Letter from the Editor

Abbie Darst ’03Leave a Comment

Dear Berea Alumni and Friends, At a school like Harvard University, legacies—children whose parents and grandparents attended the institution—are prized, often accepted at a much higher rate than other students seeking admission. But at Berea, the idea of legacy runs deeper than a generational connection stretching from alumnus to child. Berea alumni leave a legacy steeped in a rich history … Read More

First Generation Bereans Generations Apart

Jason Lee Miller6 Comments

Tom & Hasani

Tom Hutchens ’67 (left) and Sunny Bland ’21 discuss their experience as first-generation students at Berea. Tom grew up on a farm in the Appalachian region of Virginia. Sunny is from Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: Moriah Avery ’21) Tom Hutchens ’67 and Hasani “Sunny” Bland ’21 would seem to come from different worlds. Tom grew up on a farm in the … Read More

My Berea: The Hairston Family Legacy

Abbie Darst ’031 Comment

Hariston Berea graduates

Between 1966 and 1985, six talented and determined young women left an indelible mark on Berea College. For these African-American, Christian sisters from Williamson, W.Va., Berea’s commitments to interracial education, Christian values, hard work and service were a beacon of light and opportunity that radically changed their family’s future. The Hairston sisters embody the values and mission of the College. … Read More

A place to belong: Mary Willene Hairston Moore ’71

Abbie Darst ’034 Comments

Willene Hairston interview

The first. The oldest of the Hairston’s seven children, Willene, was the first to leave home. She laid the groundwork for her family’s legacy and took the first step in realizing the dreams and expectations of her parents. Willene attended a segregated school until fourth grade. But in 1957, she and her sister, Sue, started attending the now-integrated neighborhood school … Read More

Icing on the cake: Eleanor Sue Hairston Jones ’72

Abbie Darst ’03Leave a Comment

Sue Hairston Jones interview

Sue came to Berea with the same love of music, heart for service and determination to succeed. She knew from day one that she was going to be a teacher. She had spent countless days at their kitchen table in Williamson, teaching her younger siblings their letters, how to read and American History. She loved to learn and enjoyed teaching … Read More

Eager to learn: Nancy Hairston Abasiekong ’74

Abbie Darst ’03Leave a Comment

Nancy Hairston Abasiekong '74

“I wasn’t sure they would accept a third person from the same family,” Nancy joked about her college application experience. “Of course I wanted to go (to Berea), but I thought I should apply other places in case they had a quota.” By 1970, Nancy’s family had visited Berea’s campus several times, attending Black Ensemble concerts and other events. She … Read More

Opportunity for growth: Ann Hairston Hill ’75

Abbie Darst ’03Leave a Comment

Ann and Cynthia Hairston Interview

In the fall of 1971, the first Hairston sister, Willene, had just graduated from Berea, and the fourth sister, Ann, entered on Nancy’s heels. “Berea was a part of our family by then,” Ann said. “We were already connected there. The campus was beautiful, and I had family there. It felt like home.” Ann settled into Berea life easily. She … Read More

Opportunity to Explore: Cynthia Hairston Hicks ’79

Abbie Darst ’032 Comments

Cynthia Hairston Hicks '79

“I am number five; I hold that position with high honor,” Cynthia said. “My sisters above me were always role models.” Cynthia described 1975 as a progressive time for women. Although Ann leaving for college was traumatic for her, Cynthia decided she might go somewhere else for college—set her own path. “That lasted all of two seconds,” she said, laughing. … Read More

Strive for Excellence: Vivian Hairston Blade ’85

Abbie Darst ’03Leave a Comment

Vivian Hairston Blade

Six years passed before the sixth Hairston sister would step into the tradition and high expectations at Berea. Vivian began forging her own path in high school when she fell in love with an accounting class. Taking advanced math classes, primarily filled with male students, Vivian’s intrigue with the business industry sparked her sister, Cynthia, to orchestrate Vivian’s first labor … Read More

The Second Generation: Susan Jones English ‘02 and Wayne Jones ’15

Abbie Darst ’03Leave a Comment

Jones Family Berea Movein 2013

After six Hairstons spanned 20 years on Berea’s campus, a second generation soon followed. Sue Hairston Jones ’72 had returned to Williamson and dedicated her career to educating elementary children in her slowly dwindling hometown. Sue raised her children, Susan, Amy and Wayne, in a loving home, grounded in faith, service and music, and infused with Berea. When Susan ’02 … Read More