"When alumni and friends give to Berry, it creates a world of opportunities for a student like me. Thanks to their generosity, I have all these opportunities — in the health care world, in the administrative world, in leadership and in connections with alumni. I am tremendously grateful."
Joanna Clark, Class of 2023
A rare illness she battled as a child and the compassionate care she received inspired senior nursing major Joanna Clark to have a deep passion for helping others.
"I was hospitalized because I had a form of bacteria that you get from drinking water. I spent a lot of time in the hospital throughout third and fourth grades, and I still remember my doctor's and nurses' names today."
Those medical practitioners not only helped restore Joanna to health; they also provided a model for what service could look like in her future.
"I came to Berry as a biology major and switched to nursing when I found out about their program and the hands-on experience it provides us in working with patients. The quality of care I received as a child was really impactful on my entire experience and how I think about working in healthcare. Berry's nursing program has prepared me to serve patients well."
A DREAM ALMOST OUT OF REACH
While Joanna's dream of helping others was clear, her path to affording college was not.
"My dad passed away the first day of school my junior year in high school. Coming from a now-single-parent household with a sister already in college, I knew finances were a huge thing. My sister is only two and a half years older than me, and we have a younger brother.
"I almost didn't apply to Berry because I thought there was no way it would work financially."
Then, Joanna received the gift of opportunity thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends who support student scholarships.
"Berry was able to offer me immense help through the Service Fellows Scholarship and the Audrey Morgan Nursing Scholarship. Being at Berry is an opportunity I wouldn't have had otherwise."
MAKING THE MOST OF OPPORTUNITY
The essential help provided by scholarships has opened a world of possibilities for Joanna at Berry.
"I have really benefitted from the BCIL (Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership) mentorship program. My mentors last year were an oncologist and a cardiac physician assistant. It was super beneficial; I have gotten a lot of good connections and shadowing opportunities."
Eager to embrace every chance for growth, Joanna volunteered to run for secretary of her freshman class. Today, she is executive president of Berry's entire Student Government Association.
"The journey has been a lot of leadership experiences, a lot of difficult conversations, a lot of personal growth, and now, as a senior, I'm in this role where I can mentor other students. Being mentored by past SGA presidents was really fulfilling, and now I am that person to the new people on my team. It's full circle, seeing where I came from to now."
PAYING IT FORWARD
The Kentucky native is on track to begin her career as a neonatal intensive care nurse and one day complete training to become a nurse practitioner. She knows none of that would have been possible without the life-changing generosity of the Berry family.
"When alumni and friends give to Berry, it creates a world of opportunities for a student like me. Thanks to their generosity, I have all these opportunities - in the health care world, in the administrative world, in leadership and in connections with alumni. I am tremendously grateful."
Joanna envisions being an active part of the Berry family for life. "Candidly, I would love to be president of the Alumni Council. I will be involved, and I will be giving donations to the alumni scholarship. I feel like it is a pay-it-forward type of thing. Alumni and friends made it possible for me to attend Berry, so I would love to even slightly contribute to someone else's journey."
This holiday season, please consider extending the gift of opportunity to Berry students like Joanna. Your generosity will truly transform lives.