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Profile of Freshmen Class Shows More Than Numbers

Here I am again, at the start of another academic year. I am Marcus Leslie, a member of the class of 2011. Like other students at the start of this academic year, I didn’t know much about my fellow classmates, or about the opportunities for success that were available to us. So I set out to learn more about the people I would be sharing the next four years of my life with, as well as more about Berea’s Learning Center.

Student Melanie Womack Orr pauses during her day to work on homework.

The class of 2011 is a diverse one—contributing to Berea's melting pot of races and ethnicities. The class is 18 percent African-American, 71 percent Caucasian, three percent Hispanic, and the other eight percent are international students. The majority of the new students come from Kentucky, a large 47 percent this year. Other states that represent a majority of Berea College's enrollment are Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. This grand total of freshman students reaches 421, with roughly 40 percent male and 60 percent female.

While talking to my peers, I discovered that many of them were similar to me in many ways. This was a surprising realization as I am three or four years older than most of my class. From talking with others, I met a great variety of personalities and dreams. “I want to be at the top of my class,” Laquita Mason declared emphatically, after I’d asked her what she wanted to achieve here at BC. Like Mason, many of the freshmen I talked to also expressed huge goals. Some wanted to graduate at the top of their class while others just wanted to graduate, which is an accomplishment in itself. While the students I talked with wanted to be successful at Berea College, not many of them knew exactly what it would take to become the individual they wanted to be. To find out, I headed over to the Learning Center for some advice on academic success.

The Learning Center is a great resource for students. Located on the first floor of Draper, the office is easily accessible to students who wish to use the LC to help develop their ideas for a paper, organize thoughts, or discuss other aspects of paper writing with consultants. The LC isn't just for writing assistance. Students can also come in to receive help on any subject material, or to prepare for a job or internship interview. Several freshmen have already made trips to the Learning Center this semester. “The majority of consultations so far have been freshmen,” said senior consultant Rachel Weaver. More than 85 percent of the freshmen I spoke with said they have been to the Learning Center and all of them know about the services the Learning Center has available to students.

Weaver also advised that time management was one of the most important things for a student to learn in their first year at Berea College. She didn’t say that students shouldn't have fun during their college years, but stressed that there must be balance between work and play. - Click here to see how video games leave their mark on students' grades.

Outside the classroom, the class of 2011 is already making an impact on Berea College athletics. The men’s basketball team has seven new freshmen. “Out of the seven freshmen, there are three of them that are way ahead of the others. They have really progressed and they’re ready to help us out this year,” proclaimed Coach John Mills, head coach of the men’s basketball team. Be sure to keep an eye on the court this season for the male and female rising stars.

This year’s members of the freshman class have overcome many hardships and obstacles to be able to come to Berea. Melanie Womack Orr, from Fairfield, Ala., is one of those students. Womack Orr’s father passed away in September 2004, and, after giving birth to her daughter Jailyn, she became a teenage mother in March 2005. She chose to attend Berea College after she was informed that she would be able to bring her daughter with her. "I feel as if no matter what I go through or what I experience, I will prevail and I will make it," stated Womack Orr. She noted that her mom was her biggest supporter in everything that she did and made her rough days easier to manage. When asked what she wanted to do after graduating, Womack Orr replied, "I see myself in graduate school and continuing to prosper spiritually, emotionally, socially, and mentally."

The class of 2011 is a very diverse and driven class that is sure to help continue the traditions and legacies of Berea College. I am proud to be a member of my new class, the “Lucky Number 2011.”

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