Author Archives: mwalker0216

Jazz Musician to College Professor

English professor Jadyn Dewald talks about his uncommon life journey from being a famous Jazz musician to a community college student to earning his PhD before landing at Piedmont College.

 He understands the discovery in the value of education and his love for literature. 

“I’m an extraordinarily unlikely writer. I broke into the backdoor of this profession,” he said.

He wasn’t always an English professor. He was previously a famous Jazz musician for 15 years and taught a variety of writing courses, including creative writing. Growing up in Sacramento, California, education was the last thing Dewald worried about at the time. He first attended Sacramento Community College and says he found a great opportunity there. He thinks of it as a laboratory where he can experiment with different majors to figure out which one draws him the most. 

 “It allowed me a ton of time to let me figure out what I wanted to do,” he said. 

Then Dewald progressed to getting more serious about education after leaving his musical career behind him. He attended San Francisco State University, Pacific University, and the University of Georgia. The energy of books and book lovers drew him to becoming an English professor. 

“In high school, I read one book in my life,” he said. “And then once I discovered literature I immediately thought I gotta make up 20 years for not having done this.” 

After dipping his toes into the literature world, Dewald became captivated with the arts. He loves writing, but sometimes it can be a very lonely and isolated experience, so he was able to find warmth and company within the Piedmont community, connecting and networking with fellow writers. 

After Dewald’s compelling journey, he only has one goal that he wants to get across to his students after leaving his class each semester. 

“I want them to fall in love with reading,” he said. “Whatever they write, regardless of quality, is valid and worth doing.” 

My Story, Marnika Walker

Some people would consider me as an outgoing person, others think I’m quiet and shy. The truth is, I’m both. Due to my sheltered childhood, my only source of freedom to express myself was when I was at school with my friends. My siblings and I were never allowed to go outside, so we did whatever in the house to stay entertained. Not having a phone around that time either, I became interested in writing stories and designing clothes instead of watching TV. I was stuck between being a famous author or a famous fashion designer when I was in middle school. Due to my parents being divorced, I was living with my mother and my two brothers until I was fourteen then I moved out to live with my dad and stepmom when I was sixteen.

I ended up switching school districts when it was time for me to go to high school. It completely changed my life for the better. I was able to make new friends and get involved with things at school. I joined the FBLA club in my freshman year, and joined ROTC in my sophomore year. I had the chance to go to some exciting places with my school and was able to make new friends in the process. Around my sophomore year my stepmom enrolled me in acting classes to strengthen my newly discovered skills and I was able to be apart of a movie called Faces Of Deceit. It was a great experience to see how much time and energy it takes to create a movie. There was definitely a lot more to making a movie than I thought it was. After that experience I focused more on the activities I had going on at school.

I became heavily involved in my AFJROTC program. From just starting off at being a classroom helper, I quickly moved up to having the rank of technical sergeant. I was in charge of executing drills, taking the attendance, helping with PT on fridays, and planning events that the cadets would go on. I have visited places like the Kennedy Space Center and the Warner Robins Air Force Base. Being in ROTC has primarily taught me to serve my community and that’s what I have accomplished. I had the opportunity to feed the homeless in the Atlanta area and hand out food at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Due to all of this traveling, it made me fall in love with going to new places and having adventures. I aspire to travel as much as I can when I get older. I don’t want to be stuck behind an office desk for the rest of my life. Life is too short to take things slow. I want to live everyday as if it was my last. Being exposed to different types of foods, culture, and music sounds like a dream I want to become a reality.