Monday, April 27, 2020

Graduate Profile: Justin Frech


The career pathway for a professional musician is a bit different these days. Justin Frech began his career on YouTube, at the age of 12.
“Me and my dad would take a Bluetooth speaker and put it in the freezer or somewhere at a grocery store and play fake farts at people,” Justin said. That comedy eventually developed into parodies and skits and included not only his dad, John, but also his mom, Becky. The Hyundai car company found the Frech family and put them in an international ad campaign. Justin was officially hooked on entertainment media.
“My dad was an audio engineer and I kind of grew up around music. He worked at Gibson guitars, so there were always Gibsons lying around for me to pluck on.”
Justin took his talents to Vol State and will be one of the first students to graduate in the new Professional Music Associate of Applied Science degree program. “It teaches you what you need as a modern musician: audio engineering, songwriting, producing, and music classes. It touches every aspect of the music industry.”

He is a multi-instrumentalist and drums were a secondary skill, until recently. “When I first got to Vol State Ben Graves recruited me to be a drummer. I was soon playing in the Jazz and Rock Ensembles. I played on many of the songs on the CD recording project at the college. I’m learning all these new skills rhythmically.”

Justin understands the power of Internet and has continued to develop relationships in social media.
“I just finished playing guitar for an influencer called Madison Rose. We’ve know each other since we were 12 because of YouTube. You can be in the middle of Kansas these days and reach millions of people worldwide.”
Justin plans to continue his musical pathway at Belmont University, where he has applied to the very competitive songwriting program. “I have my fingers crossed.” The life of a young music entrepreneur may sound very modern, but for Justin it is rooted in something elemental. “Me and my family have this special creative space that we hang in. My dad works very closely with my music. It’s a great thing that we all get to do together.”
You can check out Justin’s music and comedy on his YouTube channel.
You can also find his latest music on Spotify.

Graduate Profile: Brenda Trask

It all seemed hazy at first. Those equations. The symbols written out on the white board. It had been decades since seeing them in high school.
“I recognized this and recognized that,” said 53-year-old Brenda Trask, a TN Reconnect student. “It’s been a bit of a challenge. When I started going to school I was getting straight As. And then math came along.”

Math is often the elephant in the room for adult students coming to college. For Brenda Trask fitting in on the Vol State campus was not a problem, but recent experience was. “I was not uncomfortable at all. What was a little intimidating were the younger students who had just come out of high school and were more familiar with the concepts.”
Trask said she caught up with college math thanks to tutoring in the Learning Commons academic support center and the work of understanding faculty members. “I’ve learned a lot from those professors. They’ve been so willing to help.”

The Hendersonville mom also received emotional support from her adult children. “They’re the ones that pushed me and encouraged me to do it. They’re both in college themselves, right now. I moved around the country following my ex-husband’s career. I really hadn’t found myself. I focused on my husband and my family. After the divorce, I decided to go back to school. It was time to focus on me.”

Brenda works with the State of Tennessee Division of Tenncare in Human Resources. She said the college degree is essential if she wants to move forward in her career. She plans to graduate this year with a Vol State associate’s degree in management and then continue to Tennessee State University in the fall. She looks back on her Vol State experience with fondness.

“I do enjoy it. I’m president of NSLS (National Society for Leadership and Success) on campus. That has been extremely rewarding. It’s built my confidence and self-esteem.”

She, along with so many graduates, is disappointed that there will not be a traditional graduation ceremony this year, but the May 16 virtual ceremony and the accomplishment will still be special for her.
“I have wanted to do it for so long and didn’t realize how much I missed that opportunity. It will be very emotional leaving Vol State. It was all so worth it.”
Pictured left to right: Brenda Trask with Dakota Grady, an NSLS guest speaker, and Tabitha Sherrell with Student Engagement and Support.



Monday, April 20, 2020

Graduate Profile: Rita Neal


COVID-19 has changed the employment world for many people. For soon-to-be Vol State graduate, Rita Neal, that has meant multiple job offers, well before graduation.
“I can’t wait to help them,” she said. “You don’t hear about the Respiratory Therapists on the news, it’s all about the nurses. But they are on the front lines as well. There are a lot of oxygenation issues with COVID-19 and we run the ventilators. The hospitals want all of the Respiratory Care graduates.”

The 47-year-old is excited to graduate from the Vol State Respiratory Care program this spring, but she has had plenty of struggles along the way.

“I have a form of dyslexia that makes it very hard to read. I had to teach myself how to do it on my own. I did the best I could with my first college classes. When I got to Vol State, my instructor in Respiratory Care could see what was going on and she asked why I wasn’t using Disability Services. It made a big difference. When you’re taking a test you only have so much time. I have an electronic reader for exams and that has helped a lot.”

And it wasn’t just a learning disability she had to contend with. The mother of two adult children found herself commuting from her home in Sparta to Nashville to care for her sick mom. “I was going to the hospital, practically living there, and going to school at the same time for nearly three weeks. I have had her move in with me.”

Neal survived a divorce and had to rebuild her life. Add to all of that: a tornado ripped off parts of her porch recently. But despite the hardships you can hear the excitement in her voice when she talks about her new career.

“I enjoy helping people. I’ve been a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) for quite a few years. My dad had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for years, so I knew a bit about Respiratory Care.”

Neal will start work at Skyline Medical Center in May. She still has to pass the state board exam, but she’s confident that her training has prepared her.

“It’s almost surreal. I’ve always wanted a college degree. Now that I’ve gotten to this point it doesn’t seem real. I feel like I’ve finally accomplished something.”



Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Vol State Ophthalmic Program in Guatemala



Vol State students and faculty travel each year for Study Abroad trips. They are organized within a specific class or program. This report comes from our yearly Ophthalmic Technician program trip to Guatemala over Spring Break. 

“This year the Hendersonville Rotary Club and Vol State Ophthalmic Guatemala Medical Mission faced some challenges due to COVID-19. Two days before the clinics were to begin, the town where the clinics were to take place decided to cancel the clinics due to fears of the COVID-19 virus.  It takes several months to plan and coordinate a medical mission trip, so the last minute cancellation left the mission in jeopardy of not taking place this year. However, due to the hard work and connections of the Las Americas Rotary Club (the group’s partner in Guatemala), the clinics were able to take place and bring healthcare to two other communities in need.

- Alisha Cornish, Ophthalmic Technician Program Director
Keep an eye out for classes that may participate in a Study Abroad trip for next year. That info will come this fall so students can apply for scholarships for the spring trips. Many of the trips this year were impacted by COVID-19 concerns. Vol State carefully reviews all safety factors before sending a group. If you didn't get to go this year, consider applying for next year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Get Ready for Vol State Online Classes this Summer


Summer classes are a great way to get ahead in your college career. All Vol State classes will be held online this summer. While the switch to online classes may have been a surprise for the spring semester, now is the time to get what you need to be successful this summer. Here is what faculty members suggest:
-A desktop/laptop computer with the Google Chrome Internet browser

-A functional webcam and microphone

-A reliable Internet connection

-Time to attend class meetings, if required

You can’t take a class using just your phone. You will need a laptop or desktop. It doesn’t have to be an expensive computer, as most class work is done via the Internet. Google Chrome is considered the preferred browser for many Vol State computer systems and it is free for you to download. Vol State students also have free access to Office 365, which means you don’t need expensive software. It includes Word, Powerpoint, and many other popular programs. While some online classes may not have regular meeting times, other classes will have lectures online at a set time. Each class is different, so you will need to check to see what each class entails when you register. Visit this link for more tips for success in Vol State online courses: https://www.volstate.edu/elearnsuccess.

Current students can register for summer classes now. New and readmit students need to apply to the college first at www.volstate.edu/apply. New and readmit class registration will begin in a couple of weeks. Summer classes come in a couple of different sessions, with full session classes starting on May 18.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Student Study Abroad Trip to Spain

Vol State students and faculty travel each year for Study Abroad trips. They are organized within a specific class or program. This report comes from a Criminal Justice trip to Spain over Spring Break. Keep an eye out for classes that may participate in a Study Abroad trip for next year. That info will come this fall so students can apply for scholarships for the spring trips. Many of the trips this year were impacted by COVID-19 concerns. Vol State carefully reviews all safety factors before sending a group. If you didn't get to go this year, consider applying for next year.

“Study abroad in Spain provided Vol State students a wonderful opportunity to learn about the culture, history and criminological issues.  Whether it was discussing 2000 year old punishment and gladiators while touring the ruins of the Roman amphitheater Italica in Andalusia or learning about the unique Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Traveling to Rhonda, Spain and visiting one of the oldest bullrings-Plaza de Toros and debating the laws and ethics of animal cruelty. Listening to a lecture about the Puente Nuevo bridge, and how it was used to hold and execute prisoners during the Spanish civil war or walking the grounds of the Royal Palace in Madrid and speaking with horse mounted officers of the Spanish National Police. All this learning and travel is rewarded by a stop a Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid to enjoy crispy, fried-to-perfection churros dipped in piping hot, sinfully delicious thick hot chocolate.”
-Kevin Cook, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice






Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tuition-Free College at Vol State with TN Reconnect


Adult students often have to scrimp and save to afford college tuition. Now, with the tuition-free TN Reconnect program, a college education is much more obtainable.

“I was paying for classes with my tip money from work,” said Caitlin Springer of Goodlettsville. “Once Reconnect came through, I was ready and able to take more classes. It’s been great.”

Springer is finishing her Health Sciences general education requirements and plans to apply to the Vol State R.N. Nursing A.A.S. program. “When I started I thought I wasn’t that smart and that school wasn’t my thing. This experience has changed me. And I know everyone here from the cafeteria to the library.”

TN Reconnect is available for adults who have not already completed a college degree. Students can start from the beginning or continue with their education, if they already have college credits. Adult students have many considerations, often including how to juggle school, job, and family needs. Vol State advisors can provide tips on managing a college career. There is also an adult student peer mentor program.

“We picked mentors who have families and are facing adult student challenges,” said Pam Carey, manager of Adult Learners and Veterans Affairs. “It helps to have someone that new students can reach out to who has been through what they are going through.”

There are three steps needed to start: fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, apply for Reconnect, and apply to Vol State. That can all be done by visiting www.volstate.edu/reconnect. Once the Vol State application is processed, students will receive the info they need to register for courses. Students can take classes during the summer or start attending in the fall. Summer will classes will be held entirely online this year. Academic assistance programs can get students up to speed in math and English.

Vol State has more than 100 programs of study to consider. If that seems daunting, advisors can help students with their options by discussing career goals. People are welcome to contact any Vol State campus for one-on-one help. While the campus locations are closed, staff are working online to assist students. Those sites include Gallatin, Springfield, Livingston, and Cookeville. For a list of contacts visit the front page story at www.volstate.edu.


Pictured: TN Reconnect student Caitlin Springer studies in the Ramer Building in between classes.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Priority Fall and Summer Class Registration Now Open

Fall and Summer Priority class registration is now open for all current students. Registration will stay open throughout the summer. Priority registration is your opportunity to get the classes you need at the times you want. You can register for fall and summer classes before the public.

All summer classes will be held online this year. We are still adding new classes each week, so if you don't see what you are looking for, please check again.

TN Promise students are no longer required to have advising before registering. Everyone is still encouraged to email their academic advisor for advice on what classes to take. But we understand that with current conditions some students may need to register without speaking to an advisor. Holds should be removed automatically but if you still see a hold on your account, email advising@volstate.edu or call 615-230-3702.  

Start the process by visiting the DegreeWorks section of your MyVolState page. It shows you what classes you need for your degree.   
If you have problems, you can contact the Advising Center via email at advising@volstate.edu or call 615-230-3702. 



Friday, April 3, 2020

New Certificates Can Help Vol State Dental Assistants Get Jobs


Many dental clinics may be closed right now, but when COVID-19 restrictions change, people will need to get routine dental work done. Dental assistants are in high-demand according to government surveys and new certificates from Volunteer State Community College can make graduates of the program even more valuable to employers.

“We have offices calling us all the time about jobs,” said Dental Assisting program director, Desiree Sutphen. “We recently added certificates in coronal polishing, dental sealants, and the use of nitrous oxide to our curriculum. That makes our students even more attractive.”

Dental assistants perform x-rays, set up tools, and assist dentists in procedures. Sutphen said that aside from rigorous training, dentists are looking for assistants that have integrity and are dependable. The Vol State Dental Assisting program has a radiography suite and a lab with several fully-equipped dental stations. The technical skills are important, but so too is the development of people skills.

"In my clinical experience I learned how to work with patients and answer their questions,” said student Anna Claire of Gallatin. “You have to consider their feelings and concerns.”

According to a 2009 dental health survey, dental fear is something that 36 percent of Americans say they experience, while a further 12 percent have extreme fear. The people there to calm patients are often dental assistants.  “Many patients are afraid,” said associate professor Marilyn Sweat. “The assistant is the person who makes them feel at ease.” Student Maeghan Brown of Bethpage said her experience at the dentist was an important part of her decision to take dental assisting. “They are always so fun and make me laugh. They always comfort me.”

The Vol State program offers a one-year certificate program and a two-year associate of applied science degree program. Entrance does require an application, separate from the main college application. The Dental Assisting application is due in mid-May. For more information about the Dental Assisting program at Vol State visit www.volstate.edu/DentalAssistant

TN Reconnect can provide tuition-free education for adults who don't already have a college degree. TN Promise offers the same for graduating high school seniors. Visit www.volstate.edu for details.

Pictured: Vol State students Maeghan Brown and Anna Claire practice skills with student Natalie Walker of Portland acting as a patient.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, October, 2019: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Priority Fall and Summer Class Registration Starts April 6 and 7

Fall and Summer Priority class registration will start on Monday and Tuesday, April 6 and 7. Get ready now by logging into your My Vol State portal at https://portal.volstate.edu  and clicking on Degree Works on the left under Quick Links.

There is one major change: TN Promise students are no longer required to have advising before registering. Everyone is still encouraged to email their academic advisor for advice on what classes to take. But we understand that with current conditions some students may need to register without speaking to an advisor. Holds should be removed automatically but if you still see a hold on your account, email advising@volstate.edu or call 615-230-3702.  

Priority registration is your opportunity to get the classes you need at the times you want. You can register for fall and summer classes before the public. Start the process by visiting the DegreeWorks section of your MyVolState page. It shows you what classes you need for your degree.   

All summer classes will be held online this year. We are still adding new classes each week, so if you don't see what you are looking for, please check again.

Priority spring course registration for current sophomores (completed 30 credit hours or more) starts at 8am on April 6. It opens for current freshmen (completed less than 30 credit hours) on April 7 at 8am.  

If you have problems, you can contact the Advising Center via email at advising@volstate.edu or call 615-230-3702.