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Aidan’s Story

Aidan’s Story

Tackling New Challenges

A postcard from Berea College’s Admissions Department arrived for me just before the start of my senior year of high school. Until receiving that piece of mail, I had never considered even applying to a private liberal arts institution.

I’m from Letcher County, Kentucky, an Appalachian county that borders Virginia, just a couple of hours from Berea’s campus. So why wasn’t I thinking seriously about Berea already? I was a top student in my high school, but it’s my experience that kids from Letcher County and the rest of the Appalachian region generally don’t grow up with the expectation that they will have the opportunity to go to college—let alone a college as respected as Berea. I think it’s because where I’m from, people tend to undercut themselves. They don’t understand what they can truly do. It took getting that postcard from Berea to even give me the idea that I was good enough to apply.

With encouragement from my family, I took a shot and applied to Berea. Taking that step and having the courage to push myself beyond my comfort zone was a turning point in my life. When I learned I was accepted to Berea, I knew I had to make the most of this chance. And when my father died just two weeks before my high school graduation, I was especially grateful to come to Berea, where I could sculpt a picture of myself as who I want to be as an adult. I can never repay Berea for the chance it gave me.

This fall, I’ll start my senior year as a business major and president of our campus investing club, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. I think the number one lesson Berea has given me since I first received that postcard is to push yourself. Your comfort zone limits you. You need to get out there and try things. And Berea has helped me do just that.

Thanks to Berea College—and those who support the College’s great mission—I’ve been able to tackle new challenges and learn that there’s a place for me in the world of finance. I am confident and excited for the future.

You’re giving to students with so much ambition who are getting their first chance at life—their first chance at really bringing
opportunities to life. These students will make it worth your while. Thank you for being willing to invest in us.


Berea College Motley Fool Investment Club
The Berea College Motley Fool Investment Club was founded in 2016 with the generous support of The Motley Fool, a financial services company with ties to Berea College. A select group of students are given the opportunity to manage a portfolio of equities on the U.S. stock market. Beyond financial goals, the Investment Club’s priority is to advance skills and knowledge of investing and fiduciary management of funds and spread financial literacy on campus. Aidan, now serving as the Club’s president, began attending its meetings early in his Berea career out of curiosity. Soon, he was hooked. “Until I came to Berea,” Aidan says, “my knowledge of the stock market was that it was some powerful force that was for people that live up north or in cities, not for someone from small-town Appalachia.”

Internship at Sands Capital in Arlington, Virginia
Aidan knew from the older students in the Investment Club that scoring an internship would be key for his future. With support from Berea’s Internship Office, Aidan set his sights on Sands Capital, an Arlington, Virginia, investment firm that manages more than $50 billion in client assets. But despite his qualifications, Aidan experienced the lack of confidence he said is common among some Appalachian people trying to move in professional and social circles where they don’t already have connections. The idea of working for Sands Capital simply felt worlds away from his Appalachian Kentucky roots. So, despite advancing steadily through the extensive interview process, it was difficult for Aidan to believe he could succeed. Like many Berea College students, Aidan had impostor syndrome: he was doubting his skills, hard work, and accomplishments, and he had a fear of being seen by others as not worthy, not up to par. “I applied and did several rounds of interviews,” he recalls, “and thought, ‘There’s no chance. There’s no chance any of this is going to happen.’” So, when Aidan was offered the internship, it was a pivotal moment in his life, just as getting a Berea acceptance letter from admissions. “Working in Arlington was a huge change of pace, and I was kind of intimidated in the first couple of weeks,” he admits. “But I knew I had been given the chance of a lifetime to get this ball rolling, to become something in the investment world.”

Beyond Berea
Looking at life after Berea College, Aidan is already thinking of ways he can give back to Kentucky and Appalachia using his education. “I’ve lived in Kentucky my entire life and I feel like I owe it something,” he explains. “You can’t leave home and then expect home to get better. You’ve got to pay it forward a little bit.”
Aidan says that finding ways to improve financial literacy in Appalachia would be a great way to give back. “I feel like it makes a difference to have someone in your family who knows a little bit about the investing world and about the economy,” he says. “People can change their monetary habits and how well their life is experienced because of that. I want to make financial education more available in the place I grew up.” Just as Berea has nurtured Aidan, it’s quite likely that Aidan will nurture those back home in Letcher County, Kentucky. Berea’s investment in Aidan and its other students will bring a great return on the investment. And Berea’s investment in students is possible only because of your support. You can enjoy that similar investment return through your generosity.