Three volleyball graduates find success on the court and in life

Elizabeth, Hannah and Rachel are known at Berry as a triple threat of leadership, service and athleticism.

Recent grads Rachel Ford, Elizabeth Ragland and Hannah Thompson were part of the Women’s Volleyball team that had their best season in 12 years. The team earned the Southern Athletic Association Regular Season Title, advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and had an overall win score of 30-7.

When Rachel describes her college experience, she remembers Berry as the push in helping her emerge from her comfort zone. She was involved in Athletes Bettering the Community for three years, serving as president during her senior year. Now she is moving 1,000 miles away from home to pursue Ithaca College’s graduate program in sports psychology.

Her teammate Elizabeth, winner of the “Be Berry” athletic award, discovered a passion for leading others. She worked with the Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Medicine, while also coaching the Tsunami Volleyball Club for three years. Putting those leadership skills to work, she has been hired as an elementary teacher for a private school in Birmingham, Ala.

Finding a job in the same state as her teammate, Hannah will be working at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama in the Cardiovascular ICU. While at Berry, she conducted a literature review about the effects of Nurse Residency Programs under her mentor, Dr. Cindy Johnson.

“I realized how much I changed since entering Berry as a freshman. Every experience I have ever had at Berry has prepared me to enter the real world and impact the lives of others,” said Hannah, who considers the team’s head coach, Caitlyn Moriarty, to be one of her strongest influences at Berry.

Coach Moriarty said, “Elizabeth, Hannah Kate, and Rachel exemplify the impact of leading with humility, grace, and most of all love. You set the bar for what it looks like to serve your teammates, serve your coaches, and serve your community. It’s not always fun to be the leader but you set the bar in your leadership development, your commitment in the classroom, your consistency, and you gave your heart and heads to making our program better.”

Leaving the team better than before, these young women continue to achieve new heights in all that they do.

Story by student social media assistant Naomi Lee

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)

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.

Sarah Cooper wins prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Sarah Cooper (19c) was looking for a college where she could ride on a competitive equestrian team while working as a paid researcher in a science lab. Only one college fit her criteria – Berry!

Choosing Berry has helped Sarah win the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship this year and compete nationally for the college equestrian team.

“I love it here so much. I’m a student-athlete and a fulltime student, and I work about 16 hours doing research in the chemistry department. In most other schools you could only be an athlete or have a job,” she said.

Berry is known for its academic rigor, but also for its small class and lab sizes. Sarah wants everyone to know Berry is the reason for her success. The attention from professors – not overworked graduate students typical of large universities – allows her to excel and thrive.

“Classes are competitive, but it’s not cutthroat. Students work together all the time. It’s very team oriented at Berry,” Sarah noted.

Earning the Goldwater Scholarship allows Sarah, a rising senior, to pursue a spot at one of the top 10 graduate programs in the country in her quest to earn a Ph.D. and eventually work in pharmaceutical research and development. The Goldwater is one of the most prestigious scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics, recognizing students who excel in undergraduate research with faculty. Sarah joins winners from Cal Tech, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Duke and Princeton among others.

Berry science professors teach three classes every semester, giving them time to mentor students outside of class. For Sarah, that mentor is Associate Professor of Biochemistry Dominic Qualley.

“Pretty much anybody who is motivated here can do research,” Dr. Qualley said, adding that the school also provides support for faculty and students wishing to travel to conferences to present their findings.

“At a large university, professors won’t give you the time of day. They focus on the grad students,” Sarah said. “The hours that the professors at Berry spend with students provide us with valuable firsthand instruction.”

And when Sarah needs a break from all that research and studying, she reaps the benefit of being able to board her horse, Dinky, on the world’s largest campus.

“I can just drive up to mountain campus and tell her how my test went,” she said laughing.

Director of Recreation Michael McElveen

Mr. McElveen served on the 2016-2017 NIRSA (National Association for Collegiate Recreation) student professional development committee and co-lead a pre-conference on professional development for 180 undergraduate and graduate students from institutions across the country. He presented research on retention and academic success of first-year student-athletes and intramural participants. Senior Kelly Ibele co-authored the manuscript that is currently in-review.

Mr. McElveen was also appointed committee member for the United States Tennis Associations – Georgia Tennis on Campus Committee for 2017 – 2019.

 

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