Monday, February 29, 2016

Vol State hopes to go viral for Tom Hanks

"What do you have in common with Tom Hanks?"
Deja Brandeis interviews students for the video
"What do you have in common with Tom Hanks?" That's the question that video production teacher Deja Brandeis posed to Vol State students last week in the halls of Caudill Hall. No, it's not a trick question or the start of a bad joke. Tom Hanks went to community college and wrote about his experience in an Op-Ed piece last year in the New York Times.
Tom Hanks: Wikimedia
Now students and faculty are teaming up to produce a video dedicated to the popular actor that they're hoping will go viral. The idea was the brainchild of VSCC President Dr. Faulkner, After reading the Op-Ed he was inspired, in more ways than one. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if he would be our graduation speaker, since he's a community college graduate?"
"To have Tom Hanks come here?" exclaimed one student after hearing of the plan. "That would mean the world. That would be incredible if he did something like that."
"We've already issued an invitation to the governor to speak at the May 2017 commencement. But, having said that, if Tom Hanks agreed to come I would bump the governor," said Dr. Faulkner with a laugh.
No word yet on when the video will be available, but be on the lookout and get ready to make it go viral!

Gaynell Buffinet Payne is a writer, single mother, and student at Volunteer State Community College. She also blogs for Vol State's Returning Adult Learners.

This Week at Vol State

This week at Vol State and a reminder about Spring Break next week:
March 2 Think Fast Game Show, Cafeteria, 12:45pm
March 3 Transfer Fair: university and college reps, Ramer, 10am-2pm
March 3 Movie: “He Named Me Malala” One Book, One Community, Thigpen- Rochelle, 6:30pm
March 7-12 Spring Break. No classes, offices will be open

Friday, February 26, 2016

The College Students Who Risked Everything

"Nineteen-year-olds don't pray about much, they make things happen."
Guardsmen surround a Freedom Riders Bus, May 1961

"Nineteen-year-olds don't pray about much, they make things happen," Kwame Lillard told a rapt audience. Both he and Matthew Walker, Jr. spoke of their experiences as Freedom Riders in the 60s to a full room yesterday at Vol State. 

They certainly did make things happen. Under leaders such as Jim Lawson and Reverend Kelly Miller they attended nonviolent workshops and sit-in protests as their ranks swelled in numbers. An incident of violence against a student protestor actually helped to spur the movement on. Support for their vision grew. 

"Sacrifice always does that," explained Lillard. "We're a nation built on sacrifice. If not us, who? If not now, when?"

"We could not allow violence to overrule nonviolence," added Matthew Walker.

Six thousand people marched on downtown Nashville and confronted the mayor after that incident. When pressed, the mayor finally admitted that he thought segregation was wrong. Then the community decided to hit them where it hurts the most - the pocketbook - as they began an economic strike. Soon Nashville became the first southern city to integrate its lunch counters. 

They also related their harrowing experiences on the Freedom Rides buses through Alabama and Mississippi. Both Lillard and Walker made a point to mention that these buses were integrated. "50% of the riders were white, and 50% were black," said Lillard, holding up a poster that showed all the pictures of the former protestors. "It's important to note that."

The two men ended the talk on a humorous story. One day they decided to go swimming at the nicest white public pool in the city, which at that time was at Centennial Park. "We walked up in our swim trunks carrying towels and said we want to go swimming," they remembered with a chuckle. "So the mayor drained all the public pools in Nashville to keep us out. They filled in the one at Centennial and built the art center over it."

Gaynell Buffinet Payne is a writer, single mother, and student at Volunteer State Community College. She also blogs for Vol State's Returning Adult Learners.

Considering Transfer to University? Reps on Campus March 3

Getting ready for college or university transfer? Meet school representatives at Transfer Day on Thursday, March 3 from 10am to 2pm in the Ramer Great Hall.
Colleges and Universities attending:
Aquinas College
Argosy University
Auburn University - Montgomery
Cumberland University
Freed-Hardeman University 
Lindsey Wilson College Lipscomb University
Middle Tennessee State University
Mississippi State University
Nossi College of Art
Southern Adventist University
Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Hartsville
Tennessee State University
Tennessee Tech University
Tennessee Wesleyan College
Trevecca Nazarene University
Troy University
University of Memphis
University of TN - Chattanooga
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
University of Tennessee - Martin
Welch College
Western Governors University - Tennessee
Western Kentucky University

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Playoff Basketball at Vol State Feb. 29- March 4

Get ready for playoff Basketball at Vol State! The TCCAA Region VII Tournament comes to the Vol State Gallatin campus next week. The Pioneer Men play at 4pm on Monday, February 29 and the Vol State Women play at 6pm. We are hosting ten teams from across the state for the tournament. We have a website with the brackets, game details and rosters.

Cheer on your Pioneers!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Congrats to Kendrea Duke, Samantha Parker and D'Marco Steele

Please help me in congratulating Gallatin’s own Station Camp High School product Kendrea Duke in being selected as TCCAA Women’s Basketball First Team All-Conference and TCCAA Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Year.  She has averaged 16pts 11rebs 3 blocks per game en route to these honors while maintaining a 3.0 GPA.  I feel fortunate to have her here at Vol State, because a rival school also wanted her but I matched their scholarship offer and she has been a tremendous asset to the Women’s Basketball program and Vol State community.  Kendrea leads the nation in field goal percentage, and is top 20 in rebounds and blocked shots.  Samantha Parker also leads the National Junior College Athletic Association in 3 point field goal percentage with 60%.  These two tremendous players are local and came to Vol State on athletic scholarships.  - Otis Key-Head Women’s Basketball Coach
Also D’Marco Steele from the Vol State men’s team made Second Team All-TCCAA.
Get out the cheer on the Pioneer men’s and women’s teams next week for the TCCAA Region 7 tournament, which will be held here at Vol State.

A New Feature on Your My Vol State Page

There's a new feature on your My Vol State page. It's a place for you to seek help if you’re having academic problems and also a great resource for information about Vol State. It's called the College Success Zone on My Vol State. As you may know, the College Success Zone has been the name for our academic support programs for several years now - the Language Center, SI and to name a few. The College Success Zone on My Vol State is just the latest addition to that line-up.

College Success Zone on My Vol State
We have several resources available on your My Vol State web page. Login to My Vol State.  Click on the “Resources” tab.  Login to the College Success Zone using your same Username and Password.
What you will see:
1.       My Success Network--- Displays the people and services that are available to help you succeed.  -Your Success Network is where you can find key contact information.
2.      Need Some Help?  Have a question but don’t know who to ask?  Raise your hand!  We will come to you!

3.      Service Catalog---A catalog of services at the click of a button.  A listing of all services offered at the college.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Nashville Civil Rights Veterans Speak Thursday

Photo courtesy The Tennessean
You take a seat at the lunch counter of a Walgreen's Drug Store in downtown Nashville. Everyone is staring and others are starting to react. They shout racial slurs at you. Some people attempt to hit you. They yell in your face. You are a black college student simply trying to be served at a counter reserved for white people. You are risking arrest, and even your college education, with this act of defiance.

You have probably read about the civil rights struggle in America, but what was it really like? Thursday we will have two veterans of the Nashville sit-ins and Freedom Rides on campus to tell us. Matthew Walker, Jr. and Kwame Lillard were on the front lines of the Nashville segregation protest movement. The event is at 12:45pm in the Rochelle Center of Thigpen Library. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Events this Week

Feb. 22 Cumberland University Nursing Advising Session Warf Rm 103, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Feb. 22 Vol State faculty reading African American Poets, Ramer Great Hall, 11:15-12:15
Feb. 22 Pedaling Pioneers meeting, consider bike riding for health and fun, free pizza, Nichols Dining Room, 5pm
Feb. 23 Launch and Learn Orientation for Adult Vol State Students, Nichols Dining Room, 3:30-5:30pm
Feb. 24 Black History Recognition Luncheon, Nichols Dining Room, 12:45pm RSVP to
Feb. 24 Launch and Learn Orientation for Adult Vol State Students, Nichols Dining Room, 3:30-5:30pm
Feb. 27 Science Olympiad, middle and high school students compete, campus-wide

Monday, February 15, 2016

Events this Week at Vol State:

Events this week at Vol State:
Feb. 15 MLA Workshops, paper style instruction, Thigpen Library Instructional Center
Feb. 16 MLA Workshops, paper style instruction, Thigpen Library Instructional Center
Feb. 16 Movie: Selma, showing at 1pm, 3pm and 6pm, Thigpen Library Rochelle Center
Feb. 17 APA Workshops, paper style instruction, Thigpen Library Instructional Center
Feb. 18 APA Workshops, paper style instruction, Thigpen Library Instructional Center
Times and details for MLA and APA workshops here:
Feb. 18 Lecture: The Freedom Riders, Carole Bucy, Rochelle Center, 1pm
Feb. 19 Date Night for students with kids, kids have fun while you have dinner and a movie, free, 6pm-10pm. Wood Campus Center

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I Read My College Homework to My 9-Year-Old

My son is in school now but I’ll always be a homeschooler at heart. My philosophy has been teach him to love reading, and he’ll be a learner for life. It is, after all, the same philosophy that got me where I am today and eventually prompted me to come back to school to pursue an English degree.

When I started taking classes at Vol State that were reading-intensive I sometimes found myself, well, drifting and easily distracted. Add to that an only child who is used to more of my attention, and getting through 100 pages of Gilgamesh becomes quite a chore.

“Do you want me to read to you?” I asked, wondering if I could kill two birds with one stone. “Sure!” he replied excitedly.

Honestly, I thought he’d get bored fifteen minutes in, but he stuck with me. It took me two days to read the assignment to the both of us, stopping often to explain things to him. By the time we were done, however, I understood the story in depth. Since then we’ve read everything from Hamlet and Gulliver’s Travels to Psychology and how the brain works, and I’ve lectured him on my World History notes and taught him some French. This isn’t to say that I read him everything, and he has by no means been able to keep up with it all. He helps me through the important highlights, not to mention keeps me from dozing off with my face in a book.

When I talk about learning to balance my time, this is one of my secrets to success. My son gets a very rounded education and I get closer to my degree. We both get to spend more time together, then we treat ourselves for our hard work with hot cocoa and Godzilla movies. That’s what I call a win-win.
How do you balance your time between work, family, and school? Share with us in the comments!
Gaynell Buffinet Payne
Gaynell Payne is a writer, single mother, and student at Volunteer State Community College. She also blogs for Vol State's Returning Adult Learners.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Free Online Tutoring for Vol State Students

All Vol State students now have free access to the online tutoring service It is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The link to is part of the eLearn page for each of your classes. The tutoring service covers Math, Business, English, Writing, Science, Health Sciences, Computers, and Foreign Language. You should access it via your course eLearn page for login.
If you have problems or need help with visit the Learning Commons location for your campus. You can also call 615-230-3676.
Just can use the above link to get more info about the service, but to use it you need to go in through your course eLearn page. That's the only way you can currently login.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Auditions Next Week

2009 production of Fiddler on the Roof
Auditions for the Spring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be held in Caudill Hall February 8, 9, and 10th from 3-5pm. Those interested in auditioning should prepare a 2 to 3 minute monologue.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Time to Apply for Scholarships

The scholarship application for the 2016-2017 Academic year is now available at, Students use their portal ID and password to complete the application. In addition to this application, every student must also complete their FAFSA for the 2016-2017 year at

Vol State Book Read- "I Am Malala"

Imagine being attacked on your school bus and shot in the head, simply for speaking out about the educational rights of women. That's what happened to 15-year old Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai. The book “I Am Malala” is the subject for the third year of the Sumner County One Book, One Community read, sponsored by Vol State and Sumner County public libraries. People love to talk about books they are reading, so one can imagine the conversation if everyone was reading the same book. That’s the goal of One Book, One Community. Everyone in the community is encouraged to read “I Am Malala” and then discuss the book themes.
“I Am Malala” tells the story of how the student became an activist at age 11 and went on to international notoriety. She survived the 2012 shooting after a long and arduous recovery. She has since continued to speak out for the educational rights of women and people all over the world. In 2014 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. The One Book, One Community book read has a series of events to discuss the challenges Malala addresses, and also to look at the struggles of students here in Sumner County. Money, family issues, crime, and even war in their native country, are all challenges that local students have faced on their road to education.
Vol State will host a screening of the movie “He Named Me Malala” on March 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rochelle Center of the Thigpen Library. There will be a “Struggle for Education” panel held on March 23 at 12:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., also in the Rochelle Center of the Thigpen Library. The events are designed to get people talking, even if they have not yet read the book.
There are many events coming up at Sumner County libraries. There will be a Gallatin Public Library book discussion on Wednesday, March 16 at noon. A discussion luncheon will be held at the Portland Public Library at 11:30 a.m. on March 22. Millersville Public Library will hold a discussion brunch on Saturday, March 23 at 10:30 a.m. For a complete list of events and more information about the book visit

Photo by: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development.

This week at Vol State:

This week at Vol State:
Feb. 4 Coffee with the Prez, Cafeteria, 9 am
Feb. 6 2016 TN Promise FAFSA Help Event in Cookeville. Register
Feb. 10 Soul Food Luncheon, Nichols Dining Room, 12:45pm