Musician, songwriter to perform The Suitcase at JSCC

Jackson State Community College is scheduled to host Tim Lorsch and his performance of The Suitcase on Thursday, November 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the college’s Ayers Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, and it is sponsored by the JSCC Honors Program and International Education. The one-man show tells the extraordinary true story of his German-Jewish family’s survival of the Holocaust through original music and narrative storytelling.

“I am the first-born son of Jews who fled From Nazi Germany in the late 1930s”, Lorsch states on his project website for The Suitcase. “Before the Holocaust, Germany was one of the safest places in the world for Jews. In less than a decade, that all ended.”

Dr. Bob Raines, Professor of Psychology at Jackson State and one of several advisors for the JSCC Honors Program, was drawn to this show for its story and what it could bring to the Jackson State community. “The story of Tim’s family is one of resilience in the face of horrific cruelty and brutality,” he says. “It’s a story about the potential consequences of bigotry, intolerance, and dehumanization. But it’s also a story about hope, beauty, and the power of art to transform us.”

In 2016, Lorsch received a suitcase sent to him in Nashville from an antique shop in Czechoslovakia. It was the suitcase his great uncle, Julius Israel Lorsch, took with him to a concentration camp. The arrival of this piece of family history sparked an idea to create music to tell his family’s story. Using looping technology he is able to layer different instruments together live on stage and weave his songs into the narrative. Lorsch writes that this project “reflects the hopes, dreams, resilience and vulnerability of the immigrant experience.”

Lorsch is a lifelong musician and began playing the violin at the age of seven. During his performances he uses the violin, octoviolin, and cello to tell his story, adding commentary and narratives along the way. Based in Nashville, Lorsch has a more than 40-year career in the music industry as a producer, session player, arranger, and songwriter. He has produced critically acclaimed records and has contributed to Grammy and Emmy Award-winning projects.

Ultimately, Dr. Raines believes that the audience will not only be entertained, he also believes they will be inspired to reflect on our collective capacity for kindness, benevolence, decency, and grace. “Empathy is the ultimate antidote to dehumanization, and stories help us to identify the humanness in others,” he says. “Maybe this is a good time to remind ourselves that we are all much more alike than we are different.”

For more information about Tim Lorsch and his project, The Suitcase, go to For event information or other opportunities in the JSCC Honors Program, contact Dr. Bob Raines at 731-424-3520 x. 50438 or by email at, or Mary Wadley for International Education at 731-424-3520 x. 50252 or by email at

Irish Folk Musicians, Paul Brock Band, to perform free concert at JSCC

Internationally recognized Irish folk musician Paul Brock and his band are scheduled to appear at Jackson State Community College on Monday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the college’s Ayers Auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public.

Paul Brock has previously performed at Jackson State as a part of the Brock McGuire Band. Brock returns to Jackson along with musicians who include: Shane Ferrell on banjo, fiddle, bodhran, and mandolin; Denis Carey on piano; and Eimear Arkins on fiddle, vocals, and dancing.

As a part of Brock McGuire, Paul Brock has performed with bluegrass great Ricky Skaggs on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Accolades include “Instrumental Band of the Decade” from Irish American News and 5-star recipient of “Top of the World” award from the prestigious world music magazine Songlines.

The band will conduct short master classes at the college earlier that day. “Our students have a great opportunity to learn about music from such accomplished musicians,” said Mary Wadley, associate professor of Spanish. “The international education program at Jackson State brings world-class talent to campus from diverse backgrounds and a variety of creative disciplines.

For more information regarding this performance or other opportunities in international education at JSCC, contact Mary Wadley at 731-424-3520 ext. 50252 or email her at

Jackson State Community College provides accessible learning opportunities that enhance the lives of individuals, strengthen the workforce and empower the diverse communities of West Tennessee. The institution offers traditional and contemporary associate degrees, certificates, continuing education and enrichment, and college-readiness programs.

Local writer to read from revised work

Ryan Guth, Assistant Professor of English at Jackson State Community College, has released a revised and expanded version of his first book, Home Truths. Guth will be reading from this and his second book, Body and Soul, along with some excerpts from his work in progress, Livings, at the University of Memphis Lambuth campus at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 1.

Guth describes himself as 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 atmosphere of his stories’ settings.

Home Truths is a speculative reconstruction of events that occurred in his family before he was born. 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.

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. Body and Soul was a featured selection at the 2015 Southern Festival of Books, and the revised Home Truths was just presented at the 2018 Southern Festival.

Guth is currently working on a third project, Livings, which explores the eccentric home life and 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.

Both Home Truths and Body and Soul are available for purchase on Amazon. Copies will also be available for purchase at the reading on November 1.

JSCC student receives TNOTA scholarship

Kristin White, JSCC Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) student, was a recipient of this year’s Tennessee Occupational Therapy Association (TNOTA) scholarship. White was one of four students across the state to receive this award.

Every year, the TNOTA awards scholarships to members who are students in an ACOTE-accredited program in Tennessee. Students must apply for the scholarship and submit a written essay.

OTA assistant professor Gwen Foxx noted Kristin as a highly-motivated student that is very interested in increasing her skills and knowledge for the treatment of future clients. “We are so happy that Kristin was recognized with this award,” said Foxx. “She is a worthy recipient for this honor.”

White is a 2-year OTA student that is scheduled to receive an AAS in May 2019. She also serves as the secretary for the Student Occupational Therapy Association at JSCC.

An outstanding student in JSCC’s OTA program, Kristin values the education and experience she has received at Jackson State. According to White, “(the program) at Jackson State Community College has prepared me in multiple ways to adapt to the constant changes in the healthcare system.” She cites the college’s multiple professional affiliations and participation in research and volunteer opportunities that have equipped her well for the constant changes in healthcare.

White sees education as an ongoing, lifelong process. She plans to continue her education beyond JSCC. She sees education as essential in order to “adapt to any change that healthcare makes and have the opportunity to give occupation-based and personalized care to my patients.”

Tennessee Promise opportunities available for homeschool students

Jackson State Community College will hold two information sessions for homeschool students on Tuesday, October 16, from 4 to 6 p.m. and Thursday, October 18, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. All homeschool students, families, and homeschool groups in West Tennessee are invited to attend these free sessions.

JSCC is inviting homeschool students in the region to campus to learn more about how to take advantage of Tennessee Promise and other federal and state aid, apply for admission, programs of study, dual enrollment credit, and other education opportunities.

“We want to provide this opportunity for students to be sure they are taking advantage of all of the great programs that Jackson State and the state of Tennessee have to offer for higher education,” JSCC Vice President of Student Services Brian Gann said. “With a variety of programs available, families may not be aware of all the opportunities their students have to attend college. We will have staff on hand to help with admission applications, the federal FAFSA and state TSAC aid applications, and plenty of time to answer questions and visit campus.”

Representatives from Tennessee Achieves and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation are expected to attend to offer more information about their programs and how homeschool students can take advantage of them.

Students should park in the parking lot adjacent to the JSCC Student Center and check in for the event in the Student Center lobby.

Students interested in attending the information sessions are asked to register for the event. Registration can be done online by going to, clicking on “visit campus” at the top of the page and then selecting the “homeschool information session” of their choice. For questions or more information, please call Jackson State at 731-425-2601

Jackson State provides foundation for agent’s FBI career

Scott Lawson, a storied FBI agent who helped break a multimillion dollar money laundering scheme by one of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels, traces the roots of his career to Jackson State.

A basketball player, he wanted to further his athletic ambitions while taking basic undergrad courses. He hadn’t picked a major, so he felt Jackson State would be a good fit and a good bargain for the prerequisite classes he would need to take. After earning an associate degree in computer networking in 2002, he left for Middle Tennessee State University.

“JSCC did an excellent job both in preparing me for the workforce and preparing me to excel in my studies at a four-year university,” Lawson said. “My instructors at JSCC really took a hands-on approach, actively assisted in helping me obtain internships, and seemed concerned in my career progression.”

His transition from Jackson State to MTSU was flawless, he said, and all of his classes easily transferred. “The teachers at JSCC challenged me in a way that made me feel prepared to take the next step in my education. Also important to me was not wasting money at MTSU for the first two years of my degree while being unsure of what my future major would be.”

Lawson ultimately pursued a degree in criminal psychology at MTSU. His father was in law enforcement, and he decided he wanted to serve his community in a similar manner.

“My ambition guided me to the FBI because I wanted a professional atmosphere in which I could investigate and track the most heinous of perpetrators.”

His background at Jackson State gave him a well-rounded resume with computer science training, which is beneficial for federal employment. Jackson State also helped him land an internship that turned into a two-year position as a network administrator, which helped as he was recruited by the FBI.

After joining the FBI, Lawson was assigned to Laredo, Texas, on the Mexican border and tasked with investigating drug activity. In January 2010, Lawson was asked to check out a tip about the sale of a horse. It led to a massive investigation that exposed a money laundering scheme by the brutal drug cartel, Los Zetas.

Lawson helped determine that the cartel used the lucrative quarter horse racing industry to hide millions of dollars in drug money as it bought, bred and raced its horses. The cartel also fixed races.

The investigation resulted in the June 2012 arrest of Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of cartel leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, and the seizure of millions in assets from the Morales’s farm. Ten people, including Jose, were convicted on charges related to the case. Miguel was arrested by Mexican authorities a year later.

The success of the investigation garnered several national news stories and inspired a couple of books. A movie with actor Channing Tatum is also in development.