Winter 2023

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Portrait of Abbie Darst
Photo by Tyler Rocquemore ’22

In late November, I interviewed two young women. Both were communication majors, both were drawn to broadcast journalism—and both blew me away. These two women, one a senior and one a junior, were participating in the culminating experience of the GST 110A course, Enhancing Career Readiness. This is the fourth time I’ve helped with this course, taught by members of the Office of Internships and Career Development. Each time I am more impressed with the students I interview. But maybe more than that, I find myself in awe of the knowledge and experience these students are gaining just before graduating and entering graduate/professional school or the workforce—I hope in a career that excites them, using the degree they will soon complete.

Volunteering for two hours to take students through a true-to-life interview has become a highlight of my time at Berea. Having worked in my career field for nearly 20 years, I love having a small hand in helping develop Berea students into the kind of people companies or graduate schools cannot wait to discover or hire. Having sat on both sides of the interview table multiple times in my life, I know how important a good first interview and impression are in obtaining one’s dream position. The explanations, understanding and skills Berea’s Office of Internships and Career Development are providing our students is second to none. This type of resource was not available when I graduated two decades ago, but like so many other supports in place for Berea students today, the need was seen, recognized and filled by staff and faculty whose life mission is to see students change their life trajectories.

This issue of the Berea College Magazine kicks off a three-part series touting Berea’s supportive environment. Berea doesn’t just accept academically promising students and provide them a tuition-free education. From before students arrive for their first day of class until after they walk across the graduation stage and through the door of their next life chapter, Berea has specialized in understanding the demographic of our student body, anticipating its needs and meeting them, often before students even realize there was a need. These supports—in, through and out—form a bridge over what could otherwise be very troubling water for many of our students. As they stand at the edge of a rushing river that for other more-privileged students may only appear as a trickling stream, they don’t have to trudge across and be swept away or turn back too fearful to test the waters. Berea’s bridges help them seamlessly navigate an otherwise scary unknown, especially for our first-generation students, who make up 67 percent of our student body.

We begin that series in this issue focusing on how the Bridge Out supports Berea’s graduates. Staying with the Bridge Out theme, this issue then also seems natural for honoring a couple who are contemplating their own departure from Berea, President Lyle and First Lady Laurie Roelofs and for celebrating their legacy and accomplishments. Please dive in and learn, celebrate and be in awe of the ways in which Berea follows its mission to better the lives of all who enter…and exit.

Abbie Tanyhill Darst ’03


Abbie Darst '03 is an article writing, husband loving, kid raising, cheer coaching, God serving, busy woman. Whether it's been in sports, law enforcement or higher education, Abbie has dedicated her career to telling stories that speak of mission, passion and the best parts of human experience. She's been telling Berea's amazing stories since 2017.

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