News & Stories

Sara Myers
January 8, 2021

Student Steps Up to Serve Local Youth during COVID-19

Like all of her peers at Berry and around the world, Sara Myers ’21 found her life turned upside down with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while her own learning environment changed, Sara found herself concerned about other students, specifically the youth she helps tutor at the Open Door Children’s Home in Rome, Ga.

Open Door houses children and youth who have experienced child abuse and neglect. Through Berry’s community and industry work partnership with Open Door and Rome City Schools, Sara works as the student coordinator of the Open Door tutoring program. She started as a tutor during her sophomore year at Berry and worked her way up to the coordinator position, in which she manages other student tutors, organizes the tutoring schedule and serves as a liaison between Berry and the home.

When Berry closed in the spring due to the pandemic, the tutoring program came to a halt. Sara, knowing firsthand how challenging the transition to virtual learning could be, wanted to find a way to continue to serve the students at Open Door. “I knew I was struggling with online school, so I could only imagine how hard it would be for them in the home every day,” Sara says.

Sara reached out to her supervisor — Mark Kozera, director of Employer Engagement and career consultant for the Campbell School of Business — about tutoring virtually and learned that any work the tutors did would have to be on a voluntary basis. Six of her fellow tutors volunteered to help, and the tutoring program went virtual with excellent results. “It turned out way better than I could have ever anticipated,” Sara says. “When the students went the first few weeks without tutoring, a lot of their grades dropped. Almost all of the grades improved a lot when we went back to tutoring.”

Kozera has known Sara since she started as a tutor and has seen her grow significantly over the past two years. “She’s grown in confidence, she has led meetings and done orientations, and she’s always coming up with new ideas,” he says. “She’s a demonstrated leader with her peers. She is kind, humble, thoughtful and engaging.”

Aside from her work with the tutoring program, Sara has held several other leadership positions and participates in a variety of activities at Berry. She is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in Spanish, works in the Health and Wellness Center as a medical assistant and receptionist, studied abroad in Thailand and interned in Costa Rica teaching English, and served as both a SOAR leader and a first-year mentor. She is also a member of the Honors Program and the women’s tennis team.

At the end of her college career, Sara reflects on her growth: “The leadership positions and the opportunities that I’ve had to serve others, continuously challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone have improved me as a person and my ability to impact the lives of others in ways that I never thought would happen before I came to Berry.”

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