Author Archives: sageshirley

Breaking News: Fire Drill at Swanson

    Sage Shirley

Laughter and chatter was replaced by smoke and screams wednesday morning. The annual disaster drill took place on Wednesday where students from all over campus took part in a simulated fire.Working with the event was many local departments such as police, EMT and firefighters. Over 100 nursing students from both Athens and demorest campus took the roles of responders and victims while mass communication students acted as the press and theater students aided with making it believable.

 “I’m working on the technical aspect with the fog and making sure it looks like a fire and such,” Said Antonio Atoa, Musical Theatre major, “[We’re] just trying to make it look as realistic as possible with all the lights off and the colors and everything.”  Low visibility and thick fog make it hard to see or tell what things were inside. The drill saw the firefighters coming in to the building first and securing it. They were followed by nursing students rushing in to aid the victims. They would evaluate the victims then bring them outside to color code sections.

“My injury is a bleeding wound from the head,” said Casey Crunkleton, nursing major “[The nursing students] will have to assess me and do their nursing applications seeing what a real-life situation would be like.”They would then be treated according to severity. Patients would be sent off either by van or by helicopter or be declared dead. We had a total of 28 patients declared dead. This event provides practice that these students can’t get anywhere else.

“Students who can experience what they’re going to do in real life before they leave school– where they can safely make mistakes– we know that that really helps their education,” Said Dr. Abbey Dondanville, Associate Dean of Health Sciences. “It’s hard to expose students to emergencies because you can’t really plan for an emergency to happen.” Giving students a realistic environment into what they will have to face is a great way to prepare them for what’s to come in their careers.


Dr. Abbey Dondanville

Casey Crunkleton

Antonio Atoa

Melissa Tingle

PIEDMONT COLLEGE- Professor Melissa Tingle, from the sounds of music to mass communication scholars.

“A happy accident,” Melissa Tingle said when asked how she was led onto the path of teaching. “I was supposed to be a musician, and that’s what originally went to school for.”

Tingle was born in Clayton county where she would grow up in a world of music. This would drive her throughout her life till circumstances would take control. These circumstance would move her away from the life of a musician towards a life of cultivating young scholars.

“I had trained in classical music since i was 4,” she said. “It was something that i had always done and was a part of my family’s expectations and the expectations id set for myself.”

She would follow music as more opportunities opened up to her. It seemed like music was going to be Tingle’s life until faith pushed her towards what would become her passion.

“After i had my first daughter,” she said. “I went back to school and i understood that going back into the music program was going to take to much time from my family… I also felt like i was supposed to be moving in a different direction.”

This led her to enroll in the communication field which would later lead to her position as professor. Although what she learned here would only be a portion of what she uses as a teacher.

“My first work experience was running the cash register for my grandmother every morning.” she said. “I’m talking like 9 and 10 years of age.”

She would continue with this job until the store was sold. When she was a senior she worked with the FUN company which coordinated business events nationwide. While at the time she didn’t know it this work would give her teaching later in life a uniqueness not many have.

“All of my corporate events experience with marketing and promotions, experience with logistics and PR have shaped how i teach that to my students.” she said. “I worked with some really big companies like Coca-Cola, nissan, Fleet, and Toyota learning how to navigate those relationships… Learning how to communicate organizationally to deliver a event, coordinate a event, iaison between key players. Those are things i like to pass onto my students.”

She has used this experience to give a unique education to her student that couldn’t be offered by anyone else. Her students love her classes as much as she loves them.

“Dr. Tingle is a great professor.” said Savannah Richards, Freshman Mass Communications major. “As students, we can tell she cares about the subject material and genuinely wants us to succeed.”

Melissa Tingle’s life has given her the ability to change so many more through teaching. Her experience mixed with her personality will continue to inspire students for generations.

“She taught us to form our own opinions and stand firmly with them.” said Jesskah Stewart, Freshman Mass Communication Major. “I am forever grateful!”

Sage Shirley: Head, Heart, Hands, Herb

No matter what i’ve always been surrounded by nature. My name is Sage Shirley and much like the herb nature has always been my home. Well actually the city of Tiger in Rabun County Georgia is my real home. If you’ve ever been to Rabun you know that you can’t go a foot with ou seeing beautiful views of everything from breathtaking mountains to cascading waterfalls. Growing up around these natural wonders really shaped who i was as person.

    When i was a junior in high school i joined 4 H, national club allowing you to build projects in many fields as well as a major emphasis on community service. The major thing with 4 H in Georgia is project achievement which is where students choose a category of their liking from cattle raising to photography to robotics. After doing so the must build a portfolio centered around their topic, leadership and community service as well as created a 12 minute presentation. My first choice for a topic was photography because of my mother being a photographer and i always had a passion from a young age. This quickly changed however when my world began to burn.

    At the beginning of November 2016 Rabun county became covered in smoke, wildfire had hit home. Id never seen anything like this before in my life and just knew i had to do what i could to protect my home.Luckily the incident management team sent to combat the fires set up shop in our 4 H building. With me being vice president at this time i as well as the president was hired on to work with the team.These were incredible people who had been at every major disaster in recent history, this included 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill to name a few. The fire lasted over a month and i was there everyday learning and listening to these heros.   

    I used what id learned from this crew to build a project around wildfires. After this our program did many  community service events and events in the community with most being planned by or with me. We were also able to travel to Oregon for 11 days to learn about where many of the crew came from. I would big this project to eventually win second place in state,the highest level of competition, for environmental Science. Before joining i was a shy unexperineced kid with no idea about what i wanted to do. 3 years later im enrolled in Piedmont college pursuing a degree in wha i love as well as running my own photography business. I know none of this would’ve been possible had it not been for 4 H. It allowed me to grow from a spark into a unstoppable wildfire.