Students representing The Berry Farms Genetics Enterprise discuss their work with an attendee at the SPARK Conference.

Students discuss the work of The Berry Farms Genetics Enterprise during the recent SPARK Conference, hosted by Berry College Student Enterprises.

Students with the entrepreneurial bug have had plenty of opportunities to nurture their innovative ideas lately! Berry recently hosted its first student pitch competition, featuring $27,000 in donor-funded prizes, as well as the annual Spark Conference for social entrepreneurship.

Thirteen students representing seven different majors took part in the pitch competition, with five finalists presenting their ideas before live and virtual audiences to a panel of alumni judges who are no strangers to entrepreneurial success: Jeff Jahn (07C), Roy Miller (58C), Tricia Steele (09C) and Robert Swarthout (04C).

For Steele, “entrepreneur” was a natural career choice, even as a physics major.

“Studying science made me a great problem solver,” she explained. “And then I found that people will pay you really well to solve problems for them!”

Like the judges, senior Ben Umberger has pursued his entrepreneurial dreams at Berry. His Umberger Farms Cattle Company won the top prize of $10,000 from the Henry and Clara Ford Fund for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, along with an additional $1,000 audience-choice award. In his pitch, he described how he learned to raise cattle as a young boy, a story to which Miller related.

“Growing up on a farm … I can admire what Ben has done, going through the struggles and things he’s had to go through to get where he is,” Miller said.

Other winners in the competition included:

  • Josie Hadaway, Written By J, $7,500 Chairman’s Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Jorie Hodapp, Jorie Cakes, $5,000 Bettyann O’Neill Innovation Fund
  • Harmony Petty, Harmony’s Crafty Creations, $2,500 Entrepreneurial Seed Fund
  • Anthea Phitides, Well Made by Marula, $1,000 Entrepreneurial Seed Fund

The following day, the SPARK Conference hosted by Berry College Student Enterprises took center stage. Among those leading sessions were Jahn, who launched his award-winning DynamiX web development firm as a Berry student, and Atlanta Tech Village Vice President Karen Akridge Houghton (01C). Keynote remarks were delivered by Alex Gonzalez, chief innovation officer for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and founder of the Highwire Group, a consultancy of executives, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders who advise executives on being pioneers and change-leaders.

Entrepreneurship is a major priority of Berry’s LifeReady Campaign.

By Jennifer Wright

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Ed Catmull in HackBerry Lab

Zane Cochran, clinical instructor of creative technologies, discusses a project with Ed Catmull during his visit to HackBerry Lab.

Berry’s 2019 Gloria Shatto Lecture took place just three days prior to the Academy Awards, so it was only fitting that the speaker was someone whose work is synonymous with Hollywood’s ultimate honor – Ed Catmull, Pixar co-founder and former president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Addressing a near-capacity crowd of students and other guests gathered in the Cage Center arena, Catmull stressed the importance of fostering an environment where creativity can flourish. Ideas are fragile, he noted, and need proper care to grow.

“Everyone has the potential to be creative,” he said. “It is our job to unlock that potential.”

Catmull related that ideas often begin badly – even at Pixar – citing as an example the 2009 blockbuster Up, the original storyline for which was completely different from what wound up on screen. In fact, the only thing that survived the first rewrite was the name.

“Failure is a necessary consequence to trying something new,” he said. “Our goal is not to prevent mistakes but to fix them when they occur.”

While on campus, Catmull also took time to interact with students in HackBerry Lab, home to the college’s innovative creative technologies program.

This was the 10th Shatto Lecture, the endowment for which was funded by gifts to Berry’s Century Campaign to celebrate the life of the first woman to hold the title of college or university president in Georgia. Dr. Shatto served Berry with distinction from 1980 to 1998.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

RELATED COVERAGE: Ed Catmull brings Pixar magic to Berry

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Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta

Eddie DeLoach (74C) joined U.S. senators, corporate CEOs and newly elected Gov. Brian Kemp on Georgia Trend magazine’s 2019 list of the 100 most influential Georgians. DeLoach has distinguished himself as mayor of Savannah, a post he has held since 2016. Soon after his election, he sat down with Viking Fusion reporter Sarah O’Carroll (17C) to discuss his time at Berry. See that interview by clicking the video above. Influential list.

The Savannah mayor was one of two Georgians with significant Berry ties recognized by Georgia Trend. Joining him was respected Atlanta business journalist and Berry Board of Visitors member Maria Saporta, one of two 2019 inductees into the magazine’s “Most Influential Hall of Fame.” Read story.

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Vikings Sports Alliance Group PhotoMAKING CONNECTIONS: Alumnae and students participating in the recent Viking Sports Alliance mentoring program pause for a group photo.

“Know how to lead, even if you don’t wear the captain’s band on your arm.”

So advised Hannah Parker (18C), a former Berry soccer player now pursuing a master’s degree at Wake Forest University, during the recent Viking Sports Alliance mentoring program. Parker was one of approximately 40 alumnae and students – all current or former athletes – in attendance at the one-day event organized by Ginger Swann (93C), assistant athletic director for sports medicine and senior woman administrator for Berry athletics. Student media coverage.

Communication major Bruno Rose networks with Pam Kinzer Rogers (89C) at a recent Viking Connections event.

Communication major Bruno Rosa networks with Pam Kinzer Rogers (89C) during a recent Viking Connections-Employers event.

For Berry students, hearing from those who have “been there and done that” is key to their success – and alumni are quick to lend their expertise and support. This culture of mentorship – a key component of the new Berry Compact – is evident all across campus, from the advice and support provided by Roy Miller (58C) as an entrepreneur-in-residence to the many alumni who volunteer to conduct mock interviews with graduating seniors (eight this semester alone!). You can also see it in the eagerness of the more than 30 recent graduates who signed up for this spring’s Young Alumni Partner Program, an annual event pairing our newest alumni with seniors preparing to make the jump to post-college life.

On one recent evening, 37 students interested in the humanities and nonprofits traveled to Atlanta for a Viking Connections-Employers event involving 35 different employer representatives, 22 of them alumni. The night kicked off with speed networking, where students had one minute to answer questions like, “What’s your elevator pitch?” or “What’s your greatest accomplishment?” The icebreaker was followed by 1.5 hours of one-on-one interaction between students and alumni/employers/guests.

Berry hosts several Viking Connections-Employers events per year, each focusing on different schools and majors. Students are encouraged to expand their network of contacts and gain industry knowledge. The connections they make have led to internships and job offers.

Interested in lending your voice and experience to such efforts? Email Mark Kozera (79C) in employer development for information on Viking Connections-Employers, and be sure to follow Berry Alumni on Facebook for news of other opportunities!

By Jennifer Wright

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Governor's Honors ProgramTALENT ON DISPLAY: Participants in the 2018 Georgia Governor’s Honors Program perform in the Cage Center last summer.

Berry welcomed approximately 6,000 visitors from across Georgia on Feb. 23 for this year’s Governor’s Honors Program interview day.

The Governor’s Honors Program is a four-week summer experience for gifted and talented students who are entering their junior or senior year of high school. Its goal is to provide participants with academic, cultural and social enrichment that will equip them to become critical thinkers, innovators and leaders. Each student must be nominated, complete an application and go through the interview process specific to their intended area of study.

“GHP was easily one of the best four weeks of my life. The friends I made there are friends I’ve maintained to this day,” said Berry sophomore Rachel Heiter, a GHP participant two years ago. “Interview day is nerve-wracking, and the process for applying for GHP was exhausting and, at times, even intimidating. But I can promise that it is absolutely worth it. Let the nerves fall off your shoulders, and allow yourself to embrace your inner weirdness.”

Berry first hosted GHP in the summer of 2017. Last year, 646 students from 68 Georgia counties took part. This year, approximately 1,650 students and their families passed through the Gate of Opportunity for interview day. Those accepted will return to campus in mid-June. Tuition and boarding costs are covered by the Georgia General Assembly.

“Attending GHP at Berry was honestly such an amazing experience,” Heiter said. “Not only did it get me intimately acquainted with such a beautiful campus, it also exposed me to a friendly, caring and amazing environment that you can only really find at Berry.”

By Student Public Relations Assistant Megan Benoit

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Finding Kate CoverKate Macy Ladd visited Berry only once in her life, but those three days in 1915 inspired a lifetime of support. The legacy of her generosity is still evident today in the form of Lemley Hall, the Road of Remembrance, Memorial Library, and, of course, the Ladd Center, the only Berry building that actually bears her name.

The story of the New Jersey philanthropist – an heiress to the Standard Oil Company – is chronicled in Finding Kate: The Unlikely Journey of 20th Century Healthcare Advocate Kate Macy Ladd, a new book by Meryl Carmel. It was during her 10 years of research on the project that the author learned of Ladd’s strong ties to Martha Berry and her schools.

As Carmel recounted, Ladd’s visit to Berry was driven by a desire to seek out causes and people she could support. Joining her was husband Walter – a future Berry trustee – her Pomeranian dog and good friend Alice Lemley. During a train layover in Atlanta, she ordered boxes of chocolates for the Berry students.

“For many of those children, no one had given them a gift like that before,” Carmel noted.

Ladd was so inspired by the students’ gratitude that she continued to send them Christmas chocolates every year until her death in 1945.

Kate Macy Ladd Portrait

A color version of this Albert Herter portrait hangs in the Court of Honor at The Martha Berry Museum.

“She describes the experiences she had with the children at Berry to be some of the most interesting of her life,” the author said.

Beyond her own donations, Ladd helped lay the groundwork for the “Berry Pilgrims,” groups of wealthy Northerners who would come to Berry to see the campus and donate money to the school. As detailed in Berry College: A History, by Drs. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS), and Doyle Mathis (58C, FFS), these pilgrimages were led by Emily Vanderbilt Hammond, another prominent philanthropist who first met Martha Berry at Ladd’s home.

Ladd’s opinion of the Berry founder was such that she eventually established a private trust to provide her with a private income. She also helped fund significant reconstruction and landscaping at Oak Hill in the late 1920s.

Interestingly, the only structure on campus named for this early friend of Berry wasn’t built until the 1960s, long after her death. As the author explained, Ladd was a very selfless person who was less interested in the credit for the donations and more concerned with the giving itself.

“She had a heart for people, for all kinds of people,” Carmel stated.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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Berry Sweethearts CollageCAMPUS LOVE: These are just a few of the photos submitted for the #BerrySweethearts contest. Click here to see the rest.

Alumni couples reminisce on social media

More than 100 alumni couples shared their #BerrySweethearts story with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Participants melted our hearts with stories of how they met (an indoor soccer tournament at Memorial Gym, a residence hall social, the Hermann Hall elevator); their first dates (a trip to Old Mill during a snow day, a hike to the reservoir, a picnic of Celia’s Supermarket tacos at Swan Lake); and unforgettable on-campus weddings.

Alumni of all ages got into the act, from those who graduated in the 1970s and have been married for 50 years to 2018 graduates who just got engaged. Five random winners received a Valentine’s Day prize pack featuring a “Bear Hugs from Berry” stuffed bear and a Starbucks gift card. Make sure to follow Berry Alumni on all of our social media channels so you can enter our next contest!

Click here to see all of the alumni photos and stories submitted for this year’s #BerrySweethearts contest.

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There are many different ways to explore the world’s largest campus – on foot, via bicycle, even horseback. But unicycle? Student Noah Syverson recently won a third-place national award at the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts for “A Wheel, a Trail, and a Student: The Story of Berry’s Mountain Unicyclist,” chronicling the one-wheeled adventures of fellow student John Patten Moss. Don’t believe us? Watch the video and see for yourself.

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