Author Archives: lesleyrandall1001

The Media And Homelessness

When thinking about the homeless, many think of someone begging or asking for money. However, most homeless people do not fit this stereotype, and Piedmont College alum Nathan Blackburn is hoping to break this stereotype. 

At the 2020 Piedmont Symposium, Blackburn presented the session, “Poverty Portrayals: An examination of Media Portrayals Stereotyping Homeless Populations,” a project that was derived from his mass communications theory and research course. 

“This research became the starting point for my senior capstone, which I’ve recently completed, and it played a big role in the short film that I created as part of that capstone (Wander Boys),” said Blackburn. 

However, the inspiration behind the research extended past just a MCOM 3850 course. It came from his personal background. Blackburn experienced homelessness himself growing up. Understanding what it is like to be homeless, Blackburn has a different perspective than most on the topic. Throughout his research, Blackburn found difficulty in setting aside his own personal biases regarding homelessness, where he had to keep an open mind throughout. 

“Nathan’s personal experience with homelessness added a more complex layer and gave him a unique perspective than if he had been an objective researcher,” said Professor Tingle. 

Blackburn found curiosity in understanding how the rest of society viewed the homeless and found that the media directly influences peoples’ viewpoint on those who suffer from homelessness. The media is able to shift situations accordingly in order to make others feel certain feelings like sadness or anger. This is known as “media framing,” where the media frames particular situations to make others feel a certain emotion. This is Blackburn’s pivotal argument in the case that the media does affect the way others view the homeless. As Blackburn anonymously interviewed individuals of various ages, his research proved that after these individuals watched the same clips on homelessness, all of the feelings towards homelessness were very similar. 

“After viewing Nathan’s presentation online, it really made me realize that the media really does have a major impact on how society sees homeless people,” said student Haily Tigue. “I can say that I have definitely been caught in the basic stereotype of homeless people in the United States, but I will now be more compassionate towards this topic.” 

Blackburn’s research portrays that the media is often biased when discussing homelessness. Blackburn explains that the media often displays homeless individuals as “beggars on the side of the street” or that these individuals must have done something wrong in their life to be in this situation. Though, Blackburn knows from personal experience that this is not always the case. 

For example, many homeless individuals are children who have lost parents, a recent immigrant trying to start a new life, or someone who unexpectedly lost a job. However, Blackburn explains that because of films and the news, homelessness is often viewed by others for something that it is not. 

One of Blackburn’s favorite interviews he conducted was one with a fellow student where Blackburn learned about a different perspective of homelessness. Through this interview 

Blackburn explained that this student’s first thought of the homeless was “always dirty and begging for money” 

“I’ve always noticed that the media tends to lean more towards one stereotype or one side of portraying homeless people,” he said. “It was interesting to learn more about that from the view of someone who had not experienced any kind of homelessness.” 

Global Hand washing Day

Global Hand Washing Day Professor Julia Schmitz informs students on proper hand washing techniques 

Demorest, Georgia, Sept. 2, 2020- In efforts to educate before the Global Hand Washing Day on Oct. 15, Piedmont College Microbiology ProfessorJulia Schmitz wants to educate students on the importance and effects of hand washing, and more importantly how to properly wash hands for it to be effective. 

“Making sure that people are going between their fingers and their thumbs is important,” she said.”Everything that we’re doing we will be touching our face with our hands.” 

Hand washing is crucial living through a pandemic, especially on a college campus. Covid tests are increasing weekly on campus, therefore knowing how to effectively wash hands is extremely important to ensure safety amongst the campus.It is more than common that individuals miss parts of their hands, do not use the correct products, or simply wash their hands incorrectly.On Global Hand Washing Day, Piedmont College hopes to teach students the proper ways to wash hands through a Tic Tok competition in which students can submit their educational and entertaining videos on handwashing.

“Probably the most often area where things would be left is your knuckles…underneath your nails, around your nail beds, underneath rings and jewelry, and thumbs,” she said. 

The hand washing practice is one students in the biology department take seriously.

“Even before the pandemic during biology labs we are expected to wash our hands consistently, but now it is more important than ever to wash our hands correctly and thoroughly,” said biology major, Cameron McDonald.

With all of this information, the biology and mass communications departments are teaming up to educate students at Piedmont during Global Hand Washing Day. Piedmont is hosting Tik Tok contests and social distancing events to educate students in an exciting manner on the positive and negative effects of washing hands. To engage students in participating in the hand washing events, winners and prizes will be given to those who create a creative video on the correct ways to wash hands. For more information on the National Hand Washing Day events, email Joe Dennis at

About Piedmont College

One of the most dynamic small colleges in the Southeast, Piedmont is an independent liberal arts college of more than 2,260 students. The college’s four schools—Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, and Nursing & Health Sciences—develop tomorrow’s leaders by engaging students in the classroom, in their community, and around the world. Founded in 1897, Piedmont offers bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degree programs at its Demorest residential campus in the foothills of the northeast Georgia mountains and at its Athens campus in the heart of Georgia’s Classic City. Information can be found at

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Growing up, my sister and I were extremely close. We are nine years apart, so I looked up to her for almost everything. She was my best friend as a child and I wanted to be just like her. Though as I got older, I realized she was not as perfect as she seemed to be. 

As a young child I always associated drug addicts and alcoholics in a negative connotation. I never understood who these kinds of people were and why they did the things they did. The only things I could think of was these people are crazy and stupid. I always questioned “Why don’t they just stop?”  But I soon realized it is much deeper than that, it is a mental disorder and for many, professional help is essential and for addicts of many years, it is nearly impossible to stop on their own.

Still naive to the lifestyle of an addict, I found these kinds of people closer and closer to me. Before, I saw these people from a distance, on the way to vacation at a gas station or walking in downtown Atlanta, but I never thought I would experience it firsthand. I heard my parents talk of family friends and friends of friends going down the drug road, but I never thought I would experience such a thing until my older sister became addicted to heroin. 

It started in 2014 and it is still a battle to this day. It was confusing at first, but more so, it was heartbreaking. Watching this lifestyle and not knowing how to help broke my heart more than anything I could ever imagine. I would do anything to help and change my sister for the better. For many years, I was filled with anger because I thought that my own sister had betrayed me. I thought she did not love me enough to give up her addiction. However, as I educated myself, I soon understood that the drugs have taken over who my sister truly was. My sister and my sister on drugs were two completely different people. Freshman year of college the addiction became worse and I did not know how to handle it or help. As she was in and out of the hospitals due to overdoses, in and out of schizophrenic episodes, and in and out of detox, it was a long and brutal process to simply admit her into the facilities she needed. The person my sister was on drugs needed serious help. 

My family and I found that it was more than difficult to admit an addict into rehab without insurance than it was impossible to admit a schizophrenic over 18 into detoxification. It was also impossible to change the mind of an addict. After multiple stages of detox and state funded rehabilitation, staying clean is not the only problem for an addict, the addict needs professional help mentally as “drug addiction is a chronic brain disease”. Simply put, the brain needs support as well. The majority of individuals suffering from drug addiction cannot and will not survive in the real world with only a seven-day detox. They need aid in understanding who they are, and that life is possible without drug use. 

Additionally, a majority of addicts do not have jobs, homes, or money to start a new life after a week of detox. In this case, rehab centers are meant to help with this situation. However, in my sister’s case, she had no insurance and was in debt, therefore she was unable to pay the average of $20,000 for the impatient rehab that she desperately needed. Years upon years she battled relapses and schizophrenic episodes because my family could not afford to keep her in rehab for more than a month. Studies show that severe addicts need a 12-month impatient program in order to successfully stay sober.

The government and states need to make entering rehabilitation centers and mental facilities simpler, cheaper, and quicker for drug addicts. Funding for drug abuse should increase as in 2018 alone, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdose. Two out of three overdoses were opioid related. Each second that goes by for an addict is one step closer to an overdose. It should not be next to impossible for an individual with no insurance to be admitted into detoxification: most addicts probably do not have insurance in the first place. My sister was lucky to have a supportive family, but most addicts do not have the support of a family, therefore giving an easy outlook to drug addicts straight out of detox is essential. 

Addicts cannot be kicked straight to the street after only seven days of being clean, they need support mentally as well as aid in getting back on their feet. 

About Me, Lesley Randall

My name is Lesley Randall and I am from Buford, Georgia. I was born and raised in Buford where I have spent my entire life. I graduated from Mill Creek High School as an honor student and editor of the yearbook staff there. However, I do not want to stay in Georgia my whole life. I hope to travel to different places while I am young, though my dream has always been to live and work in New York City after college. I am majoring in Mass Communications where I hope to become either a magazine editor or something along the lines of that.

I have an older brother and an older sister. I am very close to my brother and look up to him in every aspect of life. He is 100% my biggest role model in life because he works hard for everything and has a positive outlook on the future despite hard times. He is intelligent about how he spends his time and money and I go to him for advice with almost everything.

I have a love for writing and photography which is why I chose to major in Mass Communications. In high school I became very interested in photography. I hope to learn more throughout my time in the Mass Communications department and further understand constant improving media. I also hope to further understand the brain and human behavior through the psychology department as Psychology is my intended minor.

On the other hand, I am also a soccer player at Piedmont. I have played soccer throughout my entire life. I began playing soccer at the age of four and fell in love instantly. I grew up playing sports as I looked up to my older siblings playing sports. I played basketball for most of my life as I quit my senior year of high school to focus more own school and soccer. I also swam for about 10 years, but again quit in order to focus on school and soccer.

Head of Piedmont Athletics, Matthew McKinney

DEMOREST, GA— Head athletic trainer, Matthew McKinney, finds his motivation through the student athletes, fellow athletic trainers and coaches who to strive to improve their careers at Piedmont College 

“Motivation is hard to come by from time to time, especially after 15 years on the job,” McKinney said. “I find my motivation in all of the student athletes and coaches wanting to be the best at what they do. It keeps me wanting to help those people achieve their goals.”

Native of Danbury, North Carolina, McKinney received degrees from High Point University and Marshall University. In the mean time, McKinney is working towards his doctorate at East Tennessee State University. In 2007, McKinney’s first job was at Piedmont College as an athletic training assistant. However in 2010 McKinney married and moved to LaGrange College. In 2013, McKinney was brought back to Piedmont where he accepted the head athletic training job.

“I always knew I wanted to be the head of a department and I have been able to fulfill that goal at Piedmont, McKinney said.” 

McKinney faced many struggles throughout his journey becoming a head athletic trainer. One of his biggest struggles becoming the head athletic trainer was that many doubted McKinney as he was very young to be running an entire athletic department. Having to overcome the doubts and pressures of directing the athletic department at Piedmont, McKinney has proved many wrong, where he is on his eighth, successful year of leading athletic training.

“The biggest struggle I encountered was getting people to believe in a young person to lead a department,” McKinney said. “Even after being certified for eight years, people felt as though I was too young to take charge and lead a group of people to take care of the medical needs for an entire athletic department.” 

The student athletes push McKinney to be the best he can be. Watching an athlete overcome any injury is inspiring to McKinney. He added that injuries not only take away the ability to play the sport, but it takes part of a person away from them. 

“One of the best things I can remember are the moments that athletes are able to go back to their sports,” said McKinney. “They are so grateful and it is great to see them succeed.”

“I am not sure that I will retire at Piedmont College,” said McKinney. “I still have quite a few career goals left to achieve. I really want to transition to athletic administration, with the ultimate goal of being a collegiate athletic director.”