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Library and Learning Commons Computers Now Available for Current Students

1 week ago

·       The Thigpen Library and Learning Commons are now open Mon-Fri, 8:00am-4:30pm for current students and staff/faculty (no visitors at this time). 

The Learning Commons is open for student computer use. All tutoring is still being held online. You can do that by visiting: https://libguides.volstate.edu/cv19/lc
·       The library is open for student computer use (limited to the first floor) and materials pickup. The second floor remains closed at this time.
·       Students are encouraged to email their request for materials ahead of time to circulation@volstate.edu so materials will be ready for them upon arrival.
·       All students and staff will be expected to follow campus safety protocols - they must fill out the screening form, wear a mask, maintain adequate distance from others, etc. 
·       All visitors to the Library and Learning Commons must use the entrance across from the Mattox Building. The main entrance at the Library Lawn is closed.
Vol State

Vol State Fall 2020 Classes are Changing

3 weeks ago

Vol State Fall 2020 classes are changing. The adjustments will help us handle whatever comes up next in the COVID-19 health crisis. We will still have limited on-campus classes this fall, but to keep the number of students on our campuses at a safe level, where we can practice social distancing, we are utilizing the power of online learning to supplement classes.
Students who have already registered for classes should see the Schedule Planner on My Vol State to view the changes. We have a video and written instructions for how to identify class formats. Visit: www.volstate.edu/covid-adjustment
We want to acquaint people considering college with how we will deliver classes this fall. They will be offered primarily in four formats:
· Online – Fully online classes within eLearn, as we have usually done them. These are labeled Online: Asynchronous, meaning you can log in and receive instruction and do your work at any time. Asynchronous means there are no assigned class times, but there will be assignment due dates each week.
· Virtual – Classes will use a videoconferencing service (for example, Zoom) to meet at an assigned time to deliver live instruction. eLearn will be used to submit assignments or access additional materials. These are labeled Virtual Class: Synchronous, which just means that they have assigned days and times for the online class meetings. Our videoconferencing services are free. Software may be downloaded directly from volstate.edu.
· Hybrid – A combination of online or virtual and an on-site, in-person component. The idea is to limit the number of class meetings.
· On-Site Face-to-Face – Traditional classes occurring at one of our campuses. This is primarily for classes that have a significant “hands on” component, such as some science labs, and Health Sciences, Art, and Music instruction, to name a few.
If you are new to online learning, that is not a problem, we will walk you through it. Vol State is ranked number seven in the nation, and number one in Tennessee, for online learning at community colleges, according to the review group College Consensus. We use an online system called eLearn. It’s a web page that will have your classes and assignments. Please take a few minutes to visit this explanatory web page and get acquainted with eLearn: https://www.volstate.edu/elearnsuccess
If you are considering classes this fall, but have not applied yet, we encourage you to do so now. The application is entirely online at www.volstate.edu/apply .
To meet with an Admissions Advisor online or on the phone visit www.volstate.edu/recruiter.
Vol State

Interview With New Medical Assisting Program Director: Christina Nagy

3 weeks ago

Program director at Volunteer State Community College, Christina Nagy, explains the details about the new Medical Assisting Program at Vol StateQ: What will the program offer?A: Initially, we will start off a little bit small and build from there. The program will only be offered at the Gallatin Main Campus. We are taking in a maximum of 12 students at the beginning. We hope to grow it to 24 students and offer it at the satellite locations as well.Q: What will the students be learning in class?A: In the fall, prerequisite classes will be taken and must be passed. Then, we will conduct an interview and look through references. Scores will be totaled on their performance to see who will be selected for the core classes in the spring.  They will learn about body systems and about all the different fields in the medical industry. It allows them to have an education that will offer them jobs in many different areas that they could potentially go to work in.Q: How do the externships work?A: Externships will be selected for them the following spring after they complete one year of core criteria. I watch them while they are in lab to see how they handle things and place them where I think they will individually excel. The idea of the externships is, if they do well enough, that the facility will hire them.Q: What are the main benefits of this program?A: It is a very diverse field to get into and one of the top growing fields in the health industry right now in the nation. One of the unique things about medical assisting is the diversity. The students are taught to participate in all aspects of a medical office. They work in front answering the phone and making appointments, but also work in the back getting vital signs and giving injections. Being cross trained makes you very marketable.Q: What other aspects will these medical students be involved with?A: We will actively take the medical students up to par and trained so they will be able to compete next year at Skills USA, representing Vol State. Skills USA is for high school and post-secondary students to compete within their degree program. There are a lot of different contests within the fields. It goes to the national level. A great part of this is that sometimes judges work in the industry and see your performance and offer you a job, especially on the higher competitive levels.If you are interested in this educational opportunity, click here for more information and Christina Nagy's contact information: https://www.volstate.edu/academics/health-sciences/medical-assisting
Georgia Smith

We publicly affirm our identity as an anti-racist academic institution.

4 weeks ago
The tragic events, which led to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd laid bare the systemic racism, discrimination and violence that black and brown people face. These acts have reinforced our resolve at Volunteer State Community College to examine and act against the multidimensional nature of racism in the United States. Like our society at large, higher education has its own history of exclusion and marginalization of minorities. We acknowledge that. It is our intention as a college to combat that lingering legacy and foster an environment where students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds can learn and work free from the dangerous and devastating effects of prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization. Racism in all its forms is, by its very nature, opposed to this commitment. Whether intentional or unintentional, individual or institutional, racism is harmful and dehumanizing and has adverse effects on our community. Racial injustice will not end until the views endemic to it are rejected categorically. Vol State’s foundation is rooted in the communities we serve. As educators and leaders, Volunteer State must be out front in opposition to policies, procedures, and environments that foster racism. Let us all refuse to accept or tolerate the unjust treatment of our neighbors. Let us challenge those who attempt to justify, dismiss, ignore, or explain away mistreatment of Black lives or any persons of color. Let us demand change. To be in a position of power and be silent on this matter would be a disservice to our community and our mission. To be in a position of power and not use our voice to condemn oppression is to be complicit in the oppression of others. We are accountable to the students and communities we serve and have a moral obligation to value life. As such we affirm our commitment to the following: · We publicly affirm our identity as an anti-racist academic institution. · We seek to eliminate racial injustices in our communities. We are committed to empower our students, faculty and staff toward this collective goal. · We are resolved to continue working together to develop and implement strategies that dismantle racism in the life and culture of the college through our policies, programs and practices. We recognize that we will never be “finished” with work that strives toward racial justice. As our diversity statement reads, “Volunteer State Community College is committed to respecting the rights and understanding the points of view of all members of the community and considers diversity an integral part of both the social and intellectual climate, on and off campus.” We seek a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus that prepares its students to ethically engage with local and global communities and creates a context for exceptional teaching and learning. A commitment to diversity and inclusion enhances our ability to fulfill the mission of the college. Diversity and inclusion are essential to creating a community where those of all backgrounds feel valued, respected, and recognized for their contributions to our campus and community. Let it be said that Vol State Community College will be at the front, leading the way towards a more just and equitable society.
Vol State

Vol State Springfield Receives State Approval to Offer Degree Programs

1 month ago
Volunteer State Community College's Springfield campus has received approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents to offer complete college degree programs in Robertson County starting this fall semester. The college has offered classes at the Springfield campus since 2011. Thus far, students have had to combine the courses offered in Springfield with other courses held online or on the Vol State Gallatin campus in order to obtain a degree. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved a request to designate the Springfield campus as a “Center.” That means degrees can be awarded there and all classes needed for certain degree programs can be held on the campus.

“The offering of degrees in Springfield has been a high priority for both Vol State and the community. The work with city and county leaders in growing the campus has paid-off with this approval. We’re excited to expand our offerings in Robertson County. This is a solid base to build on for many years to come,” said Vol State president, Jerry Faulkner.
Beginning with fall classes in August, Vol State Springfield will provide all the coursework for the completion of an Associate of Science Degree in Teaching and the University Parallel Major. These majors are designed for transfer to a four-year institution. Associate of Applied Science Degrees, A.A.S, will also be offered for students planning to enter the job market immediately upon graduation from Vol State. Examples of A.A.S. programming are Computer Information Technology courses, including Cyber Defense, Programming, and Logic.

Anne-Marie McKee, who was named director of Vol State Springfield, has been associated with Vol State Community College for more than 20 years, and brings many years of higher education experience to the campus.
“I have been meeting with community and business leaders and everyone has made me feel so welcome,” said McKee. “I look forward to building those relationships and working directly with Vol State students in Springfield as we provide a high-quality education that can lead to so many careers and further educational opportunities.”
Students can use both the TN Promise program for graduating high school seniors and the TN Reconnect program for adults who do not already have a college degree, to receive free tuition at Vol State Springfield. The college has many Springfield and online classes available to university students who are taking a semester off. They are general education courses that can count for credit at many universities. New students should apply now at www.volstate.edu/apply
The Vol State Springfield campus is located at 150 Laureate Avenue, just south of NorthCrest Medical Center, off Highway 431 and William Batson Parkway. The campus offices are closed for now, but staff are assisting people online and over the phone. For more information visit www.volstate.edu/springfieldor call (615)433-7030.
Pictured: The Vol State Science Lab in Springfield provides the facilities for many classes ranging from biology to anatomy and physiology.
Vol State

The Transition From Spring to Summer Semester

1 month ago


The transition from spring to summer semester has been difficult for most students 


From the turbulence of switching to an online format to having a two-day break between in between the end of one term and the start of the other, it has not been easy. 


With experiencing the uncertain times in both life and college alongside with you, here are some ways I was able to get through it, plus some advice from other fellow students. 


Stay Motivated 


There are a lot of common struggles that have been brought up within the student population. We are facing the challenges of trying to learn in a different method successfully and keeping our sanity at the same time. Here are a few tips to overcome your struggles when it comes to your classes during this time. 


  • Take Time to Breath 


It is important to focus your mind and body in these hard times. Having many stressors in your life, you can easily become overwhelmed. Take a few minutes to mediate to release those negative energies. I like to take five minutes between every hour off work to set beside my window and just breathe deeply. This has helped to calm my nerves. 


  • Power Hour 


Shane Johnson, sophomore at Vol State says, “Get as much as you can finished within the first few hours after you wake up. Power through that time and then you can have the rest of the day to do other tasks.” This will help you mind stay focused and clear. 


  • Have a Goal 


If you struggle with getting started on your tasks. Write down a list of goal to complete in a day. For example, if you have a paper coming up in a week, list a goal as completing one paragraph of that paper. Slowly inch toward you end endeavor by giving yourself enough time to accomplish the task in mini sessions. 


Be Prepared 


Preparation is something I believe college students struggle with, rushing at the last minute. One of the main problems that we as students have faced with going from spring to summer semester in approximately two days is having all our stuff organized. These are some items to have into place before your semester begins so it can run more smoothly. 


  • Time Management 


Sofia Hernandez, Tennessee Reconnect student suggest that, “Make sure to manage your time by setting aside enough hours in the day to complete your work.” By doing your assignments ahead time, it can save you a lot of worry. 


  • Buy Textbooks 


This is one of the main struggles I faced in the transition from spring to summer classes. There was a two-day period from each semester, and it did not come to my mind to order my textbooks that I would need for the summer because I was so consumed with finals. By doing this, you can save your grades immensely. 


  • Supplies 


Another issues I had was not having the necessary supplies. My computer crashed and my cellphone was crushed on the last weeks of my spring classes. I was panicked and was not sure where to go from there. Through that process, I learned to not be afraid to ask for help and have a backup for everything whether it be a library or friend’s electronic device or other needed school supplies. 


With the transition from spring to summer, from in-person to online, and from normal to a whole new reality, we must do the best we can and keep a positive attitude. I hope some of these tips from Johnson, Hernandez, and I will help stay motivated, focused, organized, and positive. 


We must stick together during this process of adaptation and always look forward to new opportunities. Even though it is tough, you will be glad you stuck it out and put your education first. 


Vol State wishes you the best in your summer classes. 

Georgia Smith

New Secondary Education Degrees Start this Fall

1 month ago

Interested in a teaching career? New Secondary Education degree programs start this fall at Vol State. They’re designed for students who are interested in teaching grades 6-12 in English, Math, and Social Studies. There is a teacher shortage. Middle School and High School teachers are in high demand in Tennessee. Visit: www.volstate.edu/educationSecondary Education: English A.S.T. (associate of science in teaching)Secondary Education: Math A.S.T. Secondary Education: Social Studies  A.S.T. These are two-year degree programs with a focus on the coursework necessary to keep students on par with other students entering their junior year majoring in Secondary Education- English, Math or Social Studies at a four year institution. Students majoring in Secondary Education typically get their Bachelor of Science degree and teach a specific discipline at the secondary level in public or private schools.

Classes start August 24. Apply now: www.volstate.edu/apply.

Vol State

New Medical Assisting Program

1 month 1 week ago

Get ready to take your place in the fastest growing health care profession in the nation with the new Medical Assisting program at Vol State. You’ll train to work in a doctor’s office or a healthcare clinic. That can eventually lead to a career in management and administration. Duties of the medical assistant include, but are not limited to: recording case histories, taking vital signs, giving injections, EKG work, help with lab testing, and assisting the doctor in the setup and performance of minor office surgeries. Vol State offers a two-year associate of applied science degree that can prepare you for entry level work in healthcare. Best of all, Vol State is a proven leader in healthcare education in Tennessee. Adults who don’t already have a college degree may be able to attend tuition-free with TN Reconnect.  Apply now, classes start in August. Visit www.volstate.edu/medical-assistingfor details.
Vol State

Considering College? Join a Virtual Info Session

1 month 2 weeks ago
To support you through the enrollment process, we are offering virtual sessions on Admissions, Financial Aid, Academic programs, TN Reconnect and Dual Enrollment. This is your opportunity to learn and ask questions from the comfort of your home. Sessions will be offered weekly and continue throughout the summer. Registration is required: www.volstate.edu/virtual-sessions
Vol State

CARES Act Funds

1 month 2 weeks ago
Vol State has initiated the payment process for CARES Act disbursements. As this process is underway, please be aware that qualifying students may see payments applied to their account statements and then disbursements (when it is issued to the student) once the process is complete. This is all part of the multi-step process to issue these emergency aid payments. Please be patient as this will take some time – payments will not be immediate. Additional information is posted at www.volstate.edu/cares-act. Please also continue to submit your CARES Act questions by emailing BusinessOffice@volstate.edu. Responses will be provided within 1-2 business days.
Vol State

Graduation Profile: Anne Proctor

1 month 3 weeks ago


Anne is a Tennessee Reconnect student who attended Vol State 37 years ago and has come back to get a degree in Business Management. During her first year in college, she ran into hardship that would change her life forever. Now she is preparing to graduate.“I went for about a year and a half and my mom and I were in a car wreck. My mom died in the accident, which lead me to stop going to Vol State. I then got married, had a family, and got a job as a school secretary.”When Tennessee Reconnect came along, she saw the perfect opportunity to go back to school to further her education and pursue a new career.“It seemed a little harder when I first went then it has been now. It has to do with the fact that I have life experience and more maturity, but it is different doing online classes. You have to be more of a self-starter.”With only ten credits to complete, Anne has been doing online classes at Vol State for a year and a half.“I had a goal to make better grades when I went back, and I have kept a 4.0. It has been a challenge. The hardest part for me was restarting my brain to take classes and just figuring out how to study.”In Anne’s free time, she likes to do volunteer work. She teaches 4-Hers how to sew, is a Tennessee Promise mentor, and does ministry services at prisons. Additionally, she likes to bike, read, and hike.“It has been a blessing.”Anne encourages people eligible for Tennessee Reconnect to take the opportunity.“The first time I was there, I was in the middle of classes and my mom died. People there were so sweet, helpful, and understanding. When I went back, it was the same kind of community. Everybody has gone above and beyond to help me get my degree.”She also advices to just go for it. Ask questions to your advisors and professors. “No one is going to do it for you. Be an advocate for yourself.”After graduation, she is going to do adult online classes at Trevecca in hopes to land a job in Business Management and get away from the strict desk environment. “My goal is to use it to help somebody else.”
Georgia Smith

Graduate Profile: Deidre Miller

1 month 3 weeks ago

Deidre Miller is a nurse. It’s a profession that has become even more challenging recently. Miller isn’t put off by challenges. She gets to the heart of things.
“It’s a rewarding job. You get to take care of people,” she said. “The best part is seeing patients come around and know that you were a part of their recovery.”
The twenty-nine year-old from Gainesboro is an LPN surgical nurse at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The major disruptions to the medical system recently led to a furlough for her. She just went back to work last week. “I don’t ever stop. When I was furloughed, I was going crazy, because I have to be doing something 24/7.”
But she is keeping busy doing something she would not have imagined. “I’ve been home schooling a 14 year-old and that’s been challenging. My aunt passed away in 2014 and I have her 23-year-old and 14-year-old kids living with me.”
The tragedy is a family rallying point. “My grandpa helped me set up a home we could live in. It’s very rewarding to be able to be a role model to them. I can never fill her shoes, but I can help them. I have had to grow up very fast. We’re neighbors with all my family. I have a really good support system.”
Caring for kids while going to school is difficult, but especially so for a 23-year-old without experience as a parent. “I’ve learned I needed them as much as they needed me and I didn’t realize it.”
And there was still the issue of school and her career. She took classes at Vol State in Livingston and Cookeville while caring for the children. Her goal was to become a Registered Nurse. “I’ve been an LPN for ten years. I was going to Vol State and trying to decide which nursing school to attend. So, when I found out that Vol State was starting an RN Nursing program, I immediately applied.”
Miller is not only in the first class of Vol State nursing students, she is the class president. And all of that during a crazy semester of change due to COVID-19. “I have taken every concern to our faculty and staff and they have responded. It’s been tough with the COVID-19 issues. Everything switched to online. Nursing is very difficult to understand and it’s hard if you can’t easily ask questions. They have amazing faculty and staff in that program. They have been there through it all. We’re going to be done in August and I am going to take the RN exam as soon as I can. I’m ready to get it under my belt.”
In the meantime, she is helping 14 year-old Kiara finish the school year. Twenty-three year old Haley is also a Vol State student, taking classes through Livingston and Cookeville.”
The medical world is likely to continue to be challenging for quite some time. Deidre says she just wants to be where the action is. “I would like to be a float nurse or work in the emergency department. You never know what you are going to get.”
Vol State

Adult Peer Mentors Needed

1 month 4 weeks ago

Mentoring opportunity for Adult Learner students!  Apply to be a 2020-2021 Pioneer Connections Peer Mentor for an opportunity to support fellow Adult Learner students through Fall & Spring semesters.  Those who qualify and are selected as Peer Mentors are provided a scholarship. Email alva@volstate.edu to learn more and apply!  More info on the program here:
https://www.volstate.edu/veterans/pioneer-connectionsThank you to the 2019-2020 Pioneer Connections Peer Mentors!  These amazing students (pictured above) assisted fellow Adult Learners throughout Fall and Spring – supporting with dedication.
Vol State

Students Use Zoom to Discuss Research

2 months ago

Poster sessions are a visual way for science students to share what they have learned in a class project. Students put their research together in a poster format and then talk to attendees about their project. So, what do you do when no one is allowed on campus? Jerrod Shipman and ChrysaMalosh turned to Zoom, which has the ability to do breakout rooms. That allows participants to visit various small groups. I recently had the opportunity to do a virtual poster session for their ISCI 1030, Science, Society and Sustainability classes. It was remarkably comfortable and fun.


These were the research project topics:
Breakout Room 1: Elements of Green Architecture.  
Breakout Room 3: National Parks System
Breakout Room 4: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Cars for Transportation and Energy Usage.
Breakout Room 6: The Effects of Meat Production on the Environment
Breakout Room 7: Doomsday Clock
Breakout Room 8: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Breakout Room 9: Hydraulic Fracturing
Breakout Room 10: Eretmochelys Imbricata (Hawksbill Sea Turtle)


Lauren Nutter said of her research on the National Parks System: “I didn’t realize how much government oversight there was keeping things running smoothly.” She and partner Kayleen Cardle showed how the various parks impact CO2 levels in their geographic area.


One project took a look at how a grass roof can save energy and help the environment in other ways. Another explored the impact of meat production on the environment.


Anna Pease and William Seiling explored Hydraulic Fracturing. At one point in their explanation one of Anna’s kids came in the room. It’s just another one of those fun Zoom moments that have made life more interesting lately. Anna handled it with ease.


I could fill pages with the interesting things that I learned. Kudos to the instructors and students for great projects and an imaginative way of presenting them. It’s a testament to all that we are learning about online education these days.
Vol State

Vol State Graduate Describes Working in COVID-19 Isolation Care Unit

2 months ago
Vol State graduates are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Respiratory Care professionals are especially important. Kim Christmon, Director of the Vol State Respiratory Care program, recently had an opportunity to talk to one of her graduates, Evan Blair, about her work with COVID-19 patients in a local hospital. 
How has your role been beneficial in-patient care? I am a part of a team that works in the isolation critical care team at my facility. Many of these patients that we see in our unit have trouble breathing, which makes my role as the respiratory therapist vital. My role consists of placing these patients on oxygen, giving breathing treatments if needed, having the patient lie on their stomach to help them oxygenate better, and in more serious cases, I am there to assist with placing a breathing tube and putting them on a ventilator. To treat patients that need mechanical ventilation requires specific knowledge of the ventilator settings and how these settings affect the lungs. 
What does it feel to be on the front lines of the COVID-19 response? How have your days been different than before? 
To be honest, it’s hot and it’s frightening. There is now only one entrance/exit to the hospital and everyone has to check in and get their temperature recorded. I go to work in different clothes than I work in, and then I change into hospital scrubs. In our negative-pressure isolation unit, I am the only Respiratory Therapist during my shift; and while I know my co-workers are just a phone call way, and despite the amazing nurses and physicians on my team, I feel alone. Upon entering the unit, I am in the yellow zone, I put on a mask and a first pair of gloves that would be my ‘hands.’ I put on a white suit to cover my clothes and shoes as well as a hair cover. I wear all these things all day, except when eating or using the bathroom. Upon entering the patient care area, the red zone, I also wear a face shield and second pair of gloves that I change between patient visits. It has been difficult to adapt to all the PPE that is required to keep me safe, and my hair is soaked from sweat by the end of every shift. This virus makes me fearful because I see firsthand how quickly some of these patients deteriorate. It isn’t just the elderly, but people of all ages. I am fearful that I may unknowingly bring it home to my family. 
How has it affected you mentally? 
My anxiety is at an all-time high, and I am physically and mentally exhausted by the end of each shift. I don’t rest well anymore, as these are some of the sickest patients I have ever worked with. I find myself reliving my shifts in my dreams, waking up anxious and soaked in sweat, trying to figure out what more I can do to help these patients. 
Do you believe your education equipped you to be able to help the patients? 
Absolutely! I wouldn’t be able to do my job without my knowledge from the Respiratory Program at Vol State. When going through school five years ago, I couldn’t imagine standing where I am now in this isolation unit, but it is because of my instructors that I can maneuver through each situation. 
Do you feel like the hospital has given you all the equipment and safety precautions you need to keep you safe? 
I feel like our facility has gone above and beyond to make sure we have the equipment and PPE that is needed. Our administrative team had a plan in place well before Tennessee had any COVID-19 cases. They were prepared to have certain areas of the hospital set up as negative pressure units so that the air would not cross-contaminate other areas of the facility. Having a plan early allowed us to be prepared for any potential scenarios.  
Do you feel like the staff work in teams, and does that help you care for these very sick patients? 
Our staff has always worked well as a team, but over the last two months everyone has taken teamwork to the next level. Everyone does things that aren’t necessarily in their typical daily duties, and that makes it easier to care for these patients, knowing you have these people to lean on when you need help.  
Do you feel that your role is appreciated? 
I 100% feel that my role is appreciated. I have worked with some of the nurses and doctors for years, but never as closely as I do now. I feel like my opinion matters when it comes to what we do and how we treat these patients. They help me where they can, and I help them - we are one cohesive unit.  

Vol State

Graduate Profile: Rodrigo Galvez Vega

2 months ago

A first-generation college student can’t rely on family advice for navigating school. Rodrigo Galvez Vega came to Vol State from Lebanon High School and didn’t know what to expect.
“The first semester was pretty rough- figuring out the work and school flow. But after that I got the hang of it. I started to explore with my other classes.”
His primary focus was accounting. He knew it would be a good career, but it wasn’t until college that he began to understand the profession. “I like analyzing a situation and adapting to maximize my strengths and opportunities. I want to find ways to do things better. I had no idea that accounting was like that.”
Galvez Vega served as a President’s Ambassador. It’s a competitive scholarship program with dozens of applicants and several rounds of interviews. The Ambassadors represent Vol State at many events and share their student stories. “It was pretty fun to be with a bunch of people who work as a team. I also liked working with the donors. You can see how much they care about the students at Vol State.”
Rodrigo did face an additional challenge that makes his graduation especially significant. He is enrolled in the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The Federal immigration policy means that he has paid out-of-state tuition for his Vol State education. That is thousands of dollars a semester more than an in-state student would pay.
“I’ve been here for twenty years. I look at my friends and there is not much a difference between us. They only difference is my documentation. Most of the time I work even harder. It isn’t fair that someone who works that hard should be denied that opportunity.”
Graduation is a big achievement for any student, but especially a first-generation college student. “It feels pretty cool. Realizing that I’m the first in my family to graduate college is an honor.”
He will be sharing that experience with his family with a video message in the virtual ceremony. “My mother said she is nervous. My whole family will be in the video.”
Rodrigo plans on transferring to Western Kentucky University to pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting.
Vol State

Graduate Profile: Maddy Woodson

2 months ago

Even as a Hendersonville dual enrollment high school student Maddy Woodson knew that she wanted to go to college. The big question was what did she want to study?“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career,” she said. “But I did know that free college was a good deal.”And so she came to Vol State using TN Promise. It didn’t take long for her to get involved on campus. She has been an honors student, a President’s Ambassador, and traveled to India with the International Education program. All of those activities led to new perspective.“I had never left the country. It was my first time seeing another part of the world. It made me want to come back and serve.”That travel experience, and her other service work at Vol State, has helped her formulate a possible career plan. “I want to open my own non-profit in the future. I’m going after a marketing degree at Lipscomb and want to do a minor in Business as a Mission. It will help me focus on the giving back part of being an entrepreneur.”The Lipscomb education for her bachelor’s degree will be free, thanks to her being awarded a Trustee Transfer Scholarship.
She looks back on her college career, thus far, with a smile. “It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It gave me time to mature and get a feel for college.”Maddy is disappointed that she won’t be able to experience graduation in-person. But she does plan to take part in the virtual ceremony. “We worked so hard and you look forward to that in-person graduation. But my family will still be celebrating with me. I just need to be grateful and happy.”
Vol State

Graduate Profile: Justin Frech

2 months 1 week ago

The career pathway for a professional musician is a bit different these days. Justin Frech began his career on YouTube, at the age of 12. “Me and my dad would take a Bluetooth speaker and put it in the freezer or somewhere at a grocery store and play fake farts at people,” Justin said. That comedy eventually developed into parodies and skits and included not only his dad, John, but also his mom, Becky. The Hyundai car company found the Frech family and put them in an international ad campaign. Justin was officially hooked on entertainment media.“My dad was an audio engineer and I kind of grew up around music. He worked at Gibson guitars, so there were always Gibsons lying around for me to pluck on.”Justin took his talents to Vol State and will be one of the first students to graduate in the new Professional Music Associate of Applied Science degree program. “It teaches you what you need as a modern musician: audio engineering, songwriting, producing, and music classes. It touches every aspect of the music industry.”
He is a multi-instrumentalist and drums were a secondary skill, until recently. “When I first got to Vol State Ben Graves recruited me to be a drummer. I was soon playing in the Jazz and Rock Ensembles. I played on many of the songs on the CD recording project at the college. I’m learning all these new skills rhythmically.”
Justin understands the power of Internet and has continued to develop relationships in social media.“I just finished playing guitar for an influencer called Madison Rose. We’ve know each other since we were 12 because of YouTube. You can be in the middle of Kansas these days and reach millions of people worldwide.” Justin plans to continue his musical pathway at Belmont University, where he has applied to the very competitive songwriting program. “I have my fingers crossed.” The life of a young music entrepreneur may sound very modern, but for Justin it is rooted in something elemental. “Me and my family have this special creative space that we hang in. My dad works very closely with my music. It’s a great thing that we all get to do together.”You can check out Justin’s music and comedy on his YouTube channel.You can also find his latest music on Spotify.
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Graduate Profile: Brenda Trask

2 months 1 week ago
It all seemed hazy at first. Those equations. The symbols written out on the white board. It had been decades since seeing them in high school.“I recognized this and recognized that,” said 53-year-old Brenda Trask, a TN Reconnect student. “It’s been a bit of a challenge. When I started going to school I was getting straight As. And then math came along.”
Math is often the elephant in the room for adult students coming to college. For Brenda Trask fitting in on the Vol State campus was not a problem, but recent experience was. “I was not uncomfortable at all. What was a little intimidating were the younger students who had just come out of high school and were more familiar with the concepts.”Trask said she caught up with college math thanks to tutoring in the Learning Commons academic support center and the work of understanding faculty members. “I’ve learned a lot from those professors. They’ve been so willing to help.”
The Hendersonville mom also received emotional support from her adult children. “They’re the ones that pushed me and encouraged me to do it. They’re both in college themselves, right now. I moved around the country following my ex-husband’s career. I really hadn’t found myself. I focused on my husband and my family. After the divorce, I decided to go back to school. It was time to focus on me.”
Brenda works with the State of Tennessee Division of Tenncare in Human Resources. She said the college degree is essential if she wants to move forward in her career. She plans to graduate this year with a Vol State associate’s degree in management and then continue to Tennessee State University in the fall. She looks back on her Vol State experience with fondness.
“I do enjoy it. I’m president of NSLS (National Society for Leadership and Success) on campus. That has been extremely rewarding. It’s built my confidence and self-esteem.”
She, along with so many graduates, is disappointed that there will not be a traditional graduation ceremony this year, but the May 16 virtual ceremony and the accomplishment will still be special for her.“I have wanted to do it for so long and didn’t realize how much I missed that opportunity. It will be very emotional leaving Vol State. It was all so worth it.”Pictured left to right: Brenda Trask with Dakota Grady, an NSLS guest speaker, and Tabitha Sherrell with Student Engagement and Support.


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Graduate Profile: Rita Neal

2 months 2 weeks ago

COVID-19 has changed the employment world for many people. For soon-to-be Vol State graduate, Rita Neal, that has meant multiple job offers, well before graduation.“I can’t wait to help them,” she said. “You don’t hear about the Respiratory Therapists on the news, it’s all about the nurses. But they are on the front lines as well. There are a lot of oxygenation issues with COVID-19 and we run the ventilators. The hospitals want all of the Respiratory Care graduates.”

The 47-year-old is excited to graduate from the Vol State Respiratory Care program this spring, but she has had plenty of struggles along the way.

“I have a form of dyslexia that makes it very hard to read. I had to teach myself how to do it on my own. I did the best I could with my first college classes. When I got to Vol State, my instructor in Respiratory Care could see what was going on and she asked why I wasn’t using Disability Services. It made a big difference. When you’re taking a test you only have so much time. I have an electronic reader for exams and that has helped a lot.”

And it wasn’t just a learning disability she had to contend with. The mother of two adult children found herself commuting from her home in Sparta to Nashville to care for her sick mom. “I was going to the hospital, practically living there, and going to school at the same time for nearly three weeks. I have had her move in with me.”

Neal survived a divorce and had to rebuild her life. Add to all of that: a tornado ripped off parts of her porch recently. But despite the hardships you can hear the excitement in her voice when she talks about her new career.

“I enjoy helping people. I’ve been a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) for quite a few years. My dad had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for years, so I knew a bit about Respiratory Care.”

Neal will start work at Skyline Medical Center in May. She still has to pass the state board exam, but she’s confident that her training has prepared her.

“It’s almost surreal. I’ve always wanted a college degree. Now that I’ve gotten to this point it doesn’t seem real. I feel like I’ve finally accomplished something.”



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