Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Congrats to Our Literary Magazine

Congrats to the editors, writers and artists who worked on the 2016 Squatter's Rites student literary magazine. It won third place for the southern division of small colleges in the Community College Humanities Association college magazine contest. The award-winning publication is going through some changes this year- including a new name. You can vote for your favorite name of the finalists on the front page of this student blog. If you want to get involved with the publication email

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hitting A Wall

Soon after my son was diagnosed with autism, someone told me quite casually “It will be okay.” At the time I was deep into 12-hours-a-day research of all things autism and formulating a long list of steps we needed to take. Frustrated at the flippancy of the comment, I replied that it will be okay “because I’m going to make it okay.”

It’s a common platitude that things will “work out for the best.” Yet not many people float down the lazy river of life having things just work out. You have to work for it.

Last week I hit three walls on the path that I’ve chosen. They weren’t little walls, but the kind that
knock a person down and make them think about giving up and going to live in a tent on a beach. Okay, I think about that occasionally anyway.

My Happy Place
So I took a break, spent some time with my son, ate some pumpkin pie, and came back more determined than ever. Setbacks have a way of teaching me more about myself, and disappointment refines my understanding of what I really want. I’ve faced bigger walls than this.

This semester has been tough for some – for different reasons. Finals are looming, we’re all exhausted, and probably a lot of you have some personal hardships on top of it. Stand up, breath, and push through it. Life only works itself out in nice little bows on television. The rest of us have to make it okay ourselves. You can do 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.

Events this Week at Vol State

Events at Vol State this week:
Nov. 29 Music Department recital, SRB 151, 2:30-3:30pm
Nov. 30 Festival of Lights, holiday celebration of many cultures, Nichols Dining Room, 12:45pm
Dec. 2 and 3 "Starry, Starry Night" Music Department annual Christmas concert and CD release, $5 donation for the public, free with Vol State ID, Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall, 7:30pm

Vol State Holiday Concerts December 2 and 3 at 7:30pm

Music is a big part of the holiday season. Students at Volunteer State Community College will be presenting two nights of festive songs in a show titled “A Starry Night - An Evening of Christmas Favorites.” There will be choreographed performances from the Showstoppers, rock and roll from the Commercial Music Ensemble, and country musical renditions by the Bluegrass Ensemble, Bluegrass Ablaze. There will also be music by two new Vol State groups- the Guitar Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble. The event will highlight the wide-ranging talents of more than seventy-five students.
The concert includes a CD release of Vol State student work. This year’s CD will be for sale at the shows on December 2 and 3 in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. The show time is 7:30 p.m. each evening. A suggested donation of $5 benefits the Music Department Scholarship Fund. Admission and a copy of the Christmas CD are $10. For more information contact the Office of Humanities at 615-230-3202.
Pictured: Bluegrass Ablaze performs in the 2015 holiday concert. Photo by Tony Young.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Week Hours

We wish a happy Thanksgiving to all. Here's a reminder about our Vol State holiday schedule this week:
Nov. 23 Thanksgiving break, no classes, offices open this day, including the Gallatin Thigpen library until 4:30pm
Nov. 24-26 Thanksgiving break, no classes, all campus locations closed

Dr. Faulkner on Post-Election Dialog

The recent presidential election has polarized our society and country.  The result of the polarization is that we have seen a variety of protests and demonstrations across the country, from a variety of viewpoints. There is much discussion occurring in our society and Vol State is no exception. There is dialog about race relations, sexual discrimination, the economy, immigration and other issues. Dialog and discussion are good things, even when the issues are quite difficult. Part of the college experience is to create a place for such discussions. Civil discourse is a hallmark of higher education.  But that’s not a promise that everything will be comfortable when it comes to dialog about issues. The college campus is a place for the exchange of opinions and ideas. It is important that such discussions enhance, not inhibit learning.
However, when discussion degenerates into language and actions that attack people as groups and individuals- that is a problem.   Vol State is a diverse community and we value every member of the community.  Because we value every member, we must treat each other with respect, regardless of our views and beliefs.  We will tolerate nothing less. No one on campus should feel that they are under attack because of who they are or because of the values they hold.
The Student Government Association and the Office of Student Life are already working with faculty and students to create opportunities for us all to participate in true communication and discussion surrounding the issues.
Again, we expect exemplary behavior on the part of all members of the college community.  Should there ever be a situation that results in verbal or physical threats, you should call Campus Police immediately. Otherwise, your first stop for concerns is the Student Services Office in the Wood Campus Center Room 217. You can ask for advice, make a complaint or just talk to someone.
My open door policy extends to all of you as we work through these evolving times.   You can schedule an appointment with my office or send me an email at

-Vol State President, Jerry Faulkner

Friday, November 18, 2016

Tuesday- A Day of Listening and Reflection on Current Events

Vol State aims to foster an environment of safety, civility, inclusion, and respect. A Day of Listening and Reflection on Current Events will be held on Tuesday, November 22 for students and employees to address attitudes, perceptions, and emotions in a safe, neutral environment.  Led by our Student Government Association leaders and faculty, participants will engage each other in an open dialogue to understand various vantage points while promoting unity and solidarity. All are welcome.

Tuesday, November 22
9:30am - 11:00am, Nichols Carpeted Dining Room, Wood Bldg.
11:15pm - 1:00pm, Performing Arts Studio, SRB 150
2:30pm - 4:00pm, Performing Arts Studio, SRB 150

Please direct questions or comments to Student Life & Diversity Initiatives in Wood 215 or call 615-230-3461.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Priority Registration Over - But you can Still Register for Spring

Priority registration for current students is over. But you can register for spring classes at any time. Just remember that registration is open now for new and readmit students. So, to get the classes and class times you want, you should register as soon as possible. Spring classes start January 17.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why You Need the Language Center and Library Research Now

You may have big papers due at the end of the semester. If you want a good grade you should be researching and writing them now. The Vol State Language Center and the Thigpen Library on the Gallatin campus can help. The Thigpen Library has tons of research tools and even better- people who can show you how to best use those tools. Need a program for an easy bibliography? Need to find a specific academic source? Ask a librarian for help.

The Language Center in SRB 205 works with students on everything from developing an outline to polishing a final draft. You can pop in multiple times as you write. But only if you utilize them now. You can drop-in at any time during their hours and the service is free to all Vol State students. Here is a web link to their hours. The Language Center will be closed over Thanksgiving break. The Library will be open on Wednesday, November 23 from 8am to 4:30pm, but closed for the rest of that weekend.

Students on other campuses can get library help at their library or by phone or email from the Gallatin campus. Visit the website for details.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Where Are You Going To Be Next Year?

For those looking forward to graduation in the Spring, it’s also time to look forward to the next year and figure out where we want to be in the Fall. Some are joining the workforce or using their degree to advance their careers, and some plan to continue their education. For those who are transferring it's time to start working on your college applications. From MTSU to Harvard, most colleges judge transfer applicants differently than freshmen, sometimes opening opportunities that may not have existed right out of high school. You’ve already proven that you can hack it in college, maybe even excel. The application process takes time, so it’s best to start early. Don’t wait until the middle of Spring semester to apply, competing with thousands of applications and possibly waiting until August to get word of where you’re going next. Take it step by step.

1. Figure out where you want to be, then go for it. Make a list of which colleges would fit you and your major best. If possible, visit the campuses and take a tour. Note that what they highlight in their pitch is probably the primary focus of the campus. You can get a feel for the atmosphere and if it’s something you think will fit you. Nail down your top choices.

2. Fill out the FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid.) You can add up to ten schools to the application. Start with your top school choice(s) and add a few for backup in case your circumstances change. You should fill out the FASFA even if you don’t think you qualify. Click here to understand why.

3. Fill out the applications. Many schools will ask for an essay of some type. If you start early enough you can give some time and thought to this task. Write it, polish it, then go back a few days later and polish it again. Ask your favorite English teacher(s) to look over it for mistakes and suggestions, or bring it to the Language Lab. It’s important that your essay is free of typos and spelling errors. Need more? Read "Everything You Need To Know About the College Essay".

4. You will need to send transcripts of all the schools you have attended from high school and beyond. This is another task that can take a few weeks: from filling out the forms, mailing them or bringing them to your alma mater’s office, to waiting for processing and shipping time.

5. You may be asked for letters of recommendation from your professors. Make sure to give them enough time to write something glowingly appropriate.

6. Will you be moving to student housing, a house, or apartment? Or are you staying put and commuting? It’s important to have at least an idea of your options for each college choice, and you will be asked when you fill out the FASFA.

Wherever you go from here, start working towards your future now! Tomorrow comes faster than you think.

I'm anxiously waiting
to hear from Tulane.
Where are you going?

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.

Events this Week at Vol State

This week at Vol State:
Nov. 14-17 International Education Week
Nov. 14 Passport Table, Cafeteria, 12:45-1:45pm
Nov. 15 Veterans Day Event: Vietnam War Forum, Caudill Hall, 6-9pm
Nov. 15 Irish Music: Brock McGuire Band, Livingston Campus, 1:30pm
Nov. 15 Weddings around the World, and free henna tattoos, Nichols Dining Room, 11am-2pm
Nov. 16 “The Agony of Defeat: Past Presidential Contested Elections,” panel discussion, Rochelle Center-Thigpen Library, 1pm
Nov. 16 Spoken Word Poetry: NAV, Nichols Dining Room, 12:45-1:45pm
Nov. 16 Irish Music: Brock McGuire Band, Nichols Dining Room, 6:30pm
Nov. 17 Around the World in a Day, explore countries with Vol State students, Nichols Dining Room, 11:30am-2:30pm

Friday, November 11, 2016

International Education Week

November 14-17 is International Education Week at Vol State. We have several events taking place in Gallatin and Livingston:
Nov. 14 Passport Table, Cafeteria, 12:45-1:45pm
Nov. 15 Irish Music: Brock McGuire Band, Livingston Campus, 1:30pm
Nov. 15 Weddings around the World, and free henna tattoos, Nichols Dining Room, 11am-2pm
Nov. 16 Irish Music: Brock McGuire Band, Nichols Dining Room, 6:30pm
Nov. 17 Around the World in a Day, explore countries with Vol State students, Nichols Dining Room, 11:30am-2:30pm

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vietnam War Forum November 15 at 6pm

To mark Veterans Day, several area veterans groups have joined together for a forum to discuss the impact of the Vietnam War. Six veteran soldiers, sailors, and Marines will speak, along with a South Vietnamese civilian who escaped after the war. There will also be a display of items from the Vietnam war outside the auditorium. Everyone is invited to attend and it is free. The forum will be held on November 15 at 6pm in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. It is sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the VFW, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Sons of the American Revolutions and David Black.

Irish Music at Vol State November 15 and 16

The sounds of Ireland will grace Livingston on Tuesday November 15 and Gallatin on Wednesday, November 16 as the Brock McGuire Band makes a return visit to Volunteer State Community College. The County Clare ensemble performs traditional Irish folk music. The band is internationally recognized and has received numerous awards. They have played the Grand Ole Opry, and even recorded bluegrass music with Ricky Skaggs. The Brock McGuire Band will perform at 6:30 p.m. in the Wood Campus Center Nichols Dining Room on the campus at 1480 Nashville Pike on November 16. They will perform on the Livingston Campus, 113 Windle Community Road, at 1:30pm on November 15. The musicians will demonstrate a variety of music types, explain the instruments, and discuss the history of Irish music. The events are sponsored by the Vol State International Education Program. For more information about the performances call 615-230-3764. Information about the band can be found at

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Homecoming 2016

I don’t know about you, but I need a distraction from recent events. Something that brings people together for a common goal of fun and community. So it seems perfect that the Vol State Homecoming games are this weekend.

I dropped by practice and spoke to Coach Rusty Melvin, who explained that this weekend’s games aren’t just any games, but the TCCAA Conference Tournament. “We have an eighteen game conference schedule. We’re opening up with Jackson State, who last year knocked us out of the tournament.”

Both Coach Melvin and Pioneers Videographer Howard Robinson expressed their hopes that the Gallatin community – especially Vol State alumni – would come to cheer them on.

“They don’t even have to drive out to Nashville to see a college basketball game,” said Robinson.

How do they think the Pioneers’ chances look this year? “Come out Friday and you’ll see!” quipped Robinson with a grin.

The men’s basketball team will be playing Jackson at Vol State this Friday, Nov 11th at 5:30pm. The women’s basketball game will begin at 7:30pm. Saturday’s games are against Columbia State at 2:00pm and 4:00pm.

Watch the interview with Coach Melvin:

Gaynell Buffinet Payne

Monday, November 7, 2016

This Week at Vol State

This week at Vol State:
Nov. 7 Priority Registration opens at 8am for sophomores (30 or more credit hours)
Nov. 7 An Evening of Tom Lehrer, music faculty and students, SRB 151, 7:30pm
Nov. 8 Priority Registration opens at 8am for freshmen (less than 30 credit hours)
Nov. 11 Homecoming Basketball Games, Pickel Field House, 5:30 and 7pm

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Your Student Government Association (SGA) in St. Louis

From October 13-16, the SGA had the immense pleasure of attending the “We are SGA” Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Going in with high expectations, I did not feel that those expectations could be exceeded. I. Was. So. Wrong. My expectations were not only exceeded, they were blown out of the water. I was challenged to examine my own beliefs and I was forced to put myself in other people’s shoes and examine their beliefs as well. It was so inspiring to have those critical conversations and be able to listen with an open heart and mind. As a Student Government, we are continuously challenged in good and bad ways, whether it be from our peers or our faculty. 
This conference taught all of us to step outside of our comfort zones and to look at the world in a completely new perspective, thus we are now able to better communicate with those around us. We had the pleasure of meeting students from all over our country, from Montana to Colorado, and even the Virgin Islands. I now have friends and acquaintances all over the country who are not only facing the same adversities that we are, but they are crushing them and sharing their successes with us. We have grown so much as the Vol State SGA in the last week. We are ready to take a step back while simultaneously helping our student body become the best it can be. I look forward to the next conference with an open heart and mind and I cannot wait to see what else awaits us as the Volunteer State Community College Student Government. WE ARE SGA!
                SGA is a crucial part of campus. We help plan activities, we facilitate conversations between students and faculty, and we help to solve any campus issues that may arise. We meet every other Monday in the Rochelle Center from 12:45-1:45pm. The meetings are open to all students and faculty! If you would like to connect with us on a day that is not a meeting day, we are located in Wood 213, between the cafeteria and the bookstore! We are open to all concerns from the student body. Please drop in and visit with us any time!

-Caitlyn Ellis, SGA Secretary of State 2016-2017

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Priority Spring Class Registration November 7 and 8

Get the classes you need at the times you want! Priority spring class registration starts next week for current Vol State students. Monday 8am for Sophomores (30 credit hours or more) and Tuesday 8am for Freshmen (less than 30 credit hours). Visit DegreeWorks and see your academic advisor now to plan what classes you need to take. Details: