The son of an eastern Kentucky coal miner, Brian Reed ’99 first stepped onto Berea’s campus with his high school English teacher, a Berea alumnus who introduced him to his opportunity for a promising future. Brian first fell in love with the campus, then the cute, curly-haired girl he spotted at a convocation—Laura Lamons ’01—who would eventually become his wife. They have been married for 15 years.

But, it was Berea’s mission to support Appalachian students with limited economic resources and acceptance of all people that grabbed Brian by the heart. Brian and Laura firmly believe that the education they received at Berea College opened doors to so much more.

“I see it as a sense of paying a debt,” Brian said. “We are only giving back to Berea what it gave to us.”

The Reeds decided almost immediately after graduating to support Berea College financially. Starting with small, recurring gifts, they began building upon their belief that every student deserves the opportunity to attend college. Nearly two decades later, the Reeds have continued to increase their giving.

“We believe that just giving something is important,” Laura said. “We gave as we felt we were able, and that gave us not only a sense of pride, but of gratitude. It is now our intent to leave every dime we have to Berea.”

“Berea changes the trajectory of peoples’ lives and the lives of their entire family,” Brian added. “That’s why we want to give.”

In his roles as associate dean for student academic support services and dean of undergraduate students at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Brian said he is reminded daily of how Berea commits itself to understanding its students and removing obstacles that may keep them from success at other institutions.

“I’ve found peace and a professional mission in seeking out and supporting first-generation students and telling them, ‘If you don’t feel like you have a home or fit in, come see me and I’ll tell you that you are valued, have a place, and add to the intellectual community,’” he said. “That all goes back to Berea.”

Laura, now a geriatric nurse practitioner at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, is drawn to the stories of Berea’s students, knowing they are filled with the same anticipation of what their futures hold as she once felt.

“They are so eager, and I remember feeling that way,” she said. “So, to give other youth the same excitement and opportunities warms our hearts and brings tears to our eyes.”


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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