Dear Berea Alumni and Friends,

Headshot of Abbie Darst

This issue of the Berea College magazine compiles stories of some of the most compelling initiatives, programs and people who stand for Berea’s fifth Great Commitment. Since ardent abolitionists founded this great college, Bereans have been radically living out a commitment to diversity and inclusion. This issue celebrates how today’s Bereans are taking action to remain open minded, progressive and compassionate to all.

As you rotate through these stories, stop here and travel with members of Berea’s faculty and staff on a Sankofa journey to discover truth and how to act on it. For some, that journey took them on a trek across the southern United States as part of the Civil Rights Seminar and Tour. Experiencing first-hand the sights, sounds and historical truths they ‘didn’t know that they didn’t know’ helped them understand the context of the Berea they’ve committed to serve. The challenging moments on the tour challenged them to step up in their campus roles to promote love over hate and peace with justice.

Along the way, you’ll encounter other faculty and staff members committed to the ‘squishy and difficult’ work of racial healing—discovering what that looks like in the context of their own lives and eventually across the campus and the greater Berea community.

These faculty and staff journeys ultimately connect them back to our students. Arm in arm, Berea’s faculty and staff walk alongside all students, pushing them toward success. For those students on the cusp, who struggle to stay engaged, Berea has created a comprehensive support system. The cover story can be found here, and introduces the Male Initiative—a collection of three programs aimed to increase retention rates and success stories for Berea’s male students. Nationally, graduation rates for young men have been on the decline. Berea is no different, with a modest 44.5 percent retention rate for Appalachian males and less than 50 percent for African American and Latino male cohorts. Learn what Berea is doing to change these statistics and change lives.

In our opening story, you’ll accompany archaeology students as they unearth the untold history of the Berea College forest through the life and land of George White, a formerly-enslaved African who went on to own land and leave his mark on Berea’s history.

Continue reading to learn all about Berea’s diverse and rich past, present-day commitment to its mission and its promising future.

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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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