Animal Dreams Do Come True at Berry, says Keiley Ayers

Keiley Ayers, a senior from Ohio, dreamed of being a vet but she never imagined getting “up close and personal” with a giraffe. But that’s exactly what happened during an internship after her junior year in South Africa on the Safari4U veterinary program. Transporting giraffes from one setting to another, she guided them with ropes. “It was amazing to see those beautiful animals up close and personal!”

Keiley came to visit Berry after seeing a photo on a brochure of a student in a field surrounded by cows. She enrolled when she realized it had everything she was looking for in a college: a top animal science program, a community that shared her Christian values and a strong lacrosse program. And now that she’s graduating, she’s realized her dream come true with admission to several top veterinary programs.

Her internship not only exposed her to many aspects of being a vet, but it also “helped me to realize how much I have learned during my time at Berry.” Since she was with students from different colleges, she found herself helping to teach others in her group. “That reminded me that my hard work has paid off!”

Keiley credits all of her experiences – her on-campus jobs, her research experiences, her African internship, even her lacrosse playing – as contributions to her overall success and satisfaction with Berry. But she gives a special shout-out to her faculty members who, she said, “are truly invested in your life and success … they have played a huge role in helping me get to where I am today.”

Talented Actor Finds his Perfect Role: Medicine

Tyler Vaughan loves to solve puzzles and one of the puzzles he’s most enjoyed solving at Berry is that of his future profession.

Tyler came to Berry from Ringgold, Georgia, thinking he wanted to pursue a career as an actor. And indeed, he did land a plum role as the lead in a Berry production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Then he started to take classes in anatomy and physiology and thought about how interesting and complex the human body is. “I realized medicine has been an integral part of our success as a species. It contributes so much to our quality of life,” he reflected. As a Gate of Opportunity Scholar, Tyler had a job as a student trainer in sports medicine where he worked with several Berry athletic teams. With all the patient contact, he started to think about becoming a physical therapist working with performers. After conversations with friends and professors, however, Tyler realized he wanted to leap into the field of medicine with both feet and become an M.D. “From the minute I made the decision to become a doctor, everything just felt right,” he said. Tyler has shadowed an internist and a neurologist and made two medical mission trips to Nicaragua. He also volunteers at a nearby free clinic.

As a psychology major with a chemistry minor, Tyler has thought a lot about what motivates people. In his social psychology class, he learned that “as humans, we have two basic needs:  to belong and to be correct.” He said that a choice for Berry allows students to both belong – and be right.  “Berry’s community is so accepting. There’s some place for everyone to belong here,” he said.

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.

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

Suleima Jacob-Tomas

2017 grad cultivates passion for scientific research

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

Assistant Professor of Physics Shawn Hilbert

Associate Professor of Biology Catherine Borer

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.

Will Smith (14C), Courtney Large Sanchez (13C) and Alayna LeCroy (12C) traveled to Cambodia with Mercer University’s School of Medicine for their Mercer on Mission trip

Three Berry alums serve on a medical mission trip

Three Berry grads Will Smith (14C), Courtney Large Sanchez (13C) and Alayna LeCroy (12C) traveled to Cambodia with Mercer University’s School of Medicine for their Mercer on Mission trip. Berry had a pretty strong showing, as there were only 10 medical students on the trip! They served as medical providers for close to 1600 patients. “In Cambodia, I was able to take a patient all the way from their problem through a plan,” Will said. “I’ve been dreaming of this career for most of my life, so getting to treat patients was incredible.” Berry’s biology and chemistry courses, along with a strong liberal arts foundation, are essential to helping our pre-medical students to succeed in their futures as physicians. These three Berry alumni have a bright future in medicine.

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