Monthly Archives: March 2012

Get to know Kevin Chopson

This week’s art lover is Kevin Chopson, adjunct professor of English at Volunteer State Community College.  He teaches English composition and creative writing.

Chopson also teaches English at Davidson Academy in Nashville, Tenn.  DA is a Christian school which serves students from pre-kindergarten through high school.  According to the school’s website, they are dedicated to “nurturing spiritual, intellectual, physical, and social growth in an interdenominational setting.”

Chopson received a degree in philosophy from Eastern Michigan University, and then completed a masters of fine arts degree at Murray State.

“I have been a writer my whole life – always writing poetry, songs, essays, and short fiction as an avocation.

“I spent a number of years in radio, the world of advertising, and the music business before settling on a career in academia. I wrote copy and jingles for radio advertising, press releases, and promotional copy for a number of different types of clients,” he said.

Hawkins said that he feels strongly about his role in students’ lives.

“I see myself as a teacher, a guide, and a poet. I try to help my students take their writing to challenging places. I am a fan of many nineteenth century writers whose style and subject matter were atypical, transcendent. I attempt to guide my students toward these sorts of choices,” he said.

Chopson is also a published poet in his own right.  In 2011, he had 17 poems published in 13 different journals and magazines.

He was nominated for a Pushcart prize as well, for his poem “The Registry Room.”

The Pushcart is an American literary prize by Pushcart Press that honors the best “poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot,” according to the prize’s website.

Chopson said that he uses “Starry Night” in his freshman composition and creative writing classes as a visual aid to help teach students how to observe more closely.

“The process is instructive on a number of different levels as well. What is it like to live like an artist, see like an artist, select details like an artist, and make unexpected conceptual ‘leaps’ like an artist? These are all very important questions to examine when developing your craft as a writer.  ‘Starry Night,’ whether one studies the original or a poster print of the same, is a great piece to use in this manner,” he said.

Chopson lives with his wife Susan and their two children, Noah and Alexandra.  Noah is a senior in high school who has recently been offered scholarships at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


Get to know Chelsea Hawkins

This week, The Settler is with Chelsea Hawkins, Volunteer State Community College’s new service learning specialist.

Hawkins studied business at Vol State, and then transferred to MTSU to complete a degree in marketing and business administration.  She works through a program called Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).

She said that her goal as a VISTA is to inspire growth in service learning at Vol State.

“Service learning incorporates engaging and serving others with educational goals and objectives.  In an essence, students learn by serving and doing while positively affecting the lives and well-being of those in our community, and in the case of our national outreach projects, those around the world,” she said.

Hawkins volunteered with an inner-city mission called REACH (Revealing Eternity and Changing Hearts) for five years.

“My love for working with this program and seeing how the lives and confident levels of the children we worked with changed as a result of our leaders’ interaction with them is what lead me to being a VISTA here at Vol State,” she said.

Hawkins said that she is a strong advocate for personal and educational growth.

“You’re the only one standing in your way of success.  Work harder every day than you did the day before, and you will evolve into the best possible version of yourself. Growth starts and stops with you.  Nothing worthwhile ever came easy.”

According to, VISTA is a program with roots dating back to 1963.  President John F. Kennedy envisioned a national service corps “to help provide urgently needed services in urban and rural poverty areas.”

Vol State’s service learning program allows students to take the skills and knowledge they gain in the classroom out to the community, according to the school’s website.  In 2009, the program received the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

Hawkins is a big sports fan, and calls herself “very competitive.”  She said that she became a Pittsburgh Steelers fan after reading a profile of player Troy Polamalu.  His love for working with special needs children struck a nerve with her.

“Besides Troy, what’s not to love about the Steelers?” she said.

Vol State’s Service Learning Club is sponsoring a dodgeball tournament on Feb. 19.  On Feb. 21, a lunchtime program will offer information to help students, faculty and staff get involved in service.

For more information about service learning, contact Chelsea Hawkins at (615) 230-3315.

Get to know Rachel Carmack

Rachel Carmack

The fanciful Eiffel Tower photo comes from Volunteer State Community College’s admission adviser, Rachel Carmack.

Carmack is a Vol State graduate, originally from Bethpage.  After earning her associate’s degree in communication, she attended UT Knoxville to complete her bachelor’s in advertising, according to the Vol State website.

She had worked in Vol State’s academic affairs office while a student.  After her return from Knoxville, she returned to the school, with a position in records and registration.  For just over three years, Carmack has worked in the admissions office.

“I loved working for Vol State when I was a student here—it really is a great place to work, with great people to work with.  I chose to apply for the admissions adviser position because I could use more of the skills I developed in the advertising program at UT.

“This field allows me to use those creative approaches I like so much, while helping people get to a better quality of life,” she said.

Carmack serves on the school’s scholarship and awards committee and lends her voice to the faculty and staff holiday caroling group, unofficially known as Holly & the Mistletoes.

When off campus, Carmack said that she loves shopping and interior design.

Carmack’s parents have been married for 39 years.  She also has two sisters, a brother-in-law, a “nephew cat” named Roland, and a dog named Charlotte, who is often called Charlotte O’Hara “because she’s so dramatic.”

Carmack is a fan of fantasy-based television as well.  She cites “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Vampire Diaries” as favorites.

“My new obsession is ‘Once Upon a Time.’ I highly recommend it,” she said.

The photo is one that Carmack herself took while on a trip to Paris.

The trip was a graduation gift from her parents.

“My family surprised me at my graduation dinner with a little Monet watercolor notecard that said they were giving me a trip to London and Paris for graduation!  I couldn’t believe it, because I had always wanted to travel there,” she said.

Her sister, Jessica, traveled with her.  They have since been to Mexico, Ireland, and Germany together.

“When we arrived at our hotel room in Paris, we pulled back the curtains and there it was, the Eiffel Tower, straight ahead, in all its glittering glory.”

Later, Carmack added the pink tint, giving the photo its surreal appearance.

Carmack can be reached in the office of admissions at 615-230 – 3688.

Get to know Lynn Peterson

Lynn Peterson

Last week’s mystery item belongs to Lynn Peterson, music instructor, band director and head of Volunteer State Community College’s bluegrass department.
Peterson also teaches songwriting and recording industry management classes.  He has been at Vol State since 1987.
Peterson earned his first music degree from East Tennessee State University and his second from Tennessee State University.
He said that the choice to become a music instructor was easy.
“Actually, the field chose me. My first job offer after I got out of the Army was as a private guitar teacher at the Cates School of Music, in Johnson City, Tennessee.
“I’ve never wanted to do anything else but teach,” he said.
Vol State’s bluegrass degree program was inaugurated in 2011, with Peterson as adviser.
The school’s interim president, Dr. Bruce Scism, was instrumental in the creation of the program.  He said that the school’s talented students, staff, and proximity to Nashville made it a natural addition.
Peterson is a working musician and songwriter as well, and at one time served as president of the Tennessee Songwriters Association International.  He has experience performing many styles, including jazz, classical and country, but considers himself a rock musician foremost.
Peterson takes Vol State songwriting students to perform at the Whippoorwill Café in Gallatin on the third Wednesday of each month.  The school has a commercial music ensemble, known as Worse Case Scenario, which performs locally, as well.
“I like to experiment with different ways of delivering information to students but the number one way is always ‘hands on.’  I’m always looking for projects that yield results outside the classroom,” he said.
Ally Smith, who completed Peterson’s songwriting class, said that the songwriters’ night is a great chance for the student-songwriters to get out and play.
The item pictured is a phonograph record.  This was one of the earliest recording methods, dating to the late nineteenth century.  According to the University of California at Santa Barbara, Columbia Records produced the cylinders until 1909.  After that time, the more familiar disc-style records became standard.
The 1907 recording features the song “No Wedding Bells for Me,” by Bob Roberts.  The song was featured in the film “The Orchid.”  The cylinder was donated to the school by Cracker Barrel restaurants.
The next songwriters’ night event is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 at The Whippoorwill, 118 North Water Ave. in Gallatin.   Worse Case Scenario is performing later that evening, along with the band Rockwood Terrace.

Get to know Andrea Boddie

Andrea BoddieThis week, the Settler spoke with Andrea Boddie, Volunteer State Community College’s TRiO Student Support Services director.

Boddie’s background includes 20 years of service to families and individuals in the areas of personal, career and professional development.  She has been at Vol State, with the TRiO program, since 2005.

She cites her lack of guidance in high school and lack of advising in college as being the driving force behind her choice to work in higher education.

“I chose to go into college [and] career counseling so that others would have more information and support up front, which would provide students with better options and success,” she said.   Boddie’s work and school philosophy is “Excellence is not optional if you want to succeed.”

TRiO student Paul Farmer credits Boddie as being a big part of his success in college.
“Andrea really helped me with my graduation plans.  I had gotten off track with my credits and was in danger of not graduating,” he said.

Lisa Borre is a counselor with the TRiO program.  She calls working with Boddie “amazing.”

“Andrea has a true love for people.  She helps students and staff to maximize their potential.  She is inspirational,” said Borre.

“She’s created a family atmosphere in the office, and we all know that we can go to her for anything,” Borre said.

Off campus, Boddie has her own family.

She and her husband have two children.  Their daughter Jania, is 11 old and their son Jaylon is seven.

“Her things are art and Girl Scouts, where I serve as the Troop Leader.  His things are baseball and Transformers.

“One of our great family time activities is movie time and popcorn at home.”

She also said that she loves to organize.

Boddie said that although her children are about five years apart in age, they both made a pottery container in the first grade.  These are the two outer pots in the photo.  The smaller one was her daughter’s and the other one was made by her son.

The colorful pot in the center was made by Boddie’s daughter during a Girl Scouts camping trip in May 2010.

“Yes, the big flood in Nashville took place while we were at Camp Holloway in Millersville, Tenn.  There was a little rain, but we kept on camping and creating great pottery.  We all made it back safely,” she said.

Boddie can be reached at 615-230-3732 or through the TRiO office in Wood Campus Center, Room 211.

Get to know Tonya Daniels

Tonya Daniels

For our first edition of the spring semester, The Settler visited with Tonya Daniels, who is an assistant professor of Spanish at Volunteer State Community College.

Daniels has been teaching for seven years, including four years at Vol State and three at the high school level.

She double-majored at the University of Tennessee, earning bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and human services, and then received a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Georgia.  In May, she will complete a doctorate in leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University.

“I fell in love with Spanish in high school after having marvelous teachers and traveling to Spain with one of my teachers after my freshman year. I love everything about the Spanish culture: the music, language, dance, people and countries. I wanted to share this passion with others,” she said.

Daniels feels that everyone has the ability to learn.

“It is just a matter of respecting one another and of how you (the teacher) reach a student. I also believe the teacher should always be willing to learn themselves (there is always something new to learn).

“When it comes to Spanish, I like to think that I create an open learning environment where students are free to make mistakes. Mistakes and corrections are what language learning is all about!”

Amadeus Nunaley feels that she succeeds at her task.

“I really enjoyed being in her Spanish 1 class, and felt that she really helped me get a grasp on the language. I’m very excited to have her again this semester and look forward to seeing what I learn,” he said.

Fellow Spanish instructor Michelle Vandiver-Lawrence called Daniels professional and kind.

“Tonya made every effort to accommodate my crazy schedule when my children were born. I’m happy to work with such a hard-working and easy going colleague,” Vandiver said.

Daniels is also co-advisor of the Vol State International Student Association (VISA).

“We have so many wonderful international and American students sharing culture with one another. It’s always a fun experience being with the students and staff in the club!”

She is also a part of FUTURO, which is a Latino student’s association that brings together students, educators and professionals from across the state of Tennessee.

When she’s not in the classroom, Daniels said that she loves to dance and to work out.  She does Zumba and Turbo Fire, both of which are dance-based exercise programs.  She also runs and does boot camp-style exercises.

Daniels also enjoys watching college football and is a big fan of the UT Volunteers.

“I have a wonderful husband and a sweet German shepherd named Legacy. We enjoy hanging out with each other very much!”she said.

Daniels can be reached at 615-230-3340 or in her office at Ramer 105.

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