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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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