Berea College magazine Editor Abbie DarstDear 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 of social justice and equality, of overcoming the ails of poverty through education to exceed expectations. Berea alumni leave a legacy of confidence and creativity to students of limited resources who one day will walk in their footsteps and beyond. Berea alumni leave a legacy to students they may never meet, but who have a kindred connection through place, circumstance and lifelong achievement.

This issue of Berea College magazine celebrates some powerful and unique stories of family, friendship and first-generation college success. Touting three generations dedicated to Berea College and its mission, this issue’s center feature connects you to the Yahng family. Their friendship with former Berea President Francis Hutchins and commitment to rural reconstruction led them on their journey from China to Appalachia.

A two-generation athletic connection picks up here. Jenna Hughes may say she hates running, but she, her father and her uncle have all left their mark on the Berea College track and field program. The entire Hughes family shares an affinity for running and an appreciation for the Berea opportunity.

Next, stop and spend some time with the Hairston family. The six Hairston sisters’ Christian values, African-American heritage, love of their Appalachian roots and commitment to service embody the traditions and commitments of Berea College. In the hours I spent with this family, I became enamored by their dedication to furthering Berea’s legacy. I hope their stories also make you want to join them for Thanksgiving dinner and delve a little deeper.

Similar to the Hairston sisters, many Bereans are first-generation college students. Get to know Tom and Sunny, and discover the difference Berea made in the lives and families of this 1967 alumnus and first-year student. Reflect on what your Berea College experience meant to you—especially if you were the first in your family to attend college.

Allow these stories to inspire the legacy you are leaving through your Berea College connection.

Abbie Darst signature

Abbie Darst ’03


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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