Spring 2022

Portrait of Abbie Darst
Photo by Tyler Rocquemore ’22

Dear Alumni and Friends,

It’s funny how leaving home can sometimes lead you home. Growing up in a military family, I moved a lot as a kid. Though this allowed me to experience different people, places and cultures, it left me feeling like I wasn’t “from” anywhere—there was no place I truly belonged. I went to high school with people who had known each other since kindergarten, and on top of that, many of them were from very wealthy families—two things to which I could not relate.

It was a sweltering August day when I moved to Berea. After placing my few belongings into the residence hall amid my new roommate’s scarce belongings, my mom and I went to the store to purchase a small fridge because there wasn’t room enough in the car to bring one with me. But the local store was sold out, so we had to drive 15 minutes up the interstate to Richmond. On the way back, traffic came to a dead standstill for more than three hours. I remember panicking that I was missing the first orientation events of the day, fearful that without those first events, I’d never break into a new group and make friends. By the time I returned to campus, the brutal sun was dipping below the mountains, and my new roommate had already left the College—I never even laid eyes on her. But I still had time to make it to the last orientation ice-breaker event in Seabury gym. It was there, while doing the limbo, that I met someone who would eventually become my lifelong best friend—and partner. Scott Darst ’02 was a resident assistant in Blue Ridge Residence Hall and was staffing the limbo activity that evening. The way I wriggled under that bar must have caught his eye; he introduced himself and invited me to play sand volleyball at The Ridge that night. There’s a lot more to this story, but suffice to say that 18 years of marriage (next month) later, that spiky-haired, Backstreet Boy-looking young man is still my best friend.

Every year, I love telling our whole crazy story to the cheerleaders I coach here at the College, as I help these young athletes find their place at Berea. Everyone’s story is unique. Everyone’s journey is completely their own. Some involve love matches like Charles ’87 and Regina Jackson ’85.
Some hinge on dysfunction and the opportunity to overcome it like Bobi Conn ’02. But all Bereans have a trek worth talking about and a Berea sojourn worth sharing. As you scroll, I hope you enjoy the varied stories of time, place and person that connect us all.


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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