1). Head Coach Matt Williams getting the team prepared for their huge match against Southern Wesleyan University Thursday. With the match getting ready to start, Matt and the doubles teams play points to stay loose.
2). Chris Bale slapping a backhand down the line to get the point started. The doubles teams play points before the match to have in-match scenarios.
3). Freshman Alberto Nunez getting ready for the match hits a forehand for a winner and is unsure if it’s in or not.
Wife, kids, and track and field, this is all Jamie Jimison needs to have a happy life.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching people and trying to help people do the right things,” Jimison said. “Learn from the things I did right and the things I did wrong.”
The current Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, Jimison always knew coaching was what he wanted to do, but he never could have imagined how much of an impact he would have on the lives of others. Entering his 3rd year as head of the Piedmont University program, Jimison is no stranger to success, and his track record shows. Having coached 33 NAIA All-Americans and three National Champions is just a sliver of the potential of athletes that he had tapped into before arriving to Piedmont. While here, Jimison has helped lead the Lions women’s and men’s teams to the USA South Conference Championship in 2021. He was also named the USA South “Coach of the Year” . Jimsion cites success in coaching to his love of teaching people.
“I have always gravitated towards the institutional and educational side of things,” Jimison said. “Even when I was young, I was always a person who looked deeper than the athletic side of things, and wanted to know why we could do these things and how can I teach people to be better.” Jimsion has done just that at Piedmont, as last year he coached Alvin Jacobs to his 2nd appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship meet. Off the track, Jimison says that his family pushed him to be a better person and teacher, daily.
“My wife and I met in college when I was a cross country runner and she was a soccer player,” Jimison said. “ Our trail ran around the soccer field and I told myself that I had to meet her, and the rest is history.” The couple now have three children, Jensen, Juliet and Jaren. Jimison admitted it’s difficult for him and his wife to balance their busy careers with raising three children, but they make sure that every moment spent not working is a moment in which they both spend time with their family. Jimison has already made a major impact in his coaching career, and he hopes his teaching will stick with those he encounters for years to come. “I have always gravitated towards coaching, even as a high schooler coaching a little league baseball team,” he said. “It’s just something I am really invested in.”
For Dr, Aretha Ketch, Piedmont is all about family.
Born and raised in Habersham County, she was a natural fit, although her first appointment was not in her field. “Actually, I began working at Piedmont in the music department, because there were no openings in the chemistry department.”
Both of Ketch’s parents are Piedmont alumni, and her daughter also attends Piedmont. Ketch knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was a child.
“Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, “she said.” When I was little, I would play teacher and students with my dolls. For 25 years I have been teaching, I took a little break when my kids were born, and I returned and got straight back into It.
Chemistry was not her first choice, though Ketch took a tour of all the sciences before settling on chemistry.“I started out as a biology major, because I thought I wanted to do a pre-med, but I decided I didn’t want to do pre-med and I was really interested in physics. I took a chemistry class and I really loved it, so it stuck with me. So that’s how I became a chemistry teacher “.
Ketch loves teaching chemistry at Piedmont University. She loves the small school and the dynamic of a small college. Dr.Ketch says that “I’m happy Here”
From North Carolina to Georgia, Gabriel Gutierrez is here, and he is not going anywhere.
“I am the only one here in Georgia in my family,” said Gutierrez, a first-generation college graduate and a part of the Piedmont community since 2014.
Gabriel Gutierrez left his home state to study at Piedmont University in 2014. It was a big step for him and his family because he would be staying in an unknown place without having his family close for support. “Family is significant to me because it has shown the value of love and appreciation. I come from a big family, and we all have stayed together through thick and thin. We support each other, and we try to help each other out as much as we can when we can,” he said which made the decision even more difficult. Nonetheless, his admissions advisor gave a welcoming idea of Piedmont’s possibility of being a home for him, so he started his journey to Piedmont. He was initially going to stay for a couple of semesters; however, Gutierrez fell in love with the campus environment and the job he was offered. So, he decided to stay in Georgia.
“It can be a new chapter, a new experience, so that was one of the big reasons that I decided to stay,” he said.
Although Gutierrez had a chance to go back to North Carolina, he decided to stay due to the new job in admissions he received at the time. He wanted to help Hispanic students with the college process and he took charge of an event done at Piedmont called Día de Familia. He wanted to make a difference by working with students of the same ethnicity and help guide them with situations or issues he knew they would go through, because he was in their shoes once. From being a student at Piedmont to now working for the undergraduate admissions department, he has the resources to give these students needed. Gutierrez said, “One of the major things I have seen is helping parents understand the college process and financial aid information. I have helped the Hispanic community by continuing to host Día de la Familia and adding new things that I know are important to know when going through the college process.” He not only works with students but also acknowledges parents since they are also in need of help.
“I have grown as a professional,” Gutierrez said. Being part of Piedmont has taught him many things throughout the years.
Throughout his time at Piedmont, Gutierrez has taken opportunities to grow as a person. Especially when comparing what he used to do back in North Carolina, he has strengthened his people skills due to the interaction with students and colleagues. Gutierrez also learned to be versatile by staying up to date with any question a student might bring depending on their situation. He has created a sense of home with Piedmont.
Even if Gutierrez is in a good place in his life right now, there was a time when no one believed he could go to college. He has turned the tables as he has now graduated from Piedmont and is turning the page for what life will bring for him.
“I think it’s going to get better,” he says as he adds on what he wants to do in the future. “For the future, I hope to take Día de Familia to different schools instead of bringing the students to Piedmont. I would like to still host one big event on campus, and then move it to the high schools afterwards.”
They all know where the counseling services are located in Lane hall. They know that the counseling services office can help us through hard times. They can go there for any stress, anxiety, or any other personal issues they may be having and counseling services will be happy to take care of you. Dr. Keyla Stephens, the point of contact when you need any counseling services will be happy to assist you.
Stephens knew she wanted to help people. Once she headed to college, she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at UGA, but she was unsure what she would do with her degree. “Counseling wasn’t really well known at the time” and “it was kind of still coming about,” she said adding to that, social work or psychology were much more popular fields, but counseling itself wasn’t quite there yet. I “ struggled a bit on what exactly I wanted to do.
Stephens explored different areas and changed majors several times before coming back. She realized that counseling was exactly what she wanted to do. She recalls thinking, “I’m not sure exactly what it is to look like, but that is what interests me.”
After obtaining her degree, she wasn’t ready to go back to school. She got married and ended up getting a job with developmental disabilities. It was different work, but not something she was passionate about. I “wasn’t accomplishing what I really wanted to do, which was to help people grow and help people better themselves.” Stephens wanted to help people learn about themselves. Though she loved the clients she worked with, it was difficult work. She said that the environment was very different than today. People with disabilities were isolated and closed off from the rest of the world. It was really discouraging, and she left that job and started working in higher education.
Her first college job was at a technical school, where she oversaw a program that helped non – traditional students who were displaced from the workforce or were single parents. Some of them were Division of family and children services clients that were referred to her. She would help students get a GED and did career aptitude tests to see where their talents are. Stephens said she really enjoyed the job before budget cuts ended up eliminating the program.
This was the inspiration Stephens needed to go back to school, she received her masters in counseling / mental health. Since then, she has worked with domestic violence, substance abuse, community mental health, and patients with disorders. She has worked with agencies such as DFSC and Child and Family Support Services. Though the path to her current position took a couple turns, Stephens has finally reached her goal of helping people grow and help them better themselves.
Stephens says she loves helping the students of Piedmont University better themselves every session she sees them when they come in with new issues that need to be resolved. I love helping them grow and bettering themselves. Piedmont University is full of amazing students that keep growing everyday.
Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Danielle Percival wanted a place with community, family, and a sense of belonging. She found all of that here, at Piedmont University.
“Just being a part of such a close knit family organization has been really helpful for me,” Percival said. “For me, I don’t know what’s next but my career has continued to progress during my time here and I’m really thankful that Piedmont has believed in me to take the next steps in my career even while I’ve been here.”
Percival went through some hardships in her life while on her route to her job at Piedmont. She came here with a partner whom she has since divorced, which allowed for her journey of personal growth and development.
“I am with someone who I’ve been seeing for the past two years and it’s fantastic, life’s good,” she said.
Percival started her journey at Troy University where she earned a degree in broadcast journalism in 2014. While at Troy, she assisted on the student-run television station, learning how to shoot and edit packages for local news over the course of four years. Local news really wasn’t where she wanted to go with her career, however, she had a huge interest in college sports. This led her into pursuing avenues within collegiate athletics. Piedmont was looking for a person with a broadcast background to bring more coverage to home events.
During her career here at Piedmont, Percival advanced from being the assistant director of athletic communications to taking over the director role when Timmy McCormack became the head women’s soccer coach in 2017. In 2019, Percival was presented the opportunity to return to her alma mater, Troy University, to be their director of athletic communications. But by then, Piedmont was in her heart. “I was able to use that as a way to give myself a reason to get a title advancement here, saying I really want to be here and I want to stay here but let’s make this worth my while because I have an opportunity to go back home,” she said. “But I really enjoy Piedmont and so I became the Assistant Athletic Director of Communications in 2019.”
During that time, Percival also became a part of the admin team here which was extremely crucial with COVID right around the corner. Piedmont really needed to have a communications plan to be able to make certain decisions on communication pieces during that time. The timing of it all was very critical and worked out perfectly.
“What I love most is the relationships that form through this job. Whether it be students, coaches or parents, it’s the relationships that matter and make the job worth the long hours,” she said.
Ineke Dyer is making her mark at Piedmont with the current SAIL program for incoming freshman students.
“It all about the people, it’s the students who are willing to step out of their comfort zone to participate, it’s the navigators who want to take on a leadership role and become a mentor,” said Dyer, “If you ask any incoming first year student, finding a peer group is what every incoming student is worried about.”
Although Dyer has only been working at Piedmont University for eight months, she still does a lot. SAIL is a very small part of Dyer’s position; she oversees the student success advisors and the learning center. In the Student Success Center the staff has workshops throughout the semester to help students with study skills, time management and other things of that sort. Freshman through senior year, students can get the help they need in more difficult classes.
Before Piedmont, Dyer was at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California for nearly 15 years. “My inlaws relocated to this area about 10 years ago and when COVID hit my husband, myself and my son were in California” said Dyer “We decided we wanted to be closer to family so we moved to this area in September 2020.”
Since Dyer has only been here for eight months and she wasn’t too familiar with the program called SAIL that she was about to take on.
“Last year was the fourth year of the program, and I wanted to go through one cycle to kind of see how it was designed, see how it all went before I made adjustments, and I do think it is a very successful program.”
Dyer has some ideas to improve the program for next year. “Infusing some more intentional sessions regarding academic preparation, so for instance what students would do at an office hour? How they could talk to faculty? Why they should go to office hours? Maybe some note taking skills, test taking skills, and a little bit about time management.”
She also wants some additional training for the navigators. “Friends to go to the Commons with, they have a peer mentor….some additional confidence with starting off the semester strong academically.”
Dyer lists off a few things that incoming freshman might take away from being in the SAIL program. “In the past they primarily took away a peer group and kind of a sense of belonging before any other students came on campus. So I think a lot of the students who participate in SAIL start the semester off much more comfortable than other students.”
Like many others, Dyer also thinks any student who comes to Piedmont is fortunate. “I think SAIL makes Piedmont special because of the people involved with it. The captains (faculty and staff mentors) volunteer their time for the program. They’re not required to do that, and I think there’s just as deep desire at Piedmont to really help make sure students transition successfully to college.” “Every college is not going to be the right fit for every student, so I think it’s important that students find a place where they feel at home.”
A firm believer that there is a book for everyone, Colleen Kearney, uses literature and dance to manage her chronic illness.
“It has been an honor, and a privilege, to meet some of the student workers over the years that have come to us,” Kearney says, “Truly, it has opened my eyes and I have learned a lot more grace and a lot better communication.”
Kearney serves as the Evening Acquisitions and Public Services Specialist at Piedmont University’s Arrendale Library. The Piedmont alumna handles many of the orders to fill the library’s collections. In addition, she oversees the interviewing, hiring, training and scheduling of student workers.
Kearney had a late start in her college career. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in high school and pursuing a degree felt unattainable after graduation due to financial demands. Fortunately, at 28 she was able to return to school after discovering a scholarship program relating to her illness.
Before finding a home at Piedmont, she received her associate’s degree at Gainesville State College. Her journey as a nontraditional student continued at Piedmont where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English. Kearney’s first experience of working in the library was as a student-worker herself.
“My heart was with Piedmont…really, truly, I wanted to be here,” she said.
Bob Glass, Dean of Libraries and College Librarian, brought Kearney back to Piedmont after her graduation in 2015. Now, overseeing student workers herself, Kearney promotes the school to students based on her own positive experiences. She notes the exemplary faculty members in every department and the beautiful campus. As a non-traditional student, Kearney found herself aligned more so with professors than with students, and the smaller classes allowed her the perfect opportunity to truly get a gauge of their passions and interests in what they are teaching. With such a supportive environment, Kearney describes Piedmont as the perfect place to “fail safely.”
Outside of work, Kearney enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, practicing yoga, and is a member of a local dance troupe. She found that her love of dancing, along with yoga, could serve as both a pleasure and a means of managing her struggles with diabetes.
The illness established a permanent presence in her life, and it took her some time to learn to manage it. Eventually, she found that being conscious of her activities, eating habits and managing her stress, was critical to handling her symptoms. While it took almost 25 years to master, she credits much of the success to educating herself through books, so working at a library is a natural fit.
“I am convinced that there’s something out there that anyone would enjoy reading,” Kearney says, “These things all make constellations and patterns in your mind, and then when you’re trying to make choices for yourself, and you’re trying to make decisions in real life. You just have such a better, informed vision of who and what you are, and who and what you want to include.”
Failing at something is one of the hardest things to deal with, especially when you have worked so hard to get to that point in life. And when it happens everyone tells you, “You have to fail before you succeed,” or “Try harder next time and hope for the best.” This was the case for Max Miller, former athlete and now a graduate student here at Piedmont University.
Born a twin on Jan. 1, 1999, Miller seemed to be a lucky kid from the start of his life, but in his own words “life happens.” Miller ran cross country and track & field at River Ridge high school in Woodstock, Georgia. “At the beginning of high school, I wanted to run,” Miller said. “Then towards the end of my high school career, it was no longer a goal until I hit track season and started performing at a level, I thought was possible.”
This “level” allowed Miller to be recruited by Piedmont University, to compete at the colligate level in cross country and track & field. “I never heard of Piedmont when I was in high school until they started recruiting my twin sister for hurdles,” Miller said. “After looking at some of their times, I signed up for a recruiting visit and got the same treatment as her. Then I came, and she did not. So, I stayed to run and study in the athletic training program.”
Piedmont’s athletic training program is one of the best in Georgia ranking fourth behind University of Georgia, Georgia Southern University and Georgia College & State University. It requires some of the hardest courses on campus, and many students change majors. In the case of Miller, adversity struck his senior year, but he was prepared to face it head-on with the next step in his life. “I failed out of the A.T program, so things change, and life happens,” Miller said. “I had some environmental factors come in last year, I was athletic training all the way up until last spring and then I was forced to change master’s programs into health and human performance.”
Now enrolled in the graduate program, Miller is excited about the potential opportunities in the field. “With that master’s program, you pretty much do one thing and that is become an athletic trainer,” Miller said. “Now with health and human performance, I can do a lot of things, which includes being a coach for many different sports. I am currently doing my internship with the Piedmont University track team, and I have loved every second of it.”