What can today’s Berea College student accomplish? If the past is an indication, whatever they set their minds to. Berea alumni have climbed to highest levels of government, defied societal limitations, and raced their way to the tops of their chosen professions. Here are just a few of our most famous students who went on to greatness.
His name is synonymous with fast. The founder of Roush Fenway Racing and International Motorsports Hall-of-Famer began his career with a Berea College mathematics degree. Known for engineering high-powered Ford Mustangs and trucks, he is the winningest team owner in NASCAR history.
— Class of 1964
After working for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns and serving in his administration, Woke Vote founder DeJuana Thompson inspired thousands of African American millennials to political activism in Alabama. Appointed by the White House to serve as senior advisor in the U.S. Small Business Administration, Thompson majored in speech communication while at Berea. She is now a partner with Think Rubix, a Washington, D.C.-based policy and strategy firm.
— Class of 2005
Dr. John Fenn
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in mass spectrometry, John Fenn moved to Kentucky during the Great Depression and pursued his first degree in chemistry at Berea. A rocket scientist for a US Navy project early in his career, Fenn pioneered research in supersonic atomic and molecular beam sources. His Nobel Prize is on display at Berea’s Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health building.
— Class of 1937
A tale of terror and triumph, Gyude Moore fled civil war in his home country of Liberia and was accepted to study political science at Berea. When he returned home, he was appointed Minister of Public Works by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Now considered an expert in fragile state infrastructure, Moore is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development.
— Class of 2006
Dr. Juanita Kreps
The first woman to serve as the United States Secretary of Commerce got her start at Berea College working campus jobs as a dishwasher, a hospital receptionist, a theatre department costume designer, and, finally, an aid to her economics professor. A specialist in labor demographics from the tiny town of Lynch in Harlan County, Ky., Kreps served under President Jimmy Carter as only the fourth woman to ever hold a cabinet position. She also served as Duke University’s first female vice president and the first woman director of the New York Stock Exchange.
— Class of 1942
Dr. Samuel Hurst
Before the iPhone, there were Sam Hurst’s innovative advancements in touch-screen technology. The Bell County, Ky., native completed his physics degree and went to work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Fascinated by the work of Thomas Edison as a child, Hurst went on to join the University of Kentucky as Professor of Physics.
— Class of 1947