At a time when concern over college expenses is national news, Berry College is aggressively expanding a program that allows hard-working students to graduate without debt.
The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship program builds on Berry’s long history of providing substantial support for students who are willing to work their way through college. Gate students are selected in part based on their potential to assume positions of increasing responsibility during their four years at Berry.
A major new gift from a longtime supporter of Berry will quadruple the program by sharing in the cost of more than 80 new scholarships. This new gift establishes a $10 million Donor Opportunity Fund that will be used to inspire and match new gifts by alumni and friends.
“This gift is an amazing vote of confidence in our enduring mission,” said Berry College President Steve Briggs. “In the same way that our donors choose to affirm and encourage young people who will take ownership of their education, this influential friend has chosen to affirm and expand the generosity of our donors. We are pleased to be able to use these funds to expand the Gate Program, which is rooted in Martha Berry’s timeless concept of helping students help themselves.”
A Gate of Opportunity Scholarship represents a partnership among a donor, a student and his or her family, and Berry College, with each partner contributing approximately one-third of the full cost of the student’s education. The student’s portion comes largely through extensive participation in Berry’s Work Experience Program, which offers relevant experience in more than 300 different types of jobs across campus.
There are currently 28 Gate Scholars. The first two – Kayla Badding of Bethlehem, Ga., and Anna Garber of York, S.C. – will graduate in May, both after only three years and without debt.
Garber, an animal science major, works as a research assistant for biochemistry and animal science faculty as well as a residence hall assistant overseeing 15 students. In addition, she plays violin in the Berry College Symphony Orchestra. Garber will attend graduate school in the fall.
Badding, an economics and government major, has accepted a job upon graduation with GEICO Insurance in the supervisory leadership program. While at Berry, she has worked at The Cottages at Berry, which offer lodging for official guests and friends of the college. She now serves as general manager, responsible for 17 rooms, 17 employees and a budget of $120,000. She has also worked as a research assistant for the economics department and co-authored a paper at the Southern Economic Association Conference.
Badding’s work experience at Berry provided her with extensive supervisory experience and gave her a leg up during job interviews.
“I was asked during a job interview about how to handle a crisis situation, and I said, ‘Let me tell you about this storm,’” Badding said, recounting the severe storm that hit Berry last year. She was responsible for evacuating her guests because of a gas leak.
“I am so very grateful for the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship, without which I could never have achieved such experience and education. As I approach graduation, I can honestly say that I feel thoroughly prepared to face the world outside of Berry College.”
More than 90 percent of all students choose to participate in the Berry Work Experience Program at some point during their college careers. From IT help desk specialist to event planner to videographer to equine barn manager, students develop their skills and interests as a complement to their rigorous academic studies.