Lalo Davila to perform at JSCC

The irrepressible sounds of Latin music are returning to Jackson State Community College. Lalo Davila and his ensemble will perform in the college’s Ayers Auditorium on Thursday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.

Lalo and his ensemble thrilled attendees with his high-energy performance last year at Jackson State. In conjunction with the international studies program of JSCC, Lalo will conduct a master class for the students earlier that day.

Lalo Davila and his 10-piece Latin ensemble will perform musical selections in the Afro-Cuban genre. The concert will consist of music by Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez, and Bruno Mars. Everyone will be invited to sing along and dance to the vibrant sounds of Lalo Davila and Friends Salsa Band.

Lalo has extensive experience both as an educator, composer, author, and performer. Lalo was named Nashville’s Top Five 1998 Percussionist of the Year Award and “Nashville Scene’s” 2012 Best Latin Jazz Musician.

For additional information about this, other concerts, or the international studies program at JSCC, contact Mary Wadley at 731-424-3520 ext. 50252 or at

JSCC Graduate Recognized with Special Honor

Blake Murphy, a Physical Therapist Assistant from Dyersburg who treats patients at their homes across a three-county area, has found success in his career with a degree from Jackson State Community College.

He graduated from the school’s Physical Therapist Assistant program in 1997 after four years as a physical therapy technician at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. Then, he passed his licensure exam.

“You get an excellent education at Jackson State, and I was well-prepared not only to practice, but take the state board exams as well,” he said.

Murphy was recently recognized by his current employer – Louisiana-based LHC Group – as the company’s 2017 Therapist of the Year for his commitment to patient care, professionalism and compassion for patients. His reward was a company-funded trip to New Orleans for the largest conference on physical therapy in the country.

He was selected from 300 offices in 26 states with more than 1,000 therapists as Therapist of the Month in April. He was chosen for the yearly award from the monthly winners, and he was the first Physical Therapist Assistant from his company to earn the honor.

“It was because of Jackson State and the education I got there that I was able to achieve this,” he said.

As a Physical Therapist Assistant, Murphy treats patients with a variety of conditions, such as those recovering from hip replacement surgery or a car accident or who have cancer. Most of his patients are over 65 and on Medicare.

“We treat every diagnosis under the sun,” he said.

He said programs like Tennessee Reconnect that encourage workers to go back to school to advance their careers are an excellent opportunity, and he would recommend Jackson State to others in the community.

“It’s a great college for younger adults to get back into school and further their education.”

Assistant professor cultivates unique writing style

For Ryan Guth, assistant professor of English at Jackson State Community College, writing strengthens his grasp of complex events and emotions. A companion to vision or touch, it’s an essential part of his life.

“Writing is like another one of my senses,” he said. “It’s one of the ways I try to make sense of the world.”

He is a mixed-genre author who blends a narrative framework of verse and prose – and hybrids of his own invention – to tell stories from the past based on fact, fiction and his own memory. Guth explores the boundaries of creative nonfiction, fictionalizing accounts as needed to capture the nuances of his subjects’ emotions and the atmospheres of his stories’ settings.

He has published two books, Home Truths and Body and Soul, and he is working on a third, Livings. Home Truths was originally published in 2006, but a revised and expanded edition is due out this May from Transcendent Zero Press.

The book is a speculative reconstruction of events that occurred in his family before he was born that impacted his life. As he wrote it, he said he sought an alternative to the focused narrative of a novel or the inevitable discreteness of the miscellaneous volume of poetry.

“While working on the individual pieces in this volume, I became fascinated by the possibilities of the sequence or collection itself as a literary medium,” he said. “It seemed to me that a series of independent but linked ‘snapshots’ of lyric and narrative moments, employing different perspectives, techniques and even genres, could perhaps get closer to the texture of lived experience.”

Guth published Body and Soul in 2015. It tells the story of a woman who survived sexual abuse as a child, offering a chronological account of a divorcee’s physical and psychological recovery after a descent into alcoholism and destructive sexual relationships.

“The book shows her struggle with these terrible experiences,” Guth said. “But it also shows her winning that struggle. In the end, she is able to reclaim her life.”

Body and Soul was a featured title at the 2015 Southern Festival of Books and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

His latest work, Livings, explores the strange personalities of the four famous Brontë siblings between 1845 and 1850. After failed careers, they all returned home to become writers and poets and live with their equally unusual father, an elderly Anglican pastor.

“They are fascinating people in their own right,” Guth said. “All of them were highly gifted, highly strung and kind of odd. I’m focusing on the atmosphere in the house and what it was like at that time in their lives.”

Livings is a work in progress, though he has shared excerpts at literary events and in journals.

The mixed-genre nature of his books has allowed for portions to be extracted and enjoyed in other formats. Individual selections have appeared in publications such as Lummox, Iron Horse, Bryant Literary Review, Third Coast Review, River City and Our Jackson Home. He has been invited to several readings, presentations and panel discussions, as well as local radio and television programs, where he has been able to promote his work and cultivate an audience.

“Any writer wants to be read, to be heard,” he said.

Though writing is a central part of his life, Guth cautions anyone seeking a career as an author – especially an author who writes nontraditional books spanning a variety of genres.

“Write because you like to write,” he said. “Make sure that you love writing for its own sake because there’s little chance of making a living solely from one’s work.”

Guth’s upcoming appearances include the Louisville Conference on Language and Literature in Kentucky from Feb. 22 to Feb. 24, where he will read excerpts from Livings. He has also been invited to give a reading from noon to 1 p.m. on April 5 for Jackson-Madison County Friends of the Library. He plans to read pieces from all three of his works.

Jackson State Softball looks to improve on record breaking 2017 season

The Jackson State women’s softball team enjoyed unprecedented success during their 2017 campaign. In addition to setting a program and school record for wins at 41, the team produced eight All Conference Academic performers in the classroom, two All Conference selections on the field and established the program as one of the top in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA). In addition, two sophomores signed scholarships Kyndal Riddick (Troy University) and Kristian Davis (Cumberland University).

Michael Winders, Jackson State’s head coach, is quick to point out those successes are the direct result of the work ethic that each player exhibited during the 2017 season, “As I look through our stat sheet from last year there is one thing that sticks out to me. No one on our roster played in every game, which is very unusual at this level. We did not have to depend on two or three players to win. Everyone contributed to our success. When someone had a bad game or series, another player was ready to step in and get the job done. When we had to deal with injuries, and we had plenty including the loss of our top pitcher, others stepped up and produced.”

While Winders is grateful for the success of a season ago, he is more interested in discussing the one starting today. “I’m very proud of our students and what we achieved as a team last year, but that doesn’t get us anything this year. Past success helps in recruiting and makes the off season a little more enjoyable. At the end of the day, the only thing on my mind and the minds of our players is what we want to achieve this year.” While he declined to make any predictions on how they would stack up against the rest of TCCAA, Winders was optimistic about the road ahead. “I think this roster has the opportunity to be the most offensive team we’ve had during my time here and our players have been really good about buying into the things we’ve asked them to do.”

Jackson State opens their 2018 season February 3rd vs. Itawamba Community College in Fulton, MS.

For game schedules, results or more information about Jackson State Athletics, visit:, JSCC Athletics on twitter @jscc_gogenerals. JSCC Softball on twitter@jsccsoftball1.