Serving Something Bigger

Michele PekolaLeave a Comment

portrait of Janis Ian

Photo by Lloyd Baggs

According to Janis Ian, creator of the hit song, “At Seventeen,” everybody deserves a chance. That’s why the Grammy-award-winning singer and songwriter and her spouse, Patricia Snyder, cofounded the Nashville-based Pearl Foundation. Named after Ian’s mother, Pearl, the foundation provides scholarship funds to students who may otherwise not have the opportunity to attend college.

Pearl’s fondest dream in life was to attend college, which she did after supporting her brother and then her husband through college, raising a family and being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The day Pearl received her degree was the proudest day of her life, Ian said.

“Berea is very much in my heart.”

Supporting students in their higher-education endeavors has always been equally important to Ian. Initially, the Foundation provided support solely to Goddard College, Pearl’s alma mater. After learning about all that Berea has to offer and the people the College serves, Snyder expressed to Ian that they should grow their support and endow schools that are doing great work serving students who need scholarship funds. The couple learned more about Berea through their friend, singer-songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler ’55, and Bonnie Campbell ’77, who was a student of Snyder’s at the Center for Human Development in Nashville, a private experimental school in the 1970s.

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