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Gabrielle Evans sitting with a laptop
February 13, 2020

Finding flow at work and in life

When Gabrielle Evans ’17, an accounting analyst with Georgia-Pacific in Atlanta, looks back on her college career, one memory is top of mind — her first days with fellow Bonner Scholars, recipients of four-year community service scholarships at Berry.

“The most powerful experience for me at Berry was at the freshman Bonner orientation trip doing an activity called ‘my river,’ where you build out your river of life acknowledging the boulders that stood in your way, things that contribute to building a dam and all these other metaphors for experiences that have shaped and molded you,” she says.

The river metaphor continued to take on meaning as Gabrielle adjusted her course of study. Although a dual-degree engineering student, she found that physics was not her kind of challenge. Taking an aptitude test revealed that accounting was best suited to her personality and talents.

On changing her major, Gabrielle got into the flow of college, cheerleading for Berry teams and taking on a series of work experiences, from student facility manager at Ford Dining Hall to accounting assistant in Berry’s Accounting and Finance Office. She served as a project and office assistant at the nearby Habitat for Humanity-Coosa Valley and as a program assistant at the West Rome Boys & Girls Club.

Interviewing for an internship program at Georgia-Pacific with two Berry alumni set Gabrielle’s career direction. “I was accepted into the program and moved out to Toledo, Ore., for the summer, and started my career with Georgia-Pacific in Muskogee, Okla., after graduation,” she says. “This internship opportunity showed me how much I love to learn about the process. The process of a tree becoming copy paper, a box, toilet tissue or a Dixie plate. The process of project planning, from researching alternatives to watching final parts being installed on a machine.”

Berry faculty guided Gabrielle at every step. Professor of Accounting Thomas Carnes provided an academic and personal support system while encouraging her to seek excellence. Today Gabrielle applies what she learned in the classroom, including a course with Professor of Management Paula Englis that involved a group project. “That class taught me you better know what you’re talking about and anticipate what your audience is going to ask,” Gabrielle explains. “Each meeting I walk into at work, I exercise this skill to not only be prepared, but to present a product my counterpart didn’t even know they wanted.”

Being a Bonner Scholar remains close to Gabrielle’s heart. Having benefited from the program’s financial and emotional support, she gave back as a peer counselor. “While mentoring freshmen Bonners, I would often find myself having similar conversations and encouraging my cheer mates and other underclassmen I frequently spent time with,” she says.

Whether Gabrielle’s “river of life” runs smoothly or changes course because of challenges, Berry has prepared her for the journey: “Here you will not only find friends that become family, create memories you want to relive 10 times over, but you’ll also find some sense of direction. Even if that direction is one you once said you’d never take, Berry has an interesting way of helping you to find fresh perspective on life-changing opportunities!”

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