By Ashley Kitchens, Associate Dean
On February 28-29, 2020, Jefferson State students Moira Butler and Austyn Lucas and English faculty members Kristin Henderson, Jamie King, and Ashley Kitchens attended the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama (ACETA) conference. The conference, held annually at a sponsor two-year college or four-year university, was held at the University of North Alabama campus in Florence, Alabama. The conference kicked off on Friday afternoon with a welcome from ACETA president Rebecca Duncan and UNA Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jeffrey Bibbee and presentation of the Calvert, Woodall, and McMillan paper awards. JSCC’s instructors Ashley Kitchens (in attendance) and Jacob Melvin took the awards in the Woodall category for best pedagogical essays.
After the opening session, JSCC students Moira and Austyn presented work in a concurrent session dealing with “Feeling and Describing Gender.” Moira presented a paper she completed for JSCC instructor Kristin Henderson’s (in attendance) ENG 261 class; her topic “A Grumble, A Growl, A Roar: Women’s Struggle for a Voice in Western Literature,” centered around an examination of oppressive forces surrounding females in literature from Grendel’s mother (Beowulf), the female addressed in John Donne’s poem “The Flea,” and Mary Wortley Montagu in her letter “The Reasons That Induced Dr. S. to Write a Poem Call’d ‘The Lady’s Dressing Room’.” She connected the struggle these characters face to the modern #metoo movement. Austyn presented alongside instructor Ashley Kitchens in a discussion titled “Choosing Strength, Not Exploitation as a Sex Worker: The Swan Song of Atwood’s “Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing.” The two examined the poem’s character’s self-awareness and choices among a sea of both female and male members of society and their own prejudices. Friday evening ended with a dinner and keynote address by Dr. Paula Greathouse from Tennessee Technical University about academic freedom and the importance of inclusion in literature. On Saturday, students and faculty attended three different concurrent sessions ranging in topics and a lunch with another keynote speaker; the speaker, Jason McCall from UNA, presented a talk entitled “What Disneyfication Can Teach Us About Our Students.” Overall, the conference was a success.
Speaking with both JSCC students about their experience at the conference was enlightening; their comments illustrated a fresh point of view and ended with some encouraging words for other JSCC students:
In discussing the overview of her experience, Moira noted her following feelings: “Going into this conference, I expected to be bored. I expected a lot of long-winded analyses of obscure texts. Instead, I found that Jefferson State had prepared me incredibly well for brushing elbows with accomplished academics. I found that the topics discussed were often incredibly insightful and the presentations engaging. These were my people, and I soaked up the experience.” Moira continued her discussion of her experience by focusing on her favorite aspect of the conference: “While the presentations were wonderful, I found that my favorite part was the Q&A after each one. The exchange of ideas, opinions, and insights in an open-minded intellectual experience sent the wheels in my brain spinning as I absorbed so much from this community exchange.” Finally, Moira shared a recommendation to other JSCC students: “Give this conference a chance. Whether you have always loved literature or you’re looking to expand your horizons, this conference will leave you looking at literature and the world a little differently.”
In speaking with Austyn, he shared some of the same insight about his own experience at the conference. Overall, Austyn enjoyed the conference as noted in his thoughts about the two-day event: “It was such a cool market exchange of ideas. With so many other academics in one place, you're bound to learn something new with every conversation you have with anyone! Getting to listen to all the different viewpoints from people from different walks of life, genders, and dispositions was such a new experience for me in an academic setting and something that was extremely eye opening.” When asked about his favorite moment of the conference, he shared his feelings on his own presentation session: “Getting to present mine and Mrs. Kitchens’ joint presentation on the notion of the power in ‘choice’ in Margaret Atwood's "Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing." It's important for me personally to openly support the notion of women being in control of what they do regarding their bodies because now for some reason society paints that as such a radical idea, when it's really a very simple one.” Finally, Austyn reflected on the entire weekend: “I expected to just come on this trip, present my panel points, and then go back to my hotel room to be completely honest. Instead, I was engaged in conversations that actually made me think and put the knowledge that I'd learned in school and independently to use. It was a full release. The trust that Mrs. King and Mrs. Kitchens placed in me, my ideas, and in my being successful in this venue was also something I appreciate the most from this opportunity. I'm so glad I was able to enjoy this experience with them and even make some friends along the way. The entire thing is so well put together. The food was also really freaking good, too, and I love me some good food now.”
Faculty members Henderson, King, and Kitchens were honored to take these hardworking students and give them an opportunity to present their work to an audience of professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students alike. Moira and Austyn represented the JSCC student body well in their scholarship and inquisitive nature. If you as a student or faculty member would like more information about presenting scholarship for the annual ACETA conference or submitting work for award consideration, please contact Ashley Kitchens at email@example.com.
By Jacob Call, JSCC Recruiter
On April Fools’ Day, each household will be getting an important envelope: the US Census questionnaire. This form isn’t a joke. Per the US Constitution, every ten years the federal government must take a whole and complete count of every person living within the country’s borders.
The Alabama Community College System is partnering with the US Census Bureau to make sure that all our students and their families are counted correctly. The count helps determine Alabama’s representation in Congress & the Electoral College. The federal government also uses our population to allocate money for roads, schools, hospitals, and other services.
Things have changed since 1790, when the first census was conducted. In that year, US Marshals and deputies canvassed the fledgling nation on foot and horseback, combing woods and crossing rivers to find America’s 3,929,214 residents. In 2020, however, residents can submit their Census questionnaire through the mail, over the phone, or even online! Census staff will only visit the homes where people don’t reply.
The questions are straightforward: number of people in the household, along with each person’s name, sex, age, and birthday (this helps prevent duplication). There are also questions about race and family relationships, as well as if any members of the household are away at college, in the military, in jail, or living in a nursing home.
Jefferson State will have resources on our website and social media. The learning resource center computer labs will also be open to those in our communities who need internet access to submit the forms. Please help us out by filling out your Census form and encouraging your family and friends to do likewise.
By Joseph Honeycutt, Student
Statistics from American Childhood Cancer Organization show 15,780 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year. That’s 1 in every 285 being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness before the age of 20. The statistics are terrifying enough, but what scares me most is how oblivious I was to the issue. Jefferson State Community College student Cari Sheets is using her artistic talent to help ensure this problem does not continue to be overlooked.
I first met Cari in a 3D Design course taught by Patrick Mayton. 3D Design is a Fine Arts course focused on sculpture. As the semester progressed, I began to recognize an ongoing theme focused around cancer in Cari’s body of work. I inquired about her interest in the matter and why she was compelled to create such artwork. What I discovered was equally tragic and beautiful.
Cari’s nephew, Henry, was just like any other toddler. He acquired bumps and bruises that were to be expected at his age and easily overlooked. But as time passed, the bruising became worse and the family sought answers. Henry was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when he was 2 years old.
In 2019, Extra Life Foundation collaborated with Twitch on a charity event using their online videogame streaming service to raise charitable funds to support childhood cancer research. For this event, Cari created her first dedicated piece of artwork toward the cause. Sadly, the Extra Life Foundation was attacked by hackers prohibiting donations from occurring for a time. For obvious reasons, Cari was personally affected by this and states this as her call to action.
It wasn’t long before this event when I met Cari in the aforementioned sculpture class. The first assignment was a found-art project. For this project, students were instructed to reimagine things found into a new concept or representation. What started as a random piece of wire bent by Cari to resemble a cancer awareness ribbon would evolve into a sculpture featuring the stories of children affected by cancer in blank spaces of the sculpture’s frame. One of those stories is of Rozlyn Greene, an Alabama resident whose life was taken September 12, 2019 shortly after the sculpture’s completion. The Greene family has since started a non-profit awareness organization of their own named The Rozzy Foundation, honoring their daughter’s memory.
Since then, another child’s life featured on the sculpture has been claimed by their malady. “Remission doesn’t mean cured,” Cari says emphatically. Some of these children were expected to get better but things took a turn for the worse. To Cari, awareness only begins with bringing attention to those still fighting their battle. For her it must extend to the families in mourning over the loss of their loved ones. To provide the recognition she feels they deserve; she has begun drawing portraits of those affected and mailing them as gifts to the parents.
Blood and especially platelets are in need for transfusions and a critical part of cancer patient’s care. According to Mayo Clinic, chemotherapy can lower platelet production by damaging bone marrow resulting in a decrease in the body’s ability to stop bleeding. Blood Bot is Cari’s recent effort at helping push this need to the forefront of public attention. “Platelets don’t have the shelf life like blood does and donations for platelets cannot be taken in the blood vans, but you can go right up the street” Cari says of the Red Cross and its close proximity to JSCC’s Shelby-Hoover campus. She urges others to visit their local Red Cross and donate.
The promotional artwork from Cari Sheets is free to use for the public and is encouraged. Artwork inspired by those whose life has been taken is dedicated solely to the family. She intends to continue using her Extra Life character throughout the growing body of work. I look forward to seeing her efforts continue to grow, and I am thankful there are individuals such as Cari that utilize their talents to help others.
For more information on The Rozzy Foundation please visit: https://www.therozzy.com
To view Cari Sheets and her artwork, scroll through the gallery below.
By Joseph Honeycutt, Student
On May 15 while everyone else is just getting out of bed, JSCC Chef Jason Bierley will be hopping on his Cervelo R3 bicycle to set off on a 108-mile ride to provide scholarships for culinary students for the second time. This year’s Bike 2 Work Day scholarship goal is increased $4000 to be divided between two students. Chef Bierley will be accompanied by two friends returning from last year’s ride.
The scholarship funding is provided by crowdsourcing online. Last year’s goal of $2500 was met and awarded to students Madison Harvel and Brandin Blakely. Students are selected from the Culinary and Hospitality program through an application process. Essays are evaluated by a panel of chefs to select recipients of the award.
Fellow riders Brian Toone and Demetrius White will be meeting Chef Bierley at O’Henry’s Coffee in Homewood to begin the ride. On the route’s loop, the team will touch base at both the Pell City and Shelby-Hoover JSCC campuses. Chef Bierley is no stranger to long-distance bike riding and welcomes the adventure to support students.
It doesn’t take long when talking to Chef Bierley to sense his enthusiasm and excitement toward the upcoming ride. “The idea just sort of popped in my head on a ride one day, so I did it,” the Chef says with a laugh. It’s been said the best ideas come out of nowhere. Ones that involve taking something you enjoy and benefiting others with it makes for all the better.
Photo Credit: Jason Bierley