By Derby Chukwudi News Writer
Once a year when Berea Alums return to their Alma Mater to reconnect with the new generation of Berea College. Great Conversations is a dress for success networking event where alums and current Berea students have dinner together and network with one another.
This year’s event was the 4th Great Conversation and nine outstanding alums were invited to network with the students who showed interest in the event. The event was held at the Boone Tavern’s New Event Center and began from 6pm and ended around 9pm. The round table discussions were conversations that defined indelible marks in the lives of present Berea students.
Each of the nine tables had an alums present, and leading the group in a conversation. David Kretzmann ‘14 led a discussion on “Investing–More than Just a Hobby.” Martina Jackson-Haynes ‘11 led a discussion on “Building Your Path to Servant Leadership.” Libby MCcord ‘73 led a discussion on “A Millennial’s Career in a Boomer’s Lifetime–Lessons Learned from a Nonlinear Employment Path.”
Christina Perkins ‘98 led a discussion on “Say What? Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling.” William Atwater ‘68 led a discussion on “Making Your Liberal Arts Education Stand Out.” Charles Badger ‘11 led a discussion on “What it’s Like to Work in Politics.”
Dan Combest ‘02 led a discussion on “Developing Your Personal Brand as a Science & Engineering Student.” Esfandlar Lohrashpour ‘74 led a discussion on “Don’t Turn Your Major into Blinders.” Faith Calhoun ‘03 led a discussion on “Staying Faithful.”
At the end of the event, Akou Kudatsi ‘18 said, “It was helpful to hear from alumni and know that it took them a few careers before they found what they love. The fact that my alum was real about the struggles of finding a job but also liking what you do reassured me of all the struggles that comes with graduating and being in school now. He said not to plan everything and to take risks for new opportunities.”
Ben Nikoi ‘19, attendee of the event said, “I thought the entire experience was very worth it. It was great to meet some of the giants on whose shoulders we stand, and to learn from their experiences both in and out of college. I sat with Esfandiar Lohrasbpour, a Berea grad and current venture capitalists. During our talk, I learned to be open minded and as he said not to let my major act as blinders.”
Syrine Bessaad ‘18 said, “This is my second time I did Great Conversations. It is so important to connect with Berea alumni and have an idea of the after Berea life. What I like most about this networking session is that you can connect with people that are not necessarily in your field of study but they share with you the Berea story. It always fascinates me to hear about their successes and accomplishments. It inspires me to do better and maybe come back in the coming years to Berea and help inspire students as well.”
Tran Nguyen’17, Elizabeth McCord’73, and Deanna Ellis’18 at the Great Conversations.