Student Experience Stories

Five Berea students share their experience growing up in Appalachia and their journey to and through Berea College. Whether aspiring to be a chemist, a writer or an activist, each student’s connection to the region they call home has put them on a unique course toward success.

Portrait of Erika beside a tree on Berea's campus

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

Erika ’23 wrote an article for the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center publication, “The Gravy Infusion,” in which she talked about discovering the diverse history of her hometown. “I see the beauty in the broken roads that we journey on,” she said. “I never want to stop learning about others and being curious. I challenge all of us to keep seeking out new knowledge, especially among the people in our own communities.”
Read Erika’s story.

Portrait of Micah on Berea's campus

Valuing Place

Health and human performance major, Micah ’22, grew up splitting time between Middlesboro, Ky., and Claiborne County, Tenn., but says he didn’t fully embrace the richness of his Appalachian roots until he joined the Appalachian Male Initiative as a first-year student at Berea. Read Micah’s story.

A-Nya sitting on a picnic table surrounded by fall leaves

Advocating for a Strong Place

A-Nya ’23 is passionate about her West Virginia community and fighting for equity and social justice. She has worked with various groups and lawmakers to help create engaged and inclusive communities. She brings that same spirit to bear in her work with Berea’s Appalachian Center, where she says she feels her diverse ideas and contributions are truly valued.
Read A-Nya’s story.

Photo of Frances

Putting in the Work

Frances ’22 aspires to be a journalist despite her shyness. The rising senior will be editor of the student newspaper and hopes to attend graduate school to sharpen her journalism skills.
Read Frances’ story.

Portrait of Garett outside of the MAC building on campus

Telling a New Story

Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Garett ’21 graduated from Berea this past May. The chemistry major from Pine Knot, Ky., plans to pursue a doctoral degree and eventually become a professor.
Read Garett’s story.


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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