Category Archives: The Editors

Joe Dennis: shaped by journalism

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Journalist. Father. Teacher. Husband. Student. Friend. Mentor. Son.

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.

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.

Bailey White: Wandering and Wondering

Bailey and his nephew, Jack, speaking at his sister’s Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

I’m not lost. I’m just exploring.

Looking back on my life so far, It looks like I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. In high school, I was in the Audition Choir, volunteered at summer camp, and dreamed of living in a van or tiny house traveling the country. In college, I no longer wish to cram myself into a house on wheels, but I am still in choir. Of course, I am a double major because I simply can’t choose. It is true, I have know Idea what I want to be.

There are, however, a few through lines in my life that have guided me.

Wether I am using my voice in performance or speech, behind a camera, or typing, I can often be found telling a story. In the winter of 2018, my sister got married and I found myself walking up to the podium, with my nephew, Jack, to tell the story of my relationship with her, while Jack gave me bunny ears (pictured above). This ended up being one of the most memorable and important moments in my life.

I can also be found in charge of a group of people, despite the fact that I am very much an introvert. In high school, I was a councilor at camp. Last summer, I worked an elementary school’s summer program. If I can make a possessive impact on a person or group of people, I will go out of my way to do so. The joy of seeing someone change, even slightly, in front of my eyes, is like no other.

Of course, I am an introvert. So, often my favorite person to be with is myself. I will intentionally spend hours upon hours simply sitting or walking, often outside. If I am on the Swanson Bridge, and I’m not on my way to class, this is what I’m doing. The world of the mind never ends, and so I find great joy in just exploring it. This has led to a love of hiking, climbing, astronomy, and photography, among others. I have even considered becoming a monk. Without the chance to just contemplate, nothing listed above could be possible. This dive into the mind is what gives me the passion to do everything else.

So, I have no idea what I want to do, not because I don’t want to do anything, but because I choose not to ever be boxed in. I wander around the world of the mind and the physical world, so I can keep wondering about the mysteries of life. There’s not really job with such description that I have been able to find.

Hi, I’m Zoe Hunter. I’m not the most photogenic person, so you will rarely see me in a good photo. I’m not one for being in a picture, I more prefer to be the one taking the picture. I guess you could say I’m more of the “behind the scenes” type of person.
I love photography and love art. I was lucky enough to go to a school bus graveyard with a small group of friends
These were the first ever eggrolls I made from scratch (minus the wrappers. they were store-bought). This photo is about 5 years old, but before I got into photography, I wanted to be the next Gordan Ramsey and have my own restaurant empire. I would always take pictures of my new creations and position the food to try and make it look like look a 5-star dinner. Although that dream was well short-lived, cooking is still one of my passions and I love to cook whenever I get the chance. Yup, I was definitely the foodie when I was younger!
I really got into 3D art a few years ago and would make objects like dresses, reef, and especially flowers out of paper and other minor materials. I was also experimenting with different lighting and different heights to see what could make a good photo and what would not. I was literally standing on a swivel chair to make sure I got the entire flower in the shot. You can imagine how big the flower is in real life.
I created 5 dresses made from materials of paper and outdated cat calendars, each dress improving in quality and in speed. I love this photo for the shadow the dresses casted on the wall behind them.
This is Stitch. I needed a model for my high school graduation cap and tassel and Stitch fits the cap perfectly.
I took this picture of the backyard on the first snow of the year a few years back. Living in Atlanta, snow is quite a rarity.
Went on a trip to Universal Studios with my youth group last March, and the place was just so beautiful I had to take over 200 pictures just to makes sure I got everything and had the best shots. The water was so crisp and clear
The Universal Studios food signs that I found so pretty and fascinating. This is my favorite picture. I figured I’d saved the best one for last.

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 sophomore 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.

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. And I am looking forward to what this course has to offer


Conner Jelley: Grape Jelly is always the move

Hey everyone. My name is Conner Jelley. I am Monrovia, Indiana which is a small town no more than 20 minutes south of Indianapolis. All it takes to get to Piedmont College from my hometown is a slight nine hour car ride. I have grown up my whole in Monrovia and attended Monrovia High School. I have played both football and baseball for as long as I can remember. I am very blessed to be able to still be playing baseball in college for a highly talented team. As a freshmen, making the change of scenery was tough at first. However now there is no place I would rather be than right here at Piedmont college. I cannot wait to begin this spring season as a Piedmont Lion. Being a huge fan of sports made it easy for me to choose Sports communication as my major pretty easy. I have grown being a fan of any team from Pittsburgh. Steelers, Pirates, and the Penguins. My dad grew up in Pittsburgh for most of his life and passed on the love of those teams to me.

For the most part these past few months have been crazy and I would not change it for anything. I can’t wait to see where my future here at Piedmont takes me.

A little bit about me

Hello everyone, my name is Matt Leemann and I am a sophomore here at Piedmont College. I live in Milton, Georgia currently, but I haven’t lived there my entire life. I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, then moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then finally ending up here in Georgia where we’ve been for 12 years now. I have an older brother who is a Junior at UGA.

Growing up I played eight years of competitive baseball, traveling all around Georgia and out of state on teams until I was 14. I then made a switch to golf, which was mostly from my Dad just taking me out to play for fun on the weekends when I was free. I started to realize how relaxing and fun golf was so I gravitated toward it and quit baseball. I then went on to play 4 years of high school golf at Cambridge High School winning a State championship and two region tournaments. I chose Piedmont for golf because it was close to home and offered many of my interests including a very close proximity to one of my favorite things… Mountains! lol

I have always been very fortunate to be able to travel to some pretty neat places with my family, and I have always enjoyed the different scenery and landscapes you get to view when visiting new destinations. My Junior year of high school I started to drive up to the North GA mountains with my buddies and hike every chance we got, growing my passion for exploring new places and adventuring even if it’s only 2 hours away. It’s so cool going hiking and camping with friends because you’re just all there together living in the moment. Being outdoors and seeing stunning landscapes a lot inspired me to get started with some photography as well, and I am constantly taking pictures and editing them on Lightroom. My favorite photographers include Chris Burkard, Evan Ranft and Jordan Hammond, definitely go check them out you won’t regret it!

Anyways, looking forward to writing more in this class and hearing and sharing more stories with ya’ll.

From Foundling to Founder & Beyond!

Before I finished High School, at the young age of sixteen, I was living in my car learning how to make ends meet, the hard way. I learned very quickly who I wanted (and didn’t want) to be. Hardship has a way of getting right to the point.

My name is Julie Dreier (soon to be Adams), and I’ve been in digital communications as a professional for the better part of fifteen years. I currently own my own marketing and advertising business, Girl In Paris™ Creative Studio, which I incorporated in 2011. Over the years I have built numerous websites, commercial WordPress® themes, various digital platforms, advertising campaigns, and provided print collateral for most of my high profile clients which I am very honored to say include: The Zac Brown Brand®, A Southern Company®Cox Media Group®, Netjets®, Forbes®, Ali Brown®, Anderson Aesthetics in Atlanta, University of Georgia®, and the former Marine One pilot for President Barack Obama, Michael Middleton, with his new software company Safe Helipad™. I am writing about each of these experiences in my upcoming book Brand Like A Girl.

I am a proud member of the Atlanta Ad Club, The Graphic Artist Guild, and currently, have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Maybe I am an overachiever? Probably.

You might be asking yourself ‘Dear God, woman, what are you doing here?’ The simple answer is that I am seeking a degree as a “backup plan”, but more importantly, the real answer is to have the honor of walking across that graduation stage with a diploma in my hand for the first time in my life. Remember when I said I started my adulthood in my car? That was during my Junior year. I didn’t get to finish high school because I was living each day wondering if I would survive the next. In fact, I never even saw my senior year.

But fast forward to today and the outlook is much brighter. I currently host my own podcast Girl Boss Talk™ that has made it to: iTunes®, Spotify®, Google Play™, Stitcher®, and just recently iHeart Radio® with over 10,000 downloads. 2018 proved to be a successful year for my show and has even spawned my new shiny project, Podcast Nation FM™, that just officially launched in December. My show’s episodes feature other successful women and their stories, along with tips and tricks to becoming a successful entrepreneur from a woman’s perspective. In my pilot episode, I talk about the professional revelation I had during my first semester here at Piedmont and why there is a need to bridge the gap between large corporate opportunity and the ambitious small business entrepreneur.

My hobbies include leather-working, jewel-crafting, painting, gaming, and playing drums. I have three daughters, the youngest is twelve and the other two have begun their adult journeys already. Time really does fly by! I also have three dogs, two cats, and a rabbit named Thumper, just in case, I get bored.

“Sacrifice is not what we give up, but what we ultimately gain” ~JD

me

Julie Dreier
CEO/Founder & Creative Director
Girl In Paris LLC
Podcast Nation LLC

Autobiography

Hello everyone, my name is Zach Swindell. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am from Newnan, Georgia, about two hours south of Piedmont College. I attended Northgate high school in Coweta County. I have been playing baseball since I was four years old and I am extremely blessed to be able to still play the game I love. I started out my college career at a junior college, Gordon State College. I played baseball and took classes there for two years. I transferred to Piedmont College last semester and I love it so far. I am so excited to play my first season for the Lions this Spring.I am a huge sport fanatic. My favorite teams are the Atlanta Braves, Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Falcons, and the Atlanta Hawks. When I am not playing baseball my favorite things to do include fishing, hunting, watching Netflix, going to the lake, and skiing. I love spending my time outdoors rather then sitting inside. My favorite foods are mac and cheese, caesar salad, crab legs, and chicken parmesan. I can’t wait to see what this course has to offer.

Hi ​my name is Casey and here’s what I’m about.

My full name is Casey Brynne Todd, pronunciation is KAY-CEE BRIN TOD.

I live in Decatur, Ga with my mom, three dogs and two cats. I have moved to many places and grew up in three different places for each stage of life. First, it was Snellville, Ga from the time I can remember till right after second grade, I was around 8. Second, I moved to Lawrenceville, Ga for half of the third grade then moved to Auburn, Ga, yes there is one in Georgia as well. I lived there for six years and moved right after my freshmen year of high school leaving all my friends to start new in Decatur.

I have five older siblings who I have lived with briefly with each of them. They have a different dad but were still close and getting closer with time. I have a younger sister who has a different mom and she is honestly the best thing to happen to me because of shes just, so crazy but honestly the best to talk to.

I have three dogs who are very different but very much alike fo they are all ‘red’. Their names are Samantha, Sargent Pepper, yes from The Beatles’ song, and Dahlia. There are two cats who are very different for one is very old and the other is about an adult cat, their names are Jimmy and Dolce, and yes had a Gabbana but she wanted to be a wild cat.

I only have a few hobbies and it’s running, singing, and sometimes dancing. I have been running cross country and track since seventh grade and have stuck with it for I am one of those where my sport defines me and without it I’m nothing, but on another note I do sing, but only in the shower, car, or screaming loudly with friends. I dance in a way of just letting off steam and stress so it’s a fun dance but not actual dance.

I don’t have much planned for my future besides getting done with college to just go live and hope somthing cool happens.