• 2004 Graduate Opens

    Coffee Bar in Atlanta

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    Due to Her Go-Getter Spirit

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Animal Dreams Do Come True at Berry, says Keiley Ayers

Keiley Ayers, a senior from Ohio, dreamed of being a vet but she never imagined getting “up close and personal” with a giraffe. But that’s exactly what happened during an internship after her junior year in South Africa on the Safari4U veterinary program. Transporting giraffes from one setting to another, she guided them with ropes. “It was amazing to see those beautiful animals up close and personal!”

Keiley came to visit Berry after seeing a photo on a brochure of a student in a field surrounded by cows. She enrolled when she realized it had everything she was looking for in a college: a top animal science program, a community that shared her Christian values and a strong lacrosse program. And now that she’s graduating, she’s realized her dream come true with admission to several top veterinary programs.

Her internship not only exposed her to many aspects of being a vet, but it also “helped me to realize how much I have learned during my time at Berry.” Since she was with students from different colleges, she found herself helping to teach others in her group. “That reminded me that my hard work has paid off!”

Keiley credits all of her experiences – her on-campus jobs, her research experiences, her African internship, even her lacrosse playing – as contributions to her overall success and satisfaction with Berry. But she gives a special shout-out to her faculty members who, she said, “are truly invested in your life and success … they have played a huge role in helping me get to where I am today.”

Speaking Your Mind and Finding Your Future at Berry

Avery James is building a remarkable record at Berry: the junior is a talented poet and a top psychology student who is a two-time state forensics champion competing at a national level. She volunteers with developmentally challenged children and is working on securing an internship at a nonprofit serving homeless women and children. When she graduates from Berry, she plans on earning two graduate degrees: a Master of Fine Arts in poetry first and then an advanced degree to work as a clinical psychologist. And talking to Avery, one has no doubt that she will reach all her goals.

What’s surprising to hear Avery admit is that when she first came to Berry from Conyers, Georgia, she was “a bit shy.” Then she saw a sign for a Forensics Union meeting, which she mistook for a forensic psychology meeting. “It didn’t take me long to realize I was at a club meeting, not a psychology class,” she laughed. “It was the happiest accident I ever made.” Being a member of Berry’s very successful Forensics Union has given her the “confidence to become an advocate for social change.”

Avery has ready advice for students considering Berry: always talk to your professors. “They love it when you come into their offices – in fact, they expect it.” Also, learn to balance your personal needs with those of others. “Even though college is very hectic and you’ll be pulled in a million directions, put yourself first.” And finally, “Don’t pet the deer. I learned that the hard way,” she laughs.

Talented Actor Finds his Perfect Role: Medicine

Tyler Vaughan loves to solve puzzles and one of the puzzles he’s most enjoyed solving at Berry is that of his future profession.

Tyler came to Berry from Ringgold, Georgia, thinking he wanted to pursue a career as an actor. And indeed, he did land a plum role as the lead in a Berry production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Then he started to take classes in anatomy and physiology and thought about how interesting and complex the human body is. “I realized medicine has been an integral part of our success as a species. It contributes so much to our quality of life,” he reflected. As a Gate of Opportunity Scholar, Tyler had a job as a student trainer in sports medicine where he worked with several Berry athletic teams. With all the patient contact, he started to think about becoming a physical therapist working with performers. After conversations with friends and professors, however, Tyler realized he wanted to leap into the field of medicine with both feet and become an M.D. “From the minute I made the decision to become a doctor, everything just felt right,” he said. Tyler has shadowed an internist and a neurologist and made two medical mission trips to Nicaragua. He also volunteers at a nearby free clinic.

As a psychology major with a chemistry minor, Tyler has thought a lot about what motivates people. In his social psychology class, he learned that “as humans, we have two basic needs:  to belong and to be correct.” He said that a choice for Berry allows students to both belong – and be right.  “Berry’s community is so accepting. There’s some place for everyone to belong here,” he said.

Campus Jobs and Corporate Internship Launch Berry Senior

In September of Andie Spearman’s senior year, nine months before graduation, her career was ready for launch.

The summer after her junior year, Andie, a marketing major from Atlanta, had a marketing and sales internship at Georgia-Pacific. Before her internship ended, she received an impressive job offer. After she walks across the graduation stage in May, she’ll become a business associate in the organization’s “Jump Start” program which will prepare her for a career with one of Georgia’s most prestigious companies. How did success come so readily to Andie? “My experience with the Enterprise Program on campus taught me so much,” said Andie. “I learned that any idea can flourish.” The program, which encompasses 15 different student enterprises on campus, offers real-world experience to students. As the director, she leads other students in everything from developing marketing campaigns and implementing strategies to community engagement and reaching revenue goals. What has been the highlight of her enterprise experience? “Seeing other people find their joy.” As a Gate of Opportunity Scholar, she is a member of another campus team that plans orientation for incoming scholars – another challenge she enjoys. Her favorite classes on campus also have a practical twist. In her Marketing Communications class, she worked with a nonprofit in the Rome area. Her Brand and Product Management class was built on examples from the real world.

Andie credits her two program supervisors for guiding her through her four years. “They’ve known me since day one, and we just do life together,” Andie said. How did Berry change her? “I’ve always been a hard worker, but Berry cultivated and helped me apply my talents. I faced some real challenges and have worked on things that haven’t come easily. I became the person I was meant to be at Berry.”

Jennifer Wayman takes hard work to the next level

In her four years at Berry, senior Jennifer Wayman has worked as a veterinary assistant and research assistant as well as held positions at the horse barn, beef cattle unit, and the Berry student enterprises. “I have been able to invest myself in my on-campus jobs and develop quality relationships,” says Jennifer, an Animal Science/ Pre-Vet major. “Berry has prepared me with a pretty impressive resume. I feel like the experiences and opportunities I have gotten at Berry would not have been offered to me at other schools.” Berry’s firsthand experience also benefited Jennifer when she interned with the Georgia Department of Agriculture last summer. “I was able to experience veterinary medicine on a much larger scale,” she says. After graduating this spring, Jennifer plans on applying to veterinary school.

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey

Animal science students travel to Iowa for intercollegiate competition

Greyhounds and fish and rabbits, oh my! These were some of the animals discussed at the Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging Competition. Professor Rebecca Dixon accompanied eight Berry animal science students as they traveled to Iowa to compete with 16 other teams from across the country. The competition included evaluations of virtual welfare situations for greyhounds, fish and rabbits. In the live scenario, the team had the opportunity to visit and evaluate housing situations for pigs. The team also got to meet animal welfare pioneer Temple Grandin. Former team leader and 2017 graduate Kristianna Saelens says that meeting Grandin “was incredible, and I know everybody on the team was excited about that, too.” She will be passing on the team captain role to teammates Helen Jones and Caleb Brezina. “My favorite part of the trip was getting the chance to break out of my comfort zone while learning about animals I did not know a lot about,” says Helen.

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey

Suleima Jacob-Tomas

2017 grad cultivates passion for scientific research

When one thinks about an animal science major, a veterinarian likely comes to mind. That was 2017 graduate Suleima Jacob-Tomas’ original career choice. However, during her sophomore year at Berry, she became interested in research and the nervous system’s intricate design and mechanisms. This led Suleima to take a behavioral genetics course and gain research experience under the direction of Biology Professor John Graham and Animal Science Assistant Professor Sunday Peters. Suleima credits these professors with helping her discover her passions and preparing her for graduate school. She is now a graduate student in the integrated program in neuroscience at McGill University in Canada as well as a recipient of the Friends of McGill Fellowship and Graduate of Excellence Award. Suleima’s decision to dive deeper into learning about the nervous system also came from her spinal cord injury, which she incurred in a car accident. “I became fascinated with the delicate, yet complex neural interactions and wanted to learn more about how these interactions influence an organism’s behavior in the hope of someday contributing to our ability to intervene and heal,” Suleima said.

Story by student social media assistant Saif Sarfani

Berry alumnus combines love for government and public health

Combining two fields of work is something David Bayne (06C) has excelled at with his degrees in government and public health. David was recently named deputy chief of staff at the Georgia Department of Public Health. In this role, he helps oversee the department’s strategic priorities and special projects, manages the Office of Government Relations and represents the department in external affairs with other federal and state agencies.

During David’s time at Berry, his involvement in the Student Government Association and Model United Nations helped prepare him for a variety of experiences. He also developed a passion for helping the under-served by taking advantage of Berry’s service opportunities on and off campus.

“I really do believe that Berry’s unique multi-faceted focus on academics, work and community service set me on a successful path for my career,” he said. “The incredible professors in the Evans School sharpened my critical thinking skills and continuously challenged and expanded my worldview.”

Story by student social media assistant Saif Sarfani

Berry grad pursues forensic psychology

After growing up in a family of law enforcement officers, it was only natural that Brittany Ferrell would be interested in the justice system. Now the 2013 Berry grad is one of 12 studying in the forensics concentration of the Nova Southeastern University doctoral psychology program. She’s expanding her real-world knowledge by joining a team of researchers working with police and firefighters. “I know I want to go into forensic psychology after graduate school,” Brittany says. A psychology major and softball player while at Berry, she is grateful for the opportunities she had. “I would have never even heard about Nova if it wasn’t for Dr. Azar-Dickens. All of my professors improved my writing and work ethic so much,” she says. “I feel as though if I went somewhere else…that I most likely wouldn’t have ended up in a doctorate program right out of undergrad.”

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey.

Berry alumna named one of Forbes’ 30-Under-30 Social Entrepreneurs

Berry alumna and founder of The African SOUP Brin Enterkin (a 2012 grad) has been named one of Forbes’ 2018 30-Under-30 Social Entrepreneurs. While at Berry, Brin worked in Uganda with micro-financing. She met Micheal Kaidhiwa and they decided to work together to lift communities out of poverty. She returned to Berry to build a team of student volunteers who would help create structures of change. The result is The African SOUP, a non-profit aimed at using education to break the cycle of poverty. “As I sit in The African SOUP office on this hot, beautiful day, I am reminded of how thankful I am for God’s goodness and of the extraordinary support and love given to me from my closest friends,” Brin says.

Find out more about Brin here: www.theafricansoup.org

Jessica Gross (17C) took her go-getter spirit to New York City where she works as a financial analyst

Never one to slow down, 2017 Berry grad Jessica Gross is now an analyst for the hedge fund solutions team, BlackRock Alternative Advisers in New York City. Jessica, a double major in finance and business management, polished her leadership skills at Berry as a member of the Leadership Fellows, Student Government Association, the Vikettes dance team and several honor societies. She also worked at three internships including one with BlackRock at their Seattle office and another in Germany. Jessica says, “My favorite part about Berry was the people I got to meet, connect and grow with and the unique leadership, work and extracurricular opportunities the school provided for me. Entering the post-grad world, I’m quickly learning that all the… opportunities I had at Berry were unique and extremely special.”

Pre-vet student works with elephants in Thailand

Dogs and cats and … elephants? Berry student Robert Stilz (19c) recently traveled to Thailand to work with rescued elephants in the Elephant Nature Park and with dogs and cats at Animal Rescue Kingdom shelter. It followed his work at the Berry College sheep unit and a local vet clinic.  “Both prepared me by teaching me how to work with animals of all kinds and teaching me about veterinary medicine,” he says. Robert is an animal science/pre-vet major with minors in chemistry, Spanish, and One Health. He plans to earn his doctorate in veterinary medicine and his master’s in public health after graduating from Berry in 2019. “I still cannot believe what an amazing opportunity this trip was for me,” Robert says of the Thailand trip coordinated by Loop Abroad. “I’ve made lifelong memories and friendships on this trip and I would encourage anyone interested to seek out the same.”

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey.

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