From a “whim” to a purse; A student’s journey from Eagle to Harvard

Amunuet Berry (pictured) poses for a photo during the German-American Conference presented by students from Harvard Kennedy School. Berry was selected by her faculty and staff at Georgia Southern University for a scholarship to attend the conference.

Amunet Berry of Jonesboro, Georgia was just a freshman at Georgia Southern University when she started taking German studies classes. In high school, she had taken college courses to prepare for a career in psychology. When it came time to choose a language to study, which was mandatory in her curriculum, she threw a metaphorical dart at the board and landed on German.

“It’s not something I ever considered majoring in because nobody taught me what you can even do with a language major,” she said. “So when I was choosing my electives to meet my language requirements, I was like, ‘Oh, German. I’ll just take this.

Shortly after beginning his studies, his German interests shifted to a second major. Although she had some initial interest in studying German culture, her ultimate commitment to the language exceeded even her own expectations.

After a presentation by the department head to one of Berry’s classes, she was sold on the entire program. This decision became a life-changing moment that took her to places she never thought she would go.

Berry is now in her senior year and is looking forward to graduating this spring. Recently, she had the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime while representing Eagle Nation.

Her peers and professors started talking about applying for scholarships through the Halle Foundation, which is an international fund for students interested in German and American international studies. The fellow would then attend a lecture on German-American affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Berry was slow to apply; she believed she was underqualified compared to her competitors.

“There were so many other students, and they’re probably much better at German than me because they’ve been going to practice for years,” she admitted. “Finally I said, ‘I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to apply. “”

She submitted the request a day before the deadline. To her surprise, she received the email informing her that she was the recipient of the scholarship and that she would be flown to Harvard.

“I just started dancing around the room in a panic,” she said. “I texted all my family and friends and said, ‘I’m going to Boston! “”

Berry had never been as far north as Boston, and she visited the historic city at the end of October. Although she was impressed by the architecture and size of the metropolitan area, it was the unrecognizable cold that stood out the most.

“I had a huge coat my grandma bought me that probably stood out too much,” she laughed. “He yelled ‘Southern gal.'”

Over the next few days, Berry attended panels on international affairs, avoiding high prices at Harvard merchandise stores and creating a LinkedIn account. After being selected to be the Eagle Ambassador for this prestigious scholarship and writing all of her accomplishments in the online portfolio, she had a revelation about her own worth. It had been an emotional hurdle in the past, and what initially kept her from applying for the experiment in the first place.

“Going through the process of filling out everything I’ve done and seeing it on paper, which I’ve done a lot during my short time here,” she said. “I just thought, ‘Wow, maybe I deserved to be here. Maybe it was a good thing that I put that foot forward.

For Berry, this is just the beginning.

“In the future, I hope to see more experiences like this,” Berry added. “I would love to continue to travel, learn and grow and have many opportunities to continue to improve in the future.”

And the puffy coat his grandmother gave him will be hanging in the closet for the next adventure.

Berry (second from left) stands with other conference attendees. They attended panels focusing on German-American international affairs.

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