Friday, July 31, 2009

Student Travel-Study: South Africa

Tina Newman traveled to South Africa earlier this summer as part of the TnCIS travel-study program at Vol State. This is her account:

South Africa

It was the first time I had even been on an airplane and I had sure never been out of the country. The anthropology class was very eye opening in terms of human evolution. I have really been undecided about the subject until I got to see firsthand at Sterkfontaine Caves, in Johannesburg, the amazing fossils that have been discovered and are still being discovered on a daily basis. I also got to meet and get Dr. Clark's autograph. He is a world famous anthropologist, one of the best in the field. He has found the first ever extraordinarily complete fossil hominid skeleton.

I would have to say the most exciting and eye opening experience of this whole trip would be meeting the people of South Africa and getting to hear their stories of the damaging effects of the apartheid and the AIDS epidemic. I have made many life long friends and hopefully left a mark of some United States culture on them. I was surprised to meet so many people that have never been and have no intentions of coming to the U.S. but I do have to say they sure did love my southern accent.

All walks of life live in South Africa. It is a very rich and diverse country that still has much room for improvement for the black communities. Even though the aparthied ended in 1994 it still has left wounds on the minority communities that may never heal.

Thank You for this wonderful opportunity. I appreciate it more than you know.

Learn more about International Education at Volunteer State Community College:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keeping Up with the Kenigson Twins

You’ve probably heard of whiz kids who attend college at age 13. The big question is: what are they doing at age 21? We can only answer for one pair of whiz kids. The Kenigson twins, Jonathan and Jessica, are well known at Vol State. They came here to take classes in 2001, at the age of 13, using a special dual enrollment program to combine middle, high school and college work. They both received Associate of Arts degrees in University Studies from Vol State and transferred to the University of Tennessee- Knoxville.

Here’s the update: The twins just graduated from U-T with bachelor’s degrees. The U-T Department of Mathematics awarded them the John H. Barrett Prize for outstanding seniors in mathematics. They also received, between them, five National Science Foundation research prizes. Jonathan actually built his own degree at U-T: pure mathematics and religion. Here is how he describes his major:

“It’s the mathematical rigor involved in the formation of complex systems of values and beliefs; the rationalism in certain modes of religious thought,” Jonathan said.

One paper he and Jessica wrote together is under review for publication by the Iowa State University Press. The title: “Energy Decay Estimates for the Dissipative Wave Equation with Space-Time Dependent Potential.” They have presented the paper to mathematics conferences across the country.

Jonathan will most likely continue his exploration of religious philosophy and math in a unique interdisciplinary studies Ph.D. program at Oklahoma State University. The graduate program in mathematical sciences is one of the few in the nation with the interdisciplinary focus that Jonathan wants to pursue.

There will be one tough part: Jessica is headed to California for her graduate work. The twins have been together their entire lives.

“It’s going to be very lonely,” said Jonathan. “I’ve never been away from Jessica or out of Tennessee for any extent of time.”

“That’s going to be very sad,” Jessica said. “I know I’ll stay in communication with him at all times.”

Jessica is headed to the University of California at San Diego to pursue her Ph.D. in pure mathematics.

“I’m very excited. It’s an excellent program with a diverse group of mathematicians,” she said.
With all this success, we had to ask if the Vol State classes helped them on their way.

“I had a really great experience at Vol State,” Jessica said. “I encountered some excellent professors there who were inspirational. I wish the honors program would grow to include more math and science.”

“The honors program at Vol State prepared us to succeed in our work at U-T, even when taking graduate level classes,” Jonathan said. “It gave us the broad background we needed to be the top graduates in a class of 900 at U-T. The Vol State honors program was the deciding factor for us coming to Vol State. I will tell you that there was not a single day I spent there that was wasted.”

Volunteer State Community College

Monday, July 20, 2009

Animal Care Program at Vol State

Americans have millions of animals and spend more than $41 billion a year on those pets. U.S. Department of Labor statistics project that animal medical care will be one of the fastest growing job fields in Tennessee. Volunteer State Community College is responding to the need by offering a new Animal Care Technology Certificate starting this fall.

“It’s intended to train people to become veterinary assistants,” said Dr. Douglas Shaw, who will coordinate the program. “The other potential employment opportunity would be research facilities, like Vanderbilt.”

Dr. Shaw has worked in private veterinary practice and taught veterinary classes at Ohio State University. He holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Colorado State University. He says the first two classes offered in the fall will be Vet 101 and Animal Science. Students in the certificate program, which can be completed in one year, will learn the fundamentals of animal husbandry, animal physiology and basic veterinary medicine. Facilities are under renovation at Vol State, so students will have some hands on experience with animals at the college.

“The students who finish the certificate course work will do clinical work out in the field with veterinarians,” said Dr. Shaw.

Vol State is putting together an application to grow the certificate program into a full Associate of Applied Science degree program. That process may take a little time. But students can start with the certificate work.

“All of those first year certificate classes will then apply to the full A.A.S degree and once they have that degree they will be able to sit for the boards,” Dr. Shaw said.

Students can start taking classes in the fall by simply applying to the college. They will then need to officially apply to the program as well, which is expected to be competitive. For more information visit or call the Math and Science Division at 615-230-3261.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saving a Life

What does it take to save a life? Vol State paramedic students learn life saving techniques in the classroom through months of study and practice. What happens when those skills are put to the test? Matt Fuson is an EMT with the Nashville Fire Department, working on his paramedic certification. He describes a recent ambulance run on his student clinical rotation that put it all to the test.

“We were called to a seizure. I can see the patient as we pull up and I can see he’s not breathing right. I can immediately tell he has agonal breathing, that’s breathing about three to five times a minute. Not enough to be life sustaining. The next step would be cardiac arrest. At this point of the clinical work for the Paramedic program, we ride with one person only. I told Stuart Rhinehart, my preceptor, we got to go. We put the patient on a cot and in the back of the truck we hook him up to the heart monitor. We start CPR. His heart rate is still real slow.”

“This was the first time I had to intubate a real person. I may have looked calm, but I was scared to death. I’d practiced so many times at Vol State that I knew exactly what to do. The ET tube was successful. Eventually he goes into a V-Tach (ventricular tachycardia). We put the pads on him and defibrillate to try and reset his heart to a normal rhythm. We shocked and he went back into V-Tach and we shocked again. He regained a pulse.”

“This was the first time in a year that all of my skills came together. This time I was really a paramedic. It was a huge confidence booster to me. It’s the culmination of a year in school all leading to this moment.”

The reality of paramedic work is that not every story has a happy ending. Matt says the patient died 10 days later and they found out he had drugs in his system.

Matt is planning to graduate from the Volunteer State Community College Paramedic certificate program in August. For more information on the Emergency Medical Technician program at Vol State please visit:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Woodard Signs with Indiana Tech

Vol State basketball player Carlos Woodard signed with Indiana Tech this week. Head Coach Brad Whinton traveled from Fort Wayne for the event. Woodard is from Nashville. He was the co-captain of the Vol State squad, which reached the quarterfinals of the Region 7 tournament.

"Carlos was a role model for our players. His work ethic is second to none," said Vol State Coach Rusty Melvin. "Carlos will make Indiana Tech a better program and help Brad in his first year as head coach."
Carlos is the third Vol State player to sign this season. Robert Riley and Astral Guerrier are both headed to Bryan College in Dayton, TN.
Picture left to right: (sitting) Brad Whinton, Carlos Woodard. (standing) Charles Bibee, Jerry Brown, Rusty Melvin.
Volunteer State Community College

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Criminal Justice program comes to Vol State

There’s more to criminal justice than catching bad guys and locking them up. It’s a complex system requiring in-depth knowledge and solid training. Volunteer State Community College has a new Criminal Justice degree and technical certificate program that can help give students an edge in law enforcement careers.

“This is for students who have an interest in criminology, police techniques, probation, parole, and corrections,” said Dean Phyllis Foley. “Ours is a more general degree that will help people in all of these fields. And there is a demand. We did a survey of area police departments and criminal justice professionals. The response was overwhelmingly positive.”

Courses starting this fall include Criminal Evidence and Procedure, Introduction to Criminal Law, Probation and Parole, and Introduction to Criminal Justice. Students will need 18 credits to get the certificate, which can usually be completed in a year. All of the certificate classes can then apply to a two-year Associate of Applied Science Degree in Criminal Justice.

Vol State fall classes start August 29. For more information visit or call 615-230-3231.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alexander Calls Sumner County a Model for Higher Education

This news release comes from Senator Lamar Alexander's office:

COMPASS Program Provides Free Community College Tuition to Sumner County Students

“More local governments should follow Sumner County’s example and look at ways to provide free community college to qualified students so we can make sure future generations get the education they deserve.” – Lamar Alexander

Hendersonville, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told a gathering for the Community Outreach Making Partnerships at Sumner Schools (COMPASS) program—which provides scholarships for Sumner County Students to attend Volunteer State Community College—that Sumner County should serve as a model for education programs across Tennessee and the country.

“This program puts Sumner County on the right track in higher education,” said Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education and president of the University of Tennessee. “If it weren’t for this program, many Sumner County students wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to college. More local governments should follow Sumner County’s example and look at ways to provide free community college to qualified students so we can make sure future generations get the education they deserve.”

In a February address to the American Council on Education, Alexander suggested working with states and local businesses to make community college tuition-free as well as offering a three-year baccalaureate degree to reduce the cost of attending college by one-fourth and the time it takes to graduate by as much as one-third. In April, following the senator’s suggestions, Nashville-based Lipscomb University announced initiatives to provide full scholarships for qualified community-college students and to allow eligible students to obtain their degrees in three years. Lipscomb also announced a third initiative to allow eligible U.S. military veterans to attend Lipscomb tuition-free.

For information about the COMPASS Educate and Grow program, including specifics of who is eligible and how to apply, please visit:

Vol State. Volunteer State Community College.

Ophthalmic grads

Congratulations to the Ophthalmic Class of 2009!