Monthly Archives: February 2020

Craig Rogers: A New Job Creates a New Love

Piedmont’s Vice President of Advancement, Craig Rogers, has only been at the College since July, however, he has already fallen in love.

“I love the liberal arts here at Piedmont.  I also love the diverse curriculum at such an amazing school,” Rogers said with excitement. “It is such a cliche saying, but Piedmont’s a ‘diamond in the rough’ with the arts, theater and music on one side, the nursing and business school on the other side and still have this liberal arts core with the education program.”

Rogers is a family man.  He lives in Clarksville with his wife and their two sons, Caleb and Connor, who attend school at Piedmont.  Rogers is very excited about his job here at Piedmont, but even more ecstatic about how much Piedmont and this area is able to give back to him.  

“I have two sons here, and as a customer, I am really happy.  As someone who has to market and raise money for the school, it’s a wonderful thing,” Rogers said, adding that he enjoys the work environment. “I like the people I work with quite a bit.  Dr. Mellichamp is a great leader, and the other three vice presidents are all really wonderful people. We all have different strengths, and it creates a powerful group.”

Rogers graduated from UNC Chapel Hill, and he earned a master’s in education from Averett University.  He has been working in advancement for 33 years now. He has since worked at five schools: Woodberry Forest Boarding School, Mars Hill College, Hampden-Sydney College, Longwood University and Hargrave Military Academy, serving as a leader in advancement and development positions.   Rogers has also worked for a Catholic Hospital System and the V Foundation in similar roles. However, after all of these stops, Rogers found Piedmont in a lucky way.

“It was luck finding Piedmont,” he said.  “A guy that works for Myers McRae that does professional headhunting called me and asked if I would be interested.  I was through with working for the Marines, and I applied for the job here. Over the course of three or four months and talking to people and waiting things out, I ended up getting the offer for the job, and it is great.  This is the best job I have ever had.”

Editorial: The Importance of Administrative Communication

In today’s society, information is constantly available to us. When we have questions, we Google them. When we want to know what’s going on in our government, we turn the news on. When we’re wondering what happened in our area, we check the community paper. For college students, their resources for what’s happening on and around campus is their student media. But at Piedmont, campus news is harder than it should be to pass along to the student body. When the college administration’s communication policy is to not communicate about issues of potential controversy, a major rift between students and administration forms. And it isn’t easy to bridge.

There is a complete lack of communication between Piedmont College’s administration and students, which has created a culture of distrust and skepticism towards the administration. When students ask questions or voice our complaints, we’re met with silence. When student journalists reach out, all too often the replies are “no comment,” or nothing at all.

During the Piedmont v. Wainberg lawsuit, which involved allegations of sexual assault and harassment, including an incident directly impacting a student, the college didn’t reach out to students to offer any information about what they were hearing. The only reason students found out about the controversial textbook fee was because of campus-wide gossip that sparked student outrage. When the multi-million-dollar music conservatory project began with no communication to students about funds, incorrect information was spread around campus that our tuition dollars paid for the building.

All of these contributed to the continually growing gap between students and administration, and without changes to how the college handles student relations, they’ll only get worse. Administration wonders why students are angry, why retention rates are low regardless of how many programs are instated, no matter how many changes they make. The relationship between students and the college won’t improve until those in power learn to open the lines of communication.

Tell students what changes are coming, or better yet, include us in these decisions. It’s our school, and our student body is small enough that there’s no reason we shouldn’t be involved in decisions that directly impact us. There’s no reason that there should be so many rumors spreading across our campus, where distrust of administration already runs rampant when the college could just communicate with us.

Occasionally hosting a town hall with the president isn’t enough. The Student Government Association hearing an update once a month and deciding if students should care isn’t enough. Give everyone access to the information that concerns them, it’s your ethical duty.

College, a Rollercoaster of Emotions

For many of us, all we heard about college from the adults in our lives before we got here was that it will be, “the greatest time of our lives.” What they failed to mention, was the physical and mental roller coaster of a journey that we were going to embark on.

 

Everyone loves to highlight the great parts of our lives; making new friends, finding your passion in life, going to parties, enjoying freedom and so much more. And they’re not wrong, college is amazing. But, intentional or not, the bad somehow seems to be left out.

 

The stressful nights of homework and paper writing fail to make the cut. Spending all night studying for an exam – to still not be pleased with the grade – isn’t mentioned either. And the pain of losing upper classman friends to graduation is a forgotten afterthought.

 

The craziest part of all of this is that you can experience all these different emotions in the same week or even the same day. Early mornings with classes and exams can easily turn into long afternoons and nights spent with friends and peers.

 

All of this can be extremely taxing on both body and mind over time. According to a study done at Harvard Medical School, constant stress can lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage.

 

For both mental health, as well as physical health, it is vital for college students to acknowledge and deal with the highs and lows in college. If we really want to make the most out of our time in college, trying to pretend it is all bliss 24 hours a day isn’t going to cut it. Self-care is important.

 

College students should set realistic expectations for what they expect they semester long journey to be, factoring in both the good and the bad. Doing so will truly allow us to live in the good moments while not being crushed internally by the bad ones.

 

Being realistic and prepared also permits you plan out how to make the bad moments a little less bad. For example, knowing you will need an extra hour of sleep goes a long way towards making your next day a little bit easier. And trust me, there’s not a single college student who will say otherwise.

 

Finding a healthy release from the stress of college is another game changer. Being able to take a break from being a college student, even if it’s just for a short period of time, can do wonders for your journey on this emotional rollercoaster. Whether it’s an hour in the gym or a four-hour hike in the mountains, finding an escape is a lifesaver in college. It could also be something as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep. According to research done at the University of Surrey, patients who got an extra hour of had changes in genetic expressions that helped, protect against diabetes, cancer, inflammation and stress.

 

The rollercoaster of emotions that is college is one that is exciting, yet challenging. Some days it makes you feel superhuman while others it makes you question your self-worth. But with preparation, we can make these years “the greatest time of our lives.”

Who Let the Dogs Out?

I could count on one hand the total number of times I’ve been to my best friend’s house over the course of our decade-long friendship. Her dad asked me a few weeks ago why she owns a key to my house, but I still need to siri directions to theirs, and I had to think up a quick excuse so that I didn’t offend him with the truth: I’m afraid of their three great danes.

It’s undeniable that dogs are among the most popular pets in the U.S. The American Pet Products Association estimated that over 90 million canines were kept as pets in the year 2019. Many dog parents choose to use the word “family” instead of “pet,” and are nearly as protective of their fur-babies as they are of their children. However, the fact remains that while pet owners have had months or even years to build a trusting relationship with their animal, the general public has had no such chance.

According to Dogsbite.org, about a thousand U.S. citizens require medical attention for serious dog-bite injuries each day. Even dogs that would normally show no aggression can react poorly when startled, or when they feel threatened. The U.S. National Library of Medicine claims that about 20 percent of the world’s population suffer from dog allergies, and that dog-related allergens can worsen pre-existing conditions such as asthma. 

Piedmont College has taken these things into account in its campus pet policy, which states, “No pets will be allowed inside the residence halls with feathers or fur due to allergens and maintenance concerns; this includes visiting pets.” Students are of course permitted to have service dogs or emotional support animals if they have gone through the proper channels with the residential life faculty. For the most part, students seem to follow these guidelines.

Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said of the faculty and staff. On multiple occasions, Piedmont students have seen professors and administration bring their dogs into campus buildings, both on and off leash. While this may not matter to many of Piedmont’s students, for those who do have dog-related phobias or allergies being exposed to these canines on their way to class can be impactful to their learning and health.

The seemingly pet-friendly environment inside the campus buildings contradicts the rules set for students within the residence halls, where the presence of furry-friends would arguably be more appropriate. In a controlled environment, such as a dorm room, it is hard to deny the positive effects dogs can have on some students’ mental health. Helpguide.org found that pets can reduce blood-pressure and help with depression.

It’s hypocritical that the Piedmont pet policy does not extend to faculty. Student’s allergies or phobias don’t disappear once they enter an academic building. The current pet policy should be enforced across all campus buildings for both students and faculty.

Two Origami Frogs

If someone were to ask me where my graduation gown or cap are, I wouldn’t be able to give an answer, but I know for a fact that there are two origami frogs sitting on my desk. I will keep them until the day I die.

My high school graduation was held in a stadium designed for professional sporting events and concerts. After four years of struggles, mistakes and triumphs, I had finally earned my place in a line of 703 other worn-down teenagers ready to cross the stage and receive a single piece of paper signifying that we are ready to join society. That paper was blank, of course. Our real diplomas were mailed to our homes a few days later so our parents could keep them safe for us.

The graduation ceremony lasted well over three hours because of the sheer number of names to call. We’d been lined up since 6:30 that morning, and one of my classmates three rows over started snoring about an hour into the calling. The stadium was nearly silent, aside from the constant stream of names, some of which I’d never even heard before. Families were instructed beforehand not to clap until an entire row had been called.

Then one name broke the system. “Akugbe Imudia,” said the umpteenth teacher, reading from the umpteenth list. Suddenly, my snoozing peer across the aisle was jerked awake as the previously zombie-esque crowd of soon-to-be graduates burst into cheers. It was an individual decision made by hundreds simultaneously, and 20 years from now it’ll probably be the only part of graduation I remember.

High school, for teenagers today, is all about fighting to be as impressive as they can be. It’s all about how many AP classes they can take, how quickly they can enroll in college courses, how many sports they can compete in and how many clubs and organizations they can be the president of. These are the things we are taught make us successful and valuable.

That being said, I don’t remember my valedictorian’s name. I know we had AP Language together during my junior year. We had a few other classes together, and we probably even talked on a few occasions. Right now, she’s probably in a lab surrounded by many of the other brilliant minds of our generation searching for ways to cure diseases and improve the lives of thousands. But there’s more than one way to change the world. 

Akugbe proved that to me by smiling at me and saying good morning every day, even though we never had a class together. I never realized it until that moment, when 700 students stood up to clap for a student who didn’t have a 4.0 GPA, wasn’t the president of any club, and didn’t play any sports. But Akugbe had shown the same kindness to every student he saw. 

I graduated with 702 other students, but only one used to make origami frogs out of colorful paper and leave them on desks for the next person who sat there–just to brighten their day. I still have my paper frogs, and when I heard the cheers of my graduating class that followed the name “Akugbe Imudia,” I couldn’t help but wonder how many of my classmates also had a little frog sitting on their desks.

The View of Adoption

“You’re adopted? I’m so sorry.” At the time when these words were said to me, I didn’t think too much about it. It wasn’t until returning home that night and lying in my bed reviewing my day, did the gravity of the encounter truly come to light.

 

It was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, a summer in which I spent most of my time at the church my family and I attend. Along with 30 or so other students from the local high schools, I was accepted into the summer student internship program.

 

On the first day, as we began our studies, we were performing simple ice breaker exercises to get to know our fellow interns as well as our teachers. It was during one of these sessions that the event occurred.

 

As we went around the room each intern was supposed to describe a trait they believed they received from their parents, be it physical appearance or characteristic trait that was passed down. I knew the question wouldn’t apply to me, but I never expected it to be a problem. As everyone went around the room, it eventually came to be my turn. I politely declined the question and hoped to move on.

 

But what ensued in our little classroom was an awkward moment, that really shouldn’t have been so awkward. And I believe it represented a large view of American culture and its views on adoption.

 

Upon explaining to our teacher that I was adopted from Colombia and that I knew nothing of my birth parents’ physical or characteristic traits. The instructor could only simply muster, “You’re adopted. I’m so sorry.”

 

And just as the awkwardness came, it was gone. Onto the next student answering the question. And I was happy to leave it at that. Until that night, when I laid down, and the question wouldn’t leave my mind, “What did she mean by ‘I’m sorry?’”

 

My teacher apologized for the fact that I had been adopted. She treated it as if it was something to be ashamed of, or that my life was now poorer because I had been. She apologized as if she expected me to be embarrassed.

 

But the instructor couldn’t have been more wrong.

 

From the little I know about my birth parents, my life would be nothing near what I am blessed to have today. My birth mother and father were not married and neither of them had a lot of money. Their original reason for putting me up for adoption was the fact that my mother knew she could not afford to take care of me.

 

At the time, Colombia was a mess. In 1999, the civil war between the gorillas and the government raged on, drugs dominated much of the country and the government and the country had failed to get out from under its “third-world country” status.

 

If anything, my birth mother’s courageous and selfless choice to allow me to be put up for adoption many have very well saved my life.

 

Adoption is nothing to be ashamed of, nor should it be viewed as negative by parents, adopted children or outside parties. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, approximately 120,000 children are adopted every year in the United States. Adoption is one of the best things that can happen for a child when done correctly. It’s nothing to be sorry about.

Piedmont’s Café: Chartwells a Bait and Switch Business?

One of the most questionable and controversial things on Piedmont’s Demorest campus has got to be the dining hall. From flies being on food to suddenly being a high-class place to eat, Chartwells has never been able to keep the consistency of the dining hall intact.

One Constant factor we have noticed is that when rolling out food, Chartwells never forgets to serve burgers, no matter what day it is, and continues to throw out the same formula of food throughout the week.

It seems even the classic bait and switch strategy has been implemented to attract future students. High-class meals are on display during special Piedmont events such as Freshman Orientation. Low-quality food returns throughout the rest of the school year.
We are all aware that Chartwells is a business, and they must do whatever they can to make profits as a business should do, but we should be valued since we are the source of the business throughout the school year. Nevertheless, whenever the café is not held to its standards, we let Chartwells know by posting our opinions on the Piedmont app and we let them hear it!

“Am I the only person that thinks the food at the café is outrageously bad for the price we pay per year?” said sophomore Jason-Lee Vaughan, a student who lives on campus.

As it stands, even if we didn’t want to eat at the café, all students who live on campus are required to have a meal plan, with the cheapest plan being “seven meals per week.” Many of us would argue and say the plan is anything but cheap since it is estimated to be around $1,581 per semester. This is why we, as students, continue to press and demand the quality of food throughout the year, and not just for special events or Sunday brunch when the church visitors stop on by for a meal.

Don’t get us wrong though, Chartwells has definitely attended to these issues in the past by providing surveys and committee meetings to address our individual concerns and complaints. And we’re grateful. But the issue is constant and there needs to be a permanent solution.

Overthinking

I’ve probably asked myself this question time and time again. Is being alone truly a choice or a result of actions we as humans have made? Loneliness can come in many forms, and the biggest motives that may trigger such effects are anxiety and depression. Over the past year, I’ve struggled with anxiety and as I thought about it, I realized I’m thinking about it too much; The culprit was overthinking. Overthinking has caused me to question even the simplest things in everyday life. I hated feeling this way and spent countless hours on the internet searching why I’ve been acting like this for the past year. I came across two things that would help stop these crazy thoughts, and I feel thankful for it every day. The first is just to write whatever came to mind and let it empty my head, so it isn’t trapped inside. The second is meditation.

Writing every single thought that crossed my mind helped and even started to expand my writing skills. Ever since I’ve entered college, I found writing not to be a chore or like an actual homework assignment; since I get to choose the topic, I feel passionate about. I didn’t have this freedom back in middle school and high school since the teachers always handpicked the topics, and they were always flat-out boring. I guess that’s why I always found writing and English classes to be difficult because I never had the freedom to “free write.” Writing clears all the clutter from my mind and allows me to grow as a person. I feel that every time I write; I’m starting to understand life more and appreciate the small things life has to offer. When I write, everything in life sort of starts to slow down and it’s just me, a pen, a paper, and my thoughts.

When I first found meditation, I was in a very dark place. But meditation helped me control my anxiety and put my thoughts into a more creative way of thinking rather than having paranoid thoughts. I would lie down on my bed, plug in my headphones and start breathing exercises through an app called “Headspace.” Because of this app, I was able to become more aware of my surroundings and channel my thinking into more of my writing. In the long run, I hope to accomplish many goals but I’m certainly not going to be a victim of overthinking anymore, thanks to my writing and meditation.

No Longer for His Approval

Every young girl dreams of the first time they get to go shopping for their first bra. It’s the first sign of developing into a young woman, and the universe’s way of telling you you’re growing up.

It’s one of the most magical times in a young girl’s life. Except for me.

As a young girl, I never liked my developing body. My father told me it had to be covered. I started developing at the age of 7, and at the time I didn’t even know what breasts were. I just thought I was eating too much and the food had made it up to my chest. My mother never explained the concept of puberty to me, all I knew was that my body was to remain hidden.

From then on out, I would always ask my father for his approval on my appearance. When he would take me shopping, I would always have to step out of the changing room so he could see if everything fit. If he didn’t like it, it wasn’t bought. If it was too tight, it wasn’t bought. Every Sunday as we were headed out the door to church or even just to the grocery store, I would ask him how I looked. If he didn’t like what I was wearing, I would change. If he thought the outfit looked too mature on me, I would change.

Whenever we would go to the pool, my two older sisters and I had to wear our dad’s worn out, baggy shirts and pairs of shorts over our swimsuits. We didn’t have enough money to keep up with the demands of our rapidly developing bodies. We saw all the other little girls being able to show off their cute swimsuits, while our plain ones had to be hidden behind old clothes. I thought that if we didn’t have these bodies, we wouldn’t have to cover everything. If we didn’t have these bodies, we wouldn’t be the cause for a boy’s lust.

Growing up, I thought this type of attitude toward the female body was normal. I was told it was the right way to be. The only information I was given was from the people at my church and from home. I was home schooled, so the only places I went to on a weekly basis were church and a local Boys and Girls club. I wasn’t able to see for myself how the other kids in my neighborhood lived. I was told by the people around me that I had to live this certain way, and all the other little girls – the ones whose parents let them flaunt their bathing suits and wear thin-strapped shirts – were promoting darkness.

When I came to college, the biggest culture shock for me was when I realized that there was no one to check what I was wearing. I was so used to asking my father what he thought of me, that I didn’t know what I thought of myself. I didn’t want to expose my prized possessions, but I knew there had to be a healthy medium.

At college, I became in charge of my own choices and I had to figure out for myself what was right for me. My body was finally my own, and if I felt comfortable and confident in what I wore and who I was, it didn’t matter if my father approved or not.

This is not to say that the process was easy or that I am 100 percent shame free. Two years into college I still have a lot of insecurities and moments of doubt, but I know now that my body is not something to be ashamed.

I know I am pretty. I know who I am. I no longer need his approval, even when he approves.

Evonne Jones’ Departure from Piedmont College

Ms. Evonne Jones served the students of Piedmont as counselor and case manager for over five years, and in that little time, she made a great impact on the lives of students. Her departure leaves an empty space in the counseling office, and in the hearts of Piedmont students and faculty members.

With her last day as a counselor on Jan 17, hearing of her departure sent shock waves through campus. With news of her leave being made public just a week before her last day, many students were left baffled as to why one of the best counselors was leaving.

Though she desired to remain at Piedmont until May graduation, a series of unfortunate and unexpected events made it apparent that her life had a different plan. “If I would have known that I would be resigning at the end of fall semester,” Jones said, “I would absolutely have taken a different approach in informing my students and everyone.”

Jones will begin her new role soon as Program Manager at the Turner Center of the Pathways Community Service Board. The Turner Center is a small facility with focused care and is the only one of its kind in the state of Georgia. Jones’ position is an administrative position where she will be responsible for a small staff who work with juvenile offenders who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial. The primary focus of the program is competency restoration for awareness of self and treating diagnosed behavioral healthcare challenges.

Jones loved and enjoyed the work at Piedmont so much that she was willing to spend three hours each day on the road. That sort of drive began to wear on her after a while; especially after more than five years. “It’s important to me that I practice what I preach: self-care and work/life balance,” Jones said. In addition, being originally from South Metro Atlanta, Jones has been wanting to relocate to be closer to her family.

Her warm smile and witty attitude always made her students feel comfortable to talk to her. Whether someone was having a mental breakdown or they just wanted someone to laugh with and talk to, Evonne was always the person. Those who know her and the students who are close to her saw Jones as more than just a counselor, but as a longtime friend. Though Piedmont hired two new Student Success Advisers on staff, no one will ever replace the impact Evonne Jones had on us.

Jones sincerely apologizes to anyone whom she may have hurt by her sudden departure. She counts it as one of the greatest honors of her life to have worked with each and every student who graced her door. She never takes it lightly that any one individual would deem her worthy of sharing in their personal struggles and pain, whether as a professional or friend.

Although Jones can never be replaced, it is important that the college fills her position. Counselors are an important aspect of students’ lives and essential for healthy living.