| Students Bring More Than Memories To Campus
Every fall, a new group of freshman set foot on Berea College’s campus, many of them for the first time. They bring with them fresh new clothes, decorations for their rooms, and pictures of old friends and family. They also bring along with them the hopes and dreams of their family members and their own dreams of success.
Students share their most prized possesions
Occasionally though, a student brings with them a special object that brings back memories and reminds them of who they are and where they are going. These items could be a number of things that would escape the notice of any other person—items ranging from scribbled notes to articles of clothing.. These entities hold a special meaning to their owners. They speak to that person and remind them that they are loved and people are depending on them. They remind them of the possibilities of tomorrow and the opportunities of today. These are the stories of five Berea students and the special items that they have brought with them.
Written from the Heart
It was a simple picture, just a white piece of paper with colors drawn across it. Pieces of the child’s world drawn across it: a yellow sun, a school where his sister would be attending, and three words written with small hands.
Natasha Kleinfelter was given this picture by her youngest brother, Benjamin, who is only four years old. He had taken her paints and began the tedious act of writing out three small words, “I Love You!” carefully with his small fingers. He was just learning to write and wanted to give his sister something to remind her of him after she’d left home. Though it was hard to see the sun and school for what they were, and the writing was barely legible and impossible for most to read, the love with which he wrote it shines through just as brightly as the sun he painted.
Natasha keeps the picture hanging above her bed next to the photographs of all three of her brothers. She is the oldest and had helped to raise the boys for most of their lives, and they inspired her to pursue her major in middle school education.
Niklos Bartholomew Quintillion Hawkins, a freshman studying computer sciences, is known around campus for wearing his forest green fisherman’s hat. It is worn out and according to him, “It smells,” but he keeps his hat on his head or by his side at all times. The hat itself is nothing special, but the story behind the hat is.
Hawkins was on his first and only family trip to Six Flags in Louisville, KY, and while he and his grandmother were waiting for the rest of his family to finish riding the “Superman Tower of Power,” he and his grandmother decided to kill time together. They walked to a shop nearby where his grandmother was browsing through Coca Cola merchandise and stumbled across the infamous green hat and bought it for Hawkins.
His grandmother later passed away and the hat just hung in his room for many years. When he began packing to leave for Berea, he picked it up and brought it with him. Because he wears it so much, the hat has become a physical trait, much like his hair and his eyes. He said with a laugh, “It has almost become my identity. When I don’t wear it, people think I’m a new kid.”
"DADS FOR EDUCATION"
Sitting on Kathryn Bissmeyer’s bookshelf is a red armband with “DADS FOR EDUCATION” written in bold white letters. While it presents a clear message, its meaning is so much more. Though Bissmeyer’s father had health problems and was not allowed to work, he wanted to do something constructive and meaningful with his time. He began volunteering for a program called “Dads for Education.” The dads involved in the program would go to individual schools and help them by being an active, positive presence in the halls. Everyone in the project would wear red polo shirts with the logo and when they were not wearing that they would wear a red armband. Bissmeyer’s father would talk to all the students who nicknamed him “Mister B.”
In October of her first semester at Berea, her father passed away suddenly. Bissmeyer returned home to be with her family in Louisville, KY. At one point, she was sitting outside in the car trying to pass time when she opened the glove compartment and resting inside was the armband. Hoping his scent still remained; she took it out and smelled it. It’s been with her ever since.
After her father’s death Bissmeyer had considered transferring to University of Louisville, feeling that is was important to be closer to home and to those that she loved. Her dad, however, had wanted her to go to a smaller school with a better working environment. The armband is her push now that he’s gone, her push to go to class, to go to work, and to do something positive with her life.
Bissmeyer sincerely stated, “I know when some people graduate, they decorate their caps, writing messages to loved ones or putting their own craftiness into it. When I graduate, I will wear my dad’s armband on top of robe’s sleeve.”
It was an index card with the word “goodnight” scrawled across the back of it. David Gilmour’s little sister wrote the note and signed her name at the bottom, and gave it to him before he left for Berea College. He made sure to give her one also.
Gilmour and his little sister were very close. They played games and spent time together with every day. He is always excited to see her when he goes home and when he has the chance to talk to her on the phone. He says with a smile,” I don’t get teased about it or anything. I just keep it by my bed and look at it every night before I go to sleep. It’s like we’re saying goodnight to each other every night.”
A Good Word
The white stitching clashes against the brown leather, and the brown curve compliments the black of the Bible. Breon Thomas’s name is embossed into the bottom corner. It was a New King James Version Bible and had a dictionary and references to better understand the reading.
The Bible was given to Thomas by his mentor, Jack Noonan. The two were close and when Thomas received the Bible, he said, “It was like he was sending me on a mission. We went out and spread the word together.” He received it on his seventeenth birthday at the first birthday party he’d had since the age of six. Through his first year of college, Breon stopped attending church and fell away from his faith, but now he sees his Bible as his guide and looks at it every day. It helps to remind him of his relationship with God and the direction he wants to take with his life. It also reminds him to be a good witness and steward living in his faith.
Do you have something you can't live without? Do you have a special story to tell? Let us know.