Music Majors' Sophomore Recitals Lead to University Scholarships

3 days 9 hours ago
Pictured are some of the scholarship award winning studentsHard work seems to be paying off for some Vol State A.F.A. (Associate of Fine Arts) music students. Through much time and energy spent honing their crafts, the time has almost arrived for these students to move on to their prospective universities with the help of scholarships awarded for their talent.
“It is with great pride that I can announce that our students have been awarded $80,000 in voice and piano scholarships to Belmont University, Austin Peay State University and Tennessee Tech University,” said Nancy Slaughter, professor of Music. The scholarships were awarded as a result of students’ sophomore recital performances. Nancy said that these thirty minute recitals are required at music schools as a gateway to upper division coursework and performing. These students are ahead of the game by knocking this requirement out at Vol State and may enter as juniors at their four year institutions.
“I am very proud of all the hard work the A.F.A. voice and piano students have done over the past four semesters. Each one of these students presented a thirty minute sophomore recital this semester, for a total of ten voice recitals and one piano recital within a three week period in March and April. Literature included English and foreign language songs and arias as well as all the major historical periods of classical music,” Nancy said.

“Thanks to all the students and faculty who worked so hard to accomplish all these marvelous achievements. We wish the students well as they pursue their musical dreams and careers,” she added.
These A.F.A students will finish up their degrees at Vol State during Summer 2019. -By Rachel Keyes

Vol State

Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery

4 weeks ago

The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as "the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act."

Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times once said the term is a convoluted euphemism for what it really is: slavery.

According to the DHS, each year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide. A common misunderstanding is that trafficking is happening elsewhere in the world, yet its prevalence is right under our noses in America, even in Tennessee.

"It’s a misconception that people we don’t know are getting trafficked. The truth is that a vast majority of our victims are our kids and it’s our job as a community to protect them. You know, kids can’t protect themselves, it takes a village. I feel it’s important to talk about this because we’re saving our own people, there’s a need to do that," said Cheryl Brehm, an advocate and volunteer at End Slavery Tennessee.

Vol State Communication professor, Ben Jobe, is also a volunteer at End Slavery TN and features guest speakers in his classes each semester to educate his students on the matter. Cheryl Brehm was the recent speaker in his class.

"My main activity, as a volunteer, is I try to use my speech classes to educate students about End Slavery TN, the problem, and what they can do to help," said Professor Jobe.

End Slavery TN’s mission is to "promote healing of human trafficking survivors and to strategically confront slavery in our state." Their vision is to "create a slave-free Tennessee."

"The reason why I do what I do is because I truly believe that I’m going to save someone’s life one day. Maybe I already have, maybe not yet. I will do as many talks as it takes. That’s what gets me here, that’s what gets me up, that’s what gets me out of bed, that’s why I do what I do," Cheryl added.

Realizing the pervasiveness of human trafficking in our communities may open the door for some real conversations. Educating yourself and your peers is important to protect ourselves, our campus, and our communities. Learn more by visiting:

-By Rachel Keyes
Vol State

TN Reconnect Students Must Reapply Now

1 month ago

If you have been taking classes using TN Reconnect you need to reapply to TN Reconnect and fill out a new FAFSA form each school year.  The time to do it is now, so that you can use TN Reconnect in the fall and spring. Here are the steps:-Reapply to TN Reconnect by visiting the TSAC student portal: you have forgotten your password there is a link to reset.-Fill out a new FAFSA form by going here and logging in: you have forgotten your FAFSA PIN number there will be info on that page to recover it.These instructions are only for students who have already been taking classes using TN Reconnect. New students who have applied for TN Reconnect and have yet to take classes won’t need to do this until next year.You will need to complete these steps every year that you intend to use TN Reconnect.If you have already done this recently then you should be set.If you have problems you can contact Vol State Financial Aid at 615-230-3456.
Vol State

Alumni Spotlight: Ashley Hart

1 month 2 weeks ago
You never know where your path after Vol State could lead you. 36 year old Criminal Justice alumna Ashley Hart has gone a long way since graduating from Vol State in 2012. Now a licensed attorney and social worker in Indiana, Ashley continues to pave the way for her career, fueled by a passion for people and law.

“I have always been very interested in law. I grew up as a kid spending summers with my grandma and we would watch Matlock every morning, and so I just developed a strong love for criminal law and certainly defense work,” Ashley said. Years later, she began turning her interest into a career right here at Vol State.

“I went back to school a little bit later. My brother passed away when I was twenty, he committed suicide when he was eighteen years old, and I’m a suicide survivor, so school for me was postponed. I really needed to come back to school when I was ready ... During my time at Vol State, I just fell in love with it from my very first class ... If you would have asked me before I entered the program if I thought I would go to law school after surviving my brother’s death, I would’ve said no, because I really did feel too old."

Ashley said that there was a time when she believed her education would end with at an associate’s degree, but her Vol State professors were a constant source of support for her to continue her education.“They really made me believe in myself and made me believe that I could really go on and go further than what I even thought that I was capable of. I just really feel like I got a good sense of encouragement and motivation and it just kept me going … It’s really important for me to convey how Vol State was incredibly supportive. I loved my time [at Vol State] and I think it set me up with such an incredible foundation to go forward. Everything that I've done since, I’ve used or drawn off of something that was taught to me at Vol State.”

Ashley went on to Tennessee State University’s 2+2 Criminal Justice program before making her way to Indiana University. Attracted by IU’s dual degree graduate programs, Ashley attained a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health and Addiction at IU and a Juris Doctor at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where she graduated in the top 6.9% of her class.

“I just thought that social work is such a great way to understand human behavior and the idea that everybody has story. I just wanted to be a better advocate. I really liked the idea of advocating for people who maybe feel like they don’t have a voice.”

Since July 2018, Ashley has been working as a federal judicial law clerk at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. “It’s quite an honor and privilege to have any clerkship, whether it’s state or federal, but certainly federal court is very exciting,” she said. Her clerkship will end in June 2019 as she steps into a position at a litigation law firm in Indianapolis (Hoover Hull Turner LLP), where she’ll begin as an associate attorney this July. -By Rachel Keyes

Vol State

Graduation 2019 - Congrats Middle College Students!

2 months ago
Sumner County Middle College High School students were awarded high school diplomas during a ceremony at Vol State Saturday. Twenty-three of those students also received associate degrees from Vol State two weeks ago. It may seem a bit odd to get a college degree before your diploma, but due to the scheduling of the annual events, and the uniqueness of the academic program, that is the case. Middle College High School students take classes on the Vol State campus, earning high school and college credit at the same time. It allows students to get a jump start on their college career, entering university with many college credits.Two senior speakers were elected by the graduates. Isaac Ramirez is set to attend the University of Alabama at Huntsville in the fall, where he has received a full-tuition scholarship and a seat in the Honors College. He plans a dual degree in biology and chemistry towards his goal of a career as a medical researcher. Jaimee Brown received the Mary Cole Nichols Award from the college this year, for exceptional service in improving the quality of student life. She will attend Austin Peay State University for a degree in Criminal Justice. She plans to work in federal law enforcement.
Vol State

Graduate Profile: Tari Pearson

2 months 1 week ago
Pre-Nursing graduate and TN Reconnect student, Tari Pearson, took her first swing at college straight out of high school. Life then got in the way of her finishing. At 48 years of age, her five kids are now grown, so it’s time for Tari to finish the degree she began years ago.

“I don’t have a personal life right now, because my focus is getting through school … I just do what I’m focused on doing, and that’s getting to that [registered nurse] status,” she said.

Tari has worked as a professional caregiver for around ten years, which will give her much experience to bring to the table as a nurse. One interesting fact is that she was a caregiver to Johnny and June Carter Cash. She shared that the Cashs are just two of the many clients that have made her career as a caregiver meaningful. “I was with June the day her pacemaker went out … She had a beautiful spirit about her, always smiled, she was forgiving,” she said.

Tari said she feels that she can make more of a positive difference by moving up from a caregiver to a registered nurse and wanted to return to school to take her career to the next level.

“I’ll be a first generation graduate. Vol State gave me an opportunity to move forward.”

After Vol State, Tari is looking to transfer either to Tennessee State University or Cumberland University to continue her studies in Nursing.

-By Rachel Keyes
Vol State

Graduate Profile: Elijah Avery

2 months 1 week ago

Elijah Avery knows how to debate politics, and he’s particularly interested in foreign affairs. But this Political Science major comes with more than just statistics and rhetoric in his arguments, he brings some life experience. He said growing up in South Africa didn’t directly influence his interest in politics, but it did give him a different perspective. Elijah moved to the U.S. at the young age of ten, and it was during high school that he discovered his knack for political speech and debate.

“We were required to learn and research various political topics and I always thought, ‘these are absolutely stupid, these aren’t going to affect me,’ but then after reading it and looking at it, I found it very interesting,” he said.
After moving on to college, he joined the newly formed Vol State Speech and Debate Team and rapidly found success. He won a number of awards in regional and state tournaments. His feats culminated recently in a national competition at the Novice National Parliamentary Debate Tournament in Ohio. Elijah, and teammate Danielle Salvato, won first place in Novice Parliamentary Debate. He also won second place Debate, second place in Impromptu Sales, third place in Impromptu Speaking, and third place Pentathlon. He calls his experience with the Speech and Debate Team a highlight of his Vol State experience.
“I feel like Vol State has given me the opportunity to educate myself both academically and mentally, or psychologically, I suppose, and the Speech and Debate Team was a great plus.”
Elijah is keeping his options open in regards to his educational path as he hasn’t decided on a university yet. But he intends to double major in Political Science (with an emphasis in Public Administration), and Public Relations.

“And as far as public relations, I’ve always been told, like, ‘EJ’s a talker...’ So, I might as well get paid for it … The ultimate goal would be to be a chief of staff of an organization or a [chief commercial officer]. Lobbyist is the main goal. Lobbyist is something I’ve wanted to do for a hot minute,” he said.

Regarding moving on from Vol State, he said: “I like change, but I am reluctant to leave because I actually am leaving some good friends and professors behind … But I’m also excited to, like, go out into the world and, you know, continue my education.”

And yes, he plans to keep debating.

-By Rachel Keyes

Vol State

Behind the Scenes: Spring Music Album

2 months 2 weeks ago

The annual Vol State Spring Music Showcase is quickly approaching. It will present original sounds across a variety of genres including: jazz, rock, bluegrass, and country. Additionally, students have been busy recording for the spring album, which will be sold at the show.

Music instructor Mark Barnett explained that the idea of the album is to feature all original songs (most of which are by students). “We rehearse and rehearse, and they really come through,” he said.

Cole Harper, Music Performance major, played guitar on a bluegrass track titled “Smokey Mountain Road,” written by Mark Barnett. Cole shared a bit of his experience recording on the album. “It’s been a good experience … I had no idea how to play bluegrass or function in a bluegrass group until I got here, and I’ve learned a lot since I’ve started playing in Barnett’s group,” Cole said.

Professional Music major, Michael Mullins, sang and played guitar on his own track “Sippin’ Moonshine” for the album. “All I had to do was show up, bend some strings, sing my song, and they did the rest. It was awesome, I can’t complain,” Michael said.
The album will come out the last week of April. It will be sold in the Wood Campus Bookstore and at the Spring Music Showcase itself. The details are April 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wemyss Auditorium (Caudill Hall). There is a suggested donation of $5 for admission, and $10 for admission plus the CD. The funds go towards music scholarships. Come show your support!

-By Rachel Keyes
Vol State

The New Pioneer Pen Student Literary Magazine

2 months 2 weeks ago
The 2019 edition of the Pioneer Pen literary and arts magazine is out, featuring student and faculty work. Writers read poetry and prose during a publication event today. The visual artists displayed art and photography. The publication is an impressive display of the talent at Vol State. The student editors are Sara Eaton, Amber Nicole Kittrell, Rachel Keyes, Kirstie Frank and Brenna Hicks. The faculty advisors are Emily Andrews and Laura McClister. Congratulations to all of the contributors. Pick up your free copy in the Humanities Office - SRB 208.
Vol State

Honors Students Plant Tree to Recognize Professors

2 months 3 weeks ago

Just in time for Earth Day 2019, Honors students planted a Cherokee Brave Dogwood tree last week to commemorate the Spring Honors Leadership Development class. The course is taught by professors Julie Morgan and Nancy Blomgren, to whom our Dogwood is dedicated.
“We are doing this because we were asked to try and find a way to leave a mark on campus,” said Honors student Giulia Giordani. “We just wanted to find a way to honor [our instructors Morgan and Blomgren]. We thought, ‘What better way than planting a tree that will just grow with time?’”

Planting a tree on campus isn’t as easy as digging a hole and putting a plant in the ground: There are many puzzle pieces behind the scenes that must come together, including permission forms and consistent communication with Plant Operations management. One stipulation of the class project was that we couldn’t spend a dime of our own; all materials needed to be donated.

An anonymous family friend of mine donated the tree to our group, which came from Scottsville, Kentucky. First Place Trophy in Hendersonville donated the plaque commemorating our professors. 
“I’ve enjoyed every bit of it, every step of the way,” said Honors student, Tony Chioccio. “From meeting Will and planning this out, to actually getting it in the ground, and showing our professors and removing the ribbon and clapping and crying and having a great time. It’s been great, it’s been wonderful.”

“Planting a tree is an act of hope and an investment in the future,” said Dr. Jerry Faulkner. “Most of us will not have the opportunity to harvest the fruit or sit in the shade of a tree we plant today.” Citing Alexander Smith, Dr. Faulkner reflected: “A man does not plant a tree for himself; he plants it for posterity.”The tree is located in a high traffic area, across from the overflow parking lot, which faces Loop Road. The location will hopefully keep animals away, adding to the tree’s lifespan. Dogwoods are known to be hardy, tough trees by nature, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a long life for our “Blomgan Tree,” as our group has coined it. -By Rachel Keyes
Vol State

Graduate Profile: Isaac Ramirez

2 months 3 weeks ago

Isaac Ramirez is one motivated college student. “I’ve been pushing myself more and more every semester,” he said. He has a love for learning and a passion for science. His family is a big part of the reason he seeks out challenges.“My parents came from Mexico when I was one-year-old,” he said. “My dad worked at a plant in Portland. He liked it and decided to stay. He started as an engineer and now he’s a supervising engineer.”Life in a new country was difficult for the Ramirez family. “My parents struggled with learning English. I picked up Spanish from home and English at school. My dad never had the opportunity to do much in higher education. He was educated through his work. When we came here, their goal was to give us a better life through education. Everything they do involves getting me and my sisters into college.”And so Isaac came to college; not out of high school, but rather as a high school junior. He’s a Sumner County Middle College High School student. His classes for the last two years have been at the Vol State campus in Gallatin. He will graduate in May with a Vol State associate’s degree and his high school diploma.“I’ve been able to find classes I never would have been able to take at high school. The one that stands out the most is microbiology. I absolutely love it.”His science classes at Vol State have been a launching pad for his dream to be a medical researcher.“I want to go into pharmaceutical research. My main goal is to do research into superbugs and bacteriophages. That’s a form of virus that infects bacteria. They’re trying to use that to provide a way to fight bacteria without raising the chance that it becomes resistant to treatment.”His next step is the University of Alabama at Huntsville, where he has received a full-tuition scholarship and a seat in the Honors College. He plans to pursue a dual degree in biology and chemistry. His Vol State classes have provided a jump start on his bachelor’s degree. “I should be able to finish in two and a half to three years.”His parents will be watching closely. “They’re checking-up on every single step. They’re super-excited for me to go out into the world and find a way to do what I love doing.”
Vol State

Graduate Profile: Brianna Hogan

2 months 3 weeks ago

Riding in a cop car can be a life changing experience. So it was for Criminal Justice major, Brianna Hogan. During her final year of high school, Brianna accompanied a police officer on a ride-along to see what the job was all about. Initially the ride-along was simply intended to check the proverbial box to fulfill her job-shadowing requirement for TN Promise. Little did she know it would become her future career path.

“He went on his daily rounds, he showed me everything he has to do, I think there was like two or three calls we went on. We did a couple of traffic stops, it was just, like, exciting. I was like, oh this is definitely what I think I wanna go into,” she said. “I want something that challenges me on a daily basis, so I thought that it would be a good field to go into because you don’t know what’s gonna happen in a day, it could quickly change.”

Her eventual goal is to join the FBI. After Vol State, she plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Austin Peay State University. There she intends to double major in Criminal Justice and Foreign Language with an emphasis in either Spanish or Chinese, both of which she currently studies at Vol State.

“TBI [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] has a position for foreign language translators, so I could pair the two that I want to do, that’s my goal right now … I guess I’d like to work my way up either to an ATF agent or a U.S. Marshal or something like that.”

Brianna has been a Vol State President’s Ambassador this year. She said she’s going to miss the familiarity of the college, but she’s excited to move on and continue her education.
-Rachel Keyes
Vol State

Gallatin Nursing Information Meeting April 30

2 months 3 weeks ago

Vol State is offering a new RN Nursing A.A.S. Degree program. It starts in June and the special application is available now. An information session will be held on Tuesday, April 30 at 5 p.m on the Gallatin campus in Caudill Hall Room 102. Everyone is invited to attend. There are general education classes required to be taken before application. The students most likely ready to apply for the summer start are current pre-nursing students. However, everyone is welcome to attend the meeting for information about the path towards the Nursing degree. To apply, and for more information about the program, visit
Vol State

CHEC Earth Day Event on Saturday, April 27

2 months 3 weeks ago

The Second Annual CHEC Earth Day Celebration will feature educational exhibits, a Green Market, artists, live music, local food vendors, and learning activities for all ages. Students, faculty, and staff at the Cookeville Higher Education Campus (CHEC) are organizing the free public event, which will be held on Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the campus in Cookeville. Earth Day has become an international event celebrated across the globe during the last week of April.“This year’s national theme is Protect Our Species,” said Vol State Biology instructor and event organizer Mark Green. “We have focused our event on endangered Upper Cumberland species, such as the Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens), Rock Gnome Lichen (Gymnoderma lineare), and the Cumberland Darter (Etheostoma susanae). As a community, we must become aware of our impact on the ecosystems that surround us.”CHEC is located at 1000 Neal Street. It is the site of classes for Volunteer State Community College, Tennessee Tech and TCAT Livingston, all of which are participating in the Earth Day event. For more information call 931-520-0551 or visit the CHEC Facebook page for information and updates:
Vol State

Spring Showcase Concerts April 26 and 27

2 months 3 weeks ago
The annual Vol State Spring Music Showcase concerts are coming up this weekend: April 26 and 27. They will highlight the talents of the Jazz Ensemble, Rock Ensemble, and Bluegrass Ablaze group. A CD of student work will be available for sale at the show and at the Vol State Bookstore in Gallatin. It was recorded in the Vol State recording studios. The Spring Music Showcase performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Wemyss Auditorium at Caudill Hall. It's free with Vol State ID. There is a suggested donation of $5 for admission and $10 for admission and a copy of the CD. The funds will be used for music scholarships.

Vol State

Events this Week at Vol State

2 months 3 weeks ago

April 23           Publication Celebration, Pioneer Pen, Number One and Best Student Essays, SRB 150, Noon-2pmApril 24           Spring Job Fair, many employers on site, Pickel Field House, 10am-2pmApril 24           Math and Science Student Poster Session, student projects on display, Ramer Great Hall, 1:30-3:30pmApril 24           AFA Spring Recital, SRB 152, 3pmApril 24           Understanding our Blindspots: Uncovering Unconscious Bias training, Cody Hall, CHEC Campus, 5pm-6:30pmApril 26           Vol State Spring Showcase, musical performance, Caudill Hall, 7:30pmApril 27           CHEC Earth Day Celebration: educational exhibits, a Green Market, artists, live music, local food vendors, and learning activities, CHEC Campus in Cookeville, 10am-5pmApril 27           Vol State Spring Showcase, musical performance, Caudill Hall, 7:30pm
Vol State

Graduate Profile: Zachary Houtman

3 months ago

There was recently a milestone announcement in the science community: the first picture of a black hole. The achievement is more than just another news story for Zachary Houtman- it is inspiration. He is feeding his love of science by pursuing a career in engineering or physics.
“If I could see humanity expand from Earth in my lifetime that would be great to see,” he said.
And Zachary doesn’t want to be on the sidelines of space exploration- he intends to be part of the scientific process that takes humans to the far reaches of our solar system. To do that, the Middle College High School student will need a top-notch education. His acceptance and full-ride scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is just the latest step for him. RPI is one of the top science research universities in the nation.
“I spend a lot of my free time looking at topics like relativity,” he said. “I’d like to be a researcher at NASA. There’s one topic I’m really interested in right now called the Alcubierre Drive.” He’s speaking about an idea in theoretical physics that is based on the equations of Albert Einstein in general relativity. It speculates that humans could achieve faster-than-light travel by creating a spacecraft that could contract space in front of it and expand space behind it.
“You create a gravitational anomaly,” he said. The sparkle in his eyes when discussing the idea gives you just a hint of how much he enjoys science. He was able to explore more of math and science through the Sumner County Middle College High School program. He transferred from Portland High School after his junior year.
“The biggest thing with Middle College was the opportunities. I’ve taken nine math classes in my high school career. Being in an environment where everyone is motivated to do better is refreshing.”
Zachary will graduate with his high school diploma and an associate degree in May, a unique opportunity for students in Middle College. He plans an advanced education after completing his bachelor’s degree at RPI, perhaps even a PhD. He is already considering thesis topics.
“If I had to choose my thesis right now it would be relativity. The large scale of the universe is amazing.”
Vol State

Spring Career Fair April 24

3 months ago
The Spring Career Fair is coming up next Wednesday, April 24. Dozens of employers will be on site, so bring copies of your resume. There will be tables with hands-on career development information including soft skills and tips on dressing for success. It will be held in the Pickel Field House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Everyone is invited.
Vol State

Get Ahead in College with Vol State Summer Classes

3 months ago
Summer classes are a way for students to get ahead in their college career. University students, home for the summer, can take general education courses at Vol State to meet university requirements. Current Vol State students can take classes to speed-up their path to graduation. New students can even start a college career with summer classes. They come in three different versions, designed to fit around family holidays and other summer events. The first option is an intensive three-week session class. There will be four of those sessions during the summer, with courses starting on May 20, June 10, July 1, and July 22. The start date for first six-week and twelve-week classes is also May 20. The second six-week term starts on July 1. Full summer term and first nine-week classes start on May 20. Second nine-week classes start on July 1. The shorter sessions are more intensive with classes held for a few hours each day. Summer classes are offered in-person, online, and in a wide variety of subject areas. They are held on the Vol State campuses in Gallatin, Springfield, Cookeville, and Livingston.One of the three-week courses being offered in Gallatin this summer, starting on May 20, is Essentials of Biology (1030). It’s a quick way for non-science majors to fill this requirement. However, like all of the three-week courses, it is intensive and requires complete commitment. New this summer will be Introduction to Early Childhood Education (ECED 1310) for education majors. It will be held in a six-week session.New and readmit students will need to apply to the college. That can be done online at
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