Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Spring Graduation 2016

Spring graduation for Vol State is coming up on Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m. It will be held in the Pickel Field House on the Gallatin campus. You must have a ticket to attend. The entire ceremony will be streamed online at Each year we have viewers from across the country and around the world.
A community college graduation is really a celebration of lives. It’s a singular moment when we pause to recognize hard work and achievement. However, those efforts come in the context of your life, your experiences and your challenges. That fact isn’t lost on faculty and staff as we help you celebrate commencement.
Seth Walker is a 2016 graduate. He would be notable just for his 4.0 GPA, his leadership on campus and his sense of humor. But Seth accomplished his Vol State education with the challenge of a neurological condition called Cerebral Palsy. It impacts the ability of the brain to coordinate muscle movement. Seth can’t control his limbs and it is difficult for him to speak. He is in a wheelchair and has specialized high-tech equipment to use a computer. His constant campus companion is his assistant Ken Brassell.
We asked Seth a couple of questions leading up to graduation:
How does it feel to be graduating?
It seems surreal. I feel like I entered Vol State yesterday. However, at the same time, it is rewarding because I have worked so hard. It is another milestone in my life. 
You have had to overcome many physical challenges along the way. Can you describe a few of those challenges and how you dealt with them?
Since I cannot use a regular mouse, I have to use an electronic HeadMouse to type my papers. This takes about twice as long as the normal student. I have to allow myself extra time to write papers. In addition, since I am unable to hold a book, I have to have special software to display my textbooks on the computer screen. It can also read the books to me. 
 Do you think overcoming those challenges helped to make you a stronger student?
 Definitely because I know what it takes to go the extra mile to get the grade. 
What are your plans for university and beyond to your career?
I will go to Lipscomb University in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communication. From there, I hope to pursue a seminary degree for a career in social media or writing ministry, but I will go wherever God leads.

We know you are still struggling with finals. But we congratulate all of you on your achievement and we look forward to spending a special Saturday morning with you.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Student Music Showcase Concerts April 29 and 30

Rock, pop, country and bluegrass are just a few of the styles of music that will be performed by Vol State students at the annual Spring Music Showcase concerts coming up this weekend, April 29 and 30. The concerts coincide with the release of the spring music CD, called "Just Before Dawn."
The concerts will include songs by the Commercial Music Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Songwriting Class and the Bluegrass Ensemble- “Bluegrass Ablaze.” The CD will be available for sale at the show and at the Vol State Bookstore in Gallatin. It was recorded in the Vol State Recording Studio by students in the Entertainment Media Production program and Recording Industry Management program.
The Spring Showcase performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Wemyss Auditorium at Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. There is a suggested donation of $5 for admission and $10 for admission and a copy of the CD. The funds will be used for music scholarships. For further information please call 615-230-3201. For information about the Music Program at Vol State visit

Events this Week at Vol State

Vol State events this week:
Now- Vol State student art exhibition, Ramer Great Hall
April 26 Luau, Highland Campus, 10am to 2pm
April 27 Your Life Matters to Me, campus police lunch with students, library lawn, 11:30am
April 28 Vol State Student Art Reception, Ramer Great Hall, 12:45pm
April 29 & 30 Music Department Spring Showcase and CD release, Caudill Hall, 7:30pm

Ophthalmic Students in Guatemala

Student, Celestin Collins, works to determine a young boy’s prescription.
Every year for the last 9 years, Ophthalmic Program students have traveled to Guatemala on a faculty-led international service learning trip, in conjunction with the Hendersonville Rotary Club.  The most recent trip took place February 28-March 6th.  The VSCC delegation consisted of 4 ophthalmic students and 2 faculty members.  Members included Celestin Collins, Abigail Flora, Christine Hyde, and Liana Brisbon, as well as Alisha Cornish, Ophthalmic Program Director, and Jana Allen, Associate Professor of Health Sciences.

The trip to Guatemala is unique in that it combines service learning with true travel abroad experiences.  Preparation for this trip starts months in advance with collection and organization of hundreds of donated prescription glasses.   Students participate in monthly planning and preparation meetings with the mission team from the Hendersonville Rotary Club.   During the 9-day trip, 2 days are spent traveling, 4 days are spent in clinic, and 3 days are spent sightseeing and experiencing the culture.  Clinic days are long but rewarding.  Students are able to use the knowledge and skills they learned in class and observe conditions not commonly seen in the United States.  Students spend their time in clinic determining patients’ prescriptions for glasses and examining a range of patients from babies to the elderly. 

The lack of equipment is one of the biggest challenges encountered while working in clinic.  Tests performed on expensive pieces of equipment in the U.S. are performed by hand using very basic equipment in Guatemala.  Students come back from Guatemala as better clinicians with a different perspective of what constitutes a difficult clinical case.  Patients that one might have thought were difficult before Guatemala, are much easier upon your return, knowing you have all of the state-of-the-art equipment at your disposal.  Four hundred and ninety-seven people were helped in the vision clinic this year. In addition to the Ophthalmic Program’s vision clinic, the Hendersonville Rotary Club provides a dental, medical, and psychological clinic.  Ophthalmic students are able to witness the services provided in these clinics as well.

A unique part of this trip is the ability to spend a great deal of time with Guatemalan Rotary members and translators.  Many of our translators are high school students taking English classes or working on community service hours.  The Guatemala students are able to practice their English and obtain the community service hours required by their schools, while the VSCC ophthalmic students are able to learn some Spanish and a great deal about the culture from the translators.  A couple of our translators have helped with our vision clinic every year for the last 7 years. Many long-term friendships are made by students and faculty as a result of the time spent working together.

This year on the days not spent in clinic, students hiked Volcano Pacaya and roasted marshmallows in the cooling lava. In addition, student had an opportunity to tour several churches, as well as the ruins of churches built in the 1600 and 1700s that were destroyed by earthquakes.   We were also fortunate enough to be in Guatemala during the time leading up to Easter.  Because of the timing of our trip, we were able to witness one of the world famous Catholic processions in Antigua, Guatemala.  People from all over the world travel to Antigua just to witness these processions.  Lastly, we were able to see the eruption of the Fuego Volcano.  A truly amazing experience.

Ophthalmic student Celestin Collins said it best, “I always knew that helping people was something I loved doing, but I never realized that it would bring an opportunity that would change my life forever.  Guatemala will forever hold a piece of my heart.”

-Ophthalmic Technician Program Director, Alisha Cornish

For more information on the Ophthalmic Technician Program at Vol State visit

Friday, April 22, 2016

And This Shall Be For Music

 "Making music makes life better"

“And This Shall Be For Music”, a concert given by Vol State and Portland High School talent will be held in Wemyss Auditorium (in Caudill Hall) on Sunday at 3:00 pm. Ben Warren, the Portland High School Director, and Nancy Slaughter, Associate Professor of Music at Vol State, will both be conducting and have been working hard with the students to put on an amazing show. “Making music makes life better,” says Slaughter. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

This Week at Vol State

April 19 Campus Spa Day, Gallatin, Nichols Dining Room, 10am-2pm
April 20 Earth Day events, Duffer Plaza near the fountain, 11am-2pm
April 20 Coffee with the Prez, Cafeteria, 9am-10am
April 20 Spring Job Career Fair, Pickel Field House, 10am-1pm
April 20 Spa Day, Highland Campus, 10am to 2pm 
April 22 Educate A Woman, fundraiser, 11:30am, Long Hollow Baptist Church Worship Center suggested $40 donation.
April 22 Movie Night, free for the family, library lawn or Pickel Field House, dusk
April 23 Vol State Home Plate Day, baseball and softball games, Athletic Fields, Noon
April 24 Vol State Singers and Portland H.S. Ensemble concert, Caudill Hall, 3pm

Vol State Students in Mongolia

You may have heard of Vol State students traveling to China or India as part of travel-study. But how about Mongolia? Recently a group of education students had the opportunity to visit schools in Mongolia. Here is one of the student's reflections on the trip.

It is difficult to wrap up my impressions of Mongolia into one paragraph. There were so many things that will stick with me: the people, the traffic, the food, the beauty of the countryside, the friends made, the adventures had, the amazing opportunities to see so much in such a short time, the long flights to get there and home, the fatigue, the cold, and let’s not forget the day we visited the nomad family and thought that we were traveling to the ends of the earth and may not make it out to an actual road before nightfall. I would have to say that the one thing that I was the most impressed with and what I will remember the most about Mongolia is their education system and the importance that they place on well-rounded education, beginning from a very early age. They include arts, sciences, maths, music, history, geology and so much more. 

One of my favorite experiences, at one of the many schools that we visited, was the geology museum. It was fascinating! I found it incredible that there is such a rich diversity in resources, many yet untapped! The wealth of gemstones and dinosaur fossils and oil and marble is simply astounding! Another experience that I will never forget is watching that little girl in 3rd grade using an abacus! I was astonished to hear that they teach Algebra as early as the 3rd grade. Algebra! In the third grade!? Amazing! I was very impressed with how organized, clean, happy and active the schools were! No sloppy dressing, pants hanging below the bum, tattered shoes or clothing on a single student and yet it was quite easy to see the individuality of each face from the elementary to the university level! They ENJOYED learning! American students could benefit greatly from an exchange program with Mongolia! I hope that our visit helped to pave the way and open many doors for that to happen in the future! I was honored to have been chosen to be a part of the delegation. I will cherish the memories for a lifetime. 

-Donna Fair

Friday, April 15, 2016

Vol State Spring Career Fair April 20

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting dozens of area employers for the Spring Job Career Fair on Wednesday, April 20. All job seekers are invited to attend.

“This year will feature a soft skills area where students may learn about specific career readiness and mindset change awareness,” said Rick Parrent, director of Career Placement at Vol State. “Employers are very selective in today's job market, seeking new talent who, from the very start, exhibit a strong personal and professional brand. LinkedIn information will also be found in that area of the gym supporting students' ability to present themselves ready to network in a digital platform.”

The fair provides an opportunity for job seekers to talk directly with the people responsible for hiring. Participants are encouraged to bring several copies of their resumes.  There is still space available at the fair for recruiters and businesses. They should visit for details.

The Spring Job Career Fair is free and will be held in the gym at the Pickel Field House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vol State is located at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. For more information call 615-230-3307.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Final Push - You Can Do This

This is the final push of the semester! Get help with final papers in the Language Center and math help in the Learning Commons. Set out a final exam study schedule for yourself and start your course review early. Cramming won't help if you're too tired to perform well during the test. You can do this!

Monday, April 11, 2016

CCURI Participants Descend on Campus

What's going on at Vol State today? Twenty-four community colleges from seventeen states converge at Vol State campus CCURI's Spring Colloquium. CCURI (Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative) is a program funded by the National Science Foundation that supports research programs in community colleges.

Bassam Halabiya is a United States National Guardsman and undergrad at Edmonds Community College in Seattle, Washington. His project analyzes the synchronization patterns of a complex pendulum. "I think I'm the only one here with a physics presentation," he laughs. A lot of the presenters focus on environmental factors such as wildlife patterns or fisheries, though there may be some dinosaur research in there if you look. The poster presentations will be set up in the Pickel Field House until 4pm.

Your Vol State Merit Page Explained

You should have received an email last week about Vol State Merit webpages. They're designed to help you celebrate your success while at Vol State. Many colleges and universities across the country have them for students. Your page can list a badge for an honors society you belong to or whether you made the dean's list. We'll be adding badges for various student achievements, especially coming at the end of this semester.

What do you need to do? The first thing is to claim your page. The easiest way to do this is click on the link provided in an email sent to the personal email address that you listed with the college. Many of you may already have done this from fall semester. If so, you are already set.

You can then personalize your Merit page however you want - add a picture or add work experience. You can also put in the emails of parents or loved ones so that they will be notified when you receive a new badge from Merit.

We'll start everyone off with an enrollment badge so you can see what they look like and how they work. It also puts you in the system. Vol State Merit pages are run by the Vol State Office of Public Relations. If you have any questions you can contact us at

If you don't get the email you can also visit the main Vol State Merit Pages web page and search from there. If you still can't find your page just email us with your name, city, zip code, and email address and we can create one for you.

Make Your Wish!

"I wish to be big! No, wait-"
What's more important to him than being big?

Introducing the second video in the #Hanks2VolState campaign. Students are encouraged to produce their own - post it, tag it, and let us know! How creative can you get?

Vol State Events this Week

Vol State events this week:
April 11 Red Cross Blood Drive, Highland Campus, 10am to 2pm
April 11 WVCP live broadcast, Duffer Plaza, 11:30am-2:30pm
April 11 CCURI Spring 2016 Colloquium, visiting CC students and faculty, with science project poster sessions, Pickel Fieldhouse, 2pm to 4pm
April 11-15 Secret Cinema at the Thigpen Library: pick out a mystery DVD and watch, Front Desk
April 12 Communication Week: Founder of Smokey Barn News, Nichols Dining, 12:45pm
April 12 Movie: Milk, Thigpen Library Rochelle, 1pm, 3pm and 6pm
April 13 Communication Week: Ramer Oratorical Contest, Mattox 104, 1pm
April 13 Open Mic, read poetry, play a song…it’s your stage, Thigpen Library Rochelle, 1pm
April 14 SI History Bowl, Mattox Building Room 104, 11:30am
April 14 Game Day, board games, card games and ping-pong, Thigpen Library Rochelle
April 14 Brock McGuire Band concert, Livingston Campus, 1:30pm

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Where Were You? Students Remember Gallatin Tornado

Tomorrow marks the 10 year anniversary of a day that some people in Gallatin will never forget. On April 7, 2006,  several tornadoes touched down in Middle Tennessee, destroying homes, businesses, and historical landmarks. The tornado that went through Gallatin cut a wide path of destruction that included the Vol State campus.
While many of the students currently at Vol State weren’t here or have no memory of the tornadoes, there are a few for whom that day will be forever marked in their minds. Barry Waggoner, a history major and returning adult student, considers himself fortunate. “I was at home, bunkered down. I was ready for it,” says Waggoner. But while he lost power for more than two hours, the tornado hit a few miles away from his house.
“I was driving,” remembers Alison Meyers, SGA Vice President. “It went from really sunny to really cloudy and weird in just a few minutes.” Meyers was almost home by the time she heard the sirens, and by then it was too late. “I looked up and the tornado was right there on the other side of the interstate. It looked like a huge gray storm cloud. I was in disbelief.”
Meyers worked at Urgent Care at that time but had the day off. The tornado struck close enough to blow out every window in the building destroy every car in the parking lot. “You can prepare and have this plan in your mind, but when it happens it’s not what you think it would be.”
Where were you when the F-3 hit Sumner County? 

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

Bluegrass Jamboree at Vol State April 9

Performances and master classes will be the highlights of the fifth annual Sumner County Bluegrass Jamboree. The free event is coming to Volunteer State Community College on Saturday, April 9 and everyone is invited to attend. The Jamboree is hosted by Vol State as part of the Bluegrass Music degree emphasis at the college.

The master classes will include a guitar and songwriting session by Rebecca Frazier; mandolin instruction by Roland White; Rebecca Baumbach with fiddle insights; and Mark Barnett teaching a class about banjo techniques. These music veterans will also be performing at the Jamboree. Competitions will not be held this year, to focus on the classes and performances.

The Sumner County Bluegrass Jamboree will be held from Noon until 6 p.m. at Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. There is plenty of free parking. For more information visit or call 615-452-8600, extension 2936.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Suicide: The Conversation That Everyone Is Afraid To Have

Suicide. There, I said it. That dark word that everyone is terrified to speak or think of. In my early twenties I was dangerously depressed. It wasn’t chemical. I just had a lot to deal with and I wasn’t dealing with it in healthy ways. I literally didn’t know how to deal with it in healthy ways. So I self-injured and basically lived a life bent on destruction.
There is clarity, and there is barely holding your head above water, then there are the nights when you are drowning. There is depression, then comes the times when the door shuts and all the air goes out of the room. Suicidally depressed. It comes disguised as truth, that at this moment you are facing gritty, ugly reality. It says that those moments of hope, of treading water, is the lie. It says that you, specifically you, especially you, are more than worthless. You’re a special kind of bad and for the sake of those you love, the most selfless thing you can do is to remove your darkness from their lives. Oh yes, I know the lies it whispers to your soul.
But the truth is that everyone sucks. Not just you. We all harbor darkness, just some are more aware of it than others. We’re all human, animal, gritty, dark, and often confused. Most of the time we’re all just winging it.
We also harbor light – yeah, all of us. Varying degrees of laughter, love, altruism, friendship. All completely unique.
I won’t tell you what to do, who to be. You have enough of that. I will tell you that when the lie comes – yeah, he visited me too, and whispered the same thing. Don’t believe it.
If you love someone who is suicidal or depressed, my advice is this: stop trying to tell them what they can get out of life. Change the narrative. Most of the time the question isn’t “is life worth living” but “is MY life worth living?” Tell them the things that they do that bring you joy. Tell them why they are a light to the world, a life worth living. Tell them why it would be a tragedy for that person, specifically, to die. We all need to be needed.
“Life is bits of happiness dancing in the dark.” ~Jaden Payne (my son)

Did you know? Vol State's Advising Center isn't just for academic advice. "Feel free to reach out," says Amanda Foster, Completion Advisor at VSCC. "It can be little things, a crappy day, or something major. Reach out to a favorite teacher. It doesn't have to be the Advising Center, but go to who you're comfortable with, or have them go to the Advising Center with you."

You can also visit for mental health services or call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471) 24/7 for a mental health emergency.

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

Events this Week

April 4                   Fall & Summer Priority registration starts for sophomores, 8am
April 5                   Fall & Summer Priority registration starts for freshmen, 8am
April 5                   Free Caricatures by Tracy Latham. Highland Campus, 9am to 2pm
April                       Service Recognition event, Ramer Great Hall, 10am
April 5                   Paralegal Studies open house and information night, Caudill 102, 6pm
April 7                   Vol State 2006 Tornado Remembered, Ramer Great Hall, 10am
April 7                   LGBTQIA awareness discussion, Caudill Hall, 12:45pm
April 7                   Elementary Art Reception, Ramer Great Hall, 3:30-5:30pm
April 7                   15th annual Science & Math Expo, Wallace North, 2:30-6:30pm
April 7                   Channel 4 presentation: “4Warn-Surviving the Storm”, Caudill, 7pm

April 9                   Sumner Bluegrass Jamboree, Caudill Hall, Noon to 6pm

Science and Math Expo this Thursday, April 7

There’s a nationwide push to get more women interested in math and science fields. That means getting girls involved at an early age. It will be a highlight of the 15th annual Volunteer State Community College Science and Math Expo on Thursday, April 7. There will be special sessions for girls to explore what it means to be a scientist and mathematician.

“Women in Math is an activity that recognizes distinguished women mathematicians,” said Parris Powers, assistant professor of Chemistry. “The hands-on event uses different polyhedrons and will challenge participating girls to observe geometric patterns.
From that they will be able to derive an important mathematical law.”

Girls and boys will enjoy learning with fun demonstrations that teach basic scientific principles. The Science and Math Expo will have more than fifty hands-on activities for kids and parents. There will be demonstrations covering a wide range of subjects from biology to physics. Those activities will include LEGO engineering and astronomical viewing in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Planetarium. The Expo is designed for kids from kindergarten through middle school. Many of the activities are put together by Vol State math and science students, who gain a new perspective on science and math education.  This year education students joined in the projects.

“I’m excited to watch two classes of students from different disciplines collaborate, each bringing their own level of expertise to discover and create a math or science experiment,” said Dr. Penelope Duncan,  assistant professor of Early Childhood Education. “The organic chemistry students demonstrate knowledge in science inquiry and education students incorporate the instructional methods and create lesson plans- truly a team approach.”

The Vol State Science and Math Expo will be held on Thursday, April 7 from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will take place in and around the Wallace Health Sciences Building- North on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. The event is free and open to everyone. For more information call 615-230-3261.

Students Kick Off Campaign #Hanks2VolState

He's an inspiration and an example of what we can accomplish if we keep working at it.

"Community college." Sometimes that phrase isn't used in a positive light. Let's face it, we're  not Hollywood's darling. Last year, however, Tom Hanks stepped up to challenge the stereotype by announcing that he had gone to a community college and attributed part of his success to it.

The reasons that students choose to attend a community college over a four-year university are as varied as the individuals are, but many come down to finances and family. These students need more flexibility, and the smaller class sizes mean more personal attention from instructors. They also need encouragement and a sense of purpose, like every other higher ed student. Sometimes that "exit" sign looks too tempting. Unfortunately, getting role models to acknowledge or speak at a community college is often difficult.

This is why Tom Hanks' Op Ed piece is inspiring. He is a role  model who has been highly successful in his professional and personal life, and here he is - not bragging on an Ivy League education but applauding community colleges. He's an example of what we can accomplish if we keep working at it.

Can a small community college like Vol State get the attention of someone like Tom Hanks? I don't know, but it would be fun to try. Mr. Hanks, if you're listening, I personally want to thank you for your inspiration. It would be an honor to have you speak at Volunteer State Community College's 2017 commencement.

So without further ado we're unveiling the #Hanks2VolState Campaign, where Vol State students are encouraged to produce, post, and tag their own short videos asking Tom Hanks to come speak at our college. Some of our media production students put together the first one here:

Priority Summer and Fall Class Registration Now Open

Priority summer and fall class registration for current students is now open for sophomores. It opens Tuesday at 8am for freshmen. You will have about two weeks head start before new students can register, so register now, get the classes you need at the times you want. Course registration will stay open until the first week of classes for each semester. Priority registration is your opportunity to get a jump start.