Category Archives: The Editors

Joe Dennis: shaped by journalism

Journalist. Father. Teacher. Husband. Student. Friend. Mentor. Coach. Christian.

There are many hats underneath the fedora that frequently adorns my head, but at the core of every aspect of me is a passion for people. Whether they are family members, students, colleagues, church members, friends or even strangers, I am fascinated by the uniqueness of each individual and the stories underneath their hats. It’s why I’m a journalist. Every person has a story, and I want to discover it.

My journalistic journey began at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. My summer orientation leader was sports editor of the college newspaper, and he needed a volleyball reporter. I didn’t know much about volleyball, but had a huge crush on one of the volleyball players. Middle hitter Tara, and the promise of free pizza at the newspaper meetings, roped me into journalism.

Little did I know that a little crush and a lot of pepperoni would set up the rest of my life.

The stories I heard, wrote and even lived through shaped who I am today and the hats I wear. I became an organ donor after profiling a man’s unsuccessful wait for a new liver. My respect for police officers grew immensely after spending 20 hours with a unit during a meth-lab drug bust. My compassion for the poor — especially children — was reinforced after visiting the blighted home of a slum-lord victim. My faith was strengthened after witnessing victims of various tragedies be thankful for the silver linings of their situation.

In addition to shaping who I am, journalism has also been a lot of fun. My career has given me the opportunity to hang out with several “stars,” such as musician John Mayer, WWE superstar Chris Jericho and basketball legend Isaiah Thomas. I’ve met several historical figures including civil rights leaders, war heroes and prominent politicians. But the most inspiration came from the everyday people I encountered: the principal of an impoverished school who is doing all he can to stop the cycle of poverty among his students, the nurse who has dedicated her career to providing free healthcare for the poor, the retired couple who are housing and keeping the local Red Cross chapter alive.

I tried my best to tell their stories through an article, later published in a newspaper. But their stories didn’t die there. Although the physical papers may have been trashed, their stories continue to be recycled in every interaction I make, each an individual thread in the hats that make me who I am.

Feature Story: Macey Higgins

There are many things that go into an athlete’s life, and many of them revolve around some sense of schedule. With the COVID-19 pandemic, everything like that changed this past spring semester with the cancellation of sports. Some athletes had to deal with their seasons getting canceled mid-season, and some were just beginning, but the routine of playing sports was suddenly halted, and the extended offseason began. Nobody knew how long it would be or how long it would last days, weeks or even months.

The Piedmont women’s lacrosse team was in full stride when the COVID-19 pandemic made its presence known in the sports world. “We were finally catching our momentum, and then the rug just got ripped out from under us,” said Piedmont Women’s Lacrosse Coach Kirsten Smith. “We will never know how the rest of the season would’ve gone. I am happy that our last game was such a great one, and we ended on a high note.”

The cancellation impacted athletes in different ways, such as Macey Higgins, a senior nursing major, who is currently battling an injury to her knee and quad. Her sophomore year, she partially tore her quad but persevered through the pain to finish the season with her team. Last year, she discovered that along with a torn quad, she is missing cartilage in her knee, which has caused her bones to rub together and causes pain when she plays.

“Although I have pain when I play, I love the game and my team too much to have surgery just yet,” she said. “Corona has put off the surgery I need, but I’m ready to be back at it with my team this coming spring, hopefully.”

With an extended offseason, Higgins and the Piedmont women’s lacrosse team have had to adjust to the circumstances when it comes to staying in shape and filling that void where practice and workouts once was. “Coach Smith did a good job with keeping in check of all of us and sending us workouts and suggestions of what we do over the summer,” Higgins said. “When we came back for the fall semester, we were all eager to get back to practice and get back together with the team.”

Given the circumstances of gyms being closed and being in quarantine, the act of staying in shape was relatively more difficult than usual. Getting that extra time off and having the ability to give her knee the rest it needed and proper rehab to continue her playing career for one more season. 

“The way I look at it, it was more of a blessing in disguise.This is my senior year and I am battling an injury but I am going to do anything to get to play one last time and quarantine allowed me to focus on my injury a little bit longer. Yeah our season got cut short, but everyone got a little bit extra rest and came back hungry and ready to start the season on a good note.”

Football or no football?

When you think of fall, you automatically think of the leaves changing, cooler weather, and pumpkin-spiced everything. There’s one thing I believe in particular that everyone is looking forward to this fall, and that is college football. Well, maybe.

With what many people consider an unofficial official college football season set to begin, and two of the Power-5 conferences delaying their seasons until the spring or having second thoughts about having a season, this season seems incomplete. The COVID-19 pandemic has really taken the sports world and turned it upside down when it comes to collegiate athletics. Yes, we have sports back, such as the NBA Bubble, MLB playing in empty stadiums and the NFL, but the only thing that is still up in the air is college football. The ACC, SEC, and BIG 12 have all agreed to play a conference-only schedule or a shortened schedule. Shortened schedules and conference-only schedules canceled or delayed some big-time games.

The bigger games will come later—unless they thrown off-course by the pandemic. That uncertainty, and the absence of some traditional bedrock programs, creates a conflicted backdrop. We’ve simply never been down a road like this before.

This season I am on both sides of the spectrum as one of my favorite teams, the Oregon Ducks, have opted out of the season as the PAC-12 has decided to cancel all fall sports. On the other hand, the Clemson Tigers in the ACC has been an advocate for getting the college football season up and going. I am highly disappointed that the PAC-12 has opted out of fall sports as the Ducks have had their best football recruitment class in school history this past offseason, as well as a majority of players coming back and putting off their draft eligibility for one more year just to play together one more time.

Clemson Tigers head football coach Dabo Swinney has been one of the most prominent voices for playing this season; he talked about how players were given the option to opt-out of the season due to the virus. Swinney said, “There are no Clemson players – and that includes walk-ons – who have decided against playing this season.” Clemson football had over 35 payers test positive for the COVID-19 virus, although only a select few were symptomatic. Dabo Swinney praised the medical and training staff of handling the situation at hand, “Their job was not only to get the Tigers back on track but also to set the tone for a college football season that was at that time – and still might be – in jeopardy going forward.”

That is how it is all over the country, one side or the other. One good thing that has come out of it all is that the NCAA granted everyone an extra year of eligibility to all of the seniors who it has affected. But college football, especially in the South, is more than just football; it is a livelihood for these fans. Waking up on Saturday mornings and either tailgating or sitting in front of the TV for the day is something that we have all been waiting for since January and is right around the corner. Or is it?

A traveling man

I don’t really know how to start off this blog post, whether to include a good quote or anything so I am just going to start it off like this.

Hey everyone, my name is Will Sargent and I am a senior here at Piedmont. I was born and raised and still live in Gainesville, Georgia. It’s about 45 minutes south of Demorest. I went to Gainesville Highschool, home of the Red Elephants. I played baseball for 12 years until I gave it up sophomore year of high school. I also played lacrosse all 4 years of highschool. I was going to continue my career at college but a torn Achilles and broken foot my senior year as well as a torn labrum in my shoulder prohibited that from happening.

I feel like traveling is a part of my DNA. Whether it be for mission trips with my church or the average family vacation, I have gotten to experience parts of the world and have once in a lifetime opportunities that are great memories. From swimming with sea turtles in Hawaii to having a snowball fight on a glacier in Alaska are just some of the things I have experienced aside from going to Haiti and the Eleuthera island in the Bahamas for mission work. I consider the wonderful city of Boston my second home because we have been up there a lot and I am a huge fan of the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins.

Some of my favorite teams include the Oregon Ducks and Clemson Tigers football teams. I am a big soccer fan and I am of course an Atlanta United fan, as well as FC Barcelona and Manchester United. I am a huge Boston Red Sox fan ever since I can remember, I have always liked them, as I have never really been a Braves fan. Some of my favorite foods are crab legs, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes just to name a few. I like to watch sports and longboard in my free time.

Evan LaPorta: My life so far

My name is Evan LaPorta. I am 21 years of age and I was born on June 24, 1999 in Fort Myers, Florida. I have an older bother named Trey that is 24 years old.

When I was 5 years old my family moved to Sarasota, FL where I would live for a majority of my life. In middle school I attend St. Martha’s Catholic School. That was a pretty boring part of my life but one thing that I did get out of that time in my life was Lacrosse, I played Lacrosse for the better part of 10 years. For high school I attend Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School where I played Lacrosse for 4 years and then decided that part of my life was over.

For my first two years college I attend Florida Southwestern State College where I end up getting my Associates in Arts and now Im here at Piedmont majoring in Mass Communication.

One big part of my life are sports I’m a big sports guy. My favorite sport is hockey the Tampa bay Lightning is my favorite hockey, my favorite NFL team is the Miami Dolphins, and my favorite college football team is the Florida Gators.

A Name

Hugh might be the name that appears on the class roster, but it’s not the name I choose to go by. Hugh just doesn’t fit me, if I’m being honest, and I would hate for people to feel that I misrepresent myself to them. 

But the truth about my name and my overall identity require a back story of a personal nature. Rewinding to another lifetime, July 8th, 1999, I was born Santiago Leon Benavides in the capital city of Colombia, Bogota. At this point in time, Colombia was still a third world country and know to as one of the most dangerous countries on the planet. My birth mom knew she would not be able to care for me. In the most selfless act a parent can make, she put me up for adoption, in hopes that I would be blessed with a better life than what she could provide.

As a young infant, being only two and a half months old, I was adopted out of Colombia by the only two Americans that were willing to risk their lives to give a child a better life. After being adopted, my legal name was changed to Hugh Davis Santiago Barlow. Now, 21 years later, the yellow, red, and blue wristband that I wear on my right wrist every second of every day, represents my acknowledgment of my former life and where I would be if I wasn’t blessed enough to be adopted by two American’s I now refer to as Mom and Dad.

Since the beginning of my childhood, I have lived and breathed sports, it’s just how I was raised. When I began my first sport, baseball, at the age of 2, I never knew that it would grow to be more than just a game in my life. Sure I tried other sports, but they just weren’t for me. As you can tell by the picture above, baseball was where my heart was – and still is. The game continued to be a factor in my life, teaching me life lessons that I never though a simple game with a ball and a glove could teach me. The course of my life would ultimately be altered by baseball and quietly led me to choose Piedmont College as my place to further my education as well as continue my career.

A Journey to Finding Myself

Throughout my life I have never lived in a stable environment. I grew up in a military family, which included moving every 3 or so years. I have lived in a total of 5 states including Colorado, Maryland, Illinois, South Carolina and California. I had become terribly accustomed to changing schools, making new friends and living in a foriegn area. Life was never constant for me. I could never rely on being in a certain place which meant my life was always up in the air. I’ve been on a journey to find myself while areas in my life continually changed. However, methods of finding myself came from multiple areas in my life. Through soccer, family and sincere friendships, I developed charcatertistics which guided my path towards finding myself.

Soccer has been my ride or die. Soccer has allowed me to discover myself as an athlete as well as a person. I began playing at the young age of 4 years old. As I moved around, I was able to depend on soccer for my social and physical life. I began making new friends easily with every new team I was on. And while making friends, I was in a happy enviornment. Secondly, I was practicing further and increasing my soccer skills. I was now a exceptionally better athlete. I found my passion and my drive through soccer. I also had a weekly activity to look forward to which gave me hope to having a future around soccer. With that in mind, I decided to look at colleges in which I will be able to have a part of me at a future school.

My family has always been an incredible support to me. I credit my success to their supportiveness. My parents continuously encouraged me to follow my passions such as soccer as well as soccer interests. They drove me everywhere I needed to be without a complant. My extended family also supported me by showing interest in my studies as well as coming to any soccer games they could, regardless of how far away they may be. I am forever grateful for my families effort to support me. I could not have made it through any challenges or tough times wihout them by my side.

Lastly, moving to different states gave me the opportunity to come in contact with individuals from different areas of the country. I have friends all around the United States. Although making friends can be challenging and scary, the ones I do have are exceptional and wholesome individuals. My friends put giant smiles on my face while leaving me with a stomach ache from too much laughter. They made me feel purposeful and important which gave me confidence. Having such great friends who supported me and challenged me to become a better person made me feel good about myself. I also discovered that I loved being social and interacting with others, which guided me to knowing I wanted to pursue a career that involved communicating with individuals. Thanks to some great friends, I was able to find a new social and confident aspect of myself.

Altogether, my journey to finding myself has been bumpy, I have prospered due to soccer, family and friends as support. Moving around while growing up is not easy. I learned to make the best of everywhere I moved by turning my experience positive. So, through constant suport and encouragement I was able to develop as a person and find key aspects of myself. Furthermore, the charcateristics I learned about myself eventually led me to Piedmont College. Piedmont College continues to make me a well-rounded individual through Liberal Arts education, playing on the women’s soccer team as well as finding new amazing friends. I am thankful for where my journey has led me.

Nicholas Klein, but call me Andrew

Just as the title indicates my name is Nicholas Klein. All I have ever been addressed or called by is Andrew since birth. My friends and family call me “Andy”. I was born in Gwinnett County and grew up just down the road in Barrow county. I have lived there my whole life, so Piedmont is a very new experience and scenery for me. I have already grown to love so many things on campus already including baseball, new friends, and the list could go on and on.

One of the most important things to me as to most people is my family. I have a little bit of a bigger family than most people, but I think of it as a blessing because who doesn’t love two Christmases. In all seriousness, I love everyone in my family, no matter how big of a family it is or how annoying we all get with each other. I have a biological brother named PJ, who I have done everything with and looked up to my whole life. He is four years older than me and has shown me the right way to do things in life through hard work, his faith, and how caring he is. I have three step-siblings Amanda, Blake, and Drew and we are all just as close as real siblings. My step-parents have had a huge impact on my life and they have both been in my life for as long as I can remember. Their families have taken me and my brother in as their own and have treated us no different than their actual family. I would never trade the relationships and all the family members I have for the world. Even though nothing will be more important to me than my family and faith, sports have had the next biggest impact on my life.

Ever since I was four years old baseball has been my passion and my love, but just like in the game of baseball when everything seems to be great the game finds a way to humble you. You can be the best baseball player in the world and you will never be bigger than the game. I have played a lot of sports in my life, but baseball was that one when it came down to focusing and putting in the hard work to excel, it is the one that meant the most to me. I played football and basketball growing up as well, and as a child, I enjoyed those much more than baseball, but since my older brother always loved the game it rubbed off on me too, trying to be just like him. I quit football in middle school but played my senior year and I still regret not playing all four years of high school. Basketball was a different story, playing up to the middle of my junior year, but quitting because of the disconnection the coach and I had. Sports, in general, are how I’ve learned to deal and learn lessons through my life and I will always be so grateful for the opportunity and health that I’ve always had to play what I have loved all these years. I was a knight all my life, (my high school’s mascot) but there is no place I would rather be than Piedmont as a Lion! That is who Andrew Klein is.

Story of My Life (Yes, I’m Referencing One Direction)

It all started when my mom met my dad. They fell in love and they had me. Hi, my name’s Emma Marti, and my life? It’s kind of crazy.

Me with a puppy (Cacahuate) in Ecuador

Now, my life isn’t all that crazy. I just spend more time than I’d like to admit watching TikToks and had to take the opportunity to make that reference. Like I mentioned, my name is Emma. I was born on September 25, 2000, I’m nineteen years old, an only child and I’ve lived in Georgia for my whole life (not necessarily by choice).

I love traveling! Some of my favorite places I’ve visited include the Lake District in northwest England, Edinburgh, Scotland, San Francisco and Patate, Ecuador. All of those trips I took with my high school, Greater Atlanta Christian School. I started attending GACS in second grade and graduated from there, despite moving to Flowery Branch at the beginning of junior year and having to drive for forty minutes (give or take) every day.

I decided that I was coming to Piedmont in April of 2019, pretty much the end of my senior year. I decided to come here because it’s close to home and I love the vibes of the campus. Plus, there are a bunch of opportunities for things I never thought I would have the chance to do!

I’m (currently) majoring in psychology, with hopes of either becoming a counselor or doing something relating to the government? I’m not too sure, but being a criminal profiler seems like a pretty cool job. I’m not a big sports type of gal, so I get involved with other types of organizations. I’m a member of the GB hall council, a member of ZTA, a staff writer for the Roar and a basketball cheerleader (despite popular belief).

Just because I mentioned One Direction in the title, I feel as though I should say that yes, I still love One Direction and no, I do not want them to get back together. They’re doing so much better releasing solo music, but I would still go to the reunion tour if they decide to do one.

I’m not really sure what else to say about me, so I’m just going to end it there.

Edited: During quarantine, I switched majors to Mass Communications and I still watch too many TikToks. Not so sure if I love traveling as much as I did when I originally wrote this, because I didn’t have to consider the threat of the ‘rona.

Madison Powers: About Me

My name is Madison Powers I am a freshman Mass Communication major and I am a twin. We are fraternal twins and her name is Kaitlyn Powers and she is 2 minutes older than me, but I am taller and that’s what matters.

I am originally from Dallas, Georgia which is near Kennesaw, Georgia. I’ve been to 2 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and luckily only 1 high school. When I was 10 my parents divorced so I’ve moved around a lot, which explains why I’ve been to so many schools. Although I’ve moved around a lot; my dream started when I moved to Gainesville,Georgia where I attended North Hall Middle School and North Hall High School. I moved to North Hall Middle School in 7th grade where I didn’t know anyone and was very shy. Until one day in math class this girl I sat next to asked me if I wanted one of her Cheez-it’s and so I took one and we’ve been best friends ever since.

This was around the time I got very interested in gaming and YouTube. Since at home it was hard; so I would played Minecraft on my iPad and watch YouTube to brighten my day. And since 7th grade I’ve wanted to be a YouTuber because YouTubers helped me get through a lot of hard times in my life, and so I want to be a YouTuber not just because I love gaming, but I want to help other people get through their hard times in their life as well. So everything I’ve done to this day was to help me achieve my dream. So I can learn the basics of audio production and video production as well. I tried teaching myself during high school but it didn’t work out so well. So, I decided to go to school to learn the basics and continue my knowledge on media production.

Although I met my best friend in middle school once I got to high school in my junior year I realized I had a talent for writing poetry. So, one day in my literature class my teacher told us about this competition called Young GA Authors. I was nervous about entering it but my teacher encouraged me to. So, next was the hard part trying to figure out what to write my poem about. And what better thing to write about than what you’re passionate about. So, I wrote about gaming and how it made me feel while playing the games and I called it ‘My Life in a Gaming World’. Time went by and I never heard anything until one day someone from the competition came to my math class to give me a goodie bag and to tell me that I won for the 11th grade out of the entire Hall County. This was one of the best days in my life because I have never really won anything before. So this is my favorite memory from high school that I will cherish forever. I am very grateful I got this opportunity and had someone believe in me like my literature teacher did. These are the reasons I am at Piedmont today.