In 1980, Berea students Ron Robinette ’82 and Elizabeth Mullins ’82 decided to get married. They were young, in love and not giving much thought to life’s practicalities. However, before they married, John Heniesen, then associate dean of labor and financial aid, asked the couple to submit a budget.

Black and white photo of Dean John Heniesen (right) working with a student filing papers.
Dean John Heniesen (right) works with a student filing papers.

“He made it clear he wanted to ensure we were being realistic regarding living expenses,” Elizabeth recalled. “His goal was not to sanction our marriage but to make sure we stayed in school. We accepted his advice in the spirit it was given and submitted a budget.”

Soon after, Ron and Elizabeth were married in Danforth Chapel and went on to graduate from Berea, complete master’s degrees and have very successful careers.

“To this day, we have managed our finances per his advice,” Elizabeth said. “In hindsight, we could have not accepted his advice (in the spirit it was intended) and discounted it as trying to prevent us from marrying young. Instead, his budgeting advice and feedback has been the foundation for many, many financial decisions over the years.”

For Elizabeth, this marks her 20-year anniversary at Eli Lilly and Company; Ron served in the U.S. Navy, and the two have celebrated 42 years of marriage.

“Berea’s tuition-free promise, education quality, diversity exposure, work ethic and good advice from Dean Heniesen and Berea faculty and staff,” Elizabeth said, “continue to make a difference in our lives many years later.”


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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