Faculty Focus: Erin Ferris

Erin J. Ferris is an assistant professor of Sociology and Anthropology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Roanoke College and her master’s degree in Applied Sociology from East Tennessee State University.

How did you come to join the Northeast State faculty?
I had earned my bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Roanoke. I moved here and got my master’s degree at East Tennessee State University and was waiting tables at the time. I’m not from the area and honestly didn’t know about Northeast State until someone told me I should apply here because the College was hiring adjunct faculty members. Well, I did and (Behavioral and Social Sciences Division Dean) Dr. Xiaoping Wang called me about an open position as an adjunct faculty member. Two years later when a full-time position came open I applied and was hired.

What piqued your interest as a student about Sociology?
I started out as a Psychology major in college but the brain didn’t interest me as much as groups of people. I really want to know why humans behaved as a group not just individual behavior. Sociology is the study of social relationships through communities, institutions, and human networks. I was really intrigued by all the different cultures and communities and people. With sociology there is no way to get bored. The topics are limitless and can be applied to so many issues and groups.

Erin Ferris
Erin Ferris

How do Sociology and Anthropology set a strong baseline of education for students?
Sociology looks at human behavior while anthropology is the study of humans. The discipline looks at many aspects of human life including fossil records, the human body system, food systems, and community systems. You get a good foundation of knowledge about different cultures. Both programs also give students the necessary people skills for understanding human behavior and how to interact with people. Students also get immersed in creative thinking skills. Companies today are hiring sociology majors because they have a different way of looking at the world.

What is special to you about Northeast State?
When I moved here, I didn’t know anyone. Today, many of my colleagues are my friends and a lot of them have become my family. When I get up every morning I don’t have a bad feeling about going to work; I think, ‘Hey, it’s a work day!’ I’m excited to come here and get involved with my classes. When your job doesn’t feel like work, you know you are in a good place.

Why should anyone who is thinking about enrolling in college choose Northeast State?
I think they get to know faculty members care about them and are much more involved than if they were sitting in a class of 200-plus people at a four-year institution. You can be an 18-year-old recent high school graduate or a 55-year-old starting a second career and fit right in a classroom. Non-traditional students should not feel apprehensive because they bring a wealth of information from their experiences into the classroom. The welcoming environment of Northeast State makes this College a less daunting place as opposed to four-year institutions. Plus, you can find a parking space.

Northeast State welcomes “Affrilachian” poet Frank X. Walker

Contemporary “Affrilachian” poet Frank X. Walker delivers a lecture and reading of his work at Northeast State on March 2 at 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Frank X. Walker
Frank X. Walker

Walker coined the term “Affrilachia” to represent the African-American voice in the Appalachian region. His lecture will be held at the College’s Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theater on the Blountville campus next to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Walker’s lecture is free and open to the public.

Walker’s first collection of poems, Affrilachia, published by Old Cove Press in 2000, brought him to the forefront of new generation of Appalachia poets. He followed up with Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York which won the Lillian Smith Book Award.

“I have accepted the responsibility of challenging the notion of a homogeneous all-white literary landscape in this region,” said Walker. “As a co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets and the creator of the word ‘Affrilachia,’ I believe it is my responsibility to say as loudly and often as possible that people and artists of color are part of the past and present of the multi-state Appalachian region extending from northern Mississippi to southern New York.”

Walker later published two more poetry collections: Black Box and When Winter Come: the Ascension of York. He graduated from the University of Kentucky and completed his MFA in Writing at Spalding University. A founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, his poems have been converted into stage productions and appear in multiple anthologies.

Walker has lectured, conducted workshops, read poetry and exhibited at over 300 national conferences and universities including the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Ireland; Santiago, Cuba; the University of California at Berkeley; Louisiana State University at Alexandria; Virginia Tech; Radford University; and Appalachian State University.

A recipient of the Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry, Walker serves as Writer in Residence and lecturer of English at Northern Kentucky University and is the proud editor and publisher of PLUCK!, the new Journal of Affrilachian Art & Culture. He also served as editor of America! What’s My Name? The “Other” Poets Unfurl the Flag and Eclipsing a Nappy New Millennium.

For more information, contact 423.279.7669 or jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.

Faculty Focus: Paulette Kehm

Paulette Kehm is associate professor and director of the Dental Assistant program. She earned her associate degree from Lehigh County Community College. She later earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from Temple University and her master’s degree in Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University.

How did you become involved with Dental Assistant as a career and as a professor?
Started my interest in become a dental assistant when I had orthodontics (braces). I liked what the dental assistant did and felt it would be a good profession. I went to a community college to earn certificate in dental assisting than went back to get my associate degree while working as a dental assistant. My dental assisting instructor told me about a degree offered at Temple University in vocational education. At the time most vocational instructors had experience in their fields but lacked education in teaching. I moved here and became an instructor at East Tennessee State University. I loved the area because it reminded me so much of my home state of Pennsylvania.

How did the Dental Assisting program come into existence at Northeast State?
The state directive required the dental assisting program be moved from its then institution at ETSU to Northeast State in 2004. The program at Northeast State was first based at the Nave Center in Elizabethton. We later moved here to the Regional Center for Health Professions in Kingsport. The program offers a two-year associate of science degree and a technical certificate.

In terms of the health care industry, how do dental assistant students enter the workforce?
Dental assisting students have no difficulty entering the workforce in the Tri-Cities. Most students are offered positions upon graduation from the program. The dental community has long given this program tremendous support in the area of guest lectures, laboratory instruction and clinical practice.

Paulette Kehm 2
Paulette Kehm and her Dental Assistant students.

How have perceptions changed about Dental Assistants?
The Dental Assistant position has gained much-needed respect over the years as an important and vital member of the dental team. For example, the dental community has given the dental assistant more responsibility to perform delegated tasks, such as taking radiographs, and make provisional crowns. There are many job opportunities available for a dental assistant in the Tri-Cities. Like most industries, the technology is driving how we teach and expanding responsibilities for dental assistants. For example, x-ray imaging is now being sent to the computer which reduces patient exposure and elimination of chemical processing and impressions as well as crowns are being made in dentists’ offices using 3-D imagery and the CEREC machine. Since the program is ADA/CODA accredited the students gain four (4) state expanded function certificates which are nitrous oxide monitoring, coronal polishing, and dental sealants. In addition, graduates also receive a certificate in radiology to perform x-rays for dental patients.

What does good dental hygiene contribute to overall health?
Dental decay ranks second to the common cold as the most common diseases among the population. People have become more educated about the importance of good dental hygiene. Our teeth were meant to last a lifetime. Your health is connected to dental care because the blood vessels in your body can become susceptible to issues if your teeth are ignored.

Echoes and Images winners announced

It was a very difficult decision, since there were so many wonderful pieces of art, photography, and writing, but the judges have made their final selections for the 2015-2016 Echoes & Images Literary and Visual Art Contest.

The winners are listed below. First, second, and third place in all categories will be published in the magazine. If space permits, honorable mention winning entries will also be published. Visual art winners may pick up their entries at the end of the spring semester. Other artwork can be picked up this week in Dr. Christal Hensley’s office, H120.

First Place: Cheston Axton, “Bugaboo”
Second Place: Killian Thomas, “On the Raft”
Third Place: Jozie Rutledge, “Take Flight”
Honorable Mentions: Will West, “Out of the Darkness” and Emily Joyner, “The Lemonade Stand”

First place: Ashley Hefflin, “A World Unrecognizable”
Second place: Victoria Hewlett, “The Solution to the Problem of Death”
Third place: Bridgette Hensley, “The Brink of Nothing”
Honorable Mentions: Joy Harrison, “Good Enough” and Zachary Ledlow, “Memoir on Seattle”

First Place: Nikki Futch, “Grand Adventure”
Second Place: Teresa Cornett, “The Mantis”
Third Place: Emily Joyner, “An Ambitious Afternoon”
Honorable Mentions:
Nikki Futch, “Cleaning My Car Out For the First Time in Too Long”
Teresa Cornett, “Recess Freedom”
Cassie Massengill, “Dad”
Tayla Sluss, “Killer Lovers”
Daniel Ellis, “Celestial Passion”
Joy Harrison, “Persephone”
Zackery Sturgill, “The Serpent’s Dream”

Visual Art
First Place: Kelly Tolley, “Force Majeure”, Medium: acrylic on two canvases
Second Place: Kelly Tolley, “Midnight Flight”, Medium: collage
Third Place: Sarah Harkleroad, “Broken Memories”, Medium: graphite & charcoal on paper

Honorable Mention: Sydney Carter, “Untitled III”, medium: charcoal on paper, and Cody Buczkowske, “City at Dusk”, medium: unedited digital photography

Other Art Noted for Distinction by the Judges:
Allison Smith, “Untitled”, Medium: acrylic on canvas
Zackery Sturgill, “Starburst”, Medium: digital art
Christina Lane, “Nightmare Suit”, Medium: charcoal on paper
Breana Wallen, “Self-Portrait”, Medium: graphite & charcoal on paper
Katie Moody, “Sorrows of Tomorrow”, Medium: unedited digital photography
Breana Wallen, “Untitled”, Medium: mixed media, pages from altered book
Tiffany Washburn, “Cat”, Medium: pen & ink on paper

Northeast State faculty and judges wish to thank all the contributors to this year’s contest for their works.