A Letter from Justin

Justin Vankirk in the new M.A.C building

Dear Friend,

First off, thank you for believing in me and other Berea students. My name is Justin, and I think that names, by themselves, leave so much to be desired. You never learn anything about someone from just their name. Therefore, I hope this letter allows you to see into the life of a stranger by the name of Justin.

You can only imagine my excitement when I received that acceptance letter from Berea at the end of my senior year. I applied to this school, as I knew that was the only way I could ever afford college. I grew up with a loving family who made around $18,000 a year. I know what it means to be poor. However, I also know what it means to have the opportunity now that I’m at Berea College.

Coming in, I felt like an outsider. I had barely ever left my little town of 496 people in West Virginia. Then, coming into Berea, a much larger town, I felt small. That never stopped me, though. I proceeded to try to become someone people wanted to know. I made connections and found my way at this little school. I have made some of my closest friends at Berea.

I have had so many more opportunities than I ever would have thought. I have done internships every summer thus far, and they have changed my life for the better. One of them took me, an Appalachian boy, all the way to Australia. Also, as surprising as this might sound, I have found more financial stability in just coming to Berea than I did working multiple jobs back at home. Everything just seems to have worked out in my favor due to Berea and donors like you, and I just love it. Thank you so much.

Gifts like yours have made created opportunities here, and I have taken advantage of as many as I can. I have received prestigious scholarships for math, I have worked as a physics teaching assistant through Berea’s Labor Program, I am a member of the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good team, and I am on the Dean’s list. I am a proud Appalachian. I am Justin, and I am leading the life of the stranger that you have come to know better, I hope. I am very thankful for everything Berea College has done. I hope you are inspired by my story, as I know this stranger is beyond blessed with everything Berea has done for me. One more time, thank you so much.

Many thanks,
Justin's signature
Berea College
Class of 2021