Wednesday, December 18, 2019

College Holiday Hours

All Vol State campuses will be closed from December 23 to January 1. Offices will be back open January 2. Spring semester classes start on January 21 and there is still time to apply. That can be done at any time online:

If you are considering college here are some links:

TN Reconnect- tuition-free college for adults who do not have a college degree.

We have more than 100 academic areas of study. Explore them here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Graduate Profile: Melody Montgomery

Melody (center) with Vol State President,
Jerry Faulkner, and his wife Wanda.

Some college students explore academic majors to find out what they want to do for a career. For others, it is a calling that comes from experience, and sometimes that experience is not a positive thing.
“My life has been spent in addiction,” said Melody Montgomery of Livingston. “I’ve been in and out of jail since I was young. I quit high school in the 10th grade. I actually took one of my GED (high school diploma) tests in jail.”
That initiative took her to Vol State at 43 years of age. She had a singular purpose: “I want to work with women who have been involved in drugs and alcohol,” she said. “I like showing people that there is hope; that there is a life beyond addiction.”
She’s already making a difference as a house manager at a Christian reentry home in Cookeville. The facility helps people in recovery come back into the community. And her work doesn’t stop there. She and her husband, Danny, share their tough experiences on the road.
“My husband found the Lord in prison and today we do prison ministry all across the Southeast.”
You would imagine, with that kind of enthusiasm for helping others, that Melody would be fond of public speaking. That wasn’t the case.
“Cindy Tallent taught my Speech class at Vol State. She pushed me way outside my comfort zone. She believed in me when I didn’t. I am not a speaker. And yet, I went to a state competition for public speech and won bronze.”
She also served as a President’s Ambassador at Vol State, a prestigious scholarship program that involves many public events.  Montgomery is considering attending Tennessee Tech for social work. She said she will miss the faculty and staff at Vol State.
“Vol State has been my home. The people at the Livingston campus have been my family. I was so nervous going in and everyone made me feel comfortable.”
Husband Danny and her son, 23-year-old Coty Ray, will watch Melody walk across the graduation stage on Saturday.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Graduate Profile: Rachel Burke

Homeschooled students may have different challenges during their college journey because of their different learning environment.  This is true for graduate Rachel Burke, with this being her first and last semester at Vol State. 

She started this semester as an English Education major after transferring from Jefferson State Community College in Alabama. 

“When I got into college and started taking classes, I got into writing.  I like taking apart works of literature,” said Burke, “I want to teach because I want to help someone like how my mom helped me.”

Burke was homeschooled before coming to college, and said her mom was her teacher and role model.  When her mother taught her, she prepared them for the workload of college with difficult classes to teach them how to stay responsible and accountable during school. 

Throughout her academic journey, Burke said she has moved a couple times and has attended different schools, but her Vol State experience sticks out from the rest. 

“I was pleased….  People did their jobs more [at Vol State], and they found the Pell Grant for me, even when I didn’t know I was eligible for it.  Realizing I had this option was probably one of my most memorable moments here,” said Burke, “I was also surprised by how many events Vol State has.  The other community college I went to did one or two things a year, but this has a ton.” 

On the path to graduation, Burke’s biggest struggle has been getting through her art class

“I was told I was ok going into it, but I would not have said I was ok.  I thought I was very bad, but it’s honestly just a lot of work,” said Burke, “I’ve put in a lot of time on it, and I’m pleased with where I stand now.”

After graduation, Burke said she plans on continuing her education at Belmont University in the spring semester. 

For students who have some time to go before graduation, Burke said, “Work with your teachers.  If you’re willing to work, they’re willing to work with you.  If you put in the effort, they’ll meet you.  You may even get more than you expected if you try it.”

-Gloria Cortes

Graduate Profile: Austin Bonebrake

As a high school student, Austin Bonebrake envisioned himself in a hands-on profession someday, such as welding or working in a machine shop. The sophomore thought there was plenty of time to decide his exact path. That all changed with one brutal moment in the winter of 2015.
“I was in a sledding accident. I hit a tree head first. It left me paralyzed,” he said.
Specifically, he broke his C-6 vertebrae and suffered severe damage to his C-5 vertebrae. He was suddenly quadriplegic, with some limited use of his hands. He worked through rehab and intense pain in that recovery. He learned how to operate a wheelchair. However, it was not just the many serious physical adjustments he needed to make to get his life back on track. He needed a new career plan.
“I figured that being hurt it would be hard to find a job without an education. I knew that I liked being outdoors, so that’s why I chose environmental science. I like to problem solve and find solutions.”
That brought him to Vol State with TN Promise. College requires a lot of course work for students and for Austin there were also many physical hurdles to overcome, such as how to take notes in class and write assignments.
“I don’t have much hand function, so I do the work on my iPad. I have a PDF viewer app and I use my pinky to write. I takes a bit longer to do assignments.”
Transportation from Portland to the Gallatin campus was also an issue. “My mom has had to get up every day to drive me and I need extra time to get to class.”
That may be changing soon. “I’ve been working with Voc Rehab, so I should begin driving in January.” Austin’s family purchased a truck and the Vocational Rehab program in Gallatin paid for the equipment necessary for Austin to drive. That will fit in well with his plans after graduation in December. He is transferring to Western Kentucky University to study biology, perhaps with a minor in environmental science.
“This major has challenged me to think out of the box and find new ways to problem solve. I’ve enjoyed all of my environmental science classes. Assistant Professor Erin Bloom has been my go to person. She’s helped me keep my head up.”
Austin has been nominated for Outstanding Graduate. His instructors mention his willingness to get extra help and to ask questions after class. He still deals with quite a bit of pain from his injuries and side effects from medications. Yet, his college career is defined by his resilience.
“When it first happened it was difficult to cope with,” he said. “But as time goes on you get into your own groove. You just have to go for it.”

Friday, December 6, 2019

Graduate Profile: Gloria Cortes

The chiming notes you hear in a marching band are marimbas. They look like a xylophone and are played with mallets. Marimbas are part of the percussion section. Vol State fall graduate Gloria Cortes plays the marimbas and other percussion instruments. She says the marching band experience is transformative.
“I first started taking drum lessons in sixth grade and then I joined middle school band,” she said. “While I was in high school I also joined an independent band, as well as playing in the school band. I can’t even describe it. It’s the best feeling ever. You’re playing music with your best friends.”
So, why would a musician go to school at a college that doesn’t have a marching band? TN Promise is one reason and other is focus. Cortes wants to focus on her academics. But she may look for opportunities to combine the two in the future. Her other passion is communication.
“I’m interested in writing and talking to people- creating a relationship or a connection in just ten minutes. I really enjoy interviewing people.”
You have probably read some of Gloria’s stories. She worked as the Student Social Media Writer for the college this semester. She was also the assistant editor for the Settler student newspaper last year. “I liked being able to form connections with people around campus. It’s informative and I felt better connected to the college.”
Not surprisingly, Gloria is a communication major at Vol State. “I like how my Communication classes give you a sense of what your career is going to be like.”
That’s something she is starting to consider. Her next step is the Communication Program at MTSU. After achieving her four-year degree, she hopes to find a way to tie music and communication together.
“Doing media or PR for a marching band would be great.”
And her advice to new students?
“Just go to anything with free food. You’re bound to meet other cool people there. When you start talking to people and making connections it makes college much more enjoyable.”

Fall Graduation December 14 Streamed Live

Fall Graduation on December 14 will be streamed live starting with the ceremony at 10am at

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Graduate Profile: Clay Sims

College is not a straight path for many students; each student has a unique academic journey, and it can be easy to feel lost in life sometimes.  Graduate Clay Sims is proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Sims transferred to Vol State in the fall of 2018 after losing his ROTC scholarship at a Florida university.  He was admitted to a psych ward. 

“I really wanted to be an officer in the army, but with my medications and my mental history, I couldn’t really do that anymore.  I had to move on with my life,” said Sims.

After accepting a new life challenge, Sims transferred to Vol State and tried different health science majors before finding one that he held his interest: Radiologic Technology.

“I was first here for Veterinary Technology, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do.  Then over the summer, I was part of a program to be a nurse assistant.  I liked helping the people there, but I didn’t really have a passion for it,” said Sims, “Now, I plan to major in Radiologic Technology, and to me it seems like a job where you use your brain more than your body, which I really like.”

Now that finals are right around the corner, Sims shared how he successfully studies by himself, which is to put all of his energy into it with no distractions.

“I would just power through it, and not play video games or watch movies until I get to the end,” said Sims, “To be honest, afterwards I just sit there with no clue of what to do because school just programs you to do all of this work.  It feels like you have to learn how to live again.”

For advice to students struggling in classes, he said, “Having a study group can be really helpful.  I joined one for my anatomy and physiology class, because it’s a difficult course, and I’ve found a group to be a part of.  I’ve found friends and people to talk to,” said Sims, “It makes going to school more enjoyable.  I’ll reminisce on the times we got our work done and then talked and laughed together.”

Now as a graduate with more wisdom and reflection, Sims has learned what it takes to get through school, and describes it as a personal commitment to graduating.

“Your grade is not just determined by your intelligence, but your attitude and your responsibility to keep up with your work…. You need the will and the courage to continue.  Everything is a choice, and you need to know how to choose responsibly,” said Sims.

-Gloria Cortes

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Christmas Concerts this Weekend

Vol State students will be performing Christmas music in Gallatin and Nashville this weekend.

In Gallatin, “Christmas Past and Present” will feature several groups from the Performing Arts Department: the Commercial Music Ensemble, the Jazz Music Ensemble, and the Vol State Showstoppers. The concerts also mark the release of a CD of Vol State student work. This year’s CD will be for sale at the shows. The concerts will be held on Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7 in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall. The show time is 7:30 p.m. each evening. A suggested donation of $5 benefits the Vol State Steinway Piano Fund. Admission and a copy of the “Christmas Dreams” CD will be $10.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, the Vol State Singers perform with the West End United Methodist Church Choir for a Christmas Concert at the church in Nashville, 2200 West End Blvd. There is a new time for this concert. It is now to be held at 4pm.

For more information contact the Office of Humanities at 615-230-3202.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Student Gmail Access Ending

Student Gmail Access Ending January 2nd, 2020. On 9/20/19 your ability to receive email to your Vol State Gmail switched over to Microsoft 365. We have kept access open to Gmail to allow for students to migrate email but that access will be ending on 01/02/2020. If you still have emails you need to access please visit this Knowledge Base Article to find out how to migrate your most important emails over. Please contact theVol State IT Help Desk with any additional questions (615) 230-3302.

#Giving Tuesday Support the Vol State Feed

College student food insecurity has been identified as a major problem in the United States. A 2019 Temple University report said that 48 percent of community college students nationwide are food insecure. That means they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable food. For #GivingTuesday, December 3, the Volunteer State College Foundation is raising funds to support the Vol State Feed student food bank.
“The Feed at Vol State has been providing students with food and health supplies for the last three years,” said Foundation development officer, Alison Muncy. “The money raised during the #GivingTuesday campaign will be used to buy food and other products so that students in need can focus on studying, rather than worrying about food.”
#GivingTuesday is an international day of giving based on social media and the Internet. The Volunteer State College Foundation has participated in #GivingTuesday for several years to fund book scholarships. To donate and for more information visit

Vol State Holiday Events this Week

Dec. 6 SGA Christmas Party, Nichols Dining Rooms, 5:30-7:30pm
Dec. 6 and 7 Vol State Christmas Shows and CD Release, Caudill Hall, 7:30pm
Dec. 8 Vol State Singers perform with the West End United Methodist Church Choir for a Christmas Concert at the church in Nashville, 2200 West End Blvd., 4pm