Skip to Main Content

June 2020 Issue

Awards Given Virtually

By Brian Rockett, SGA Advisor

The 2020 Ruby K. Carson Honors Convocation was just one of many events across our campuses, community, and state that fell victim to the novel coronavirus that began its assault on life as we know it back in March. The Honors Committee, with input from Vice President of Academic Affairs Danielle Coburn and President Keith Brown, decided on March 19th to cancel the physical ceremony that was supposed to be held on April 16th at 2 pm in the Multipurpose Room of the Judy Merritt Health Sciences Building on the Shelby Campus.

The students who are honored at the ceremony each spring represent the best and brightest that Jefferson State has to offer across all disciplines, student groups, and other areas of the college. In addition, other award winners, like the Outstanding Alumni, Outstanding Faculty Member, and the four major awards that Jeff State names each year – the H.Y. and Ruby K. Carson, the James B. Allen, the Eugene G. Fitzgerald, and the Thomas E. and Judy M. Merritt Scholarship Award are all announced at the ceremony.  

The committee sought to find some way to still shine a light on those who make Jefferson State such a bright spot for faculty, staff, and others. 

The result of their efforts was a virtual honors ceremony that went live on the day and time that the ceremony would have started. The website included all the awards and names of the winners, along with a short bio for the major award winners. Though the ceremony took on a different form than in years past, President Brown said that “In no way does this diminish the accomplishments of these students and the enrichment they have brought to the college. In that spirit, we honor them and celebrate their achievements. It is, after all, students like these who make Jefferson State such a special place – a true community.” 

Many of the awards that would have been bestowed during the ceremony come with plaques commemorating the achievement. Plans are being made to ship those plaques to award recipients later in the summer or early fall.

To see the complete list of winners, click HERE to go to the Honors Convocation page.

The Debate Update

By Dr. Janice Ralya, Speech and Debate Team Coach

The Jefferson State Debate Team was enjoying an exciting and successful year when Covid-19 locked down travel 2 days before the IPDA national debate tournament at Tennessee Tech University in mid-March.   The team was looking forward to receiving their season-long awards at the Sunday night awards reception.  In their second year competing in IPDA debate (International Public Debate Association), team members Heaven Sheppard, Zavoun Watts, Nathan Wright, Kelsey Wilson, Kelvin Thomas, Daniel Davis, Ana Vergara and Joseph Honeycutt were thrilled to learn the team was ranked 4th in the nation among community college teams and 6th in the nation in novice debate squads (for both universities and two-year schools.) 

While disappointed, the team remained dedicated to finishing out the competition year and participated in the Climb the Mountain IPDA tournament in April, a virtual tournament with teams from all over the country, representing colleges and universities such as University of Idaho, Murray State University, Seattle University and University of North Georgia.

Using the online tournament site called Yaatly, team members were able to choose debate topics, research and prepare their arguments and pair up against other teams.  Judges were assigned to each set of debaters and all parties entered virtual “rooms” for each round of debate.  All judge ballots were completed online and emailed to the tournament director and then to each individual debater.  While the use of a laptop and a webcam did not replace the excitement of the face-to-face debate experience (long van rides to tournaments included), it taught the team that online debate is possible and that the team will continue to work together, compete and grow as a team, regardless of the challenges.

The team is now looking for new members to start the next competition season and full tuition/fee scholarships are available for qualified students.  If you are a student at Jefferson State or plan to attend this fall and want to learn how to build arguments, research, express yourself, increase confidence and make lifelong friendships, please consider joining.

Instead of live auditions, interested students will be asked to fill out an application and email it to Dr. Janice Ralya, along with a copy of high school or college transcripts.  Students will then be asked to audition via Zoom by giving a 5-minute researched speech.  Students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and plan to be at Jefferson State for at least a year.  

Auditions will take place during June and July. Email Dr. Ralya for more information (  Join the Speech & Debate team and become part of a winning tradition!

New Sigma Chi Eta Officer for Summer

By Anna Jett, VP of Service, Sigma Chi Eta Zeta Chapter

Jakari became a Sigma Chi Eta officer this summer because he wanted to become involved at Jefferson State with a major organization on campus. Jakari's main inspiration is music. Music has impacted his life greatly and helped him through some tough times. Jakari has shown that he is hardworking, determined, and a forward thinker. 

As a person, he values honesty from others stating, "It makes everything simpler." Jakari has learned from his work life how to interact with people and relate to them; helping him empathize, and deal with certain situations. The most important lesson he has learned in life is staying prepared and not to procrastinate because it causes unneeded stress. One last interesting fact about Jakari is that he would like to become the best music producer ever.

COVID-19 ended classes on campus in March for most of us at Jefferson State. I asked Jakari a few questions about how that affected his time this semester. “This semester has been a huge learning curve, even with previous experience with hybrid and online classes,” Jakari says. The adjusting from traditional classes to strictly online in such a short amount of time has been difficult for some students. 

Jakari has been adjusting to online classes, working, and finding some new hobbies during this time away from campus. One of these new hobbies he picked up during the pandemic is making smoothies! Jakari told me that, "It has been really interesting finding different fruit combinations and tasting them. I actually got good, and even sold a few of them."


Editor Update: In the time since the writing of this article, it has been decided that Fall Semesters at JSCC will be held online. Classes with hands-on components will be   following a modified hybrid format.

A Pandemic Won’t Stop Us! We just have to get a little…creative

By Lesley Warren Spotlight Drama Club Director

What a wacky time to be involved in the performing arts! In Theatre Appreciation (THR 120), we teach that there are three necessary elements of theatre: performers, a story, and an audience. But these days, we’re all discouraged from holding large gatherings, which means theatres are dark (closed). So what are dancers, musicians, actors, and stand-up comics to do without an audience?

These questions have been eating away at Spotlight Drama Club advisor Lesley Warren for three months. What does the future look like for the club, its members, and future productions? Do we live-stream performances? Try to locate an Amphitheatre where audiences can space out and breathe fresh air?

Do we sit and wait with our fingers crossed?

No. We don’t just wait. “Drama” comes from the Greek word “dran,” which means “to do.” And we must. We must “DO.”

Theatre is not a stagnant art. It requires action, and even though we are currently faced with great challenges, we will work actively to continue and perhaps even improve upon Spotlight’s mission of bringing engaging and interesting works of literature to the stage, even if that “stage” isn’t exactly what we’re accustomed to. Hey, even Shakespeare’s theatres closed from time to time due to plague, and that guy still got some good work done, right? And he didn’t even have Zoom!

We plan to resume rehearsals for 12 Angry Men, which had to be postponed due to you-know-what, in July with performances in September. This award-winning play centers around a jury who must determine the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of murder. Each juror has his or her own argument, and the climactic moment of the play centers around one juror’s racist view of the defendant - a timely topic, indeed. An email (or several) regarding performance details will be sent out in August.

No spoilers, but The Spotlight Drama Club is also partnering with the Beta Lambda Delta chapter of PTK for a special project in November or December. We’re super-excited about this endeavor, which could potentially bring national attention to Jeff State!

Anyone interested in writing, directing, filming, editing, or acting can contact Lesley Warren at Ideas for non-conventional projects are also welcomed.

PTK and The Pioneer Pantry

By Sara Duncan, Vice President of Communication, Phi Theta Kappa Pi Pi chapter

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society has been busy in this crazy time of need. The Jefferson campus and Pell City campus chapter Pi Pi has an ongoing College Project and it is the Pioneer Pantry. The Pioneer Panty assists students, faculty, and employees with food distributions. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 our inventory has been depleted and with campus closures food donations and drives are just not possible at the moment. 

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic we have distributed over a thousand pounds of food in three separate distributions. These distributions were made possible because of the generous donations from different campuses, students, faculty, employees and friends associated with Jefferson State.

We are seeking your help with a financial donation to further assist in our future distributions. We can accept personal checks, money orders or electronic donations through a site setup for The Pioneer Pantry. 

To see how you can donate please email the chapter’s advisor Matt Boehm at

SKD Spotlight

By Dianna Hyde, SKD Co-sponsor 

A timely, relevant truth is that breath = life, and Sigma Kappa Delta (SKD) member and former officer Danita Miniex can attest to that both personally and professionally. As a member of JSCC’s first graduating class in Respiratory Therapy in the spring of 2019, she is employed at both UAB Hospital and Children's of Alabama where she is a Registered Respiratory Therapist.  

While at JSCC preparing to answer her professional call, Danita was a devoted, energetic, visionary member and officer of SKD, the English honor society for two-year college students. Among other things seen and unseen, she involved herself in meetings, manned doughnut/information/sci-fi & fantasy stations to benefit fellow students, folded t-shirts, valiantly ate something repulsive at Pioneer Days, and wrote an award-winning poem; always supporting and uplifting the organization.  

Danita has used her SKD experience to collaborate and effectively communicate with healthcare providers and family members as she advocates for the wellness of her patients, and we are proud to have had her in the Word Herd!