Mary Esther StatesThe middle child of a family of six has to work hard to be noticed. She also has to figure out how to pay for college one day. In middle school, Mary Esther States (’15) hatched a plan to address both problems—become valedictorian.

And she succeeded. Now with a choice of colleges to attend, forward-thinking Mary Esther knew a bachelor’s degree alone would not be enough to set her apart from other graduates looking for employment.  Breaking through in today’s highly competitive professional environment means being both educated and skilled.

Now a senior, Mary Esther has worked her way up to student manager. This communication major will graduate not only with a diploma, but also a labor transcript detailing her experience in employee supervision, office management, and financial planning.

Berea College attracts over 1,600 deserving, hardworking students with limited financial resources looking for a chance to stand up and stand out. And for each of them, Berea provides a world-class liberal arts education—at no charge to them. Students offset the cost of tuition (over $22,000 annually) by working on campus 10-15 hours per week in addition to the 30 hours per week they are expected to be in class and studying.

Mary Esther chose Berea for the labor experience, but found something else very special here: a true devotion to impartial love and service to others that allows her to thrive while she is on campus and reminds her to pay it forward when she leaves.

“Berea is about loving your neighbor as you love yourself. That’s the first thing I felt when I came here, that people really did love their neighbor.”

Three years later, Mary Esther is still amazed. “I am truly blown away by the community I live in. Not only does this institution afford my peers and me a full-tuition scholarship, but it makes us rich with community, love, and understanding. The world needs more Berea Colleges.”[/text_output][text_output]

Berea College: Breaking Through Since 1855 

Before the Civil War, Berea College broke through the barriers to education facing African-Americans, women, and greater Appalachia. Because Berea students cannot afford tuition, the miracle that is Berea College can only continue through the generosity of our friends and alumni.

You can help the next generation of deserving students break through by giving to Berea College, financially or otherwise.

Ways to Support Berea Financially

• Give to the Berea Fund.

• Name Berea College in your Estate Plans.

• Set up a Charitable Gift Annuity or Trust.

• Give a Designated Gift to Support a Program or Project.

• Establish an Endowed Scholarship.

Other Ways to Support Berea

• Sign up to mentor a student.

• Volunteer to help with campus events or host an alumni event in your area.

• Nominate someone for an alumni award.

• Apply to join the Alumni Executive Council or the Young Alumni Advisory Council.

• Read the Berea College magazine and pass it along to someone else.

Contact the Berea College Office of Alumni Relations at 1-866-804-0591 to learn how you can help.  To learn how to mentor a Berea College student, visit us online at:

Call 1-800-457-9846 to make a gift today. Or you can make a gift online at or via email at


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