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.

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.

A passion for teaching travels abroad

In a few months, Kas Ordaz (class of 2017) hopes to teach in Japan – fulfilling her desire to explore new cultures. During her time at Berry, the anthropology and sociology major explored her passion by working on a number of research projects that focused on issues such as multiculturalism, achievement gaps and identity. Eventually, she shaped her research around her work with the Berry English as a Second Language program sponsored by the Evans School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. This allowed her to better understand the motivation behind a person’s desire to learn a new language and helped her develop a deeper love for teaching English.

During her junior year, Kas was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship as well as a Phi Kappa Phi study abroad grant to study in Guatemala. Her desire to travel the world and immerse herself in other cultures was partially influenced by her education professor and mentor, Dr. Eliana Hirano. “Dr. Hirano cultivated in me the desire to go abroad and teach English – with her fascinating travel stories – and was always available for guidance in that path,” Kas said.

Now, Kas has been accepted as a short-list candidate and looks forward to working in Japan for at least a year with the highly competitive and selective Japanese Exchange and Teaching program as an assistant language teacher. After her time abroad, Kas plans to pursue research opportunities related to multicultural education in graduate school.

Political Science major pursues passion for public service

During her time at Berry as a political science student and Bonner scholar, Jasmine Rangel (17C) got interested in public policy. Now, she works as an associate at the New Jersey Bonner AmeriCorps Program at the Bonner Foundation, a national service oriented organization. She manages the programs of a 55-member AmeriCorps grant and supports various nonprofits in New Jersey. She attributes her public speaking, writing and critical-thinking skills to the Government and International Studies Department at Berry. “The supportive community at Berry composed of advisors, professors and work supervisors instilled a sense of confidence in me and my abilities to pursue impactful community-centered work,” Jasmine said. In the future, she hopes to become a city planner.

Story by student social media assistant Saif Sarfani.

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.

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

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