearn and Online Success

By Kalynn Meeker


Distribution Learning has taken on the task of teaching Volunteer State Community College’s course management system, eLearn. Andrea Scruggs, the Distribution Learning Coordinator, and her team have supplied all there is to know about the program. All upcoming students have the opportunity to trial run eLearn with the training course to better understand how the program works.

Scruggs relayed the way in to carry out the process. Logging on the Volstate website at “” is the first step.  Under the “Current Students” tab, students will click on “eLearn”.  When asked the username type in “VSGuest” and the password is “Guest123”. This will bring you to the guest account.  On the right side of the screen is a link in the “eLearn Resources” module. Click on the first link in the module to take you to the homepage for eLearn Success.

The student is given step-by-step instructions on navigating through every facet of eLearn. There is also a quick-tip sheet of general information. The highlighted red words open in-depth tutorials about everything from classlists to quizzes. Understanding how to use different types of media like Youtube is demonstrated on the page. Kurzweil 3000/Firefly tutorials can be found as well to assist in on-the-go assignment success. When asked how this helps to understand eLearn, Rachel Effinger, first-time freshmen at Volstate, said, “I think once I start classes and I get in contact with someone else, it will help.”

There is also help for faculty in this endeavor. Scruggs has equipped instructors with step-by-step instructions on how to make the beginning of the courses run successfully on eLearn. It can be found on the Distribution Learning blog by visiting

Tuition going up 3.4% at Volunteer State

The Tennessee Board of Regents approved increases in tuition and fees Friday that are among the lowest on average since 1996.
The increase raises tuition an average of 3.3 percent across the six TBR universities, 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.
Students at community colleges will pay 3.4 percent more for tuition fees.

Students at Volunteer State Community College will pay $3,648 in maintenance/tuition fees, plus $277 in mandatory fees, beginning with the Fall semester, for the 2015-16 academic year.

Vol State has the second lowest tuition and mandatory fee ($3,925) among Tennessee community colleges, just $6 more than Columbia State Community College ($3,919).
In addition to maintenance fees/tuition, which are charged by the credit hour, all students pay a set of mandatory fees that are unique to each campus, like athletics fees, student activities fees, health services fees, etc.

“We are pleased that the tuition levels are the lowest they have been in decades, but we do understand that every time fees are raised, someone may be priced out of an opportunity to attend one of our institutions,” said TBR Chancellor John Morgan.

“Tennessee is fortunate to have state leaders who recognize the integral connection between an educated workforce with affordable access to post-secondary education and the economic growth of our state. Our Hope lottery scholarship, the Tennessee Promise last-dollar scholarship and the Tennessee Reconnect grant, along with other state and federal aid programs, make higher education a more realistic option for more people today than ever before, but for those who must cover the full cost of attendance, any increase is unfortunate,” he said.
“Our institutions are more efficient now than ever, and they continue to focus their resources on ways that support student success to help more complete their credentials faster and more effectively.

“We hope that in the coming years our state leaders will continue to find a way to make higher education a funding priority,” Morgan said.

How fees are calculated:

Maintenance fees
(often referred to as “tuition”) are the charges based on credit hours for in-state students. For example, a student pays a flat rate for the first 12 hours of class credits and a discounted rate for any additional hours. Only out-of-state students are required to pay tuition in addition to maintenance fees. Mandatory fees vary by institution, fund specified programs, and are paid by all students regardless of the number of hours they take.

Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Building under construction behind Wood Center

The Steinhauer, Rogan and Black Building is under construction behind the Wood Campus Center on the Vol State Gallatin campus.

The Steinhauer, Rogan and Black Building is under construction behind the Wood Campus Center on the Vol State Gallatin campus.

Volunteer State Community College’s main Gallatin campus is under construction for a new Humanities building. The building will be located between the Wood Campus Center and the Mattox Building.

The new building will be the Steinhauer, Rogan and Black Building.

It will be the largest building on campus at  88,345 square feet.

Specific criteria that is planned for the new building includes it having 23 classrooms, 18 labs, 11 collaborative study areas, 56 offices, adjunct faculty workrooms, an outdoor amphitheater, and a courtyard. It will also have a recording studio/ lab; drawing, ceramics and printmaking studios; instrumental art gallery, computer labs, and a large capacity of flexible instructional space.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity this will give to our students in the Humanities program. But it will also free up space for us to offer exciting and collaborative activities and classes for students in all programs,” said Alycia Ehlert, dean of the Humanities division.

Construction is said to be completed by the summer of 2016.

Traffic and parking changes and warnings will be e-mailed throughout the Vol State community via their student or faculty g-mail accounts.

Live streaming of the construction can be watched online at

Completion Advisors to start in July

 Starting in the Fall, Volunteer State Community College will be introducing new advising help for the student body.

Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President of Academic Affairs, said the Funding is currently pending but the school plans to hire four completion advisors.

“Each division will have one, so there will be one assigned to Humanities, one assigned to Social Science, one for Business and Technology and one for Math and Science. We already have one in Allied Health,” said Pimentel. 

Pimentel also said the completion advisors will give students guidance.

“They will have an advising load just like the other faculty do but they are going to be there for a resource, they are going to help by doing more active advising . . . they will be trained as counselors as well,” said Pimentel.

If a student’s advisor is absent or unable to see the student right away, Pimentel said the completion advisors are who the students should go to next. 

“Say, your advisors not there, instead of you having to come back another day, that persons there in the division. You can go see them and they can take notes and send them to your advisor and help out the students.

“We are really looking forward to having them on board in July. We are relatively sure we are going to move July 1, so that’s our goal. I can’t guarantee it, but I feel good about it,” said Pimentel. 

Summer’s Campus Connect welcomes new students to campus and college

This summer, Volunteer State Community College is hosting a number of orientations for upcoming first-time Vol State students.

Among those students, are the ones who qualified for the Tennessee Promise program. 

Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President of Academic Affairs, said as a result of the increase in students, more orientations have been added. 

“All the students that are coming to Vol State who are on the TN Promise will be embedded just like the other students but because this is the first big push out for TN Promise, and a lot of students have applied, the Governor [Bill Haslam] has asked that we actually have some specific days [for them],” said Pimentel. 

According to Student Services, all first-time students will receive a letter in the mail with their orientation date and any additional information they need. 

Pimentel said orientation is a must in order for a student to be comfortable and successful in their first year. 

“One of the most consistent messages we’ve been telling everyone, as well as all the other schools, is that when we go to the mentor meeting to talk to the students that are going to be TN Promise students, [we tell them to] come to orientation, fill out your schedule, speak to your advisor because that’s all things that will help make them successful. There are just a variety of things like that, that will be going on all summer as a part of our normal orientation,” said Pimentel.  

Vol State considering two commencements to aid students

May 9, Volunteer State Community College hosted its 43rd annual graduation ceremony. According to the Vol State website, the event had the largest amount of participants in the college’s history, with more than 470 students walking.

With the increase in numbers, the Commencement Committee is deciding whether or not to add another graduation into the school year.

Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President of Academic Affairs and a member of the committee, said that it all depends on how many people walk.

“If we continue to grow like we have been over the next few years, we feel like it’s going to be necessary to have a Fall and probably a Christmas graduation.

“Right now, nothing’s official, but we’re going to be talking about it next year after this graduation to see if we need to go ahead and just expand to two of them. We’ll try to keep the same one for as long as we can,” said Pimentel.

Pimentel said besides the additional cost, there are a couple things they are working on.

“Number one, we have about 470 students who traditionally walk, but if that number grows to 550, then obviously you add all of them, plus everyone who brings five guests, and its really full. So we are right there at about the maximum number we can accommodate.

“We’ll have to meet this summer to talk about [if] we just want to split it and have the students that graduate in December, just have a ceremony for them at Christmas time and the ones who graduate [in the] Spring and Summer, we’ll do like we normally do in may. That decision will be made by the [Vol State] president sometime this year,” said Pimentel.

Women’s Tea recognizes and celebrates women of Vol State

Volunteer State Community College hosted its annual Women’s Tea last Wednesday, to celebrate Women’s History Month.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Sybril Bennett, an Emmy Award winning journalist.

After a welcome by Davis Carr, Psychology club president, Dr. Carole Bucy, professor of History, introduced Bennett.

“She has a book out about the underground railroad that is really about networking. Its about how people can take the example about this folks who worked the Underground Railroad to get you from point A, to point B, to point C, safely and freely and how you can apply those principles today. . . . She has worked for CBS news, she has worked for Channel 5 News here in town, and she is a journalism professor at Belmont,” said Bucy.

Bennett spoke about networking in the world today and how it relates to the Underground Railroad.

“If you think about innovation and the Underground Railroad, my premise is, the Underground Railroad is among the most innovative, effective and disruptive networks in U.S. History. The Internet will be too,” said Bennett.

“I use seven ideas as a framework, the seven elements of innovation; problem, principle, purpose, pioneering, perspective, passion and play. Problems, if you think about then and you think about now, the problems are the same. Freedom, boundaries, ownership, privacy, access, “ said Bennett.

Bennett talked about enslaved Africans of the past and what they fought for.

“The enslaved Africans, and I use that term deliberately because they were enslaved, they were forced into slavery. Some now choose to be slaves in denial, doubt, [and] disbelief. There’s choices that are made, but in this case, these were enslaved Africans. These were people who were forced into slavery. These were people who fought for their privacy. They wanted the right to eat alone, bathe alone, have intimate relationships alone. . . . Enslaved Africans valued their personhood, they valued their freedom. So much so, they partnered with an amazing network to get to that freedom,” said Bennett.

“I heard [Bennett] speak two years ago and met her for the first time, at the Nashville Davidson County African-American history conference, which is sponsored every year by the Metro Historical commission and she was such a dynamic speaker that I knew she would do well here at Vol State because her motivational message of ‘you can be anything you want to be’ I think really needs to be heard by our community college students,” said Bucy.

After Bennett spoke, lunch was served and awards were presented to four women who were nominated as outstanding women on campus. These four women were Kathy Sowell, director of the office of disability services and ADA coordinator; Melva Black, instructor of communication; Shellie Michael, associate professor of
Communication and English; and Brenda Buffington, director of adult learners and evening services.

Connie Martin, instructor in psychology and education, attended the event and said she enjoyed it.

“It was very active and very interesting. I liked how [Bennett] took the Underground Railroad and made it applicable to everyone in the audience . . . everyone from the youngest person in the audience to the oldest person in the audience. I got ways out of it that I could look and change maybe some of the ways that I’m doing, for example she said ‘stop looking at the problem to find the solutions,’ I’m going to share that with my students,” said Martin.

By Brittney Mace// Assistant Editor