Students come to Berea for many reasons and from many places, but they all have the same desire: to earn a degree that will help them transform themselves and the world. Meet Holly Ann ’23:
“When my parents’ marriage of 20-plus years ended, my mom was left to raise my siblings and me without child support or a college degree to help her earn the wages we needed. We then lost our home, but fortunately one of my aunts took us in.
During high school in Kentucky, I had taken welding classes. Upon graduation, and with a few months of extra training, I earned my professional certifications and found a job welding full-time on U.S. Navy submarines. It was demanding work on top of daily hardships that came with being a female welder in such a male-dominated field, but I am grateful I was able to help support my family when we needed it most.
For more than two years, I worked in the construction industry, helping my mom to provide for my siblings. I then moved to Nebraska to care for my grandmother during her her final year of life. She was adamant about me pursuing the education she herself was not allowed to have. Together, we looked for a way to afford a four-year degree, and we found Berea College.
At Berea, I studied English and art while weaving on a loom, deepening my truest passions. I even had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan, enriching my Berea education and reflecting on my passion for craft. I held a labor position with Student Craft and got a chance to tap into a love for craft inspired by my own family traditions.
Berea's focus on a liberal arts education felt like the perfect fit for my love of making connections across my many interests. The Labor Program showed me that my work experience was appreciated and celebrated. Like everyone, I am a complicated person, but Berea welcomed all of me. Berea opens a lot of doors for people who wouldn’t normally be given those opportunities.
Even though I wish my grandma had lived to see me graduate, I’m grateful for the time we got to spend together that final year. In fact, if not for her, I might never have come to Berea. And I don’t know how I can ever really thank those who give to Berea and make Tuition Promise Scholarships possible.”