Koty Riley ’15: Expanding His Channels of Influence

For Koty, basketball seemed to be his ticket in life. He wanted to make a positive impact on the people around him, and basketball became his main channel of influence. “It made me feel good,” he said, “that I was making an impact, large or small, on the lives of other kids, to let them know that, ‘yeah, you’re from a small town, but you can still make something of yourself.’”

Eventually Koty joined the basketball team at Berea College, where life was about to change. An injury on the court pushed him into operating rooms and ultimately, the sidelines. Fortunately, Berea had been preparing him for life off the court — and without taking away his tuition promise scholarship.

“Berea has really improved me,” he said. “I’m a lot stronger as a person, and Berea has really opened my mind to things that are important as well as things that are not.”

The important things now are work experience from the labor program alongside his education.

As the head student supervisor at the Seabury Center, Koty attributes his preparation for the world to being pushed toward excellence at every entry point. The labor program has taught him the dignity of hard work, and this propelled him to head student supervisor a year early. “I like to get my hands dirty. I am never just sitting behind the desk. Usually, I’m washing mop heads, or fixing tools, or doing maintenance.”

Another entry point for Koty has been his classes here at Berea, where he’s gained more than just knowledge.

“The classes, they’re hard, but they really prepare you,” he said. “The professors really want you to strive for excellence. They really care about you, and they don’t want you to slip through the cracks. And all the relationships that I’ve built, I’m going to take those with me wherever I go.”

Categories: News, People
Tags: basketball, Injury, Seabury Center

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally-recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.