Issues by Date: April 2013

Reigning American Idol winner Phillip Phillips traded the bright lights of the Hollywood stage for a starry night amidst tall Georgia pines as the headliner for Berry’s Exam Jam 2013.

Phillips, a native of Leesburg, Ga., who captivated millions of television viewers last spring, entertained a crowd of 1,500 students, faculty, staff and alumni who flocked to the Cage Center lawn for the sold-out show. His hour-and-a-half set included the hit single Home, which Phillips sang on the Idol finale and later became an anthem for the United States women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, and Gone, Gone, Gone from his debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon. Gin Wigmore warmed up the Berry crowd as the opening act before Phillips took the stage to continue his tour of college campuses nationwide. More.

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A long, wet winter has finally given way to another glorious Berry spring – just in time for three of the biggest events on our alumni calendar. The fun gets under way May 17-19 with Alumni Weekend and Young Alumni Weekend and continues May 19-24 with Alumni Work Week. The deadline to register for all events is May 10, so click the links below and sign up today!

Alumni Weekend offers a little something for everyone, from the traditional Friday morning golf scramble to the semi-formal Alumni Awards and Golden Guard Gala. The schedule includes reunion events for the high school, academy and college classes of 1943, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963 and 1968, as well as Sunday morning worship services for both high school and college alumni.

Young Alumni Weekend invites graduates from the last 10 years to relive their college days as they explore the campus, compete for intramural glory and enjoy each other’s company at a mixer on the “Moon Roof” in downtown Rome. There will also be service opportunities, a career discussion panel, and the Young Alumni Live Auction and Dinner at Oak Hill featuring entertainment by Candler Hobbs (11C).

Alumni Work Week provides the perfect opportunity for alumni and friends of all ages to participate in a variety of on-campus projects celebrating Berry’s work heritage. Sign up for the whole week or just come for a day or two, whatever fits your schedule.

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Ever wonder what it would be like to know Berry’s famous founder? Well, we can’t quite offer you that (unless someone out there has access to a time machine), but the Martha Berry Digital Archive provides the next best thing. This new online resource is a freely available, collaborative, community driven project featuring more than 13,000 digital images of handwritten notes, typewritten letters, photographs and other documents dating from 1885 to 1941 that make up the Martha Berry Collection in the Berry College Archives. It was conceived by Dr. Stephanie Schlitz (92C) and developed in collaboration with students, faculty and staff at Berry as well as students and staff members at Penn State University and Bloomsburg University.

Together, these items reveal the real Martha Berry while also yielding new insights into history, language, culture and other related topics, including American politics, women’s issues, agriculture, education reform and family history. The beauty of this resource is that it is ever evolving, and with your help we can learn even more!

Get involved today by visiting the MBDA website and creating an editor’s account. This will allow you to take an active role in answering simple but important questions about document dates, authors, recipients and subjects, thus improving our understanding of each item’s historical and cultural significance. Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, we welcome your contributions!

Look for more on the development of the MBDA in the Summer 2013 issue of Berry magazine.

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Berry’s strategic commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship has once again earned the attention of The Princeton Review, which recently ranked the institution among the 322 most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada. Institutions were selected based upon notable commitments to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. Referencing the natural wonder of Berry’s 27,000-acre campus, the publication noted that “it is virtually a no brainer that this campus is a green leader.” Download the Guide to Green Colleges.

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It’s hard to imagine a better setting for a family photo than the top of Lavender Mountain, especially when the family happens to trace its roots to Berry itself. This special group – more than 100 strong – recently returned “home” for the second Berry Family Reunion. Some came from as far away as Hawaii and France for the family’s first official gathering since the inaugural event in 2008. Organizers included Marti Berry Walstad, a college trustee and Martha Berry’s great-niece, and Nancy Benson Berry, wife of Trustee Randy Berry, Martha’s great-nephew.

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Berry magazine once described Meaghan Nolan Boenig (99C) as a “25-year-old dynamo” and “bona fide pioneer” while detailing her role as the first equestrian coach at the University of Georgia. Ten years and five national championships later, the former Berry rider continues to blaze new trails as head coach of the red and black, leading columnist Dick Yarbrough to lift his voice in praise by proclaiming that the program she has built at UGA is “a model for what all intercollegiate athletics should be, but, alas, are not.” Read more.

(Photo courtesy of of the University of Georgia)

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Assistant Professor of Economics Lauren Heller (far right in photo) and Associate Professor and Department Chair of Foreign Languages Julee Tate were among those sharing the spotlight at Berry’s 2013 Honors Convocation. Heller, a member of the Campbell School of Business faculty since 2010, claimed two prizes, the Eleana M. Garrett Award for Meritorious Advising and Caring and the Outstanding Faculty Award presented by the Student Government Association. Tate (left) added her name to the distinguished list of past recipients of the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award. Also recognized was Assistant Director of Student Activities Lydia Gordon, who took home SGA’s Outstanding Staff Award.

Other notable distinctions presented this spring include the John R. Bertrand Superior Work Supervisor Award, won by Anita Errickson, director of Berry’s health and wellness center.

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Bill Evans (66C) and Dr. Brian Ridley (93C) have dedicated their lives to educating students, and their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Bill (far left) was honored as 2012 National Teacher of the Year for Speech and Debate for his work at Hillcrest High School in Simpsonville, S.C. Under his leadership, Hillcrest students have won numerous state, district and national championships. He was inducted into the Mississippi Speech and Debate Hall of Fame in February 2012 and is a Triple Diamond Coach with the National Forensics League. Read more.

Brian was recognized as 2013 Georgia Middle School Principal of the Year after helping Haralson County Middle School earn recognition as one of the state’s “2012 Breakout Schools” in student achievement following several years on the Department of Education’s “needs improvement” list.

“Dr. Ridley is a great example of what it means to be an excellent school leader,” said Georgia State School Superintendent John Barge (88C), himself a Berry alumnus. “The dramatic improvement in student achievement his school has seen is just one of his many accomplishments as a principal, but it gets to the heart of why we’re all in education – to help children accomplish their dreams through a quality education.” Read more.

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Scholarships from the American Institute for Foreign Study and Spanish Studies Abroad have made it possible for students Brianna Gibson and Latanza McCarver to broaden their educational horizons through spring study abroad experiences in Perth, Australia, and Córdoba, Argentina. Joining Brianna at Perth’s Murdoch University was fellow animal science major Hibah Abuhamdieh, a recipient of the Murdoch University Sponsored Scholarship.

“Hibah and I are actually friends so we have hung out quite a few times since we got here,” noted Brianna (top left with kangaroo, far left in group photo, next to Hibah). “It’s been nice to have a familiar face when I’m on the opposite side of the world.”

Both students relished the opportunity to gain firsthand experience with Australia’s exotic wildlife as they work toward careers as veterinarians.

“It’s been great getting a different approach to science classes from an Australian perspective,” said Hibah (top right), a student of Palestinian heritage who was born in Virginia but has spent much of her life in Dubai. “In the future, I’m planning on traveling as a vet and being involved with different species of animals.”

Back in the Western Hemisphere, Latanza traveled to Argentina looking to deepen her knowledge of the Spanish language with an eye toward one day becoming an immigration attorney. The Honors Program participant was also excited to be able to set an example for her siblings, stating, “I have little sisters who look up to me, and I really want to show them that anything is possible.”

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The Berry College Forensics Union has an impressive legacy of success at the state and national level, but senior Kim Treese (pictured) pushed the bar even higher in March by winning two events at the International Forensic Association Championship Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium. Treese, who journeyed to Belgium in the midst of her study-abroad experience in Spain, placed first in communication analysis and also won the “Tour of Antwerp” experimental event judged by the mayor of the host city. Read more.

Closer to home, Berry speakers shined in the 31st annual Novice National Forensic Tournament, finishing fifth overall in a field of 24 colleges and universities. Highlights for the host team included a 1-2 finish in readers’ theater and a runner-up showing in after-dinner speaking.

Other impressive achievements by Berry students this semester include a pair of Position Paper Awards at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City, as well as a second-place finish among a number of much larger universities at the American Society of Animal Science Southern Section Academic Quadrathlon.

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Susan Bandy (70C), center, Michele Penny (90C), second from left, and Aly Slade (97C), second from right, provided support and encouragement for current student-athletes as participants in the Sports Alumnae Mentor Program. (Photo by student Blake Childers)

A special group of alumnae returned to campus in April to celebrate the success of a new mentoring program for student-athletes. The 2012 formation of Berry’s Sports Alumnae Mentor Program coincided with the 40th anniversary of the landmark Title IX ruling that helped spur new opportunities for women in college athletics. A total of 32 alumnae took part in the yearlong program, providing support, motivation and encouragement for more than 50 current student-athletes.

I feel this program is a great way to encourage these women athletes!” said Michele Penny (90C). I am thankful to have the opportunity.”

Year one of the program concluded with an outdoor luncheon for students and alumnae in the shadow of the Ford Complex. Afterward, the former Berry stars had the opportunity to see the young women who are now following in their footsteps sweep a fast-pitch softball doubleheader from Southern Athletic Association rival Centre. If you are interested in serving as a mentor in the future, please email Jennifer Tucker Beard (93C, 00G).

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In the March issue of the Alumni Accent, we decided to have a little fun by finding out how alumni spent spring break “back in the day.” The No. 1 answer, with 50 percent of the vote, was going home to visit family (take a bow, mom!). Fun times with college friends finished a close second (41 percent), while studying and catching up with homework was a distant third (6 percent). Traveling abroad accounted for the remaining 3 percent. Interestingly, no one chose “I’d rather not say” (there could be some revisionist history going on out there!).

This month, we turn our attention to what you look forward to when attending Berry alumni events. Scroll to the bottom of the page to make your selections.

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