In the traditional kickoff of the Brenau Women’s College academic year, one of the region’s foremost forensic interviewers, Dr. Julie Battle, told students that going to college will not automatically prepare them for life or careers.

“You can’t do a Google search to find your passion,” said the chair of Brenau’s psychology department at the 2015 Fall Formal Convocation earlier this week. “You just have to figure it out on your own. It’s not a straight line and, often, it’s not something that can be done quickly.”

Battle is often called upon to work with child victims of crimes and testify as an expert witness in criminal court cases. For example, she worked with the four-year-old victim of a highly publicized case in Hall County, Georgia, in early 2015 in which two people received life sentences in a child sex trafficking case.

To find her own life’s calling, Battle told the Class of 2019 she had to go through quite a bit of trial and error. She initially thought her passion was working with substance abuse patients, but after a brief stint working at a treatment center, she realized that line of work was not for her. Later, she took a research assistant position on a project involving child victims of violent crimes. Although she took the job just to pay her rent, she soon found herself becoming deeply invested in the work.

Success, Battle said, does not mean dollar signs or prestige. Instead, she said it means being able to believe in a calling higher than one’s self and never feeling hesitant to do the right thing in tough situations.

“Regardless of where you end up in life, what job you have or how much money you make,” she said, “if you are bold, if you write your own narrative and you find your passion, you will be successful.”

To hear Battle’s speech in its entirety, visit
For a full write-up of the event visit


Juniors and seniors from Gainesville City Schools, East Hall High School and Lakeview Academy will be at the Brenau University Downtown Center Thursday, Aug. 27, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Featherbone Communiversity Academy orientation.

The Academy, started by the Warren Featherbone Company President Gus Whalen in 2011, is designed to engage high school students in career development. Following Whalen’s death this summer, Brenau University’s College of Education has taken over operation of the program, which today is comprised of about 60 students.

In the program, students are encouraged to give back to the community through local charity fundraisers and a service learning project. To help them identify potential career paths, each student is also invited to attend the Featherbone Communiversity Master Series, which highlight different professions and fields, such as nursing, teaching and building.

“We have not changed the purpose or goals of the Academy this year, however we are working to implement reflection activities at each of our schools following the Master events,” said Dr. Brandi Worsham, an assistant professor of education at Brenau and co-director of the Academy. “We are also trying to organize a service learning project and a mentor program.”

The orientation event will be held in rooms B and C of the Brenau University Downtown Center, 301 Main St. SW. The first Master Series event is scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the Communiversity, 999 Chestnut St. SE in Gainesville, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

kim deanKimberly Dean, formerly the dean’s assistant in the College of Health Sciences, has accepted the position of research assistant in the Office of Academic Assessment and will begin her new duties on Sept. 1. Welcome, Kimberly!

The first Department of Music performance of the 2015-16 academic year is set for later this week.

Priscilla and Keith Jefcoat will pair up for a faculty recital on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pearce Auditorium. During the “four-handed” performance, the two will play a medley of romantic numbers while sharing the same piano.

The Jefcoats been conducting duets of the like for more than three decades. In fact, the two actually met at Brenau as undergraduate piano majors.

The event is free and open to the public. More information on upcoming performances is online at



Samantha Carson, a biology major who graduated from the university in 2011, passed away Aug. 20.

Carson, who was also a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and an undergraduate researcher for Brenau’s endangered plants program, had been hospitalized since Aug. 8. She experienced a severe stroke and subsequent brain damage due to subacute bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at Levett and Sons Funeral Home, 4347 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur, Georgia. The wake is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Carson’s funeral will be held 10 a.m. at First Afrikan Church, 5197 Salem Road in Lithonia, Georgia, on Thursday, Aug. 27.

Donations to the Carson family can be made online at

Sheryl Olson, the new nurse practitioner at Brenau's Center for Health and Well-Being.

Sheryl Olson, the new nurse practitioner at Brenau’s Center for Health and Well-Being.

There’s a new face at the Center for Health & Well-Being on the Gainesville historic campus – nurse practitioner Sheryl Olson.

Olson, who grew up in New England and relocated to Georgia in 1999, started the position last week.

She received a B.S.N. from Worcester State College in 1997, later earning her M.S.N. from Kennesaw State University in 2008. She has previously worked at the Barrow Medical Center, the Clearview Medical Center Emergency Department, St. Joseph’s Urgent Care and Take Care Health Systems.

Olson said the university provides a charming change of pace and scenery. She said she’s especially excited about working alongside Brenau’s counselors and its up-and-coming occupational and physical therapy students.

The cheery, inviting mood around campus, Olson said, is what drew her to Brenau.

“Everyone was very welcoming and very kind,” she said. “It’s just a family atmosphere.”

Among those most ecstatic to have Olson as a part of that family is Vice President of Student Services Amanda Lammers.

“Her vast experience as a family nurse practitioner in a variety of settings will provide expansive and excellent care for our students and staff,” she said. “We could not be more thrilled to have her as a part of the Student Services team.”

Brenau extends its deepest sympathies to Center for Health and Well-Being Counselor Gay Baldwin on the loss of her mother, Frances Shears Baldwin, of Concord, North Carolina.

She passed away Thursday, Aug. 20, at the age of 85. Her family will receive friends on Sunday, Aug. 23 at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 42 Liske Ave. NW in Concord.

Memorials may be made to the church. The funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Brenau’s new Nurse Practitioner Sheryl Olson will see patients on a modified schedule for the first week of the semester. The hours are listed below:

  • 1-6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 24 and Tuesday, Aug. 25
  • 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26 and Thursday, Aug. 27 (the clinic will be closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch)
  • 8:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, Aug. 28

Normal clinic hours, listed below, will resume beginning the week of Aug. 30:

  • 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday (closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.)
  • 8:30 a.m. to noon on Friday

Please note, University Counselor Gay Baldwin will be out of the office next week due to a death in the family. Should you or someone you know need non-emergency assistance, please contact Amanda Lammers in Student Services at or (770) 534-6108.


At the 2015 VP retreat, Brenau’s vice presidential leaders created Tiger Talks – a series of four meetings designed to increase communication to faculty and staff who are not at senior leadership levels and to carry on discussions generated by last year’s President’s Cabinet, which will no longer meet.

The following staff and faculty will participate in the first year of the program:

  • Liz Force
  • Dina Hewett
  • Bill Laing
  • Mary Beth Looney
  • Redenna Poole
  • Valerie Simmons-Walston
  • Bryan Sorohan

At the meetings, the representatives will discuss and report on topics suggested by the campus community. There will be two Tiger Talks in the fall and two in the spring.

Condolences to Margie Gill, the assistant clinic director of the Brenau Center for Counseling and Psychological Services and community relations coordinator of the university’s Psychology Department. Her father, John Perry Jr. of Camilla, Georgia, passed away on Aug. 18.

Funeral services are planned for Saturday, Aug. 22 at the Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 7470 River Road in Camilla, at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible donations can be made to the Tabitha’s House Inc., a nonprofit serving young women who have been or are at risk of becoming sex trafficking victims. More information on the organization is online at