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Teaching & Learning Center: Faculty Spotlights

The Teaching and Learning Center provides Vol State faculty with resources to help them professionally.

Faculty Spotlights

March Faculty Spotlight: Alisha Cornish 

Alisha Cornish is the program director and professor for the Ophthalmic Technician Program.   She was born and raised in Texas where she earned her BS in Biology and Doctor of Optometry from the University of Houston. Upon graduating, Alisha went into private practice in Texas and eventually moved to Florida to join a large multispecialty eye clinic.  Alisha moved to TN in 2009 at which time she began working at Volunteer State.  One of her biggest accomplishments while at VSCC is the development of a longstanding partnership with the Hendersonville Rotary Club and Las Americas Rotary Club to provide an international service-learning experience in Guatemala for ophthalmic students.  Currently the service-learning opportunity is being developed into a TnCIS program.   Alisha also partners with her students to provide eye education in the community including to visiting high school students and middle school girls attending the annual TN Girls in STEM conference at VSCC.   While in her role as program director, Alisha has also been responsible for the development and organization of 3 successful self-studies and site visits, which resulted in the reaccreditation of the Ophthalmic Program. Alisha’s favorite part of working at VSCC is watching the development and success of students as they progress through their education, graduate, and accept jobs in local ophthalmology clinics. 

March Faculty Spotlight: Jaime Sanchez

Jaime Sanchez was raised in Mexico City, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Modern Languages and studied English, French, Italian, and piano. He moved to Tennessee in 1979, and he got a doctoral degree in English and Spanish at MTSU. He has worked for Vol State since 1992, and he loves interacting with students, developing online courses, and working with diversity issues. He is active at the college contributing to international events and presentations and the Storycorps project with the Diversity Committee. The purpose of this project is to develop a recorded human library of short interviews of people in the community. Dr. Sanchez is active in the community working as a translator and interpreter and acting as a judge in literary contests of high school students.

February Faculty Spotlight: Ines Petrovic Garcia

Ines Petrovic Garcia earned her MA in Lifespan and Digital Communication and BA in Communication Studies from Old Dominion University, and a degree in Law from the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Regent University, pursuing her degree in Communication. 

Ines moved to TN and joined Volunteer State in 2020 amid the pandemic. She is a full-time Instructor of Communication Studies and the Director of the Honors Program at Vol State. Ines is currently facilitating a virtual exchange program between Vol State students enrolled in the Leadership course, which Ines is teaching, and students from Hangzhou Normal University in China. 

Ines’ teaching philosophy is centered around her genuine passion for teaching and student success. Her research interests include speech, leadership, interpersonal, intercultural, and gender communication. She is actively attending professional development sessions and conferences inside and outside TN. She presented her work at the Girl Leaders in Roles of Leadership Organization in Washington, DC, the Annual Tennessee Communication Association (TCA) Conference, and the PCA/ACA Popular Culture Association National Conference in Texas. Ines is also a certified yoga instructor and volunteers her time leading yoga classes in her community.  She also enjoys spending time with her husband and loveable dog Noah.

February Faculty Spotlight: Melanie Cochran

Melanie started as an adjunct at Vol State while also running the restaurant she owns with her husband in East Nashville (The Wild Cow). She was hired as a full time instructor in 2020 and has been loving spending more time in the classroom and less time in the restaurant. She teaches Early American History, Modern American History and occasionally, Modern World History. She taught World History in Europe (Paris, Berlin & Amsterdam) with TnCIS for 3 weeks in the summer of 2022 and will be teaching in Japan in May 2023. She serves on the board of the TLC and is the coordinator for International Education. She is currently working on presenting monthly international events on campus, along with monthly chess tournaments for students, faculty and staff.

January Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Burton

Jennifer Burton received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Western Kentucky University. She obtained her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Ball State University and her Doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology also from Ball State University. Jennifer is a licensed Counseling Psychologist. Jennifer began teaching at Volunteer Community College as an adjunct faculty member around 20 years ago.  After working as a Counseling Psychologist at the MTSU Counseling Center, Jennifer developed a passion for working with college students. She began working as a full time professor in the department of Psychology four years ago and now is an Assistant Professor at Vol State. She currently serves as the Faculty advisor for the Volunteer Club at Vol State. Jennifer focuses on making the classroom an enriching and fun experience for her students.  Jennifer has had the pleasure of participating in various events during her time at Volunteer State. Recently, she has enjoyed participating in various lecture series hosted by the Social Sciences and Education Division. She served as a panel member for student mental health questions and a panel member for crisis intervention. She enjoys providing education and resources to students about mental health. Jennifer thoroughly enjoys her job and her students.

November Faculty Spotlight: Lingli Ni

When Lingli Ni bid farewell to Vol State as an adjunct faculty member in 2011, little was known that she was making an international detour to come back to teach full time two years later. With a Ph.D. degree from Virginia Tech in Mechanical Engineering, Lingli Ni started to teach Engineering Statics and Dynamics besides teaching math. Lingli Ni enjoyed teaching and working with Vol State students to help making a difference in their career path. Lingli Ni has a passion for STEM education at Vol State and in the community. She has been organizing Annual AMATYC and TMATYC math contests for Vol State students since 2016. She has been the coordinator of the TN Girls in STEM conference at Vol State for 5th-9th grade girls, formerly known as Vol State EYH, in the past six years. Lingli Ni also has a passion for International Education. She is the coordinator of Vol State-China Virtual Exchange Program since Spring 2021, which is a course-based faculty-lead collaborative project for Vol State students and Hangzhou Normal University and Wuxi Health School students. Last but not least, Lingli Ni is passionate about attending Professional Development sessions and conferences on campus and off campus. 

November Faculty Spotlight: Edward Carlton

Edward Carlton earned his Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences from Midwestern State University and his Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography from Grand Valley State University. He began his professional career at Vanderbilt University’s Children’s Hospital working as a pediatric sonographer but transitioned into the role of Director of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) at Vol State six years ago. During his time at VSCC Edward has written state laws that regulate the credentials required to practice ultrasound in the state of Tennessee, authored a chapter on biomechanics and ergonomics in the 8th edition of Introduction to Patient Care & Radiologic & Imaging Sciences & Patient Care, and he has acquired more than $340,000 to update ultrasound lab equipment through various federal and state grants.

In the Spring the DMS program invites members of the community to campus to be model patients for our Obstetric and pediatric laboratory courses. With more than 100 participants every year, this service learning opportunity directly impacts our local community and provides an unparalleled learning experience for our students.

Over the past 6 years Vol State’s DMS program has become the premier ultrasound school in Tennessee with the most credentialed graduates and the most multi-credentialed graduates in the entire state. Our graduates boast a 99% board exam pass rate, which is 35-points higher than the national average of 64%, and a 99% employment rate.

October Faculty Spotlight: Cassandra Cassidy

Cassandra Cassidy received her Master of Science in Nursing, MSN, from Vanderbilt University and completed the coursework for the Doctorate of Nursing Practice, DNP through Aspen University. She has been a 12-month employee at Volunteer State Community College since the first semester of the nursing program, July 2019 and is now an Assistant Professor of Nursing. She contributed to the deployment of the nursing program at the Gallatin and Livingston campuses utilizing zoomed classrooms, and now facilitates a full academic workload at the Gallatin campus. She strives to promote hands on learning, mentorship, and cultural responsiveness through various approaches. She has facilitated multiple Covid vaccinations clinics integrated into a lab held at a local hospital, more recently facilitated a flu vaccination clinic integrated through a clinical experience at a local hospital, coordinated a wellness nursing student project where nursing students contributed to a health wellness event in the spring of 2022 at both Gallatin and Livingston campuses, and piloted a mentor program over the summer of 2022. She currently is facilitating a virtual exchange program with a nursing program in Wuxi, China incorporated into didactic coursework and looks forward to developing a student nursing association soon. 

September Faculty Spotlight: Rufus Darden

Rufus Darden received his MS in Biology from Tennessee Technological University. He is an Associate Professor of Biology and has taught various science courses in his 15 years at the college. He also has served as an Assistant Chair of Science for 6 years, working with Deans and Chairs in Gallatin and other Assistant Chairs and site directors of the Livingston and Cookeville campuses in order to create science schedules to meet the needs of VolState students in the Upper Cumberland region. Mr. Darden is also strongly committed to teaching, where he strives to help his students reach their academic and career goals. He and another colleague, Dr. Shinde, recently collaborated in a study abroad program to the Galapagos Islands where students from all VolState campuses had the opportunity to participate for college credit.


August Faculty Spotlight: Nan Blomgren

Photo of Nan BlomgrenNan Blomgren received her MS from Vanderbilt University and completed coursework for the PhD at Middle Tennessee State University. She has been at Volunteer State Community College for 31 years and is now an Associate Professor of English. Her current focus at the college is making faculty responsibilities more sustainable over the long term because a physically and mentally healthy faculty can more effectively support our students. 

2022 Faculty Excellence Award Winner: Dr. Krista Mazza Carter

Image of Krista Mazza CarterKrista Mazza Carter received her MA in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Illinois University and PhD in Clinical Counseling from Trevecca Nazarene University. Dr. Carter is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of First Year Experience department at Volunteer State Community College. In addition to teaching at VSCC, she continues to engage in clinical work as a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Mental Health Service Provider designation focusing on clinical supervision and consultation. Dr. Mazza Carter is committed to the personal and intellectual growth of students, both inside and outside of the classroom.  

2022 Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award Winner: Don Ellis

Image of Don Ellis

Don retired from a forty-three-year career with DuPont in February of 2016. Thirty plus of those years in supply chain management. He started teaching a class for Vol State in 2011 and it grew from there and in 2017 he took responsibility for the Logistics Management program. He authored all five courses that are offered as the program grew. Don works closely with local professional organizations, Delta Nu Alpha Transportation Society, and the Nashville affiliate of the Institute for Supply Management (Past President). He has also built relationships with our local Chambers of Commerce and is now working on a project to bring local business leaders into our business classrooms to speak to students. He has also worked with local CTE directors to see how Vol State can integrate business programs into local school systems.


Blog: Teaching and Learning at Vol State

Read the blog Teaching and Learning at Vol State and discover how your colleagues engage with students, adapt to challenges, incorporate equity and diversity in their course, and more.

Consider writing a blog post to share ideas from a conference or a PD program you attended. Share your classroom experiences when you implemented a new idea, resource, or pedagogy.

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