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.

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.

Assistant Professor of Nursing Rebecca Logan

Dr. Logan was selected for an educational grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition to cover all related expenses for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses Annual Conference in October 2017. Selected individuals attended the fully-compensated annual conference to provide encore presentations from the Research Summit in a special session devoted to nursing research. Out of the twelve 2017 Research Summit participants, three were chosen for this honor. Dr. Logan presented “The Journey of a Hero: The Lived Experience of Fathering a Premature Infant in a NICU” and “Holding: The Defining Moment for Fathers in the NICU” at the poster session.

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.”

Professor of Biology David Bruce Conn

Dr. David Bruce Conn was awarded the Diploma Honorificum, Socii Nomen Honoris Causa by the Polish Parasitological Society, at a ceremony in Krakow, POLAND. This is the highest honor bestowed by the society. The award recognizes and honors Conn’s 20 years of research on parasitic diseases in Poland and with Polish collaborators throughout the world. He has been involved in this research since joining the Berry College faculty in 1997.

Education alumna teams up with Microsoft

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.

Berry alumna lands a two-book, two-continent publishing contract.

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.