Date Night is brought to Vol State campus

By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer


Volunteer State Community College will be hosting a ‘Date Night’ on Feb. 5 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Rochelle Center. Kids can enjoy crafts and a movie while parents enjoy a “kid-free” dinner and movie in the Tiled Dining Room.

When you are a parent, it can be difficult to find time to share with your significant other with parental duties on the mind. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the student body organizations could not have chosen a more fitting event for the February Family Series.

“The event started as a conversation about what kind of family friendly event we could host in the month of February. Of course we did think about Valentine’s Day and how hard it can be to get a babysitter and plan a “date night.” We decided to provide a FREE date night option for them,’ said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities.

“The goal is to provide an event that allows non-traditional students to participate with their families.” added Sherrell.

Date Night was coordinated through the Office of Student Life & Diversity Initiatives. It is being co-sponsored by some of Vol State’s very own clubs and organizations. Club leaders will discuss the type of activities and crafts that will be available to the children. Movie selections for the evening are still in discussion, but are soon to be revealed as our students and faculty return to campus this week.

Date Night is directed toward students who are parents, but it is free for anyone to attend. Faculty, staff, and couples in general are welcome to come and enjoy this event.

Of course, a good thing for parents to know is the conditions for who will watch over their kids that evening. The clubs who have signed up for it, with assistance from Sherrell and Lori Miller, Secretary of Student Services, will oversee supervision in the Tiled Dining Room.

The dinner menu for kids will consist of pizza, chips and salsa, cookies, water and punch. Manicotti, salad, breadsticks, cheesecake, water and sweet tea will be on the menu for parents and couples attending Date Night. Meals will be served for kids at 6:45 PM, with the adults served at 7 PM.

“That’s actually not a bad idea. I would definitely try and take my girlfriend that night. It’s free, so you can’t beat that,” said Brian Cummings, a Fire Science major here at Vol State.

Be on the lookout for the next issue of The Settler to see which films were selected for the screenings!

Living life to its full potential

By Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief


With the advancement on technology, it seems to be much easier to stay indoors and spend all of one’s free time on social media or Netflix. While, in moderation, this can be really nice, one can miss several of life’s opportunities as a result.

Life is short, and no one gets out of it alive. That is simple enough. It should not be wasted on social media and T.V. binges. There is an entire world waiting for you.

There is a lot of temptation that comes with living in the modern world. With the Internet at our fingertips, it is almost natural to want to scroll Facebook while you are in public.

I cannot begin to count the number of people I have seen sit in classrooms and scroll social media before class begins. Some rooms are silent because no one is trying to communicate with the people around them.

It is astonishing how much can happen when we put our phones away for a while. You can meet new people or even see a fantastic moment occur right before your eyes. Neither of these can be experienced when your nose is buried into your phone all day.

Even at home, when you are around your family, it is hard to stay off the various websites we have grown accustomed to.

I have heard several discussions lately about mothers who are on their phones instead of playing with their children. On the other hand, people do not seem to be nearly upset about the young adults who are too busy with social media to give their parents attention.

On the other side, we have the beautiful web-service known as Netflix. When in combination with the forces of Hulu and Amazon Prime, these websites can destroy all possibility of leaving the house for days on end.

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to binging a show on Netflix, I will admit. However, I know that it is awful to spend all of my time streaming movies and shows.

There is a world of opportunity and adventure when you leave the comfortable confines of your “nest,” as some may call it. We are given a very short time on this world, and we should do with it all that we can.

So, the next time you find yourself doubting that outing with your friends, as Netflix calls your name, remember the short time you have. Then, pull your shoes on and run out to meet your friends.

Oh, and do not forget to put your phone in a hard-to-get-to spot, so you will not be looking at it all day.

Blake’s Book Bag: Winter Weather Reading

By Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor


Welcome back to The Settler’s book review, where I sift what you should be reading from what you could be reading.

This week we are going to discuss good books to read for winter when you are stuck at home and can’t go anywhere because of the centimeters and centimeters of snow piled up around your house (we poor Southerners just don’t know any better).

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Now my first recommendation serves two purposes. 1) Alan Rickman, known for a fantastic performance as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, just passed away. 2) Harry Potter is the perfect thing to read for when you are going just a little stir crazy when cooped up in your house.

I chose “Goblet of Fire” because it is almost certain to hold your attention between everything going on in it. Between two Olympic-style wizarding events, a ball, Voldemort’s return, the Forbidden Curses, the mystery of who put Harry’s name in the goblet – there will definitely be something here to engross you and keep you reading for hours on end

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

If you want a cutesy-type comedy to occupy your attention and ensure your cheeks are not rosy just from the frigid wind, then give “Landline” a try.

This book is so delightfully quotable with the one-liners Rowell gives her characters. The book is basically about a screenwriter whose marriage is on the rocks with her husband and hurts it even further when she tells him she will have to work on Christmas rather than go to his parents’ house down south.

With an iciness that has nothing to do with the weather between them, he leaves with the kids while Georgie stays at her mother’s house. There she uses her mom’s landline to call him, but discovers that each call she makes is to her husband of years ago, while he was in college.

Time-travelling phone calling that doesn’t waste time trying to explain itself, interesting characters, a snowy Nebraska setting, and whip-snapping dialogue ensure you might just finish this before the snow melts.


61 Hours by Lee Child.

It was between this one and “And Then There Were None,” but I ultimately settled on this one because with Child’s writing you will feel just how cold the main character, Jack Reacher, is.

If you like a little bit of thrill and mystery to your late nights by the fire, look no further than “61 Hours.” Jack Reacher is on a tour bus with several senior citizens when it breaks down near South Dakota.

On the kindness of a stranger, he ends up staying at the house of a star witness in a case against the corruption of the town. But witness is in danger because a hitman for the mafia is coming to town.

Told over the course of (you guessed it) 61 hours, Child’s writing shows he knows how to do what he does when it comes to showing off a kick-butt character and overwhelming odds – all against the backdrop of the frozen South Dakota landscape.

Getting back on track after inclement weather

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor


Our spring semester at Volunteer State Community College has gotten off to a snowy start.

However, we must not let this distract us from our studies.

We were all prepared to start back and cannot let these snow days slow down that momentum.

According to, “when students come back to school, some teachers may find that students are less focused after an extended, unexpected break.”

Freezing temperatures and a snow blanketed ground are an invitation for many to cuddle up and binge watch their favorite series, movies, etc.

Keep a steady pace and do not get behind on your studies, especially before our first full week of classes.

The snow is melting, and you will come out of this haze.

Stay focused on your work with a warm cup of coffee and cozy socks if it helps, but do not keep pushing your homework aside.

Some of us have our own structure that assists us during these sluggish times.

“I personally get all my work done ahead of time,” said Maegan Smith, a student at Vol State.

“That way I can relax and enjoy the snow!

“Usually teachers give you a syllabus or some kind of schedule of assignments, and you can get ahead; that way you don’t fall behind,” Smith said. “It’s much more relaxing that way.”

Jesse Versage, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said, “what I do to stay on track with school work is just get done with what I have early, so I have the rest of the day to go out and play in the snow.”

If you are off to a rough start, do not panic; what’s done is done, but you can right those wrongs.

Now that the snowy interruption is over do not pick up the remote, stay off the couch and silence your phone.

So, here we are, it is week 2. Print off your assignments, get your head in school and back on track.

“One thing I would suggest is just going on a social media ‘fast,’” advised Joshua Brewster, a student at Vol State.

“Then, find a place to sit and keep as many distracting things away as you can, where it will be easy to focus.

“Listening to classical music, or instrumental music is recommended to keep background noise out,” according to Brewster.

You can do this!

Everybody has been there, but we have your back.

Now get busy!

Vol State becomes no-substance campus

By: Aundrea Paredes, Contributing Writer

Volunteer State Community College became a “No Smoking” campus on Jan. 1, 2016. The new policy includes all Vol State campuses.

All use of tobacco products, including smokeless products, has been restricted on campus grounds and in the parking lots. This includes: vaping, chewing tobacco, water pipes, etc.

According to the Vol State Web site, “The tobacco-vape-free policy is a part of Vol State’s commitment to creating a healthy and sustainable environment for all members of our campus community and is designed to be positive and health directed.”

The Vol State Web site also includes that any visitors to the college are subjected to abide by the Tobacco-Limited policy:

“Organizers and attendees at public events, such as conferences, meetings, public lectures, social events, cultural events, and sporting events using Vol State facilities are required to abide by the Tobacco-Limited Campus policy.”

The decisions concerning the new policy were made after a previous survey conducted by the Student Government Association, SGA, and the President’s Cabinet at Vol State.

“I agree with the collective decision to make Vol State a smoke free campus; it will better the quality of life and make Vol State a healthier college,” said Jesse Versage, president of the SGA.

The new policy encourages students to stop using tobacco products, but does not force them to quit. Help is available to those who want to stop using tobacco products. Students and visitors are also encouraged to speak up if a student, faculty, staff or visitor is caught violating the new policy.

“I personally am happy that we are making this step toward a healthier campus community,” said Tami Wallace, Director of Public Relations and Marketing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general. Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life.”

“College campuses all across the country are making this move,” said Eric Melcher, Communications Coordinator for Public Relations.

To emphasize, there are no designated smoking areas. The entire campus is tobacco, vape, water pipe, and any other substance free. Students and faculty are required to follow this policy as well as visitors.

There are off campus sources that aid any student or faculty that want to stop the use of tobacco. These services can be found on the Vol State Web site.

Vol State Unity Day speaker announced

Unity Day

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Fred Bailey will be speaking at Volunteer State Community College for Unity Day on Jan. 27 in the Caudill Auditorium at 12:45 p.m.

Bailey is the founder of Children Are People, Inc. (CAP), located in Gallatin.

“As one of fifteen children of sharecroppers from Gallatin, Tennessee, Fred was born without the gift of full sight,” the Children Are People website ( wrote.

“Despite an intimate relationship with disadvantage, he received a Bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University, worked at General Electric and served as a middle school and high school wrestling coach,” the website noted.

Unity Day is a Vol State event that leads up to Black History Month and encourages the unity of all people.

“It always follows after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and we host this event to bring enlightenment about Black History Month,” said Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.

“I hope students, faculty and staff will gain insight and enlightenment on black history as well as see a living testament of someone who is not just making black history, but history in general.

“Students will gain first-hand knowledge of the plight and accomplishments of our speaker, Mr. Fred Bailey, who is a renowned business man and motivational speaker from Gallatin,” said Yarbrough.

Bailey started CAP as an after-school program to help children succeed.

Yarbrough went on to say that students would hear about Bailey’s struggles and how he overcame them to help his community.

The office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives annually sponsors unity Day in January.

“I feel like more students should attend Unity Day,” said Kat Lambert, a sophomore at Vol State.

“I believe that it is important for students to learn all history, because it is our past and it shows how far America has come as a nation,” said Lambert.

Students wanted to encourage others to attend this event at Vol State and express its significance.

“It is important for students to show up to events like Unity Day because with politics and racial profiling issues and all the controversy of the last year.”

“It is important to remember we, as college students, are all people with the same goal of furthering our life through higher education,” said Autumn Finley, student at Vol State.

“While there are many differences between Vol State students’ races and social and economic classes and cultures, we still have a united common goal. It puts things in perspective,” Finley said.

Forming good study habits

Forming Good Habits

By Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor


At Volunteer State Community College, it can almost universally be agreed that our biggest enemy is “inclement weather.”

This has never been more illustrated than in the very first week of school this semester (no elaboration needed).

More than ever it is imperative to form good study habits now so that your schedule is not completely thrown off gear by things like the weather, car trouble, relationship trouble – just trouble, okay?

Student life in college is almost invariably 90 percent damage control and 10 percent waiting for the next crisis of the week.

Now is the time to set some safeties in place. I like to call it “preemptive damage control.” Form good habits now, so that when you pick up our end-of-the-semester edition of the paper and see the inevitable “Save Your Grades” article, you can throw your head back and cackle.

With some advice on this, I turned to the Internet and students at Vol State.

Editor-in-Chief Sara Keen had a wonderful editorial last week about procrastination (check it out on our website, seriously). In it she talked about a solid strategy she employs, setting aside a half hour to an hour each day and devote that time to one subject.

Daily reviews of notes that you have taken can be tedious. Instead, the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association website writes that we should consider weekly note reviews.

Since we mostly have Fridays free of school activity now, try and use this time for a weekly review. Be it early in the morning or during lunch, the OKNSA website writes that students should study when they are at their peak, that is, when students are most alert and awake.

I find it imperative to mention that I’ve already checked my phone three different times while writing this article. Silence the phone and put it out of reach. You’ll keep your concentration about you, I promise. writes “how you approach something matters almost as much as what you do. Aim to think positively when you study.”

The website goes on to write that students should avoid catastrophic thinking. “Instead of, ‘I’m a mess, I’ll never have enough time to study for this exam,’ look at it like, ‘I may be a little late to study as much as I’d like, but since I’m doing it now, I’ll get most of it done.’”

We should take an objective view of our grades and ask ourselves what we can do to improve, notes Psychcentral, rather than think “I always mess things up.”

Make a schedule you can stick to. You know what you’ve got to do in a week. Make a study schedule that fits your work and home life. According to the OKSNA website, transferring notes to 3×5 cards would be an effective way to study during spare moments, or recording a lecture for later listening if your professor is particularly fast-speaking.

Holdon Guy, student at Vol State, said that he bases his studying method around the principles of prioritization, time management, breaks, and working hours.

Guy said that he makes out a list of tasks based on due dates, then allocates as much time as needed for each task.

“Doing this allows me to visualize where I need to concentrate my efforts when I study. During study time I incorporate fifteen minutes of break time into every hour,” said Guy.

Guy said that taking fifteen minutes to walk around, eat a snack, or take a bike ride keeps his mind alert and helps him to remember all the material he is studying.

“I try to only study when I feel fresh and productive,” Guy said.

While students cannot predict such things as inclement weather, we can indeed set up safeties for ourselves to ensure that our academic careers are on track by consciously making the effort to, in spite of how much snow is on the ground.