• Talented Actor

    Finds Role in Medicine

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  • Finding Your Future at Berry

    Speaking Your Mind

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  • Heads to Grad School

    Physics Major

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SGA President pursues master’s in public service

Kassie Jones, Berry’s former Student Government Association president, is headed to graduate school to earn her master’s in public service and administration. It’s a path that makes sense for this 2018 grad who has spent her time at Berry serving others.

It might seem Kassie has it all together, but she has faced challenges just like everyone else.

Her parents, who served in the military, experienced financial difficulties related to an active duty injury. So when Kassie was eight years old, her family moved across the country to her grandparents’ condominium, where the family had to share one bedroom. Kassie learned the values of hard work and determination watching her parents work to provide a successful future for her and her sister.

When Kassie arrived at Berry, her future was full of uncertainty. She did not come with a major, but instead found her way into a modern political philosophy class that changed her life. After failing the first paper, her professor, the late Dr. Peter Lawler, sat down with her and asked her to be a political science major. Kassie credits a lot of her development to the personal relationships she had with professors. Always ready for an adventure, she embraced the opportunity to travel to Morocco to co-present her research on democracy in Pakistan with fellow Berry student Jessie Moore. Kassie presented in front of professionals from all over the world and sat on a panel where she collaborated with a professor from the University of Nigeria.

Kassie jumped into the Student Government Association as a freshman running for class vice president, and was an integral part of campus decision-making to give students a voice. “SGA really gave me a second family at Berry,” she said. “From my job experience to just getting to know students, I really found my passion in wanting to help others and give back.”

Story by Anna Walker (18C)

A passion for language and mental health come together

Serving disadvantaged communities is something many Berry students are passionate about.  That’s why Abby Newman (class of 2018) is headed to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Afterwards, she hopes to be a mental health counselor and advocate for Hispanic and Latino immigrants. During her undergraduate time, Abby was the student director and teacher for Berry’s English as a Second Language Program, which provides free English classes to Hispanic adults. She was also a part of the Ralph George Scholarship program which allowed her to conduct research about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in native Spanish speakers learning English. She then presented her research at the annual conference for the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco. Abby’s Spanish instructor and academic advisor, Dr. David Slade (class of 1997), has greatly influenced her with his passion for language and culture. “In every class I have taken with him and in the study abroad trip to Guanacaste, Costa Rica, he imparts his knowledge, wisdom, empathy, and cultural humility to his students and to everyone he encounters.”

Story by Saif Sarfani (18C)

A transfer to Berry leads to a home in the swim team

For 2018 grad Julie Brophy, Berry was nothing but welcoming. When Julie transferred to Berry in her sophomore year, the campus quickly became a second home to her. “Berry has made a difference in my life from day one,” says Julie. She believes that her experiences as part of the Berry Swim Team helped shape who she is today. “When I transferred to Berry, the swim team was extremely welcoming and made the transition easy. I am so grateful I had the chance to swim with them during my time here.” Julie also found a home in the Political Science department. After changing her major in her junior year, Julie faced several semesters of intense work to graduate on time. “The professors welcomed me into the program and helped me succeed every semester,” she says. “They motivated me every day. I was excited to go to class.” Beyond Berry, Julie has plans to teach either government or social studies.

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey

Berry opened Jordan Blackmon’s eyes to new passions

A passion for rugby is leading Jordan Blackmon to Chattanooga. The 2018 graduate will play rugby for the Chattanooga Rugby Club and work in the logistics industry as a national account representative.

“I came in [to Berry] such an organized and scheduled person, but following my freshman year I decided to try something new out. I saw a flyer for a rugby team in town, and a week later played my first game. Several years later and I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout the southeast playing in different tournaments. The diversity and opportunities that Berry has opened my eyes to many of my deepest passions in life as well as taught me to enjoy the little things.” During his time at Berry, he was a part of multiple rugby clubs and played goalie for the Berry College Club Soccer Team.

Jordan was also a go getter from the very beginning, becoming a student leader in the men’s ministry through the Chaplain’s Office and served as the t-shirt committee chair for the First-Year Council even in freshman year. Jordan also worked as a Gate of Opportunity scholar all four years at Berry. He’s sure to take his achiever spirit wherever he goes in life.

Story by Saif Sarfani (18C)

Berry cultivates a passion for service

Sophomore Ei Noe (class of 2021) came to the U.S. from Burma with her family in the early 2000s. The psychology major comes from a family that helps the Burmese refugee/immigrant population settle in Atlanta.

At Berry, Ei works for the Bonner Center for Community Engagement for her Gate of Opportunity Scholarship and is a part of Emerging Leaders. These things have helped her become more service and leadership oriented. Ei hopes to go to medical school and eventually help low-income families, refugees and immigrants settle and offer the same assistance her family received.

Ei is a Gate scholar like her older brother Naing Oo, who also went to Berry. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program helps financially-eligible students who will work hard – in the classroom and out. “The characteristic that led me to apply to Berry College was the first impression I had when I visited my brother when he was a student here,” Ei said. “The campus was breathtaking, and the professors and community were very welcoming.”

Story by Saif Sarfani (18C)

“Aha” moments lead to great things at Berry

Berry 2018 graduate Katie Doremus’s “aha” moment came during her junior year. She found a strong Christian community at Formation Weekend, which became the support system through the rest of her time at college. Chaplain Johnathan Huggins took Katie under his wing during Bible study, sharing with her his love of theology and guiding her plans for seminary. Dr. Jonathan Parker helped ignite her thirst for knowledge, teaching her to look at the Bible in a new way. “I…want to be involved in ministry, for, as Justo González says, ‘theology is best done with dirt under one’s fingernails’, meaning we can’t get caught up merely in the head knowledge.”

Katie is now pursuing a master’s degree in Biblical studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C. After that, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in theology. During her time at Berry, Katie was a part of the Wesley Foundation, several honor societies including Sigma Delta Pi, Lambda Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and the Honors Program. She also received The Daughters of Berry Legacy Award, The Olde Leafe Award and the Shatto Leadership Award.

Story by Saif Sarfani (18C)

Chemistry professors help 2018 grad achieve grad school dreams

Chemistry major Cleo Evans (class of 2018) is headed to Vanderbilt University to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. Cleo credits her chemistry professors with helping her apply for her current job at Peach State Labs and the graduate school application process. She also credits Berry with helping her make great connections through the student work program. Cleo worked as Dr. Martha Tapia’s math contest student assistant, helping her write tests for competitions and keeping up with paperwork for competing schools. In addition, Cleo was the president of Berry’s chapter of the American Chemical Society, and she continually devoted time doing chemistry demos for the Berry and Rome, Ga., communities.

Story by Saif Sarfani (18C)

An interest in immunology leads to a focus on public health

Finding what drives you is one of many reasons people come to Berry. Animal science major Alex Dhom (class of 2018) discovered his interest in immunology through his advisor Dr. Laura Flatow and his Berry College Integrity in Leadership mentor Dr. Tom Wilson, whose experiences and wisdom as a veterinarian greatly influenced him. During his time at Berry, Alex served as Vice President of Alpha Zeta (the academic honor society for animal science majors) and competed in the American Society of Animal Science Academic Quadrathalon. He also studied abroad at the University of Glasgow as an honors student. Now, Alex is headed to veterinary school at the University of Georgia, where he will focus on research and public health.

Story by Saif Sarfani (18C)

Physics major heads to grad school

William Newman (a 2018 grad) knows a thing or two about physics. By the time he graduated, he had already worked with two professors on their research projects and contributed to two publications—the American Journal of Physics and Month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. His work is set to appear in a third publication and he has one more project submitted for consideration. “I have to give thanks to Dr. Shawn Hilbert and Dr. Truong Le who have both mentored me as a student and employee. Without their advice, I would not be the student that I am today,” William says. However, it wasn’t all protons and electrons during his time at Berry. William was also an integral part of the Berry College Theatre Company from the beginning participating in multiple plays and the Alpha Psi Omega Honorary Thespian Society. Now, William is taking his well-rounded Berry background to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to pursue a doctorate in atomic and optical physics.

Exercise Science major heads to graduate school

Four years ago, freshman Hannah Parker (18C) arrived at Berry scared and unsure of herself. Fast-forward to today, and Hannah is headed to Wake Forest University to pursue a master’s degree in health and exercise science. She has conducted research on diabetes with Berry Assistant Professor David Elmer and earned the 2018 Martha Berry Outstanding Undergraduate Award, which is the highest honor a student can receive in recognition of exemplary achievement that fulfills Berry’s mission. Hannah is the perfect example of a student who embodies the tenacious and hard-working spirit that would make our founder proud, even if her major didn’t exist in Martha Berry’s day. As an exercise science student, Hannah worked alongside kinesiology faculty and staff in the Stephen J. Cage Athletic and Recreation Center in an effort to help students achieve their health goals. From her student work environment to her Viking soccer team family, Hannah is thankful for the meaningful community at Berry.

Physics graduate turns her attention to STEM education

Alexandria Skinner, a 2018 grad, has a passion for STEM education. Her Berry College job as a peer tutor and teaching assistant, as well as her work with the Berry College Elementary and Middle School Girl Scout troop solidified her love of teaching, particularly for teaching science.

Alexandria, a physics major and double math and music minor, says her undergraduate experience was shaped by the teaching of Assistant Professor of Physics Shawn Hilbert, who she worked for as a research assistant.

“[Dr. Hilbert’s] high expectations for me, in and out of the classroom, pushed me to be the best student (and person) that I could,” she said. “Dr. Hilbert has given me the opportunity to become a published physicist, to present my research, both here at Berry and at national physics conferences, and demonstrate my full potential within the department.” Alexandria has had a paper published in the American Journal of Physics, two more are in the publication process and she was recently honored with the Lawrence E. McAllister Physics Award.

Now she turns her attention toward shaping young minds. Alexandria recently accepted a job to teach physical science and earth science to middle schoolers in Arizona.

Berry’s vet shadowing program shines with students like Nabilah Curtis

Animal science major Nabilah Curtis (19c) uses every opportunity she can to chase her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Participating in the vet shadowing program with Clinical Assistant Professor and College Veterinarian Kirstin Ruffner gave her the opportunity to gain firsthand experience working with large animals on campus. “I think the shadowing program has definitely opened my eyes a bit more to large animal medicine. I never thought about being a cow, sheep, or horse vet, but while watching Dr. Ruffner work, I started to be able to see myself in that same position.” Nabilah hopes to attend vet school after Berry and work with both small and large animals.

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