BereaCorps Member Profile

Over the coming year, the Office of Strategic Initiatives will proudly showcase the BereaCorps members who are engaged in dedicated service across campus. These young professionals are exemplary in hard work and passionate about upholding the values and mission of Berea College. We are honored to share their stories. 

Erica Woods

Erica Woods ‘15 is a current BereaCorps member, serving as an Admissions Representative.  She originally hails from New Hope, Alabama, and is the oldest of four children. In 2015, she graduated from Berea College in 2015 with a B.A. in African and African American Studies.

She was extremely active on campus, serving as a member of the Black Student Union and LASA. In addition, she participated in the annual Berea Fund Phonathon and volunteered for Hispanic Outreach Program.

Strategic Initiatives Program Associate Ethan Hamblin sat down with Erica to learn her Berea story, in her own words….

When I was in high school, I played volleyball and my coach and librarian nominated me to be a Pinnacle Scholar. Before that, Berea was not on my radar. Then, I came up for Carter G. Woodson Diversity Weekend and made lots of friends. In fact, my roommate for freshman year was someone I had actually met on that visit. The friends I made on that day, I am still friends with today. It just took that one time of connecting with people and I fell in love with Berea.

As a student, my time was rather busy. I ran track all four years. That was one of my favorite Berea memories, just to see myself progress. I wish I could have ran in high school but my high school was so small, and they didn’t have a program. As for my labor position, I worked at the Center for International Education all four years. I studied abroad in Costa Rica and I still keep in contact with the host family I stayed with. I want to go back some day, but wish I had went back after I graduated.

I also spent many hours volunteering with the Hispanic Outreach Project. When you are taking an upper-level Spanish course, you are required to volunteer. But, even after that, I kept doing it. I started out teaching a class of third graders for basic Spanish. They’re so cute and would be so excited when we would come in every day. Then I got to tutor a couple of Hispanic students in the community school. I had so much fun doing it!

Erica’s Berea story, like many students, was not without a few ups and downs….

Little known fact: I got suspended from Berea for a whole year. Looking back on it now, you wonder ‘why did I do that.’ It was really rough, because I didn’t want to go to any other school. I didn’t think it would have happened to me, but I definitely saw it as a growing experience. I matured a lot. When I came back, most of my friends had graduated and I was forced to readjust. It was very weird coming back in those circumstances because I felt like an outsider. Yet, it was easier to pick back up once I got involved again in organizations and sports.

Four years later, when graduation came around, I had a little anxiety. I am a planner, but nothing was going the way I wanted it to. So, I ended up applying for an AmeriCorps position with White House Clinics. It was not what I had expected and was not particularly a good fit for my interests. After a few months, I ended up leaving AmeriCorps to work at the Holiday Inn. And then, only a month passed and I had the opportunity to apply as an Admissions Representative with BereaCorps.

BereaCorps has been an excellent bridge from my student labor position, and gave me the chance to enhance and fine tune my professional skills. I am better at public speaking and have come out of my shell. I am typically very reserved and into myself, but with this position you have to put yourself out there. That was a challenge I wanted to overcome. One of the challenges with being an Admissions Representative is not being able to hold on to the connections I make. Admission Representatives are the initial contact a potential student has and then we pass them on to an Admissions Counselor, so the Counselor builds a stronger connection. In other words, we facilitate the opening conversation. I thrive on those early connections and when I see a student that I had talked to and they don’t remember me, it always breaks my heart. However, there have been many times a student has come to campus and specifically asked to speak to me while in the Admissions Office. These are the special moments that make it all worth it.

Even still, I know there are students out there who really need Berea, whether they know it or not. When you encounter a student and they’re really excited about Berea and they are accepted, it’s really humbling to know that I helped in the process.

I know where I come from. I know where a lot of Berea students come from…their stories….so I am overjoyed to be able to pass along to someone else the opportunities that Berea gave to me.