Author Archives: mckodrowski

Are Our Judges Really Fair? Piedmont Symposium Edition

            Is the one branch of government that is supposed to be independent of partisan viewpoints becoming politicized? That’s the question political science major Michael Mack sought to answer in his research, “Political Influence in the Judicial Branch of the United States.”

            Mack presented his research on April 14 at the university’s annual Piedmont Symposium. This is a chance for students to show what they have learned in class and apply it to real-world scenarios.

“We must live forward in the future as well as be able to know how our judiciary works because it has a great influence on not only our government and its actions and also the ability to alter our nation, but it also revolves around us as American people because it deals with our civil liberties and civil rights,” Mack said.

Mack was one of more than 200 students who presented their research at the Symposium. During this presentation, Mack touched on how the judicial branch ties in with the Federal Papers.

“Federalist papers number 78 was an article that Alexander Hamilton had written to describe or to establish a judiciary institution in our constitution,” Mack said. “More importantly it was centered on judiciary independence — to separate itself from political affairs and … be an independent body to focus on our Constitution, as well as protected from those entities to be able to protect the American rights and civil liberties within our Constitution.”

Freshman political science major Austin Vaughn noted that Federalist paper 78 essentially served as the foundation of the judicial branch. “Basically, the federalist papers just defend the Constitution and help give it power and give it life, and I think Federalist Papers 78 was kind of setting up the judiciary branch.”

Mack also touched on the ideological influence of the federal court decisions. A large idea in this point was on Presidents who did not completely identify as conservative or liberal, despite their party affiliation. For instance, a president can be Republican and also a liberal. These officials have chosen judiciary court members who maybe do not align with the president the same way ideologically.

Mack’s Symposium project was sponsored by Dr. Tony Frye, associate professor of political sciences. “If you go back to the Eisenhower Administration, Eisenhower didn’t necessarily support politically or ideologically [court appointees] but he appointed them. That’s much less so today if you’re Donald Trump or if you’re Joe Biden and you’re appointing a member of the court. You’re going to have a really good idea what the person thinks on all these issues before you even allow them into the door.”

Frye noted that recent Presidents — on both sides — have essentially politicized the courts. “This gets into what they call ‘litmus tests,’” he said. “This term was never used before the late eighties until the late Reagan administration. So, the nomination is always the president’s prerogative at all times, and the Senate just gets to say yes or no, but they don’t actually get to tell the president who to nominate.”

Mack takes this point a step further. “I was looking into the fact that they became politically polarized, that it has a different tone into who actually appoints certain nominees. For example, when it was in low polarization you would see nominees that were appointed by a President to be confirmed easily because the Senate was ideologically centered, giving them the elite way of having a moderate judge. In high polarization we can see that with the President nominating someone which could be off-centered or even within this ideology. We can see that a unified Senate majority within that same party may confirm that justice, so really it kind of brings an extreme aim or measure.”

Mack said it’s important for all citizens to understand the judicial branch of government. “We must live forward in the future as well as be able to know how our judiciary works because it has a great influence on not only our government and its actions and also the ability to alter our nation, but it also revolves around us as American people because it deals with our civil liberties and civil rights.”

Preparing the Medical Heroes of Tomorrow

As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” That is what happened at Piedmont College on Wednesday Mar. 24. Senior nursing students from both the Demorest and Athens campuses participated in the annual Piedmont College disaster drill to gain in the field experience for their future careers.

 “There’s nothing better,” said Piedmont College Assistant Vice President for Facilities, Management, and Safety, Fred Bucher. “They’re about one year away from doing this for real.”

Senior Piedmont College nursing students participated in realistic conditions of a disaster crisis at the Swanson Center in Demorest, GA.  Arrangements were made by the Demorest Fire Department, Piedmont College Campus Police, Habersham County Ambulances, Georgia Health System Trauma, Acute Care Services, and Habersham County Emergency Medical Services to appear and assist these nurses. This disaster was an ultimate testament of hard work, dedication, and experience.  Other preparations included Piedmont College Campus Police shutting down nearby roads as well as the pedestrian bridge to the Swanson center. The inside of the Swanson Center was smoked out with fog machines, and underclassmen nursing students were lying on the ground inside and outside the building appearing with fake blood visible on their bodies. Other Piedmont College students served as media documenting the event.  The media’s duties included interviewing victims, nurses and first responders. This drill was intentionally designed to be as realistic as possible for these nursing students and mass communication students.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to learn how to respond to these situations, work on your toes, and work on teamwork and communication,” said senior nursing major Jennifer Daniel. “I think it’s important to know how to control your brain in the middle of stressful situations, when people scream at you, you don’t scream back, and try to be patient while also being focused and ready to move.”

Victims were each given different injuries and roles to play in the experiment. For example, some victims had head injuries while others had leg injuries or other broken bones. Some victims were required to act flirtatious with the nurses while other victims would pilfer medical supplies, cell phones or other materials that were lying on the ground or from other victims. Other victims were either mentally traumatized, mildly to severely injured or even deceased.

“I think [the nurses] definitely need this for the experience so they can have skill at a wide range of things and be as well-rounded as possible,” said senior athletic training major Max Miller. “It definitely changes my mindset on being a rescuer.”

Miller’s role in the drill this year was as a victim of the disaster. Since he is part of a five-year study for athletic training at Piedmont, he will participate in the drill next year as one of the rescuers who will work to save the victims.

This medical initiation really taught these young nursing students how to respond to their call of duty in a real-life medical emergency. This drill does not just show what these nurses have been learning for the past four years, but it also gives the nurses the confidence, skills and poise to deal with real life situations for their future careers. 

Kristi Koshuta’s Leap of Faith: Wisconsin Bound

A leap of faith brought Kristi Koshuta to Piedmont, and a leap of faith is how she will leave.

After nearly five years of helping Lions keep up with the pack, Koshuta has recently announced that she and her husband John will be leaving Piedmont College at the end of this semester. The couple moved from Wisconsin to Georgia after John was hired as an assistant professor of nursing and health sciences. “We decided to take a leap of faith and relocate!”

Starting out as an adjunct math instructor, Kristi Koshuta gradually transitioned into student affairs helping Piedmont students stay on track in their academics. As director of student transition and success, Koshuta is in charge of the Student Success Center and the First Generation College Student Support Program, while also starting the SAIL program at Piedmont.

She serves on several committees and forges partnerships between academic faculty and student affairs.

“It’s been a really nice progression in my career,” said Koshuta, “I used to be very student-facing. I feel like I’m not as much anymore, but you know what? I’m OK with that because I feel it’s kind of like that next step in my career.”

Under Koshuta’s leadership, the Student Success Center has grown tremendously, most recently with the hiring of two student success advisors: Anna Grace Heisel and Maurilia Oldham.

Koshuta says the reason they are moving back to Wisconsin is to be closer to family. As of right now, both Kristi and John are still looking for employment. They are currently looking to stay in higher education, but they are willing to take whatever they can get in the meantime if required. “It will be a true leap of faith!”

Koshuta’s favorite part of working at Piedmont has been knowing that she has helped provide services to students who need them. For many Piedmont Lions, Koshuta was instrumental in their college success. She says that “being able to connect with the students” will be what she misses most about Piedmont.

“It’s just been fun to get to connect with them at that level,” says Koshuta. “The students are the reason I come to work here every day.

Who is Matthew Kodrowski?

I am Matthew Kodrowski. I am from Lawrenceville, Georgia. I was born March 23, 2002. I grew up an only child. I enjoy being part of the “Klimbing Klub” and the “Labyrinths and Lions Club” at Piedmont College. I am a Sports Communications major and plan to minor in Religion.

My parents have really shaped me into who I am today. We went to church every Sunday, they would help me when I would struggle with homework, and I developed my love for sports from them. More importantly, they taught me to have a love for God. My Dad raised me to be a big Philadelphia sports fan. We would always watch Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies games. I also have a love for our local Atlanta Falcons, Thrashers, and Braves teams. Collegiately, I am big fan of Michigan State Spartans, Penn State Nittany Lions, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and Georgia Bulldogs. In our home office, my parents would show me their collections of record albums primarily from the seventies and eighties. It really infused the passions I had for “oldies”, as they have been termed. Some of my favorite artists were Journey, K.I.S.S., Prince, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, as well as many others.

I think of myself as a joyful, happy-go-lucky guy. I worked hard in school to get into the position I am in today. I like sarcastic jokes, sports of course, but most of all, being a friend for others. I currently attend 12Stone church, a place where I have found deep community, and creative ways to enjoy learning about God. Last year I had the opportunity to be a leader in my church’s middle school program, where we impact the next generation. Originally, I was raised in the Catholic church. My mom worked for the church doing book-keeping, and so our family became very close to our fellow church members. While I no longer I attend there, I am thankful because I believe that church set the foundation for me on how I was to treat people and also grow spiritually.

From the outside, our lives appear to describe a normal family, but things weren’t always tulips and rainbows. I have faced a lot of adversity, grueling challenges, and plenty of closed doors. I have had what some would call a traumatic experience. I have undergone high pressure scenarios, but I have been able to overcome them all with faith and family.

When I was in Kindergarten, my dad was out getting the newspaper one morning when he was shot in our driveway. I was the one who found him, and while it allowed us the time needed to call help, it was still hard to see my dad in that state of pure terror. I promise not to go into details, and for the record, my dad is still alive and well today. However, that crisis marked me in ways I didn’t even realize. I see it sometimes as a blessing in disguise to have gone through this as a little kid because I was young enough to not fully grasp the severity of the situation while also being old enough to remember it and the good that came from it. I missed a few days of school while my dad was in the hospital, and in the meantime I was being cared for by my Aunt and older cousin, whom I grew even closer with during that time. While my dad was recovering at home, he was unable to go to church, so the church would come to our house; they would pray over us, comfort us, and reassure us that everything was in control. I believe that time helped me to really grow in maturity, in faith, and in love for others. It introduced me to how sinister the world can be sometimes, but it also taught me values of strength, determination, unconditional love, grace, mercy, positivity, and how to keep a smile on my face despite adversity.

Heading into my senior year, the school I had attended since the sixth grade, Covenant Christian Academy in Loganville, Georgia, closed midsummer. Instead of visiting colleges that summer, I was visiting high schools, a place for me to finish high school strong. We discovered a school called George Walton Academy from a former teacher of mine. I attended that school for my senior year determined to come in and out with a bang, a “one-hit wonder” so to speak. I played football, and while I by far was not the best player, I played each game with my heart out. I had the opportunity to work hard on the field, and even harder off of it. Things couldn’t have been better, and then a little thing called Covid-19 debuted. I finished online like many others like me across the nation. I graduated in late July, two weeks before my scheduled move-in for my first semester at Piedmont College. Piedmont had a new set up for schooling with hybridized classes due to Covid-19. I grinded through first semester well, and was surprised to have ended first semester with straight A’s.

If there is anything I want people to learn about me, It’s this: I am a fighter who is willing to overcome the odds. I have learned that you are not defined by your circumstances, but how you respond to them. The great coach Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” To get up is a response and a choice you have to make. What I plan to do with my life is to inspire people to become their best self. It’s a choice people make. It’s a choice I’ve made. The question is: How about you?