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Walt Berry
April 9, 2020

Berry alum takes leadership role in ER

Walt Wiley graduated in 2007 with a major in biology and the goal of becoming a nurse. Now, over a decade later, he has accomplished that and much more — building upon years of experience in health care. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walt leads a team at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center as the executive director of nursing for emergency services, a role he began preparing for years ago.

As a high school student, Walt attended his sister-in-law’s Berry graduation and knew right away that it was the place for him. “I fell in love with the campus and its mission,” he says. “I knew that Berry’s 27,000 acres would be a fantastic companion to the biology program.”

Studying the sciences wasn’t the only thing that kept Walt busy as a student. He was also active in the campus community as a student orientation leader, participating in the Emerging Leaders program and the Student Government Association. “These experiences taught me that I was capable of leading multiple individuals with the goal of pursuing excellence. It also taught me how to work in a team setting.”

His extracurricular activities — on top of his job as a head resident for two residence halls during his junior and senior years — taught him about the responsibility that rests on a leader’s shoulders.

Cecily Crow, now the director of student activities, fondly recalls her time working with Walt: “I met Walt his freshman year when he was a last-minute addition to our Emerging Leaders program, and from that point forward, Walt has taken on any leadership opportunity or challenge that he has encountered on his journey. He is a wonderful friend and a great role model for how one can incorporate the ‘education of the head, heart and hands’ into life beyond Berry.”

Another mentor, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students Lindsey Taylor, agrees. “As a head resident and a conference assistant, I watched Walt rely on his friendships with other student leaders to contribute to his success as a leader as well as improve the experience of students.”

After graduation, Walt pursued a degree in nursing at Georgia Southern University, followed by a master’s degree in health care administration at Ohio University. He entered the workforce as an emergency room nurse and worked his way up the ranks in various leadership roles until reaching his current position at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center.

Walt works hard daily to ensure that his teams have appropriate personal protective equipment and stay informed of continually changing guidelines — while removing operational barriers that would hinder success and efficiency.

“Working with this team across two campuses has been a highlight, and I’ve been able to grow so much as a health care leader. The autonomy, engaging workforce and purpose to serve those in need across metro Atlanta bring a smile to my face daily,” he says.

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