Thursday, September 27, 2018

Vol State Professors View American Culture Through the TV Show Mad Men.

You may think that your professors just come to class, teach, and then go home to their families, yet a lot of our Vol State professors do some pretty interesting work in their off time.  As fanatics of the American TV show Mad Men, married Professors Scott McMillan and Jennifer James have been analyzing the TV show and the constant theme of “work” within American culture. Their work has turned into a research paper titled “Revisiting Mad Men: The Nature of Work in American Culture.” They will present some of their research and ideas at The Popular/American Culture Association in the South Conference in New Orleans during the weekend of October 4th, 2018.

“Part of our culture, from our very early history, is this American work ethic,” said McMillan. “We’ve always been about work, work, work. It’s at the heart of who we are, it drives us as a nation, and Mad Men symbolizes this. It’s not just a good TV show, its great American literature. Ultimately it’s just Americans working just like we all are… It transcends just being set in the 1960’s, it deals with the struggles we all face in any workplace, regardless of the era.”

“We’re moving away from that sort of Ford economy, of assembly line production, into creative work," said James. “We see their focus of work (in Mad Men) while the country is falling apart around them, it’s this very tumultuous time in the U.S. and we see these main characters go through that time. We see them working, but they also focus on other work, the psychoanalytical work, the work of overcoming alcoholism, the work of becoming a better person, the spiritual work of meditation, it’s a beautiful series, and every time you watch it, a different theme emerges.” 

They soon realized the themes provided an opportunity for scholarly exploration.

“In the paper, we focus on this idea of work, and what work means to identity. Boomers live to work, Xers work to live. Does the job become our identity? Where do we stop and the job start, where does the job stop and we start? The American ideal is that we are workers, we are the job. We work more than any culture on the planet, constantly trying to find identity in work,” explained James.

McMillan said that he often ties pop-culture, including TV shows, into his Political Science curriculum to get the students engaged. 

“We not only teach the stuff, we’re also thinking about it, exploring ideas, presenting them and to a hopefully receptive audience, that will allow other people to think about things in a different way. I think it’s an important part of what we do as professors, that we stay active in this larger academic world… and it’s always nice to carry the Vol State flag into these kinds of things,” McMillan added.

For more information on The Popular/American Culture Association in the South Conference in New Orleans, please visit: 
-By Rachel Keyes

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

3 things to do right now if you are struggling in your classes.

The work is piling up. You are getting behind in your classes. You are not sure if you can do it. First, take a deep breath. Most college students feel this way at one point or another. It is still early in the semester and there are things you can do to catch up. Here are three things to do immediately:
1.       Talk to the instructor for any class that you are having problems. Visit them in their office or see them after class, but have a real discussion about what you can do to catch up. They have to hold you to the same standards as other students in the class. They also want to see you do well in their class. Work out a plan with each instructor and get the work done.
2.       Many students have trouble juggling work and family needs with college demands. Make a priority list of what are the most important things you need to get done and consider dropping the extras that you don’t have time for. Hopefully, that isn’t your classes. It could be that you have over-extended yourself with extracurricular activities, volunteering at church, etc.
3.       You may be trying to take too many classes and need to drop one. Just be careful, it can impact your TN Promise, TN Reconnect and other financial aid. If you are considering dropping a class at this point or perhaps even considering dropping out of college altogether, please talk to someone first. There are advisors available on each Vol State campus. It doesn’t have to be your assigned academic advisor. You can visit the Advising Center on the Gallatin campus, Ramer Room 174, at any time during business hours. You can drop-in or make appointments to see advisors on other campuses. You should also meet with Financial Aid to discuss how it will impact you.
College may be tougher than you expected. You can do this.  Successful college students have one thing in common- they overcome adversity and challenges. That means getting in there and fighting to succeed. We are here to help, whether it be with free academic assistance and tutoring or just by listening and offering advice.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Guest Student Blog: Jim Hayes and the Electric Vampire

The alarm breaks through my sleep at 3:45 a.m. every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning. Time for my date with the electric vampire.
I roll out of bed, pack up my computer, and make the 20 minute drive from White House to Hendersonville, where I will spend four hours with a pair of needles about the size of a #3 pencil lead in my wrist, cycling my blood through a dialysis machine, since my kidneys no longer perform their assigned function.
After the dialysis, and somewhere between 3 and 4 kilos lighter than when I arrived at the clinic, (hey, if your kidneys don’t function, you don’t eliminate waste, right, so that is part of the dialysis process) I head for the campus and my two classes for the day (Settler Staff meeting and Political Science).
Mondays and Wednesdays are more packed, with rehabbing from an early August heart attack from 8-9 a.m. followed by classes from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
I’m Jim Hayes, 58, and a student returning to school after some 40 years under the TN Reconnect program.  After graduating high school in California in 1978, I spent three years in the Marine Corps before being medically discharged.  After a couple of career changes, I taught myself computer programming and pursued a career in that field for 35 years.
At about 35, I received what I have come to call the gift that keeps on taking, diabetes.  Among other things, the diabetes triggered kidney failure, which in turn led to my being on the Vanderbilt Medical Center kidney transplant list. The wait on that list ranges from three to five years or longer.
Being on the transplant list means having to be within four hours of Vandy. My last programming gig was working remotely from my home as a software administrator for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Once that contract ended, it was not possible to find another remote engagement (and the fact that I had no college degree wasn’t a point in my favor either) so, I decided to return to school and pursue a journalism degree.
So there you have it.  My days are mostly filled with some sort of interaction with my medical team followed by the requirements of returning to school.  I see I completely failed to mention my wife, Denise, who basically runs the household, or our kids, Jason and Jaidyn who have their own agenda’s (Jason is 31 and autistic, while Jaidyn is our adopted daughter and takes ballet classes with the Nashville Ballet).
Through it all, I simply meet each new challenge as they come and conquer them one by one. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Feeling Overwhelmed? Free Academic Help in the College Success Zone

Feeling overwhelmed with class work? Get free academic help in the College Success Zone
This is a tough time in the semester. The coursework is starting to pile up. You have paper due. That math test is coming up soon. We know it’s tough. We also know that you can do it. We have some free academic assistance that can help. We put it together for what we call the College Success Zone. It’s not an actual place, but rather a list of all sorts of programs that can help Vol State students. You can connect to math tutoring, help with papers, online tutoring in many subjects, just to name a few. It’s easy and we have a list for each Vol State campus. Just visit

Are You First in Your Family to Attend College?

Are you the first one in your family to attend college? Dr. Frank E. Dobson, Jr., from Vanderbilt University, understands what you are going through, as he too was first in his family to attend college. He will be talking to Vol State students about the challenges first generation college students face and how you can overcome those challenges and succeed. Join him this Thursday, September 27 at 11:30 a.m. in the Rochelle Center in Thigpen Library. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

This Week at Vol State

This week at Vol State:
Sept. 24 UT Knoxville representative, Wood Campus Center main hallway, 10 am – 1 pm
Sept. 25 Lipscomb University representative, Wood Campus Center main hallway, 10 am – 1 pm
Sept. 25 SGA Meet and Greet: grab a float, register to vote, Nichols Dining Room, 12:45pm-1:45pm
Sept. 26 Fall Job/Career Fair, dozens of area employers, Pickel Field House, 10am-1pm
Sept. 26 Middle Tennessee State University representative, Wood Campus Center main hallway, 10 am – 2 pm
Sept. 26 Banned Books Reading, SRB Room 150, 12:45pm-3pm
Sept. 27 Western Kentucky University representative, Wood Campus Center main hallway, 9:30 am – 2 pm
Sept. 27 First Generation College Students, Are you the first in your family to attend college? We have a speaker to discuss issues and challenges, Rochelle Center in Thigpen Library, 11:30am-1pm
Sept. 30 Voice Recital: Nancy Slaughter, soprano, Caudill Hall auditorium, 3:30pm

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Science and Technology Event for Girls 5th-9th Grade - Sign-Up Now

We’re looking for 5th-9th grade girls for a special day-long educational event at Vol State in Gallatin. E.Y.H stands for Expanding Your Horizons. The goal is to help girls develop a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
October 6 from 8 am - 3 pm
Registration fee: $20
Open to all 5th - 9th grade girls
The Conference features:
• Hands-on workshops in STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
• Successful women in STEM sharing as role models
• Dedicated and experienced workshop leaders
• Passionate college students serving as group leaders
• Photo booth and fun activities
Register Today!

Why You Should Consider Learning a Foreign Language

It was my first day in France. I had been strolling the city of Paris all day in the summer heat. Enamored by all that was around me, it suddenly dawned on me that I needed to find a drink of water. My phone was dead, my charger at my hotel, and I needed directions. An elegant, elderly woman with a huge smile on her face crossed my path. She seemed approachable; it was time to put my skills to the test.

“Excusez-moi, où est l'épicerie?” I asked. She graciously spouted off directions to me that I couldn’t quite comprehend. “Désolé, je ne comprends pas, madame. Je parle un peu français,” I added. She quickly grabbed my hand, pulling me with her. As we walked, I made small talk in my broken French, and somehow, we were communicating.

At this point, I realized that I might be onto something with this language thing. Later that day, I began to reflect on my first day of French class last year. My professor, Lisa Blomquist, came into the classroom, introduced herself, laid out a few ground rules and expectations, and then informed us that the class would be entirely conducted in French. She then proceeded in her flawless French accent. The majority of the class seemed apprehensive. One student even got up and left, and murmured something like, “yeah, this is too much for me.”

You may be intimidated to take a foreign language. I know that I was. But I was also determined, so I stuck with it, and voilà, I was able to communicate and get around Paris this summer. Traveling through Europe reminded me of how secluded we are in our bubble in the United States.

“The students at Vol State just have to know that the world is a really big place, and there are a lot of opportunities, and you should never limit yourself to staying where you grew up, and what you know, because it’s really easy to do what you know – and it’s a challenge to do something you don’t know. But it’s almost always worth it,” said Professor Blomquist.

Oky Aruguello, Hispanic outreach specialist of Advising, offered some advice. “You need to mingle and learn about other people, the enrichment that you get from learning another language, culture, and system of beliefs makes you a well-rounded person,” she said.

When learning a language, you’re learning more than just words. You’re learning context, history, and culture along with it. Learning a language literally opens up a new world to you.

“Language is sort of like math or working puzzle and there is a right answer. My teacher once said that when you start to dream in the language, you’ll know that your brain is really connecting,” said Professor Blomquist.

Vol State currently offers classes in French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. If you want to pick up another language in your spare time, regardless of your degree, as a student of Vol State you also have access to Rosetta Stone for free, which offers around 30 languages to choose from. 
If you’re interested in foreign languages, please visit; to set up your Rosetta Stone account, head over to the Language Center located in the Learning Commons of the Thigpen Library.

Au revoir!

-By Rachel Keyes

3 Reasons to Attend the Job Fair on September 26

3 Reasons to attend the Vol State Job Fair next Wednesday, Sept. 26.
-Network with employers and find out what skills they need for future employment
-Learn basic introduction and interview skills.
-Have your picture taken by a professional photographer for you can use it to create a LinkedIn page.
Dozens of employers will be at the Pickel Field House from 10am to 1pm. The Job Fair is free and open to everyone. You don't have to be searching for a job to get something out of it!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Donate to The Feed Student Food Pantry

The Feed is the student food pantry on each Vol State campus. The Feed locations have food and hygiene items for any Vol State student in need. To do that, we need your help. Here are some of the current needs of The Feed in Gallatin. Many of these items would also be good for other campuses. Check with the front desk at your campus to get specific needs.
-Ready to eat meals for lunches (they can be microwavable or ready to eat).
-Individual sized drinks
-Personal hygiene items
And remember- The Feed will take any non-perishable food item or hygiene item. You can find donation bins on the Gallatin campus at the Wood Campus Center, Ramer, SRB Second Floor and Thigpen Library. See the front desk at other campuses to donate.
Thanks to everyone for the support!

Events this Week at Vol State

Events this week at Vol State:
Sept. 17 Western Governors University representative, Wood Campus Center main hallway in front of Student Services 10:00am—2:00pm.
Sept. 18 Trevecca Nazarene University representative, Wood Campus Center main hallway in front of Student Services 11:00am—1:00pm.
Sept. 18 Sumner College Night, area universities on campus, Pickel Field House, 6pm-8pm students must register first at
Sept. 19 Tennessee State University representative, Wood Campus Center main hallway in front of Student Services 10:00am—1:00pm.
Sept. 20 University of Tennessee - Martin representative Wood Campus Center main hallway in front of Student Services office from 11:00am--3:00pm.
Sept. 20 Constitutionally Speaking: a public reading of American documents by Vol State students, Cafeteria, 12:30-1:30pm
Sept. 20 Break the Silence: Suicide Awareness, SRB Plaza, 6pm

Friday, September 14, 2018

Many University Reps at Vol State Tuesday, September 18

Considering transfer to a university? Put this event on your calendar for Tuesday, September 18 at Vol State in Gallatin. Sumner College Night will be held in the Gym 6pm-8pm. Many university reps will be on site. You must register before the event...go to

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Student Food Pantry - The Feed at Vol State

Money for food can be tight. The Feed at Vol State is available for all Vol State students.
The Feed at Vol State seeks to alleviate the barriers and challenges associated with food insecurity and hunger so that students can remain in school, and ultimately, earn their degrees. It could be called a food pantry or a food bank. The important point is that The Feed is open to all Vol State students. It is operated at all four Vol State campuses.
The Feed is stocked with non-perishable food items and personal hygiene items. All current students are welcome to use The Feed and must present their Student ID at each visit. Students are able to use The Feed as often as needed. The Feed operates on the honor system. Students will be asked to fill out a brief registration form with basic information, but it is not necessary to prove eligibility.
The hours are 9am to 4pm Monday through Thursday and by appointment on Friday for the Gallatin campus location. Other campuses may have different hours- check at the front desk for details.
The Feed is located in the Ramer Building, Room 151, next to the Veterans Affairs and Adult Learners Office on the Gallatin campus. Please see the front desks at CHEC, Livingston and Highland Crest campuses for help at those locations. Email:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Events this Week at Vol State

Events this week at Vol State:
Sept. 10 Adult Student Open House, Library and Learning Commons, 10am-Noon and 4pm-6pm
Sept. 10 Let’s Talk About Suicide, Nichols Dining Room, 2pm
Sept. 11 SGA voter registration table, Wood Main Hallway, 11am-1pm
Sept. 12 SGA voter registration table, Wood Main Hallway, 11am-1pm
Sept. 13 SGA grab and go food and voter registration, Wood Main Hallway, 5pm-6pm

Register to Vote!

Vol State students: Register to vote and encourage your friends to do so by taking a picture and putting it up on social media. The Vol State Student Government Association is hosting a Voter Registration Drive in September and participating in a social media contest for Voter Registration.
You can participate and by using #GoVoteTN and #PioneerPolls
SGA Voter Registration table dates on campus in Gallatin in the Wood Campus Center
• September 11, 2018 from 11:00AM-1:00PM
• September 12, 2018 from 11:00AM-1:00PM
• September 13, 2018 from 5:00PM-6:00PM
• September 25, 2018- National Voter Registration Day- SGA will host a Meet & Greet called Grab a Float and Register to Vote from 12:45PM-1:45PM