Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vol State Fire Science Director helps bring the National 9/11 flag to Nashville

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: 'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
These lines close the second verse of the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”  What does the American flag represent?  For some it stirs up patriotism and pride while others are overcome with sentimentalism and sorrow due to the loss of a loved one.  Ultimately, very few people are ambivalent when it comes to our nation’s flag.  This is true for Travis Ford who is the director of the Vol State Fire Science program.  Ford has been involved with the program for many years while still working full-time for the Nashville Fire Department at Station Number Nine.  (The twentieth busiest station in the country).
“This profession is very rewarding and fulfilling when you get the opportunity to save someone’s life,” said Ford.  “We have had way over a hundred graduates from the program and continue to see great things from those completing the course.”
While watching the national news, Ford noted that the tattered American flag that was pulled from the wreckage of the Twin Towers was passing through all fifty states.  He immediately got on the phone calling some of his buddies at the New York Fire Department to see how Nashville could get involved.   He requested a July 4 ceremony but someone beat him to the punch.  However, he was thrilled to settle for a July 2 ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Nashville.  The ceremony will be at 11:00 am, followed by a stitching opportunity which is open to the public until 2:00 pm.
“This flag is twenty feet by thirty feet, it’s huge!  It was taken down after it was torn to pieces at the World Trade Center. It has been in storage for 7 years,” Ford said.  “They are trying to finish stitching it back together with contributors from all fifty states before the ten year anniversary this November.  Fortunately, Nashville was chosen as the only stopping point in the state of Tennessee.  They say they are rebuilding America one stitch at a time.  I would love to see Vol State get involved because after all, we are the Volunteer State, and we should contribute." 

If you are interested in learning more about the National 9/11 flag check out the following link. For more information on Vol State Fire Science program please visit the website. 

Volunteer State Community College

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big Brothers Big Sisters Solving Crimes on the Vol State Campus

This may look like a drug deal gone bad, but it is actually part of a crime scene investigation competition. Vol State recently partnered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee program involving kids in a fun mystery while teaching the importance of education.  Kevin Cook, director of the Vol State Criminal Justice program, orchestrated the event.
“I have a friend that has been involved with Big Brothers for twenty plus years and that is how I was familiar with them,” said Cook.  "I wanted to do something to support the organization so I decided to set-up this event.  It was something free that would encourage communication between the mentor and the child.  I made some of these exercises a little difficult, with the intention of having them work together and collaborate on the solution.”
The participants made casts of footprints, lifted fingerprints, and used special glasses and crime scene flashlights to uncover evidence and track the mock criminal activity.  Students Kayline Schrader and Ashley Hart are both involved in the criminal justice bachelor's degree program that Vol State has with TSU.  They walked the participants into a darkened bathroom with special glasses and black lights to uncover hidden evidence.
“It really is great getting to walk the kids through each step of the crime,” said Hart.
One excited Little Sister told me, “It was fun. I really enjoyed making the shoe print mold to identify the bad guy.”
Tami Huggins was one of the students helping with the grand finale. It portrayed a mock drug deal gone bad crime scene.  Bullet casings, a bloody knife, and other clues were placed around a car sectioned off with yellow tape. 
“I guess it looked pretty authentic because several people have come by and asked what was going on,” said Huggins.  “We told them it was a drug deal gone bad and then explained the situation and we all laughed.”
Her partner Candice Wright is transferring to a four-year program at MTSU.  “I am going to be a homicide detective on the Nashville Police force.”
Cook said this is the first time we have done this but plans on doing more projects in the future.  “This was a great opportunity for the students to operate in a teaching capacity," Cook explained. “I intentionally set it up in a way so that each child could actually learn something.  Not just be involved in an activity but take something away from this experience.  My peers are great.  David Carrol is retired from the Nashville homicide murder squad and Jim Brown runs our fast track criminal program.  Both really helped to put this thing together.  For more information about the Vol State criminal Justice program visit the following link.  For more information about the Big Brother Big Sister program visit their home page.
Volunteer State Community College

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vol State Helps Non-Profit

I double checked the address as I pulled into the cracked driveway in Gallatin.  Yep, this is where Google maps said I would find the office for Children Are People (CAP).  I let myself in through the rod iron gate and noted the yard tools ready to be put to use grooming the landscape.  Vol State alumnus Alex Sircy greeted me as I walked up the stairs pulling off his gloves to shake my hand.  He gave me a brief tour of the facility which was full of volunteer activity from students, staff, and other participants while he told me about the program. 
The goal of CAP is to help students that may be at-risk in their educational opportunities whether at school or home, and then provide them with a chance to fill-in these gaps through tutors that work with them preparing them for higher education.  The founder, Fred Bailey, believes strongly in character building activities and involves the kids in ways that teach them to be civically engaged, politically involved, just to be good citizens of the world.
Student Life and Diversity director Dr. Monique Wright got involved with the program as a board member several years ago. 
“The mentoring aspect of CAP was one thing that attracted me to this program,” she said. “I knew that anything Mr. Bailey put his mind to would be something that would be really good.  He has instilled such a work ethic in his sons and then hearing his story when he came and spoke to our Vol State students.  Since I don’t live in Sumner County, other than the college I have never really had a big connection with Gallatin and this has given me that opportunity.  We have had Vol State students donate time working at CAP to fulfill their requirement to do community service.”
While cleaning windows, student Melissa Richardson said, “Even though it’s hard work, I enjoy helping.”
Susan Superczynski has been working as a key figure for CAP for the last four years.  “We have a long standing relationship with Vol State and Dr. Parrent has been a really good friend to CAP,” she said.  “Dr. Monique Robinson-Wright is on our board.  So that is another tie-in with the college.  We had a grant last year to help our eighth grade classes and Bob Berry and his group have helped out with getting all of our computers set up.  You guys have been awesome to work with.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Too Young for Vol State College? No Way!

Laughing, dancing, and singing filled the courtyard at Volunteer State Community College on Thursday morning as nearly thirty children waited for their chance to record a couple of songs they had written during the YMCA summer youth camp.  The recording studio came to life as the 7 to 12 year old participants erupted into song and shared the enthusiasm that can only be found in youth.


Brian Celeste is a resident engineer and Vol State alumni.  Working his second job at the YMCA opened up the opportunity to help host a recording session for the YMCA’s summer theme, Rock Star Camp.  After giving a tour of the state of the art sound studio, Celeste set up microphones for two separate youth groups to record customized Karaoke songs they had written during camp. 

“Because I work at both the YMCA and the school this seemed like a perfect opportunity to give these kids an opportunity to visit a real studio and record a song,”  Celeste said. “It is rewarding to see their faces light up when they are actually singing into the microphone.  It’s really great to work with these kids.  We will burn them a CD next week and then they can watch it with the camp counselors.”
Here are some clips of the kids singing.
“Walking on Sunshine”
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun”

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vol State to Celebrate Opening of Highland Crest in Springfield with Registration Day

This fall, both Volunteer State Community College and Austin Peay State University will offer classes and degree programs at the new Highland Crest Campus in Springfield.
To get new students started, the two schools will hold an Open House Celebration and College Day from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday, June 22. A ribbon cutting ceremony, sponsored by the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce, will be held at noon. Lunch and bluegrass music will be provided for future students, guests and the public.

During the open house, students planning to attend Vol State at Highland Crest will be able to register for classes and meet with advisers. People considering college can talk to admissions and financial aid staff. Vol State will have 55 courses at Highland Crest in the fall semester.

APSU will offer bachelor's degree programs in professional studies and criminal justice/homeland security at Highland Crest. Courses will follow an eight-week term schedule.

At the open house, prospective students interested in enrolling at APSU will be able to apply for admission and speak with staff about financial aid, scholarships and registration. They also will be able to meet with faculty advisers from the two degree programs.

In addition, Vol State participates in a relatively new dual admissions agreement program with APSU. Called the Austin Peay Guarantee, the dual admissions agreement is applicable for Vol State students wanting to pursue any academic discipline at APSU. Both schools will have representatives at the open house to answer any questions about the Austin Peay Guarantee.

Highland Crest, located off William Batson Parkway one mile south of NorthCrest Medical Center, was the result of a referendum in 2009 in which voters approved the construction of Robertson County's first higher education facility.

For more information about the Highland Crest Open House Celebration and College Day, call 615-230-4839. For a list of Vol State classes, visit

Monday, June 13, 2011

TSU Scholarship for Vol State Engineering Student

Kerry Siegrist was so good at math, that in the eighth grade his teacher accused him of cheating because he didn’t write out the problems on his test.  “She sat me down to retake the test in front of my mom and dad to demonstrate my cheating,” he said.  “When I aced the test, she apologized.  I have always been really good at reading numbers and doing multiplication in my head.”
Siegrist is an electrical engineering major and Vol State graduate. He recently was awarded a scholarship to Tennessee State University (TSU) funded by a TBR Access and Diversity grant. It is designed to promote access to students from community colleges and other pre-college programs to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Several  students involved in the program have already presented papers with the Tennessee Academy of Science.

What makes someone want to go into engineering?  

“I am obsessed with electric rail systems.  I have been fascinated with them since I was a kid,” said Siegrist.  “I knew I was going to be an engineer and I’ve always been bound to mathematics.  Electrical engineering is a job that is tied to mathematics.  I really had a difficult time deciding between electrical or mechanical engineering.  But this program helped me to make that decision.  I told one of my math instructors, Mr. Kevin Woods, about all the math awards I had won.  He was the one that really pushed me to try and look into this great opportunity at TSU and the grant that they were offering.  They are one of the only institutions that offer credentials with their electrical engineering program. They have a future in the industry and they have a great placement program.”
Reflecting on how Kerry got involved in the program Woods said, “There is something about that aha moment when a student gets it, that is so rewarding.  When Tennessee State University contacted me about this scholarship program, I went to Ed Lowe and Rita Sowell to try and recruit students from their classes that were interested in going to TSU.  They recommended Kerry.  He has been ecstatic.  This is an opportunity to go to school that he would not have had, without this scholarship money.  They have an absolutely fantastic career placement division since there are a lot of graduates from TSU that serve on advisory councils, who are working in the industry.”
Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science at TSU shared his interest in drawing more students into this program.  “TSU has a continuing effort to partner with community colleges. We provide support for a student to be engaged in a research activity at TSU and if that student wants to continue and pursue a bachelor’s degree we help them do that. Students involved in research have a better persistence in college going.”
In addition to being a student, Siegrist serves a number of other roles. “I have got a five year old nephew, he’s fantastic, that I help with because my sister is a single mother.” 

Siegrist pointed out that caring for his nephew can be stressful but it is also quite rewarding.  Smiling, he said, “He is going to remember me, and that’s the best feeling of all.”
For more information about the engineering program at Vol State visit:
For information about the TSU program visit:
Volunteer State Community College

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We've gone mobile

We've just added mobile service to the Vol State blog. If you go to this web page from a mobile device you'll automatically get the mobile version. It's a stripped down version with primarily the stories and comments. If you want to use the archive from a mobile device you can click on the "web version" link at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

National Honors for Vol State Softball Players

Vol State sophomore, Jennifer Givens has been playing softball since her ninth grade year at Roane County High School.  Not only did she help the Lady Pioneers take the state championship this year, but she ended up placing on the Division I, All American National award winners along with fellow student Katie Pfost.  The team just returned from competing in the National Championship in Utah. 
I asked Givens what made the team successful this year and she smiled and replied, “One of the main reasons is good chemistry and the lack of drama!  Normally, girls have a lot of drama, but not this team.  We all did our jobs.”
She has not decided on which college she will move on to next year but she has plenty of options. “I’m still waiting, to see where I have the best offer,” she said.  “I love our coaches and wish they could move on to my next school with me.”
Pfost has accepted an offer from Morehead University in Kentucky.  “I was actually was taking a maymester class and I dropped and rescheduled it because I was so stressed out about taking it." She said, "I really wanted to focus on one thing and to me this to me was the most important.”
Statistics show Givens lead the district with 68 stolen bases while Pfost ended up with 214 strikeouts.  Stats will be finalized soon on the National Junior College Athletic Association statistics page.
Assistant Coach Jimmy Buckner recognized that this year the Pioneers had something special.  “They played well together like a team should,” he said.  “They worked well both on and off the field and it really showed. A lesser team could not have done what they did this year.”
Congratulations to Katie and Jennifer for job well done.  We look forward to hearing more about your softball careers.
Volunteer State Community College

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Rock and Roll Way to Get Started at College on June 8

What does Rock and Roll, free lunch, and a video game contest have to do with going to College?  Come out to Registration Rocks next Wednesday, June 8 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and find out.  This is one Vol State event that gets bigger every year. 
Assistant Director of Admissions Heather Harper has been doing this every year since its inception.  “Registration Rocks is our equivalent to what the kick-offs that four year universities offer in the fall for orientation,” she said.  “Although it is targeted at new students straight out of high school all ages are welcome.   In fact we have a lot of new students that are thirty and forty years old.    Not only will they have an opportunity to speak with an advisor, go through orientation, and get registered, but also to meet people on campus.”
A live band, Worse Case Scenario will be jamming in the plaza, while Subway will be serving lunchboxes to the first 600 guests.  Then you can visit the Game Stop contest area in the cafeteria, where prizes like IPods and speakers will be awarded for top three winners in the video game contest. 
Harper said it will be fun, and prepare for a long day. “Eat your breakfast, and be sure to bring your welcome letter, to avoid some of the long lines.  If you have your ACT scores and your transcript that is even better. Students are not required to pay for classes at Registration Rocks, so you don’t have to worry about fees, but you need to be mindful about when they are due.”
As a Recruiter and Admissions advisor Rachel Carmack knows how to help new students be successful.  “It is going to be really laid back and it’s a great time to ask questions.” She said, “A lot of times students think they have to take care of everything by June, 8th, but not necessarily.  You could still come up and register to get the ball rolling have a sub sandwich and just enjoy the festivities.”
Tim Amyx Director of Admissions and College Registrar doesn’t want this to be a boring first experience for the new students.  “We decided if it is going to be the first day of registration, let’s throw a party.”  He said, “There’s food, music, and video games and the campus is geared to help students that day. There will be special rooms set up so somebody will be right there to walk them through each step.  Many people have heard about the long lines and all the problems with registering for colleges in the past, well this is a way to have fun while doing that. Wednesday is the first day new students can register.  So, all the entry level courses that they need will be available to them.  It’s important to note that we will probably have five or six hundred people that will fill those classes.   So it is really in the student’s best interest to register in the first slot available.  ”
So new students bring your friends and family out for a great time and let’s ROCK!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dr. Nichols Wraps-up his International Education Trip to Europe

Dr. Nichols is finishing his trip to Europe during which he has been building partnerships for the International Education program at Vol State. Here are the final installments of his blog:

Chris and I were invited to spend two days with Anita and Nicco at their home in Gairle, which is near Tilburg. They picked us up at our hotel in Amsterdam and then off to their home. En route we saw the beach, windmills, and other items of interest.

While somewhat out of the way, they also drove us through the city of Hague, where we saw the various embassies and political offices.

Monday morning I went by train to meet with Johan Neijenhuis, the International Coordinator for Health Care at ROC Nijegen. Good meeting and opportunities for partnerships in the future.

Then back on the train to Den Bosch (Hertogenbosch) to meet with Peter van Amelsfoot, Director of the Center for International Projects for all the ROC's. ROC stands for Regional Educational Colleges, similar to our Tennessee Board of Regents. I had a tour of the Koning Willem I campus and there are many opportunities for exchanges in the future. Peter is directly responsible for coordinating and facilitating the faculty exchanges for all the ROC's. He is also very interested in staff exchanges as well as faculty and students.

On our last night with Anita and Nicco, we ate dinner at their home and went out to see more of the country (this starting around 9:00 p.m. Since it was still daylight, no problem). Since they only live approximately six miles from Belgium, they drove us through a few of the villages. I must say that the homes in Belgium looked very large in comparison with those we have seen in Ireland, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Then off for "coffee and tea" at a local establishment and home by 12:30.

Tuesday, back on the train for appointments with President Leonard Geluk and International Coordinator Norbert in Utrecht. Our host was Marjan Wormer, one of the faculty who visited our campus in 2009. Then back on the train to Zwolle where we spent the night at Hotel Fidder Zwolle.

Wednesday morning, and arrangements have been made for Ina Jolman, another faculty member who visited us in 2009, to pick us up at the hotel and then give us a tour of her college, Deltion College, and then a tour of the city.

Had a very nice and informative tour of Deltion College in Zwolle. Marjan Wormer and her colleagues also gave us a walking tour of the inner city, which was first populated during the Stone Age.

Lunch was at the college and was prepared and served by the students in their Hospitality and Restaurant Program.

More tours and then we met the President and other colleagues for a four course dinner at the campus restaurant. It was very well done and with the typical Dutch hospitality. The dinner began around 6 and we left the restaurant around 9.

Finally returned to the hotel to pack for our early morning train ride to the airport. We have had a great time, have created some wonderful contacts and looking forward to receiving these European colleagues to our campus in the future. But after 19 days and three countries (four if you include the 30 minutes we were in Belgium) it is time to come home.

-Warren Nichols

Making Chocolate, Makes Memories

Not only are Vol State students learning about international law, but they are learning some of the more important things in life; like, how to make chocolate.
Thaxton Armbruster has been traveling in Europe as part of the Vol State International Education Program. Here are some of his thoughts from Belgium:

I would like to thank our college President and the Volunteer State Community College committee for allowing students to enjoy the pleasures of international education. There were a few things in my life that I wanted to accomplish and international traveling was one of them. Being able to learn about international law was amazing. To hear people’s opinions on their lawmakers decisions involving the future of their country was interesting and educational. Not to mention the food was great! There were so many different types of food to choose from. My favorite was Indian food the spices were incredible.

Noticing gas prices was an eye opening experience, at $6.79 a gallon, we have a few things to be thankful for as far as gas prices go. Being a logistics graduate, I noticed transportation methods. Many of the Class A types of trucks had side flaps for easy cargo loading and unloading. Many small business owners provided their own goods delivering services, most of the time it was in the back of their small compact car. Trains were differently there most used form of transportation. Having many different tracks to commute to and from destinations, was our man way to all of the tourism sites. We usually bought a jump pass for the day that way we could travel as much as we wanted for the day. The people were not so incredible at giving directions; it was a little frustrating at times not being able to find our way to and from our hotel. The trains coming and going were posted on travel boards all over the place but not all of them would agree with one another. Learning to get around was a big challenge we didn’t master until the third day.

I will take the memories that were made on this trip with me forever! It was all made possible, because of one community college’s dream to inspire, impact and be involved with their students.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Interested in EMS? Read This...

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Education Program at Volunteer State Community College will be conducting advising sessions for our upcoming Fall Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate courses. The sessions will be conducted in the Caudill Building Auditorium at the Vol State main campus in Gallatin on June 8, 2011 at 12:30pm and 6:00pm. Students interested in enrolling in the EMT classes at the new Highland Crest Center in Springfield should plan on attending one of the sessions. Please visit for more information.

If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.

Robert W. Davis
Director of EMS Education
Volunteer State Community College
(615)230-3351 Office
(615)230-3344 FAX

Do You Want To Visit Greece Next Year?

Vol State student Samantha Hearn shares her international experience in Greece.

This year, I decided to travel to Greece through the TnCIS study abroad program. What a trip it has been! I've learned so many new things and met some amazing people along the way.

The trip started in Tolo, a quaint little town that can only be described as charming. Everything in Tolo is within walking distance, and it sits right on the sea. While we were there I got to do some truly cool stuff, like having my first real gyro. The food in Greece is amazing, and our hotel in Tolo provided us with breakfast and dinner every day. We've eaten a lot of feta cheese, which I still haven't really gained the appetite for. Everything else though, has been wonderful. We've eaten a lot of lamb and pork and vegetables, and the fruit here is extremely fresh. I'm pretty sure that in Tolo, the fruit we would eat was picked from the tree probably the day we ate it.

While we were in Tolo we met some very cool people, one being a man named George who owns a jewelry shop called Carmen. He makes all of the jewelry himself, and everything is entirely unique and beautiful. I think I bought about seven things from him. :) All of the girls in the group I think got at least one thing, and some of the guys even did too. George told us that he would always remember this group and how kind we all were. It felt good to give back to their struggling economy and to help such a nice person prosper in his business. The staff at our hotel in Tolo also made us feel extremely welcome. We spent a lot of nights hanging out with the staff and getting to know each other, and we all made a lot of memories and new friends. The day we had to leave it rained, and one of the people who worked there said, "Look, even the sky is crying because you all leave." Such a warm experience in Tolo. It's the most charming place I have ever been.

I am in the Western World Literature class, and I feel like this trip is really made for us. We read things from Greek mythology, and we went on excursions to visit the places that the stories took place. We got to see Agamemnon's tomb, which ties directly to what we read about in The Iliad. When we got to Delphi, the story of Oedipus the King just came to life. Seeing places that most people only get to read about in stories or see in movies was a surreal experience. It helped me to really appreciate what we've been learning about here.

Perhaps the most beautiful place we visited was the island of Hydra. When I pictured Greece before I left, this is what I envisioned. White and blue architecture, pretty purple flowers, clear blue water, no cars, and cobblestone roadways define Hydra. Just amazing. Though we only got to stay for a few hours, this was the most beautiful place I've ever been in my life. We got to ride horses through the town, which was so worth the time and money. If you visit Greece, don't pass up on visiting Hydra.

We also got to visit Olympia, where the first Olympic Games were held. This was my favorite archaeological site. Its beauty is overwhelming, and to hear our tour guide bring to life what a day was like in its history just fascinated me. We got to go into the arena and some of the students had an Olympic type race. It was just awesome to me to think that here we were joking around and having fun on this ancient ground, when so long ago people were out here doing it seriously. SO COOL!

The last city we are in is Athens, where the famous Parthenon sits. It was quite a trek to make it to the top of the Acropolis, but seeing the real thing rather than the Nashville replica gave me another moment of absolute astonishment. The Parthenon is an ancient temple that was built to worship the goddess Athena. It's hard to believe when you look at it that people were walking in and out of it over 1,000 years ago. I took a seat and just soaked it all in, and I tried to grasp the fact that so many things had happened there so long ago. Seeing the Parthenon is an experience I will never forget.

Choosing Greece as my study abroad destination this year was not a mistake. I wish I could stay all summer...there is so much to learn about, and there is so much to do. The shopping here is amazing, of course. The people in Tolo are charming and welcoming, while the people in Athens are glamorous and beautiful. Both places are equally amazing in separate ways. If anyone who happens to read this is considering traveling to Greece, take the opportunity! See it all, do it all. As we're reading about in our World Lit class...Carpe Diem! Seize the day! :)

Pictures: Vol State students Laura Myers, Elizabeth Duke, Samantha Hearn, and MariAngel Zumbado in Tolo, Greece.

Volunteer State Community College