The students we serve are unable to afford the rising cost of a college education, but the tenacity, persistence, and hope-filled dreams they bring to the table are unmatched.
December 2023 graduate Jenny Sales is just one fantastic example. Her steadfast pursuit of her goals demonstrates what Berea students can do with the right support.
Jenny, born into the Indigenous lineage of Maya Mam in Guatemala, was raised by a beloved grandmother along with her siblings and cousins. Money was scarce, and Jenny’s early education was provided through a charitable organization helping Guatemalan children. The founder of that organization was quick to recognize Jenny’s potential and became a mentor and mother, lovingly guiding her through her educational journey.
“On the day of my high school graduation, she reached out to me and asked, ‘Do you want to go to college?’ I said, ‘Yes, but I don’t have money to pay for college,’” Jenny explained.
Education is powerful. But education is very expensive. And even if you have all the desire to go to college, if you don't have the money, you will always dream with your eyes closed. But Berea is different. Berea helps us to dream with open eyes.
Jenny’s mentor told her about Berea College and its Tuition Promise Scholarship. Because she did not yet speak English, Jenny knew she would have to work hard to be accepted. She buckled down and studied English for a year before applying.
“I applied to Berea and was rejected the first time,” Jenny says. “I was heartbroken. But the next day, I woke up with new energy and said, ‘This is not the end, this is just the beginning. I understand that if I want something, I need to fight for it.’ I went to my classes, and I continued to study because I really wanted to come to Berea.”
Where others might have given up, Jenny persisted and was enrolled in Berea College in 2018. On campus, she found the support she needed to succeed while majoring in biology despite having never taken a science class prior to college. Jenny also reaped the benefits of educational opportunities outside the classroom, completing three internships that encouraged and shaped her dream of becoming a doctor and returning to Guatemala to help the women of her country. These internships, as well as other rich educational experiences such as study abroad and undergraduate research, are usually reserved for students whose families can support them financially. The average Berea student would be excluded from participating in such opportunities without taking on large amounts of student debt. It is only with your support—and that of Berea’s wider community of alumni and friends—that a comprehensive Berea College education is available to students like Jenny. The enclosed insert highlights just a few of the ways Berea College students are demonstrating success.
Thanks to you, Berea students are thriving, but we know the world of higher education very much remains closed off to the kind of students your alma mater serves. Potential, after all, is universal, but opportunity is not. Our students, including Jenny, know this acutely.
Your generosity ensures Jenny and Berea students like her can follow their dreams to Berea College and beyond.