Monday, February 27, 2012
Many people have asked me how I’ve benefited from being a Vol State President’s Ambassador. Sometimes I find it hard to adequately answer this question, since being an Ambassador has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. If I were to put it simply, I would say that it has been amazing, but the effects it has had on my life go so much deeper than that. As a President’s Ambassador, I have seen myself grow far beyond any expectation I had set for myself, and I have done things that I never thought I was capable of doing. These last two semesters as an Ambassador have truly opened my eyes not only to my potential as a student, but also to all the possibilities that now lay before me.
I wasn’t always as high-reaching as I am now, however. When I came to Vol State, it was in the Fall of 2010, and I was coming straight out of high school. Like most newly-graduated students, I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of going to college. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of spending another portion of my life stuck in a classroom either. I have to admit, I didn’t think I was capable of doing well academically, let alone serve as an Ambassador. I knew that I had a great life in store for me, filled with all the hopes and dreams I had made for myself, but in the way stood a high mountain known as “college.” This mountain can be difficult to climb and take a long time for some, and even longer for others. Some people attempt to make the ascent and change their mind, while others return to climb the mountain after trying once before. Some people don’t ever make it all the way over the mountain, while others do make it over and even go on to climb more mountains. I knew that I had to decide if I was up to the challenge or not. Looking back, I can still remember my very first day of class when I found myself standing in the quad, watching all the other students around me. In that moment, I realized that I was surrounded by college students, and that I was one of them. The realization that I was actually in college set in, and from that moment forward, I determined that I was going to make it all the way up this mountain, no matter how difficult the climb.
Since then, I have met challenge after challenge, and taken advantage of opportunity after opportunity, all the while continuing on my journey to the peak. With each new experience, I recognize even more the amount of growth I have undergone as both a student and a person. Where previously there was lack of direction, now there is purpose. Where there was inadequacy, now there is capability. And where there was fear of failure, now there is determination to try. So when someone asks me, “what has being a President’s Ambassador done for you?” I tell them, “it’s given me courage to climb the mountain.”
Vol State President's Ambassador
Volunteer State Community College
Posted by Vol State at 11:04 AM
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Posted by Paul Farmer at 12:24 PM
Friday, February 17, 2012
Vol State spring break is coming up from March 5-10. Some students will be traveling to other countries for spring break and the U.S. State Department has some tips and suggestions for students.
Spring Break is fast approaching and many students are preparing to travel abroad for a well-deserved vacation. Smart trip-planning involves more than getting a new travel guide and backpack. That’s where the State Department can help: We have resources for students and their parents to prepare for safe, enjoyable trips.
Be Smart. Students are not invincible when they go abroad. Every year, there are incidents of travelers being arrested, injured, sexually assaulted, and even killed. For Spring Breakers, many incidents have been linked to alcohol and drug use. These and other specific issues for students are highlighted on our studentsabroad.state.gov website to raise their awareness. The site serves as a one-stop shop with useful safety and travel information, and should be the first place students visit when considering a trip abroad.
Be Safe. The State Department also encourages students to stay connected while they travel. All U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad may sign up online for our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP enrollment makes it possible for the State Department to contact the student traveler in the case of a family emergency in the United States, or in the event of a crisis in a foreign country. Safety and security updates are automatically sent to the enrolled citizen so they can make informed trip-planning decisions. It’s free and takes less than five minutes to register online.
Our priority is to ensure that students return home safely, and we believe that a well-informed traveler is a safer traveler.
For further travel information contact:
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Public inquiries: (888) 407-4747
Download the Smart Traveler iPhone app.
Posted by Vol State at 11:43 AM
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Posted by Paul Farmer at 9:07 AM
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Dr. Ruff is a professor of History. He will be retiring at the end of the spring semester. He will be remembered for teaching some of the toughest classes on campus and also for inspiring students to go beyond expectations.
Some of his students havedropped out due to the work load. The ones who stay, often end up taking several classes with him.
Years later, students will return. Some even want to sit in on a class or two for old times sake. Others remark about how Dr. Ruff has changed their lives.
“I got into Vol State as a communications major, but I had a class with Dr. Ruff and five days after that class I changed my major and decided to go into history,” said former student Paul Love. Love turned that passion for history into a Fulbright Scholarship research project in Cairo.
“Dr. Ruff allowed me to do unorthodox study of the Middle East, with a lot of freedom to explore,” said Love.
“History doesn’t turn out to be most students’ favorite class. What I try to do is find out what the students are interested in,” said Dr. Ruff. “What I argue in class is that whatever a student is interested in- is in this class, history. The idea is to discover your strengths.”
In Dr. Ruff’s World History class, budding scholars learn to speak out and ask tough questions of their classmates. They sit in a circle, shooting ideas back and forth around the group. Dr. Ruff has one big requirement for the discussion: opinions need to be supported by fact.
“Almost without exception the students who come through that class are amazing,” Dr. Ruff said. “Now, they don’t always start out that way.”
Ruff began his teaching career as a graduate student at Auburn University.
“I remember walking into that first class and thinking- I don’t know if I can do this.”
His hand was shaking as he took the class roll and students noticed.
“They started laughing and I started laughing and it’s been great ever since.”
Ruff says that his graduate work taught him about another version of world history.
“History is tulmultous, it’s chaotic, it’s controversial and yet quite often they (textbooks and lecturers) don’t include that dynamism.”
“Most of my students are not going to graduate school, so they won’t find out about the spicy, challenging underside of history. So, I brought that information into the classroom.”
Others may argue that community college students should be getting just the basic facts of a subject.
“What facts? Ruff said. “The facts someone selects? Factual information is not neuteral. I think we’re not giving students credit for what they can handle and what they can do. When students are taught differently, more often than not, they will rise to the challenge.”
Dr. Ruff remembers a student who took the same course five times, always dropping out after a few weeks. On the sixth try Ruff says the student not only stayed through the entire semester but made an A.
Ruff is well-known for his dedication to student activities, such as the Student Government Association. His tenure as the sponsor of the Cheerleading Sqad was a bit of a stretch for the professor. He spent 10 years coaching and mentoring the squad, as what he calls the “Cheer Daddy.”
“I was demanding in the classroom, but when students saw that you were the Cheer Daddy outside of class, it humanized you.”
When asked if the students were less intimidated then, he provides a quick smile and a succint answer.
Dr. Ruff taught year-round for 35 years, finally taking summers off at the request of his wife just a few years ago. He says he has no big plans for retirement. When asked if he will miss teaching he gives an honest answer.
“I’ve never been retired before. I don’t know what it will be like.”
It’s clear though that his thoughts will be returning again and again to his students. It’s also clear that they will continue to write and call and check-in, even after 25 years or more.
“I have had so many outstanding students that it boggles my mind.”
Volunteer State Community College
Posted by Vol State at 11:32 AM
Thursday, February 9, 2012
|A sampling of the Soul Food last year|
Posted by Paul Farmer at 1:37 PM
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Posted by Paul Farmer at 6:00 AM