Ciara Felty is from Boone County, West Virginia. She is a senior majoring in Appalachian Studies. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education by studying the interconnections of Appalachia and the places where Appalachians have come from, such as Europe, Africa, South America, etc.
Ciara is a founding member of the Berea College Appalachian Student Union and participates in campus social activism movements and opportunities. Outside of college, she enjoys traditional dancing and music, reading books about and from the Appalachian region, and writing fiction and creative non-fiction.
William E. Harris (but everyone calls him Elston!) is from Pelham, Grundy County, Tennessee. He is a junior majoring in Communications. His future goals and dreams include changing the world. For enjoyment, he spends time throwing frisbee, reading, lifting weights, and catching up with friends. He is the current Student Government Association Vice President.
Elston’s interest in Appalachia “is that Appalachia is populated by so many cultures and many different people, yet the nation sees [Appalachia] as white rednecks.” He hopes to change that assumption. Elston’s work at the Center has given him the chance to show other people the complexity of the region: “Appalachia isn’t just redneck country, but rather encompasses a multitude of ethnicities, religions, and political ideologies.”
Emily Masters is from Monteagle, Grundy County, Tennessee (the location of the original Highlander Folk School!). She is a senior majoring in English with concentrations in both literature and creative writing and minoring in Appalachian Studies, History, and Philosophy. She hopes to one day be a writer and editor.
Emily enjoys knitting, going to concerts, reading, and gardening. She works with the Appalachian Center because she has found a deep love for her own connection to Appalachia and her research on local history involving the Highlander Folk School. She enjoys watching people discover, question, and embrace their own diverse Appalachian identities. Emily also works with Appalachian Heritage.
Kayla (Kyle) Heaven Rector is a senior from Lexington, Fayette Co., Kentucky majoring in History. They hope to graduate and then pursue a doctorate in history, to be able to become a history professor, or become a museum curator. They enjoy drawing, singing, and driving around.
They participate in choirs on campus and occasionally attends a PULSE meeting. Their interest in Appalachia stems from the fact that they didn’t ever have a title for her identity until they came to Berea and learned about the region of Appalachia. Their ‘Nana’ was from the Shenandoah Valley and she played a huge role in their childhood and in who Kyle grew to become. The values she instilled in her, the beliefs she helped her to form– has all come to their identifying as Appalachia. They feel honored to be Appalachian and they hope to learn more Appalachian history so they can share their knowledge as a historian.
Aeryton (Aero) Erwin is a junior Political Science major with a minor in Sociology from Bellefontaine, Logan Co., Ohio. He actively participates in the History Club on campus.
Aero works at the Center because a past advisor encouraged him to apply for a position under the Curator, Chris Miller, thinking that it would offer hands-on experience in curatorial work. The job consists mainly of making graphic designs, but also gives great insight into a region he knew little about. He is working for the Appalachian Center, even after switching majors from History to Political Science, to learn and be creative in a friendly and interesting environment.
Leander Keim is a rising senior majoring in History from Woost, Holmes Co., Ohio. He works both at the Appalachian Center, as well as in a position as a Teaching Assistant.
Leander works with the Center to gain experience in museum practices and to complete his ALE (Active Learning Experience) requirement. He is interested in the geography and the geographic history of Appalachia.
Magenta Palo is a junior Peace and Social Justice major with a minor in studio art from Newton Falls, Trumbull Co., Ohio. She works for both the Visitors Center demonstrating weaving and the Appalachian Center as Chris Miller’s curatorial assistant.
She works at the Appalachian Center because it allows her to be creative and to learn about a region she grew up in, but did not know much about. Magenta loves learning about the people of Appalachia, their things, and the interesting stories they can tell. She enjoys making art, meeting new people, and going on adventures. She hopes to travel the world and aid in positive social change.