When Frances ’22 looks out the window of her Fancy Gap, Va., home, there’s not much to see.
“There are more cows living on my road than people,” she said. “It’s just cow fields on both sides.”
The English major has been studying at home for the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She lives with her father, who’s retired. Though remote, Frances has been able to continue with her labor assignment, writing for The Pinnacle, Berea’s student newspaper. It’s a challenge, not only because she is so far from campus, but also because Frances is an introvert. Asking people for interviews means overcoming her shyness.
“It’s something I have to push myself to do,” Frances said. “I’ve gotten better at doing that because it’s something I have to do just about every week. It’s usually easier for me to email people, but sometimes my higher-ups push me to make phone calls. That’s even more difficult for me. I have to work out what I want to say ahead of time.”
Frances has had to work her way up to campus journalist, beginning in the dining hall her first year, then switching to retail in the Log House Craft Gallery her sophomore year. Next year, she moves up to editor.
“I discovered I have a knack for writing, and I want to do more of it,” she said. “When I first started working for the paper, I didn’t really have any experience with journalistic writing. It’s something I wanted to develop more. As I continued to write articles, I discovered I really enjoyed doing it. I like being able to convey important information to people.”
Frances had never had a job before coming to Berea, but now she knows what her future looks like. She plans to apply to a graduate school known for its journalism program, a school like Northwestern or New York University. Wherever she lands, Frances hopes it’s a large city with a public transportation system since she has a fear of driving.
If in New York, she will be returning to her family’s roots. Her parents were drawn to Virginia from the metropolis because of the low cost of living. Though born in Virginia, Frances has always felt a little like a stranger in her hometown.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” she said. “But I didn’t grow up with a lot of the customs that Appalachian families have. I don’t really sound like I’m from around here, and people in school used to always think I moved here.”
Frances will be the first in her family to finish college, a fact she says makes her feel proud.
“I wish that more people knew about Berea because it’s just a really good opportunity for some people,” she said. “It’s a good quality college education. You have to put a lot of work in. It’s difficult, but it’s just a great chance. I’m not sure I would have been able to go to college otherwise.”