Matilda Dada ’19
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
“I have changed a lot since coming to Berea. My mindset has definitely changed. My work ethic has also changed. It is not really about working hard, it is about working smart and managing your time. You determine your own success. And that is kind of what I realized coming here.
“Having a campus job prepares you for the real world, and it teaches you pride. It also kind of humbles you because you have to do things you don’t always want to do, but you have to learn it’s not always about you.”
Jacqueline Howard ’19
Hometown: Kailua, Hawaii
“I’m a military child, so I have been everywhere from North Carolina to Texas, Michigan and California. I graduated from high school in Hawaii, and obviously I ended up in Kentucky. I don’t know which state to call home. Whenever I move, that becomes my new ‘where you are from.’ Right now, I’m from Hawaii. But when I move to the next place, I’ll be from Kentucky. That’s kind of how I do it.
“At Berea, it is school, then it is work, and I think that’s how it should be. I like how strict they are on it. You learn the lesson of taking responsibility for what you are doing. If you made this commitment, you need to follow through. The most important lesson is that failure doesn’t define you. That’s how you know you can get better.”
Derby Chukwudi ‘19
Hometown: Abuja, Nigeria
“From my mother’s death to the family facing different financial hardships and challenges, that was a period in time I had to make certain decisions, even at a young age. I used my mother’s death as a stepping stone to achieve a greater height and to continue from where she stopped because she was a people person, outgoing, intelligent, hardworking, determined to achieve her goals. So, I started making decisions that I would be good at what I would do. I would try my best, speak to people, tell my story, encourage people that it is not over. Even though you lose somebody you love, life still has to go on. I just envisioned where I was going to and trusted God, believing he would do everything he has promised. Like Martin Luther King said, ‘faith is like seeing the first step without seeing the whole staircase.’ That, I believe, is why I came to Berea College.”
Seth Lewis ’19
Hometown: Hazard, Ky.
Major: Political Science
“I care a lot about my community. I care a lot about my home, and with the collapse of the coal industry it’s really having harsh effects on my area. I probably wouldn’t have even considered running for office had I not come to Berea. If I had not come here I would have done what every other good law student does and go into corporate or something, but I don’t want to do that. I want to help my people find something that they can do. I don’t know what that is yet, but we’re making progress, and we’re coming back.
“I’m president of the Appalachian Student Union. I’m a freemason, I’m a member of the lodge up the street and then back home. I play bass in the Bluegrass Ensemble. I didn’t even start out as a bass player; I’d never played bass before in my life. When I think about my experience at Berea, I think about progress because I see myself growing in a different way every day. If I hadn’t gone here, I’d have been static. I would have been the same. [Berea has been] life-changing—that’s it.”
Jacob Walker ’20
Hometown: Little Rock, Ark.
Major: Technology and Applied Design
“I had a very loving and caring mom. I have six siblings. We were rough and tough growing up. It was the tough life. You really didn’t have that much stuff because there were seven of us in all. Everybody didn’t get what they wanted. You didn’t always get to eat as much as you wanted to. That’s how it is. All of you have to eat, all of you have to go to school, you all have to have a way to get to school, and then you all have football practice, basketball practice, all these extracurricular things to do. How are you going to afford it with one parent? Try being a single mother with seven kids.
“One of the things that’s made my life different now is I communicate with people. And communication’s a big thing. It makes me more of a positive person because I try to set myself around positive people, instead of negative. I really think it’s helped me grow. I do things I wouldn’t have done at home. Berea gives me that push.”
Elizabeth Ronillo ’19
Hometown: Florence, Ala.
“Because of Berea College I was given an opportunity that I would not have had otherwise. I’ve been given a degree. I’ve been given a community. I’ve been given food, shelter. I’ve been given hope. I feel like I’ve grown in terms of accepting myself. I was able to put some time into myself and learn what I want out of life. Berea gave me the space to cultivate that and allowed me to engage with people outside my community, learn what they’ve been through, how they’ve navigated through the world.
“Now I’m more concerned with a global perspective than a self-
perspective. I’m leaning toward activism, focusing on human need and happiness, ensuring that is applied to everyone regardless of race, religion, sexuality or gender. People should have the opportunity to live their lives as they want and need to.”