East Carolina University student Glenesha Berryman values education and learning
“Growing up, teachers were very influential to me,” said Berryman. “I’ve been called a ‘teachers pet’ more than a few times, but I've always admired teachers. They instilled a love of learning and a desire to make school a place where all students can be successful.”
Berryman grew up in a military household, spending some of her childhood in Fayetteville near Fort Bragg. In high school, she lived just outside of Seoul, Korea for three years.
“Living abroad was a defining moment of my life,” Berryman said. “I got to travel and experience different cultures, and it also helped me realize that there is so much more to the world then what’s right in front of you. Living in Korea gave me access to a lot of opportunities and showed me a wide range of possibilities for my future. This notion of ‘access to opportunity’ is something I hope to bring to my future classroom and research.”
Now a rising junior at ECU, Berryman is an EC Scholar in the Honors College majoring in English education. “When I first visited ECU, I was interested in the Honors College program. But I fell in love with the people as soon as I arrived. From the moment I got here, I could tell people were invested in my success,” she said.
“One thing about ECU that’s been important to my growth as a student has been the professors. They are all very accessible and constantly encourage me to seek new opportunities and step outside of my comfort zone. I would not be where I am today without their dedication and support,” said Berryman.
Berryman has been active both on and off campus. She started the first African-American Read-In at Joyner Library in February to help make literacy a significant part of Black History Month. She is also the incoming vice president for the ECU chapter of She’s the First, a group that helps provide scholarships and support for girls in low-income countries to attend school and follows them through to graduation.
Berryman was also a student leadership assistant with the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement, an EC Scholars Roundtable class representative and a member of the Honors College Ambassador’s Recruitment Committee. Through the Honors College, she co-organized “Trick-or-Treat: What's to Eat?,” a Halloween food drive that collected 500 pounds of nonperishable food items for homeless veterans in eastern North Carolina. She also currently serves as a writing consultant at the University Writing Center.
Said Berryman, “I’ve discovered during my time at ECU that I fit into multiple spaces. There isn’t one club or activity that defines me. I value being rooted in the community and attend as many lectures, art receptions and campus and volunteer events as possible so that I am learning outside of the classroom too.”
Last summer, Berryman participated in a teaching fellowship for the Breakthrough Collaborative in Austin, Texas. The nationwide organization works with low-income middle school students to become first-generation college graduates. During this past school year, she served as a campus ambassador, recruiting ECU students to participate in Breakthrough this summer.
“This experience really taught me the importance of holding students to high standards and empowering them through language,” Berryman said. “Equal access to education is something I believe very strongly in, so having the opportunity to teach really solidified my desire to work in education.”
In April 2016, Berryman was named the Outstanding First-Year Student for ECU’s Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. In August of that year, she was a speaker at the College of Education’s Scholarship and Donor Recognition ceremony. In February, she was a speaker at the Women’s Roundtable Incredible ECU Women Series event and at the Order of the Cupola ceremony.
Off campus, Berryman is active in the Boys and Girls Club of Winterville. She is currently organizing a small “TED Talks” style event where club members can have the opportunity to speak publicly about issues they are passionate about.
Following graduation, Berryman wants to teach in the public school system. She plans on eventually obtaining her doctorate to teach and do research at the university level. “Working with students and my involvement on campus has fueled my desire to provide equal access to education. My teachers have influenced my life in such a positive way, and I want to be able to give that back to students,” said Berryman.
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? The foreign language department has a really awesome library that is perfect for hiding out and getting some last minute studying in. The professors are really interesting and friendly, so it's a cool environment to be in!
What advice do you have for other students? Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. My most impactful college experiences have come from the opportunities I’ve said yes to. Don’t be afraid to look outside of the box and outside of ECU in general. Even if these opportunities are outside your discipline, comfort zone or just plain “out there,” say yes to them. There is always a lesson to be learned, and you never know where these opportunities will take you!
Written by: Sophronia Knott
Photography by: Cliff Hollis