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.

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.

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

Berry grad pursues forensic psychology

After growing up in a family of law enforcement officers, it was only natural that Brittany Ferrell would be interested in the justice system. Now the 2013 Berry grad is one of 12 studying in the forensics concentration of the Nova Southeastern University doctoral psychology program. She’s expanding her real-world knowledge by joining a team of researchers working with police and firefighters. “I know I want to go into forensic psychology after graduate school,” Brittany says. A psychology major and softball player while at Berry, she is grateful for the opportunities she had. “I would have never even heard about Nova if it wasn’t for Dr. Azar-Dickens. All of my professors improved my writing and work ethic so much,” she says. “I feel as though if I went somewhere else…that I most likely wouldn’t have ended up in a doctorate program right out of undergrad.”

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey.

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