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Issue 11: August 2022


Georgia Southwestern looks to propel business leaders with new Executive MBA program

GSW launched an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) with its first cohort set to begin Spring 2023. The 12-month, cohort-based program is designed specifically to prepare mid- to upper-level executives for increasingly advanced management roles within their current or future organizations leading to career advancement, personal growth and salary increase.

Official approval for the new program just came from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) at their August meeting. Business and community leaders in the region expressed a high level of interest and need for an EMBA program in Southwest Georgia during GSW’s Academic Planning in 2019.

“I am so proud of the work our dedicated faculty has put in to providing this unique experience for executives in our region that will support them in their career endeavors,” stated Gaynor Cheokas, D.B.A., dean of the College of Business and Computing. “GSW’s EMBA program will reinvigorate our existing curriculum, and is part of the institution’s overall effort to modernize course offerings to meet market needs.”

GSW’s EMBA consists of ten courses carefully designed and delivered in a convenient hybrid format to fit the needs of our region’s busy organizational leaders and move these professionals through the program in cohorts with maximum time efficiency and minimum distraction from their important duties.

Read more about the new program here.


nursing students in scrubsGeorgia Southwestern ranked #1 nursing school in Georgia for 2022

For the second time, Georgia Southwestern State University has received the top ranking as one of the “Top 10 Nursing Schools in Georgia” by

GSW’s #1 rank is based on the nursing program’s reputation, NCLEX pass rate, tuition and acceptance rate. These factors were reviewed by a selection panel of five experienced registered nurses.  

According to, GSW is a “great destination for nursing students.” The “affordable” in-state tuition, “impressive” NCLEX pass rate at 96.88%, and “plentiful” programs to choose from is a “huge draw” for nursing students.

Only schools accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) were eligible for placement on the list.

“We are thrilled our CCNE-accredited nursing program was recognized as number one in Georgia for a second time,” said Sandra Daniel, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “Our program’s success can be attributed to our expert faculty and excellent clinical experiences through our partnerships with southwest Georgia healthcare organizations such as the Phoebe Putney Health System and Magnolia Manor.”

Read more about GSW's #1 ranking here.


GSW Pi Kappa Phi fraternity endows legacy scholarship

Alumni from the Gamma Xi Chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity endowed a new scholarship this summer at Georgia Southwestern State University perpetuating a legacy of community, school spirit and brotherhood. The “Gamma Xi Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity Legacy Scholarship” will be granted to legacies of the Gamma Xi chapter.

Gamma Xi Chapter alumnus Sparky Reeves and other brothers have led the way in raising funds to endow this new scholarship through letters, emails, phone calls and all manner of communication.

“We are honored the Gamma Xi Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi’s Legacy Scholarship will forever be able to make a difference in the life of future students at Georgia Southwestern,” Reeves said.

Reeves and several Gamma Xi Chapter alumni gathered recently with GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D., to sign a gift agreement commemorating the new scholarship.

Read more about the new scholarship here.



Forever Georgia Southwestern t-shirtAlumni Association taking pre-orders for scholarship fundraiser t-shirts

The GSW Alumni Association is offering an exclusive t-shirt with this special "Forever Georgia Southwestern" design to raise funds for student scholarships.

The shirts will be Comfort Colors and will have short-sleeve and long-sleeve options. The graphic is on the back of the shirt with the GSW logo on the front left pocket.

Pre-orders are open at until September 16. Shirts will be available for pickup on campus during Homecoming Week (September 19-24) or can be shipped anywhere in the continental US for a small fee reflected on the order form.

Contact the Office of Alumni Affairs at or 229-928-1373 with any questions.

basket of nursing giveaway itemsGSWANS hosting raffle at September meeting

Calling all Nursing and Pre-nursing students!! The Georgia Southwestern State University Association of Nursing Students (GSWANS) is hosting a new member raffle at their September meeting. Join through the National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA) at and then send a screenshot of your member ID to Kinzie McTyeire at to be entered into the raffle.

The basket includes approximately $150 worth of goodies that any nursing student needs, such as a stethoscope, pens, highlighters, a GSWANS t-shirt, a GSW travel coffee cup, a Sweet Georgia Bakery & Cafe Gift card, and more! Entries must be sent by September 22 to have your name added to the raffle. Must be present at the September meeting to win.

WALB digital content manager meets with online media class

On August 23, Jordan Barela from WALB in Albany, Ga. guest lectured in Creating for Online Media, taught by Ashley Jones, Ph.D. Barela is currently WALB's Digital Content Manager. 

Students learned about digital content creation in a news environment, best practices for writing digital news stories, and tips and tricks for working in the digital news industry.

Jordan Barela of WALB teaches class

Student Recognitions

Canes Spotlights announced for August

Canes Spotlights highlight Georgia Southwestern students who hold leadership roles, are involved in extracurricular activities and/or excel academically in their degree programs.

The August Canes Spotlights were Elia Zarate and Jerome Harney.

Elia Zarate

Elia Zarate

Senior biology major and Atlanta native Elia Zarate has thrived in GSW's close-knit community. "The student-to-faculty ratio at Georgia Southwestern gave me the opportunity to establish close relationships with my professors as well as my peers," Elia said. "As a biology major, GSW’s recognizable science program, along with the lasting relationships I have established with my professors, helped me achieve an in-depth understanding and high respect for biology."

Elia recently won the Faculty Choice Award for her poster presentation at GSW's Undergraduate Research Symposium and has served as a teaching assistant for six Microbiology courses. She is also currently serving as Kappa Delta's VP for Inclusion.

She plans to graduate this December.

Jerome HarneyJerome Harney

MBA student Jerome Harney of Tustin, California hasn't let being an online student on the other side of the country stop him from getting involved at GSW. As a student organizer for TEDx Georgia SouthwesternU, he was part of the team that helped bring the inaugural TEDx event to campus this past spring. Jerome even flew to Americus to attend the event in-person.

"Being a part of TEDxGeorgiaSouthwesternU gave me a broader perspective on why GSW is so special," Jerome said. "It's the people at GSW. If you are willing to become engaged, the faculty and staff are there for the students, and they will go the extra mile to help students get what they need to succeed. I felt this way entering as an online MBA student, but when I had the chance to meet and interact with faculty and staff, I saw in person how committed GSW is to the students and GSW community. The people at GSW make the place."

Jerome plans to graduate with his MBA this December.

Canes Spotlights are nominated by GSW faculty and staff.

Hurricanes earn third straight ABCA Team Academic Excellence Award

The GSW baseball team was named a recipient of the 2021-22 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Team Academic Excellence Award presented by Sports Attack. Teams from every level of college and high school baseball were honored with this year's award, which highlights programs coached by ABCA members that posted a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale for the entire 2021-22 academic year.

GSW earned the award for the third consecutive year. 

Read more about the award criteria here.

baseball team

90 Hurricanes on PBC Presidential Honor Roll

GSW placed 90 student-athletes on the 2021-22 Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll released recently by the league office.

The Presidential Honor Roll presented by Barnes & Noble College recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of Peach Belt Conference student-athletes who compete in the league's 16 championship sports both at full member institutions and associate member institutions. The Presidential Honor Roll honors all Peach Belt student-athletes who had a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the academic year. 1,550 student-athletes were recognized on this year's list, giving the PBC 1,000 or more for the 12th year in a row.

The honor roll is divided into four groups: Presidential Scholars, Bronze Scholars, Silver Scholars and Gold Scholars. All student-athletes with a GPA from 3.0 to 3.24 are Presidential Scholars while Bronze Scholars are 3.25 to 3.49; Silver 3.50 to 3.74 and Gold Scholars are those with a 3.75 to 4.00.

The Georgia Southwestern baseball program had the largest number of Hurricane student-athletes on the list with 21. Softball was three shy of baseball with 18 honorees. The department reached 20 or more gold honorees for only the third time in school history and tied its record of 28 student-athletes earning bronze level recognition.

The women's tennis team led all GSW sports with the highest percentage of its roster on the Honor Roll as all eight members of the program earned distinction.

Check out the full list of Presidential Honor Roll students here.

Geraldine Alvarez and Lucas Bedleg named Top Performers in August

Women's soccer forward Geraldine Alvarez and men's soccer forward Lucas Bedleg have been named the Georgia Southwestern State University Department of Athletics top performers for the month of August.

Alvarez, a senior from Bogota, Columbia, helped lead GSW to a perfect 3-0 start this fall. She was on the pitch for 216 of a possible 270 minutes and had two assists, including one in each of the Lady Hurricanes last two matches. GSW has outscored its opponents, 12-2, for the largest goal differential through three matches in program history.   

Bedleg, a freshman from Andelarrot, France, has five goals through three matches as the GSW men are undefeated, as well, at 3-0. He wrapped up the month with a hat trick against Middle Georgia State on Wednesday. It was only the second time a Hurricane has scored three goals in a match. Bedleg led the Peach Belt Conference in August in goals and points. He has a 0.636 shots on goal percentage.    

GSW coaches nominate athletes and vote for the recipients of the top performers award on the first Friday of each month.

Read more here.

Geraldine Alvarez and Lucas Bedleg

Matteo Landais and Mohammed Amine Mahrous receive PBC weekly titles

Junior Matteo Landais was named PBC Men's Soccer Player of the Week for the week of August 29. Matteo delivered both game-winning goals as the Hurricanes went 2-0 the week prior. He added an assist in the win over North Greenville before scoring with 0:56 remaining.

Senior Mohammed Amine Mahrous was named PBC Men's Soccer Defender of the Week for the week of August 29. He helped the Hurricanes post a shutout in one game then preserved the win in another with a save between the pipes during the week before.

Trio named GCAA Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars

GSW men's golfers Chase McLain, Nicolas Escobar and Jack Tharrington have been named Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars for the 2021-22 season as announced recently by the Golf Coaches Association of America. All three Hurricanes are first-time recipients of the honor. 

McLain, a senior from Leesburg, Ga., completed his second full season with the Hurricanes while pursuing his master's degree in business administration. McLain compiled a 73.77 scoring average over 35 rounds of competition in 2021-22. His best event this campaign was the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Regional played May 5-7 where he fired a 4-under 212 and tied for eighth place out of 108 golfers. McLain finished the year at No. 100 in the NCAA Division II individual rankings according to Golfstat.

Escobar, a sophomore management major from Guayaquil Ecuador, compiled a 73.24 scoring average over 29 rounds of competition in 2021-22. His best event of the season was the Hurricane Invitational played Feb. 28-March 1 where he compiled a 3-under 213 and tied for fifth place out of 90 golfers. Escobar finished the year at No. 67 in the NCAA Division II individual rankings according to Golfstat.  

Tharrington, a sophomore marketing major from Boca Raton, Fla., compiled a 74.19 scoring average over 26 rounds of competition in 2021-22. His best event of the season was the Hurricane Invitational where he shot a 1-under 215 and tied for 10th place out of 90 golfers. Tharrington finished the year at No. 103 in the NCAA Division II individual rankings according to Golfstat.

Read more about this honor here.

golf players

Softball program excels with 11 All-America Scholar-Athletes

The Georgia Southwestern State University softball team had 11 All-America Scholar-Athletes named for the 2021-22 academic year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) on Monday afternoon. Ansley Duffey, Jaelyn Flynn, Natalia Herrera, Hannah Holloway, Jacie Johns, Isabel Marcotte, Allyson Murdock, Ashlyn Rogers, Kimmy Singer, Chloe Sneed and Katelyn Wood earned the award by posting a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher during the year. The 11 honorees is a single-season program record.

Georgia Southwestern's team GPA of 3.46 led the Peach Belt Conference and ranked 58th in NCAA Division II.

Read more about the criteria here.

softball team


Dr. Iordanova and her sonIordanova conducts demonstrations at Furlow Charter School

Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, Geology, & Physics N. Iordanova, Ph.D, recently spoke to 6th grade scholars at Furlow Charter School in Americus, Ga. She conducted several chemistry demonstrations with liquid nitrogen for the students.

The scholars learned about temperate changes into negative measurements using the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales, conductors and insulators, changes in states of matter, and some Latin prefixes commonly used in STEM careers.

Iordanova is pictured here with her son Alex, who is a Furlow scholar.

Jones presents at Orlando conference

Assistant Professor of Communication in the Department of Music, Communication, & Emerging Media Ashley P. Jones, Ph.D., presented at the 2022 Console-ing Passions conference in Orlando, Fla. on June 23, 2022. Her presentation was titled "Sean, Am I a Monster? Examining Feminist and Queer Procedures and Mechanics as Calls to Action," which explores the political impact of feminist and queer play experiences outside of the video game space.

Dr. Yemelyanov presents his workYemelyanov presents work at New York conference

Professor of Computer Science Alexander Yemelyanov, Ph.D., D.Sc. made a presentation at 13th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2022) July 24-28, where he presented his recently published article co-authored with his former graduate student Rahul Sukumaran and daughter Alina Yemelyanov (Georgia State University).

The article is titled Application of ExpressDecision2 in User-Centered and Shared-with-Expert Decisions Under Risk and Uncertainty. ExpressDecision2 is a web application designed to support the individual in quickly making difficult decisions under uncertainty, which are emotionally driven and typically solved by using rational intuition.

Awards & Grants

GSW’s College of Business and Computing makes the “Honor Roll”

The College of Business and Computing (COBAC) is proud to announce its High Honors designation with Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS), the international business honor society. Schools that earn recognition in BGS’ Chapter Honor Roll program are commended for their commitment to academic excellence, leadership and student success.

As a designated Beta Gamma Sigma High Honors chapter, COBAC also receives a scholarship for one BGS student to attend the 2023 Global Leadership Summit—an annual event that gathers some of the top business students from around the world for a four-day learning and networking experience.

Chapters that make the BGS Honor Roll receive other benefits as well, including the ability to nominate for society wide awards and yearlong international recognition at business education conferences.

“I am thrilled the GSW Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma is recognized as an Honors Chapter for the 2021-2022 year,” said Qian “Maggie” Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance. “Our chapter’s success can be attributed to our excellent students and our expert faculty.”

Read more about this honor here.

students hold certificates alongside professors

Dr. Yemelyanov holds his patent award with Dean CheokasYemelyanov awarded U.S. Patent

Professor of Computer Science Alexander Yemelyanov, Ph.D., D.Sc. received a patent award for Express Decision (US Patent. No. 11,358,611, US PTO) on June 14, 2022. Express Decision is a decision-making augmentation system which is designed to support the individual in making difficult decisions under risk and uncertainty, which are emotionally driven and typically solved by using rational intuition.

“As the creator of Express Decision, I am incredibly honored to receive this award,” said Yemelyanov. “This project is the culmination of many years of research for me, an undertaking which I started back in the 1990s, with more than 20 research publications and multiple presentations at various research conferences”.

Express Decision has great potential to be used for both everyday and professional decisions. Currently, as a systematic method, it includes several web applications encompassing the fields of healthcare and insurance. So far, Express Decision has been integrated into GSW’s curriculum via undergraduate assignments and several graduate research projects, with three students writing their theses on the topic, as well as two students collaborating on three different academic journal publications with Yemelyanov.

As far as the University is aware, Yemelyanov is the first GSW faculty member to have his work patented.


students visit with locals in PeruIordanova facilitates UNIV 4000 grant

Chemistry professor Nedialka Iordanova, Ph.D, and leader of several UNIV 4000 International Service Learning study abroad programs, solicited another $1,500 for the the UNIV 4000 International Service Learning Fund, which she established with the GSW Foundation.

The donation is given by the Augusta Howard Warren Fund and is the Fund's fifth donation to the UNIV 4000 program. The grant is intended to support students participating in UNIV 4000's trip to Peru in Spring 2023.

In recent years, UNIV 4000 trips have also included trips to Nepal, Turkey, and Nicaragua.

New Hires, Promotions, Retirements, & Farewells

College of Education welcomes five new faculty

The College of Education welcomed five new full-time faculty members on August 1, 2022.

headshot of Jessica WatsonJessica Watson

Jessica Watson, Ph.D., joined the College of Education as an Assistant Professor of Special Education. She graduated from Georgia State University with her Ph.D. in Education of Students with Exceptionalities with an emphasis on transition planning for young adults with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.

As a former special education teacher, Jessica is passionate about improving family-school partnerships and supporting preservice teachers.

Jessica, her husband, Ben, and two children, Will (5) and Cali (1) recently moved to Americus from Cumming, Ga. She is very excited to call Americus home and looks forward to investing in the GSW community.

headshot of Mary HuffmanMary Huffman

Mary Huffman, Ed.D., is a new Assistant Professor in the College of Education as of August 1, 2022. She joins the College of Education after teaching in Charleston County School District in South Carolina for the past 20 years. She graduated from Walden University with her Ed.D. in College Teaching & Learning with an emphasis on Adult Education in December 2020. She holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree from Western Illinois University in Elementary Education with a ELA Middle School Endorsement.

After teaching 21 years at the elementary school level, Huffman is excited to teach Social Studies Education courses using hands-on and project-based learning strategies. Her research interests are reduction of teacher attrition, collaborative professional learning for alternative teacher certification programs, and integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion within social studies education curriculum.

headshot of Allison-TarrerAllison Tarrer

Allison Tarrer, Ed.S. is a new Lecturer of Special Education in the College of Education as of August 1, 2022. She joins the College of Education after teaching for 27 years in the Georgia public school system. Most recently she taught in Houston County School District at Quail Run Elementary School in Warner Robins, GA.

She graduated from Columbus State University with an Educational Specialist in Leadership. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Georgia, Georgia Southwestern State University, respectively.

Allison is looking forward to training teacher candidates, working with local school systems and promoting GSW through the College of Education.

headshot of Zachary WardZachery Ward

Zachery Ward is joining the College of Education as a Lecturer of Education beginning August 1, 2022. Zachery is a three-time GSW alumnus, having earned a B.S.Ed. in 2017, M.Ed. in 2018, and Ed.S. in 2019. He also attended the University of West Georgia and earned his Tier-1 Educational Leadership and Administration certification in 2021. Zachery feels that he never really left GSW and is excited to take education by storm. Zachery previously served as a part-time instructor for GSW's College of Education.

His professional work lies within the public school system where he served as a third-grade teacher, MTSS coordinator, and academic interventionist.

His research interests include the neuroscience of the reading and learning brain, instructional technology use, and positive behavior supports. Zachery looks forward to serving the GSW community and students.

headshot of Rebecca MillerRebecca Miller

Rebecca Miller is a new Lecturer in the College of Education effective August 1, 2022. She graduated from Valdosta State University with her EdS in Teacher Leadership and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Leadership and Child Advocacy. She has 10 years of experience in elementary education, most recently at Furlow Charter School.

Her research interests include co-teaching in inclusive education and social, emotional, and behavioral foundations in elementary education.

She is looking forward to joining the GSW team and helping to prepare the next generation of educators.

headshot of John BrooksJohn Brooks named Director of Human Resources

John Brooks has over 26 years of experience in human resources management in higher education, information technology and systems, state supreme and circuit courts, healthcare, K12 and non-profit industries. John has an extensive record of achievement in recruiting at all levels of large matrixed organizations receiving national and state recognition for senior and C level recruitment.

Prior to joining Georgia Southwestern, John served as CEO for Clarity Consulting Group of Georgia, primarily focused on higher education, K12, municipal government and corporate consulting. John has also served in other chief human resource officer, senior business management, and adjunct faculty roles in institutions and systems including Radford University, Armstrong State University, University of Missouri System and Healthcare, the Missouri State Supreme Court, University of Louisiana-Lafayette and Tennessee Technological University.

John is an expert on organizational transformation, having led efforts for multiple institutions to receive national and state recognition for “Top Workplace” and “Best in Practice,” and also for technological achievements in human resource operations. He credits his success to “recruiting the right leadership and professionals, and developing organizations through empowerment, as well as team and servant leadership.”

John has actively served in board and leadership roles for SHRM, CUPA, Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) and multiple chambers of commerce. He has been an active member of the National Center for State Courts, EDUCAUSE, various drug court associations, Rotary Clubs and community groups.

He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Missouri State University and Bachelor of Science degrees in criminal justice administration and psychology from Drury University. He currently lives in McDonough with his wife, Penny, and enjoys exploring the outdoors, music, painting, traveling, photography, and attending arts and cultural activities.

headshot of Jennifer WilsonJennifer Wilson joins Human Resources

On August 10, Jennifer Wilson joined the Office of Human Resources as the Human Resources Assistant. In this role, she will be working alongside GSW's Director of Human Resources and Human Resource Specialist to assist in the functions of the office, including onboarding faculty, staff, and student workers and facilitating benefit information to those elegible.

A native of Americus, Ga., Jennifer has one daughter, Jaliyah, who recently moved into college as a freshman. She previously worked as a personal/small business banker for Wells Fargo and an insurance broker for Colonial Life. Jennifer brings over 10 years of experience in insurance and finance to the Office of Human Resources. She is excited to join the GSW community.

Hunter-Peak.JPGHunter Peak joins GSW Foundation
Hunter Peak joined the GSW Foundation staff as a Development Officer on August 1, 2022.
Hunter has been a professional fundraiser for higher education since 1998. He completed his B.A. in economics at Auburn University in 1986. After graduation, Hunter moved to Atlanta and worked in accounting for Johnson & Higgins. In 1993, he started working as a financial aid counselor with The Art Institutes International, in Atlanta. While in Atlanta, he obtained a B.S. in finance from Kennesaw State University. After twelve years in Atlanta, he moved to Fort Lauderdale to join Nova Southeastern University as Director of Scholarships. After four years, Hunter returned to his home town, Auburn to raise money for the schools of pharmacy and college of veterinary medicine. He also spent three years as a Major Gift Officer for Auburn.
Hunter started with Columbus State University in 2014 as the Development Director for the Turner College of Business. He helped the University complete a $100m+ comprehensive campaign and earned his MBA. In 2019, Hunter was hired as the Director of Development to lead a $29m comprehensive campaign for The Columbus Museum. In early 2022, Hunter retired, but after six months, he jumped back into higher education philanthropy at GSW.

headshot of Brandon BellBrandon Bell joins Criminal Justice program

Brandon Bell joined the Department of Psychology and Sociology as Lecturer of Criminal Justice on August 1, 2022. Brandon is a 2001 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and completed his graduate degree in Justice Administration at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. in 2017. Brandon has over 20 years of law enforcement field experience, presently serving as a Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit. He has led multiple Georgia disaster responses and was a public safety commander for Superbowl LIII in Atlanta. Brandon also served as a member of the Statewide Human Trafficking Taskforce 2017-2021 and as an academy instructor, teaching public safety trainees in a plethora of basic, intermediate, and advanced courses since 2008 - including active shooter response, tactical medicine, hostage negotiation, emergency vehicle operations, de-escalation, human trafficking, and many others.

Through this service, Brandon discovered a passion for teaching. In 2017, Brandon began his formal college teaching experience as a part time instructor for Dalton State College, ultimately taking on eMajor courses and serving as an SME for course revision/development.

Brandon is blessed to share life with his wife, Babs and their two children - adult son Russ, 22 (a Tunnel Hill City Police Officer), and daughter Hyland, 12. Brandon and Babs are founding members and serve on the Board of Directors for LIFT Youth Center in Ringgold, Ga. – a center aimed at impacting Middle and High School youth in the community through Recreation, Arts, Education, Community, and Health. Brandon is proud to continue his tradition of service in his new role with GSW.

headshot of Laura GosaSchool of Nursing welcomes two new faculty
Laura Gosa

Laura Kim Gosa, DNP RN, PTA joined the College of Nursing & Health Sciences as an an Assistant Professor of Nursing for the in August 2022. She graduated with her Doctoral of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Georgia State University. She is also an alumna earning her MSN in Informatics and her RN-BSN degree from GSW, an ASN degree and PTA degree from Darton College. Prior to joining GSW, she worked at Albany State University and Darton College as a nursing faculty member and an allied health faculty member since 2012.

Prior to the academia setting, she worked in the local hospital with more than 20 years of healthcare experience in a variety of settings and roles. Laura is originally from Leesburg, GA. She is married and has two adult children, Graham & Gray, and she has three four-legged children. She is honored to serve in GSW’s College of Nursing & Health Sciences mentoring and teaching the next generation of nursing students to impact the nursing workforce and improve Georgia’s nursing shortage.

headshot of Natasha SniderNatasha Snider

Natasha M Snider Start Date: 8/1/2022 Position: Lecturer, Bachelor of Science Nursing Program, GSW College of Health Sciences & Nursing. Psychiatric Nursing Specialty. Education: Master of Science in Nursing Education from Western Governors University. Salt Lake City, Utah Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus, Ga Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Belmont University, Nashville, TN Previous Employer: Columbus Technical College, 5 years, as Nursing Instructor: Accelerated 1 Year Associate Degree in Nursing Program. Hometown: Buena Vista, GA. Resides in Putnam, GA on family farm, Mt Zion Cattle Company, with husband, Kyle , and three daughters: Hadleigh, Cesaleigh, and Greleigh Snider. Areas of interest are nursing, community involvement, sewing, antiques, and cattle farming..

Corey Gardner joins GSW Baseball

Director of player development with the baseball team. Originally from Columbus, Indiana. Worked at Southern Wesleyan Univeristy as the Assistant Baseball Coach, Univeristy of Rio Grande as the Assistant Baseball Coach , and Kentucky Christian Univeristy as the Assistant Baseball Coach.

headshot of Sandra Leigh SwordsSandra "Leigh" Swords promoted to Lecturer of Nursing

On August 1, 2022, Sandra "Leigh" Swords was promoted to full-time Lecturer of Nursing in School of Nursing. She has been at GSW for the last five years as an Adjunct Clinical Instructor.

Leigh completed the Associate of Science in Nursing degree from Darton State College in Albany, Ga. in 2006, after which she successfully passed the Georgia Nursing State Boards - NCLEX and worked in various nursing positions in the Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Stepdown Unit, Medical/Surgical, Nurse Manager, and House Supervisor. She continued her education and received a RN-BSN degree from GSW in 2015. Most recently, she was employed at Crisp Regional Hospital in a PRN position working in ICU and as the RN-House Supervisor. 

Leigh is currently enrolled in the MSN Nursing Educator track at GSW and is looking forward to graduation in May 2023. She lives in Leesburg, Ga. with her husband of 15 years Jeff and 9-year-old son Justin. Leigh is blessed to be part of the GSW team and honored to work in the #1 ranked Nursing School in the state of Georgia for 2022.

headshot of Brian MallettBrian Mallett joins Office of Institutional Research

Dr. Brian Mallett joined GSW on August 23, 2022, as the Director of Institutional Research. His responsibilities include collecting, analyzing and reporting data that supports students and the university. The role involves stewardship for metrics that advance continuous improvement, strategic planning, and communication with external agencies. Prior to this, he worked at Pfizer where he led supply chains and operational excellence for a global manufacturing network. He is a six-sigma black belt with broad experience driving innovation and growth through evidence-based decision making. He has a doctorate in management from the University of Maryland, an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan, an MS in biochemistry from the University of Dayton, and BS degrees in biology and chemistry from Wright State University. He lives in Leesburg, GA, with his wife Elaine.

headshot of Darrin TheriaultDarrin Theriault joins the College of Business and Computing

Darrin hails from Nashua, New Hampshire and during his 23-year Army career has lived all across the US and around the world. He joins Cane Nation following eight years of serving students in various positions at Kennesaw State University. Darrin is the proud Dad of three (now adult) children. He enjoys playing golf, tennis, basketball, fitness, reading and is passionate about working closely with college students. Go Canes!

New Hires

Patricia Childers joined the Department of Biology as Laboratory Coordinator on August 1, 2022.

Surya Amarachintha joined the Department of Biology as Assistant Professor of Biology and Thomas Distinguished Biology Chair on August 1, 2022.

Sisi Chen joined the School of Health Science as Assistant Professor of Exercise Science on August 1, 2022.

Sunni Zemblowski rejoined the College of Arts and Sciences as a Part-Time Instructor on August 1, 2022.

Shawn McGee joined the Division of Business and Finance as Director of Auxiliary Services on August 1, 2022.

James Faison joined the Department of Athletics as the Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach on August 1, 2022.

Miguel Galindo joined the Department of Athletics as the Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach on August 1, 2022.

Cynthia Coe Richmond joined the College of Arts and Sciences as a Part-Time Instructor on August 1, 2022.

Tripp Larkey joined the Office of First-Year Experience as FYE Assistant on August 17, 2022.

James Corey Lamb joined the College of Business and Computing as a Part-Time Instructor on August 22, 2022.

Lisa Cooper, who recently retired as Director of Institutional Research, has rejoined the Office of Institutional Research as a part-time consultant as of August 29, 2022.

Caitlin Grindall joined the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities as Coordinator of Student Rights and Responsibilities on August 29, 2022.


Katherine Barnetson, Assistant Professor in the College of Education, retired on August 1, 2022 after over 12 years at GSW.

Promotions and Title Changes

Paul Dahlgren was named Interim Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences on August 1, 2022.

Shannon Perry was promoted to Assistant Professor in the College of Business and Computing on August 1, 2022. She also currently serves as Assistant Dean of Online Learning.

Nicholas Graham was named Head Men’s Cross Country Coach in the Department of Athletics on August 1, 2022. He also currently serves as the Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach.

Jesse Russell was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in the Department of English and Modern Languages on August 1, 2022.

Mark Grimes was promoted to Professor of Management in the College of Business and Computing on August 1, 2022.

Qian Maggie Wang was promoted to Associate Professor in the College of Business and Computing on August 1, 2022.

Benjamin Meador was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in the School of Health Sciences on August 1, 2022.

Andrew Sendek, previously the Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach, was named Head Women’s Tennis Coach in the Department of Athletics on August 1, 2022.  

Lee Wright was promoted to Assistant Professor of Biology in the Department of Biology on August 1, 2022.

Jeremy Wicker, previously the Orientation and Transitions Coordinator in the Office of First-Year Experience, was named Assistant Director of Campus Life in the Department of Residential and Campus Life on August 22, 2022.

Jenn Smith was named Interim Physical Plant Director on August 24, 2022.


Rachel Tawbush, Assistant Professor in the College of Education, left that role on July 31, 2022.

Wei Ding, Associate Professor in the College of Business and Computing, left that role on August 1, 2022.

Latoya Josey, Student Records & Transfer Coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, left that role on August 5, 2022.

Jim Posey, Director of Physical Plant, left that role on August 23, 2022.

Work Anniversaries

April Dodson celebrates 20 years at GSW

April Dodson, Testing Coordinator in the Officer of Accommodation and Access and the Testing Center, celebrated 20 years at GSW as of August 2022.

Milestones, Birthdays & Life Events

Bachhofer family welcomes baby

Carrie Bachhofer, Lecturer of Nursing in the School of Nursing, and husband proudly welcomed a baby boy into the world on August 16, 2022. Greyson Davis Bachhofer arrived at 9:59am weighing 8lb 4oz. Congratulations to the Bachhofer family!

Upcoming Events

Find more events on the GSW academic calendar, on CanesConnect, and on the Community Events webpage.