Santa’s on the way to Vol State’s needy kids

By Katelyn Marshall

The Student Government Association at Volunteer State Community College, with the assistance of other student organizations annually sponsors an event known as Christmas for the Kids, to benefit the children of Vol State students, whose families are experiencing significant financial hardship going into the holiday season.

Gifts for the children will be sponsored by campus organizations and individuals within the Vol State community, up to $50 per child.

“Christmas for Kids started by the Student Government [Association],” said Tabitha Sherrell, who coordinates student activities and has been at Vol State for almost 8 years. Sherrell said that she is currently working on writing a dissertation to earn her doctorate degree in education. “It was started because SGA wanted to give back to the student body. So, this way of giving back is if you are a Vol State student and you have children, then you can apply for Christmas for the Kids.”

Sherrell explained in more detail about how Christmas for the Kids operates. “It’s basically, like if you go to any other store in the community and they have an angel tree, it’s the same concept.”

She added that a parent who is a Vol State student will come in and fill out an application for their child, called a Santa Survey. The Santa Survey will tell about what the kids needs or want, the child’s size and age.

The Christmas for the Kids committee, which is a committee of currently enrolled students in student government, will create ornaments, which is a paper ornament.

Sherrell said that this year there will be multiple ornaments from Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Santa, and an Elf hat. On the back of that ornament will be information that pertains to the child, which will not be their name.

“It will be a number,” Sherrell said. “Only us and the Office of Engagement and Support will know who the child is. But it will be a number and it will say how old the child is, if it’s a boy or a girl, and then it will list all the stuff on that Santa Survey [such as] their clothing size, things that they need, and things that they would like to get.”

After that, SGA will put up a Christmas tree and hang the ornaments up in the tiled dining room.

“Then my office sends out a push or an advertisement to ask the Vol State community, but it really can be anyone,” Sherrell added. “For example, my mom lives two hours away from here, but she knows that we do Christmas for the Kids every year, so I always grab two ornaments off the tree. I have one and she has one and we shop on black Friday for whatever children we selected. It could be anybody that adopts an ornament off the tree.”

The deadline for the application was Monday, November 11. “It does have to be a har deadline. It’s a firm deadline because once we have the applications in, we have to get to work on those ornaments. There are multiple deadlines in a row,” Sherrell explained. November 15 was the deadline for the committee to have all ornaments up on the tree. “We learned that it’s a whole lot easier if those ornaments are up on the tree and available for the community to take before Thanksgiving. A lot of people shop on black Friday or

on Thanksgiving, so having this ornament available to them before Thanksgiving really helped.”

Specific items needed, based on the survey, according to Sherrell, include winter coats, scarf, gloves, hats, winter boots, socks, underwear, pants, and shirts.

According to Sherrell, there is not a limit to how many items someone can purchase, however, it is asked of people who take an ornament off the tree to spend at least $50 on that child, although it could be more than that minimum price.

For those who take an ornament, the gifts are due back to the Office of Student Engagement and Support by Wednesday, Dec. 4. Also, it is asked by the Office of Student Engagement that the gifts are not wrapped but put in a gift bag instead.

“There is a Christmas party on December 6,” Sherrell added. “This year, that Christmas party is going to be open to all Vol State students to bring their children, not just those who are in the Christmas for the Kids program. Essentially, anyone who applied for the Christmas for the Kids program, they will be able to pick up their gifts from this office, Wood 215, the week of finals.”

Sherrell explained that they are trying to make it more convenient for parents. If they come to the Christmas party with their kids, Sherrell said that they found out that their children see the gifts right then and want to open their gifts.

“SGA, this year, said, ‘what if we don’t do that? What if we just offer a fun party for anybody to come to, and then if you’re someone who is a recipient of a Christmas for Kids gift. You can come right your last final, when your kids are not with you, you can

pick up the gifts, and hide it if you want, and it really does work for Christmas day,” Sherrell said.

In the past, Christmas for the Kids has been very successful according to Sherrell. “It’s honestly always successful. In the 8 years that I have been here, we’ve never seen zero. The number has been between 50 and, honestly, this year we have 125 children that will go under the tree.”

According to Sherrell, this is the largest number that she has seen. She also said that it is usually between 50 and 80 and that there was one year where there may have been 40 children.

Sherrell said her platform quote to the world was, “In a nutshell, be kind to one another. Be kind in what you do. This also goes along with Christmas for the Kids. Think about, it’s 125 kids, that are going to have a present under the tree that they may not have if SGA hadn’t done this program, so I would say be kind.”

Austin Peay transfer finds self on VSCC basketball court

By Katelyn Marshall 

Volunteer State Community College’s student feature is on Austin Fisher.  

“I play basketball at Vol State, I transferred from Austin Peay and now I’m here,” Fisher said.  

Fisher said that his major at Vol State is TV and Broadcasting Communications and he said that he will graduate in the spring. 

After graduating from Vol State, “I’m going on to a four-year to continue my education and continue to play basketball.” 

Fisher explained how Vol State has impacted or changed his life.  

“The teachers are definitely a lot more hands-on here than the other school that I was at, and the teachers, kind of leave you out to dry and you just didn’t know really what was going on. I would say Vol State impacted my life in the classroom more because I feel like I’m learning a lot more here, he said. 

“I try to do a lot, but I would say the most positive thing from my behalf would be the knowledge about basketball and maybe helping kids,” Fisher explained. “And from a basketball aspect because that’s what I’m best at—playing basketball, so I feel like that kind of carries more weight than all the other stuff do.” 

The most negative Fisher said he has ever done, “is probably on the basketball court. I probably said some negative things or something like that. For the most part, I’m kind of a laid-back person. I would say my most negative thing would be probably saying something on the court that I shouldn’t have said.” 

Overseas courses offered by Study Abroad

By Katelyn Marshall

The goal of the International Education program is to provide Volunteer State Community College students with a global perspective, according to Vol State’s website.

It starts in the classroom with new ways of looking at academic subjects and grows with special international events and speakers on campus.

“Study Abroad is an opportunity for students at Vol State students to travel internationally and complete college classes at the same time,” said Dr. Rhonda Gregory, Dean of Academic Support at Vol State and has been working here for nearly five years. In her role, she oversees international education, the Learning Commons, and Distributed Education.

“So, for example, a student can go on a spring break trip. This year, in 2020, [they can go to] either India or Spain with other Vol State students and faculty and study criminal justice, art, Literature, and there are many other opportunities available for the summer as well.”

Gregory explained how the Study Abroad classes benefit students, saying that these classes provide a rich cultural environment.

“It immerses students in the physical spaces that history happened, so you can walk in the footsteps of great literary authors or see the fantastic architectural pieces that have influenced the world, or you can see the seven wonders of the world.”

She added that Study Abroad is an opportunity to experience life and culture that is different than your own and helps you raise awareness or understanding of different cultures.

First gen students celebrate this month

By Katelyn Marshall

Volunteer State Community College will celebrate first generation students throughout November, including a First-Generation Student Celebration Thursday, Nov. 7.

The First-Generation Student Celebration will be on the Gallatin Campus at 12:45 p.m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Rooms A and B (Lunch) according to an e-mail from Eric Melcher, Coordinator of Public Relations and Marketing at Vol State.

The other locations and times will be at the Highland Crest at 12:45 p.m., Zoom Room 146 and at noon until 3 p.m. at the First-Gen Table. The next location that the First-Generation Student Celebration will be at is on the Cookeville Campus from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the First-Gen Table only.

“The event started in 2017,” said Dr. Jerry Faulkner, Vol State President. “It was sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. It was held Nov. 8 to commemorate the passage by Congress of the first version of the Higher Education Act in 1965.”

Faulkner is also a First-Generation Student, explaining that his mother finished high school and his father earned his high school equivalency after returning from service in World War II.

“They supported me in going to college but didn’t have personal experience to draw from to advise me,” he said.

He added that he was not successful in his first attempt at college through, “no faults of my parents. I just wasn’t a very good student. After stopping out for 10 years, I realized my job only provided a pay check and an ulcer. I determined that the way to change my trajectory was to complete my education, so I returned to college at the age of 30.”

Faulkner said that he is the first in his family to graduate from college and obtain graduate degrees.

The way Faulkner said he became involved in the First-Generation events was because he saw an announcement last year on an Internet information sources that he is subscribed to. He explained that he shared it with the Public Relations (PR) director as something that they wanted to do this year.

“Andrea Bodie, Director of the Trio Program at Vol State works with many first-generation students and she has been instrumental in the planning for the event,” said Faulkner.

Faulkner explained how the First-Generation Student Celebration event benefits students by saying that first-generation students oftentimes do not have a support base at home that can help them navigate the college going process.

“I think this celebration will reinforce that there are lots of folks here at Vol State ready and able to support our students,” he said.

This is the first year Vol State has participated, according to Faulkner.

“We are eager to see how many students participate. We are also eager to see how many faculty and staff show their support for first-generation students,” said Faulkner

Faulkner explained how important it is that Vol State host these events and show support.

“At Vol State we often say, ‘Student success is job one and it is everyone’s job one. Events like this put our words into action to support all our students regardless of their situation and goals,” he said.

During the First-Generation Student Celebration, there will be a discussion with first-generation college students, faculty, and staff hosted by Faulkner. Everyone is encouraged to wear their First-Gen t-shirt and/or button.

There will be prize drawings for gear and book scholarships for students, according to the event description provided by Melcher.

There will be several other First-Generation student events. A complete list of First-Generation events can be found on the Vol State blog.

War artifacts shown in library

By Katelyn Marshall

The Rochelle Center in Thigpen Library at Volunteer State Community College will have 26 tables displaying a collection of World War II military souvenirs that include American, German and Japanese uniforms and field gear, according to Vol State’s event website.

The World War II display, which is called the Salute to the Greatest Generation, will be Monday, Oct. 28., from 9 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. and will be hosted by Vol State adjunct history instructor Peter Johnson. The display also includes home front items from the World War II period.

“I’ve been bringing my World War II items into my classes and setting them up for display probably for the last ten years,” said Johnson, who has been teaching at Vol State for 14 years. At the moment, he is teaching adjunct this semester after retiring in Dec. 2018.

“I’ve been collecting since I was just a boy, probably eight to ten years old.”

According to Johnson, his World War II display benefits students because they get the hands-on experience of seeing actual military artifacts from World War II.

“It is something that they’ll probably never experience in a class again. Some of the items are quite rare and they get to see them first-hand.”

Johnson explained that he hoped students will learn that war is not to be glorified, although sometimes war is necessary.

“Such was the case with World War II,” Johnson said. “It was necessary that we had rid the world of fascism, totalitarianism, and the genocide of Jewish people, and others.”

Johnson’s platform quote to the world pertaining to World War II is, “The men and women of the WWII generation answered the nation’s call to defend freedom abroad and here at home. When victory was achieved, they changed the world. Now before they are all gone from us, we need to express our gratitude towards them. That’s what this display is all about.”

Johnson explained the historical context of World War II, saying that it went back to the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I. World War II began when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Great Britain and France then declared war on Germany later that same month. The United States entered the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred Dec.7, 1941.

Johnson explained that the economy of Germany was terrible with inflation and the government that was established was weak.

The display is open to everyone, according to Johnson, including students, faculty, and visitors. “There are some very unique items and it includes U.S., German and Japanese military artifacts.”