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Fashionable Service

Sydney Hulebak - SOUP officeSydney Hulebak is anything but ordinary.

The Alabama native came to Berry as an aspiring journalist and self-described “fashionista” who dreamed of working for Vogue. When she landed an internship with acclaimed designer Billy Reid the summer before her junior year, it looked like she was well on her way. By then, however, her focus was already shifting – from fashion as a career to fashion as a way of serving others.

The seeds of this change were planted when Sydney took a student work position with Berry College Volunteer Services at the start of her sophomore year. She also became involved with the African SOUP, a student-run nonprofit started at Berry in 2009 that works to provide food, medical care, education, shelter and clothing to orphans in the village of Isiti, Uganda.

“Berry’s focus on service has had a huge impact on the decisions that I have made,” Sydney reflected. “Being in an environment where people care about helping and serving others has influenced me to add that service edge to my career goal.”

In the summer of 2013, she traveled to Uganda to meet the orphans she and the other students were helping. Ten life-changing days later, she returned with a vision for a new business venture that could someday put her passion for fashion to work as a means of enhancing development in the rural village.

“My experience in Uganda really changed my perspective,” Sydney said. “I left Uganda knowing more about hospitality, hard work and fearlessness. The fashion project that emerged from this visit isn't just about aiding, but highlighting the wonderful talent that is already present among so many women there.”

Without her Berry experiences, Sydney wouldn’t be the person she is today. The trip to Uganda, as well as a second study-abroad experience in South Korea funded by Berry Board of Trustees member Sunny K. Park, helped to broaden her perspective and change her direction. For every opportunity Berry has offered, she is extremely grateful.

“I definitely wouldn’t have been able to attend Berry without my scholarships,” she said. “Thank you to everyone who contributed to my scholarships that allowed me to attend Berry. Because of you I have the freedom to make choices that I wouldn’t have had.”

By Casey Cox, Student Supervisor for Philanthropic Communications

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