In the philosophy of Dr. Stephen Whited, Piedmont College offers students a unique learning opportunity, the community aspect of a small college, that is crucial to creating and fostering an environment for exceptional learning.
“My hope is that people will realize that this is an awesome opportunity to dig in and be independent and take control of your education,” said Dr. Stephen Whited, a professor of English at Piedmont College. “You’re surrounded by people who help you with this and you’re not doing this alone.”
Whited found his way to Piedmont College 25 years ago, but before he became the English professor that he is today, he really didn’t expect to have such a passion for English as a major.
“It never occurred to me to be one,” Whited said. “Once I was in it, I loved it.”
“Some of it was just kind of following an instinct, it really wasn’t a plan,” Whited said. “It was an instinct that worked out.”
After receiving his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English and poetry from Georgia State College, Whited went on to receive his doctorate in English from the University of Kentucky. He began to harness his appreciation for English through teaching experience.
“At the University of Kentucky I liked it,” Whited said. “I was kind of getting the hang of this thing of asking people questions and pestering them to think a little bit.”
In 1993, after teaching at another small college near Lake Michigan, Whited decided to move south and he finally discovered Piedmont College.
“It’ll be 26 years in August,” Whited said. “It’s been a good run, and I’ve had a lot of fun.”
While teaching at Piedmont, Whited integrated a game into some of his courses. This game gives his students a direct approach to the subjects discussed, as well as an appreciation for the history the games represent.
“It’s kind of a hyper setup of a debate,” Whited said. “All of them are arranged around some historical moment. By playing the game you not only have to know the history, you argue it out to see what would happen, and you learn that history sounds like a roll of the dice. It’s life!”
Allyson McCollum, a 21-year-old junior English major, had the opportunity to experience two classes involving these games.
“People were invested in their roles,” McCollum said. “The ones in ‘Nature Writers’ were more difficult because they were newer, but they were still kind of enjoyable.”
Alongside teaching, Whited also took over the reins of the Piedmont chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, known as Alpha Delta Phi, an international English Honor Society.
“I was in Sigma Tau Delta when I was an undergraduate, and it started here right after I got here,” Whited said. “It’s a club for people who like to read. It tends to be English majors, but we do have people from other humanities and departments, and I would like for it to be a bigger blend of that.”
Emily Pierce, a 21-year-old senior English major and social justice minor, is the current president of Sigma Tau Delta at Piedmont College. Looking to the future, she hopes the club continues to grow and prosper.
“We tend to go to the Shakespeare Tavern every semester and many of our members go to conferences,” Pierce said. “I’ve had hopes for the club that haven’t panned out, but I haven’t given up on them, either.”
Whited encourages students to explore their interests, adding that he does not regret any of his college experiences. He only wishes that he knew about Piedmont College during his undergraduate years.
“If I were an undergraduate right now, I would do this in a heartbeat,” Whited said, referring to Piedmont College. “I just think it’s a great little school.”
Whited’s enthusiasm for inspiring students to achieve their goals shines through his teaching and he wants students to appreciate the time they get to spend at Piedmont.
“I just hope people realize that this is a great little place, and a great opportunity to learn,” Whited said. “You’ll never have it again.”