For Berea alumnus and trustee Vicki Elaine Allums ’79, coming to Berea was a leap of faith. Originally from Birmingham, Ala., Vicki chose Berea College before stepping foot on campus.
“I came without ever visiting the school,” she said, “but I did ask them to send me a yearbook, which they did. After looking at the yearbook, I decided Berea might be a good fit.”
She credits her sense of adventure for helping her to make the transition from living in the large city of Birmingham to a small college town.
For Vicki, the thing that stood out most about Berea’s campus when she finally saw it in person was the view of the Appalachian foothills from Baird Lounge, a frequent study location. Though she didn’t know any other students from Birmingham before coming to Berea, she learned that she had a lot of company from her hometown.
“When the Greyhound bus used to stop across the street from Boone Tavern, I remember every holiday we would board the bus together for our trip home.”
Vicki is passionate about international affairs, and Berea’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is dear to her.
“When I tell people the Berea story, they really can’t believe it,” she said. “The first college in the south, back in the 1850s, to integrate—that’s just a remarkable story. I think if you look at the interracial education between blacks and whites and the strong representation of students from all over the world—as an internationalist, that’s something I value in my own life.”
Having attended Berea as a student, served on the Alumni Executive Council and now serving as a Berea College trustee, Vicki’s view of Berea has changed significantly.
“I understand our complicated financial model and realize what it takes to run an institution like Berea,” she explained. “I have a much greater appreciation for the education I received because of that. I think it’s an obligation and a duty to pay it forward by giving back to Berea, both financially and through service on boards and committees to make sure other students have the same opportunity.”
Today, Vicki serves as the associate general counsel for Intellectual Property and Information Law for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a component agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. She also has been an adjunct professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., and currently teaches as an adjunct professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs DC Center and Capital Technology University in Maryland.
To current Berea students, Vicki has an important message: “Take advantage of every single opportunity you have at Berea,” she says. “It’s a special place that will prepare you well for your future career and life.”