Veronica Mauratic ’22 spent her childhood constantly moving—never feeling settled, never feeling like she belonged. She homeschooled herself through middle school and finally landed in Somerset, Ky., where she attended high school and was taken under the wings of caring and invested teachers. As a strong student, Mauratic drew the attention of Educational Talent Search, which identifies and assists low-income students who have the potential to succeed in higher education. Early in her junior year, one of her teachers introduced her to the idea of Berea College and brought her for a tour.
“The second I stepped onto campus, I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be,” Mauratic recalled.
During her tour, the student tour guide was stopped by a professor who genuinely knew the guide. Their friendly interaction captured Mauratic’s attention.
“That was important to me because having moved around a lot, I didn’t have a lot of people who I felt connected with,” she said. “I was really needing somewhere where I was going to be able to connect with people, and they were going to actually want to know who I was rather than just exist there.”
Mauratic graduated high school in only three years and came to Berea ready for a fresh start. Although her first job working at the student café wasn’t exactly what she’d wanted, and her roommate never showed up—leaving her with a room to herself—she made the most out of each situation. She formed great friendships with her coworkers, hosted game nights in her room and enjoyed the simplicity of having a room to herself for the first time ever, she said.
Initially an education major with an emphasis in math with hopes of becoming a teacher, Mauratic has since switched to a double major in child and family studies (CFS) and math. “I want to go into some sort of non-profit and help children in that way,” she explained.
She also began working with the Office of Student Success and Transition, where she relishes her ability to meet and help first-year students as they learn to navigate college. Experiences with these students and classes such as GSTR 210, an identity and diversity writing seminar course, helped Mauratic appreciate how Berea’s unique commitments impact her life.
“I love the equal opportunity—the idea that everyone on campus has worked hard to get here,” she said. “It is not something that has been handed to them. That’s important to me because I was never handed anything.
“My GSTR 210 and my intro to education class dealt a lot with race, and we talked about white privilege,” Mauratic continued. “Because of my economic status, I never thought of having any type of privilege. But now I don’t look at things with a shield over my eyes like I used to. With the Black Lives Matter movement and tensions, it’s been really beneficial to be at Berea and have that education and a better understanding of what is going on. It’s sad that there are so many people who don’t have the desire or even hint of wanting to understand what it means or to even listen to people about any of it. I’m very fortunate to have had that experience in my education courses at Berea.”
All of Mauratic’s experiences at Berea have led to her role as a Berea Patron—a group of students who give back to the College from their work assignment earnings.
“I’m willing to do even the tiniest thing I can to help Berea give this opportunity to someone like me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else if not for Berea. The money situation was just not something I was ever going to be able to overcome. It is important to give back in that way. It feels fulfilling to give someone the opportunity to attend Berea.”