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
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
Amanda Moll (a 2006 grad) is celebrating a decade of working at CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere), an international humanitarian and development organization whose mission is to address the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice. It’s a great fit, because at Berry, Amanda was interested in international education and political efforts, having participated in the politics and law society as a student and interned abroad in London with one of the British political parties. “The Berry culture that balances high academic standards, real-life practicalities, work ethic and having fun is extremely unique and built a strong foundation in me to continue seeking these qualities.” The Dean of Admissions helped open the door for Amanda to get an internship with The Carter Center. Her Berry experience, plus her internship helped lead her to an internship with CARE that turned into a full-time position. Ten years later, she’s still enjoying her position working in some of the most remote parts of the world, assessing how to improve education across the globe. Amanda says, “I think Martha’s leadership for being a pioneering woman who focused on the importance of education has shaped – directly or indirectly—the last ten years of my career on education for the most marginalized. Her perseverance and ingenuity in forging her own path are still inspiring today.”
With technology a fixture in today’s classrooms, more teachers are exploring new software to assist their students in their studies. One such teacher is Berry alumna Lauren Pittman (09C), who was approached by Microsoft to try out Learning Tools, a program that highlights words on a computer screen to help students with dyslexia become strong readers. Lauren’s students starred in a worldwide campaign to promote the software and told an international audience about their experience. “It’s helped show my students that there is success for them in the classroom and they can be successful readers,” Lauren says. Her classroom success story has been featured in the Washington Post, Ed Tech Magazine and later this year, Good Housekeeping. Lauren is a graduate of Berry’s Charter School of Education and Human Sciences. “What I learned at Berry and what they prepared me for has helped to set the base for my teaching philosophy and how I want to affect children’s lives,” she said.
Jonathan Pascual (04C) might be the poster child for a well-rounded liberal arts education. This psychology major took every opportunity he had to work with people, whether it was in Admissions as a tour guide, in his dorm as a resident assistant or as a missionary over breaks. His desire to connect with others put him on Berry’s first ultimate Frisbee team and took him to the dance floor with the swing dance community. Despite his busy schedule, Jonathan found time to ace Berry’s demanding academics and graduate magna cum laude. “Berry helped me mature…I grew into a confident sense of self rooted in my identity in Christ. The whole ‘Head, Heart and Hands’ mission of Berry was really heavy on the ‘Heart’ portion for me.”
After graduating, his entrepreneurial drive led him to open his own business. He started by working as a Starbucks barista and then spent a few years gaining experience opening and managing coffee shops for other people. These experiences led him to entrepreneurship in the form of Taproom Coffee—a specialty coffee and craft beer bar located in Atlanta. Now, three years in, his thriving business provides a place of fellowship and community for Atlanta.
Haley Fortune (14C) has found her true path working at George Washington’s historic home, Mount Vernon. Haley always wanted to work in museums and when she learned Berry had a museum and archive on campus, she was sold! By participating in Berry’s premier Work Experience Program she worked at the Oak Hill and Martha Berry Museum and the Martha Berry Digital Archives. This passion for curating the past led her to graduate from Berry with a degree in history before going on to study visual arts management and curating at Richmond, the American International University in London. After graduating with her masters, she worked in museums in London and Washington D.C.
Now at Mount Vernon she has the opportunity to share her passion with others by working in historical interpretation and youth and family programs. Haley credits much of her success to her time at Berry: “Not only does Berry help its students gain experience through the work program, but Berry also offers a very well-rounded liberal arts education, which is so important in this new world where a diverse skill set is what sets you apart.”
Alyssa Hollingsworth (13C) has landed a two-book, two-continent publishing contract with Macmillian (U.S.) and HotKey Books (U.K.). Her debut novel, The Eleventh Trade, will hit shelves in fall 2018, with another following in 2019. Alyssa credits much of her writing savvy to her experiences at Berry, where she benefitted from one-on-one instruction from literature and writing professors who took every opportunity to encourage and challenge her. “Berry was a wonderful place to thrive as a writer because I had so much individual attention from my fantastic professors in the English department,” she said.
Her experience at Berry helped her win acclaim in a national essay contest sponsored by the Elie Wiesel Foundation and admission to a prestigious graduate program at England’s Bath Spa University. As a work-based Gate of Opportunity Scholar, she was able to apply what she learned as a writer for the college’s alumni publications, eventually penning a cover feature for Berry magazine. Those experiences deepened her work ethic and instilled a sense of professionalism that’s reflected in her writing. Her first book, about an Afghan boy named Sami who moves to the U.S. after the Taliban take over his country, was inspired by her own observations visiting her sister in Afghanistan.
Professor of Psychology Michelle Haney and alumna, Katie Fisher, published their manuscript, “Student attitudes and perceptions about postsecondary education for people with intellectual disabilities” in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability.
Dr. Haney and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology Allison Doerr, along with psychology majors Brody Husky and Katrina Bailey, presented their research, “Educator’s Knowledge of Applied Behavior Analysis in Northwest Georgia” at the 63rd Annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association in Atlanta March 10, 2017.
When Emily Barton (15C) came to Berry with plans to be a large-animal vet, she knew it would take great grades – and so much more – to get into vet school. But she was determined to do everything she could to build her future … and she did! She graduated with a GPA near perfection and exceptional experience punctuated by a hands-on leadership position with the Berry College Dairy and two summers working with veterinarians. The ballerina and choreographer also demonstrated her depth and breadth as Berry’s Dance Troupe manager.
Emily applied to two veterinary medicine programs, was accepted to both, and is now doing (very!) well at the University of Georgia. Although focused on her studies, Emily has kept on dancing, even working as choreographer for a UGA dance team. She’s also a volunteer Bible study leader for an Athens church and treasurer of the student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Help from an attentive faculty member and a bit of jazz helped Mark Morton (16C) find his dream! Mark initially entered Berry as a midfielder for the lacrosse team, but an injury led him to leave the sports life in pursuit of another calling.