Faces of LifeReady


Mark Morton

Help from an attentive faculty member and a bit of jazz helped Mark Morton (16C) find his dream! Mark initially entered Berry as a midfielder for the lacrosse team, but an injury led him to leave the sports life in pursuit of another calling. A performance by Berry’s jazz ensemble inspired him to pick up his guitar and find his purpose in music. A faculty mentor guided him to join the jazz program and pursue a music degree. Now Mark plays professionally in Chapel Hill with a solo album releasing later this year.


Malcholm Graham

He scored the GEICO Play of the Year in NCAA Division III football with an amazing interception, but it was his work managing Berry’s Viking Furniture student enterprise that put him over the goal line in his job search months before graduation. His real-life, entrepreneurial experience first won him a corporate accounting internship and then two great job offers. “My work as general manager of a Berry enterprise really stood out on my resumé,” he said. “And the skills I gained made a big difference to my level of experience and other qualifications.”


Lindsey Purvis

Four years of theatre-based student work and a New York internship later, she’s earning a master’s degree in scenic design at Cincinnati’s prestigious College-Conservatory of Music and is certain her work at Berry set her up for success. “Not everyone has the opportunity to build and paint entire sets, weld, hang lights, or run shows,” she said. “Having actual practical experience put me ahead of the curve.”


Vedant Mehta

He has his sights set on space propulsion! Vedant worked as an advanced research assistant in physics and as a tutor. Now he’s gone on to his next frontier: pursuing master’s degrees in nuclear engineering and aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech on a full scholarship from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “My student work experiences with professors in astrophysics and sensor development helped me become self-dependent and able to work with confidence on advanced research projects,” he said. “There is no doubt that the research skills I developed – and the communication skills I built as a tutor – are very important for grad school.”

Paul Ulrich didn’t come to Berry to play football. Now he can’t imagine his college experience without it.

Paul Ulrich

Berry’s first football graduate was drawn to the college by a strong pre-med program. In addition to a stellar 3.9 GPA, the 2015 alumnus from Sylva, N.C., gained valuable experience working in the sports medicine department and made beautiful music with the college trumpet ensemble. But it was as a spirited walk-on member of the inaugural football team that he found his Berry “family,” developed extraordinary time-management skills and earned recognition as a “tireless worker.” Although he played in only two games, Paul won the prestigious “Be Berry” Award for his work in the classroom, on the field and in the community. His take? “I don’t think I’d be where I am right now without the football program.” Paul is part of the first class of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine on the Auburn University campus. And his football coach will always be able to brag that 100% of his inaugural graduating class was admitted to medical school!

A love of music runs in David Warren’s family. Now he’s the leader of the band.

David Warren

A trombonist, music-education major and world-class drum corps conductor, David hails from a musical family and grew up watching his older brother rehearse with the high school marching band. When his time came, the Carrollton, Ga., native took performance to the next level, joining the Illinois-based Phantom Regiment drum and bugle corps, eventually earning the honor of conducting the regiment’s 2014 and 2015 marching seasons. Drum Corps International, marching music’s “major league,” has recognized David with its Jim Jones Leadership Award. At Berry, David is assistant to the director of the wind ensemble. He’s also served as student manager of Ford Auditorium.

Leah Bolden wanted to earn her future. Berry donors gave her the chance.

 When Leah was looking for a way to go to college without burdening her family, she was thrilled to receive one of Berry’s first Gate of Opportunity Scholarships, which gave her the chance to work her way through college and graduate debt-free. To say the future doctor was a perfect match for the scholarship program would be an understatement, and she made the most of the opportunity. Leah’s student work jobs on campus included service as a Presidential Ambassador, tutor and head of the student philanthropy program. She also worked in research with Berry professor Dr. Reneé Carleton, an experience that helped opened doors first to a premedical graduate-certificate program, then to research on ethics in science with a professor of genetics and genomics, and eventually to a position as a medical scribe while she applied to medical schools. Were her applications successful? Yes!  And thanks to LifeReady Campaign supporters, 151 Gate of Opportunity Scholarships ultimately will give a boost to generations of hardworking students like Leah. 

Adventure is not just a passion but a profession for Alice Morgan.

Alice Morgan

Working as outdoor leadership coordinator at Virginia’s Shenandoah University, the 2012 Berry graduate has the opportunity to kindle in others the same thrill of discovery she once felt as a student taking Berry’s Freshman Adventure Challenge course. That life-changing weekend revealed Alice’s true strength; afterward, she knew she had to have more. That “more” turned out to be three and a half years of valuable student work experience within the Berry Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD) program and an interdisciplinary major in outdoor leadership. During that time, she participated in a 30-day outdoor leadership program in Alaska and a 50-day Outward Bound excursion in North Carolina. Later, she completed the master’s degree program in outdoor education at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, one of the longest-standing outdoor education programs in the world.

Theatre is Stephen Stamps’ passion. At Berry, he’s working to make it his future as well.

Stephen Stamps

Stephen attended four years of high school at the Savannah Arts Academy, but it wasn’t until a junior-year role in West Side Story that theatre became his passion. Now he’s working hard to make it his future. Stephen’s had lead roles in Servant of Two Masters and Colored Museum with the Berry College Theatre Company as well as an ensemble appearance in Grand Night for Singing. He’s also a dancer and choreographer for the Berry College Dance Troupe, appearing as the Nutcracker in a Berry/Rome Little Theatre production of Nutcracker Ballet. And on his first attempt, he was selected for coveted auditions at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. The multi-talented performer – who also serves in the leadership role of head resident of Berry’s Morton and Lemley halls – is one class act.

Dakota Burke came to Berry to study business. He graduated owning one.

One thing Dakota could count on when he visited the beach: The skim board he bought to use in the surf would break before he left for home. Irritated, he set to work hand-crafting a more durable design. But then what? The double business/finance major took Professor Paula Englis’ Introduction to Entrepreneurship class with its $100 seed money. In short order a business was born, with alumni mentors helping Dakota arrange for manufacturing and even loaning a car for a sales trip to Florida. By the time he graduated, Diamond Boards LLC was worth more than $80,000 with 45 retailers in five states selling its products. Dakota had an idea and was willing to work hard. As a business major, he also had access to opportunity. Soon, enterprising students of all majors will too – whether they want to build a better mouse trap or develop new ways of “doing good.”

Ree Palmer has the heart of A leader. At Berry, she got the experience to back it up.

Ree Palmer

Former Student Government Association President Ree Palmer was a leader in every sense of the word. Naturally shy, she found her voice in student government as a freshman when a friend convinced her to run for office. Before graduation, she had learned, practiced and shared leadership skills as a Leadership Fellow and was one of the first participants in the Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership's Carper mentoring program, meeting regularly with former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher. She noted: "Berry ensures that its student leaders know how to handle leadership roles with professionalism and dedication by handing them responsibility from day one." What's next in her journey? Palmer and a classmate were two of only 35 accepted in 2016 for Indiana University's highly selective master's program in higher education and student affairs.

Emily Barton doesn’t just dream about becoming a large-animal vet. She works hard at it.

Emily knows what it takes to get into vet school: grades, experience, interests, determination. Her GPA? Near perfection! It’s an impressive 3.95 out of 4. Her level of experience? Exceptional! A hands-on leadership position with the Berry College Dairy and two summers working with veterinarians, as well as caring for a horse and raising a guide-dog-in-training. Her interests? Broad. She’s also a ballerina, choreographer and Dance Troupe manager. Emily is determined to do everything she can to build her future. What does she deserve? The best learning facilities possible. We’re committed to creating them.

UPDATE! Emily applied to two veterinary medicine programs and was accepted to both. She’s now doing (very!) well at the University of Georgia and still plans a career in large-animal medicine. Although focused on her studies, Emily has kept on dancing and has worked as choreographer for a UGA performance dance team. She’s also a volunteer Bible study leader for an Athens church and treasurer of the student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

When one door closed for Whitney Webster, a musical one opened.

Whitney Webster

For Whitney Webster of Trussville, Ala., when one door closed, a musical one opened. The music-business major was a competitive level 10 gymnast in high school before a severe ankle injury derailed her athletic dreams. While recovering from surgery, she found music soothing to her soul and soon picked up where she had left off years earlier playing the piano. Next, came voice lessons. Now a talented vocalist, she’s eyeing a future move to Nashville to join the country music scene, either as a performer or through work in copyright law. Whitney also would like the opportunity to use her music to spread the gospel internationally.

You can tell some leaders by the “hats” they wear. With Harrison Daniels, it’s t-shirts.

The sure sign of any student-leader is the t-shirt, that revered and respected article of clothing proclaiming the activity or event in which the wearer has a stake. At last count, Harrison had about 80 of them. His titles were just as numerous – Berry Leadership Fellow, leadership coordinator, Presidential Ambassador, head SOAR leader and teaching assistant, to name just a few. The double physics/math major – now in graduate school at Georgia Tech – also became the go-to student expert on 3-D printing, micro-controllers and other new technologies in the Physical Computing Lab and spent a year-in-service helping others through “Random Acts of Hope” with his six Hope Cottage roommates. Scholarships made it possible for Harrison to go to Berry; work program wages helped him stay here. Annual giving supports both.

As a theatre major seeking the freedom to explore her creative talents, Mercedes Meyers has found her fit.

Mercedes Meyers

Mercedes is keeping her options open on how she’ll reach for the stars. The Portland, Maine, native first dipped a toe into drama as a freshman in high school and found an immediate “fit.” At Berry, she’s tried her hand at nearly every aspect of theatre production, from acting to set painting, enjoying the freedom to discover her talents and develop her potential. And potential she has. Mercedes was tapped for a scenic artist apprenticeship at the renowned Hanger Theatre in Ithaca, N.Y., after just her sophomore year. But Mercedes also is a physics minor contemplating advanced study in astrophysics. No wonder she is excited to watch her own star-studded story unfold!

Bernard Granville Jr. came to Berry seeking role models. Now he’s becoming one.

Bernard Granville Jr.

The Columbus, Ga., native arrived at Berry seeking the type of personal influences that would help “mold me as a man.” He’s found that and more, growing in maturity and accountability as a member of the college’s varsity football team. Thriving under coaches who emphasize character as well as playing ability, he has become a key building block for the young program and looks forward to winning in the new stadium the grateful team already calls “home.” But Berry is about more than football for Bernard, who is passionate about becoming a role model himself as a middle school teacher, especially for at-risk young men. “My choice to come to Berry is probably the best decision I’ve ever made, especially academically,” he said. “I know I’m doing a great job in that aspect right now. It’s put me in the right position for the rest of my life.”