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VSCC adviser spotlight featuring Duane Berry

Last updated on October 27, 2020

By Evie Shaye Herndon

The Spotlight is on Volunteer State Community College Adviser, Duane Berry.

Berry has been an advisor at Vol State since the beginning of 2020 but started out as a teacher at Vol State in 2018. In fact, Berry’s initial line of work has his roots in teaching, specifically with international students and his work as an advisor came a little later, he said.

“I have been teaching for about 20 years and prior to coming to Vol State, I was the Academic Director of a small language school for international students in Nashville, Tennessee, where one of my key roles was advising,” Berry said.

It was not until the school closed down that Berry inquired about the job at Vol State which eventually lead him to a full-time career of helping students as an adviser, Berry said.

“Even before I became a teacher, I had considered a degree and career in psychiatric counseling, so I have long been interested in working with people one-on-one in helping them achieve their goals,” Berry said.

However, Berry originally went to school for a degree in Psychology and later decided to get pursue an education.

“I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Western Kentucky University and went on to get my Masters of Education at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom,” he said.

“I am passionate about education in all its forms, not only in intentional educational settings but also in everyday life,” Berry said. “I am also passionate about having the opportunity to talk with people and intersect with them on their own personal paths to learn, grow, and realize their own potential and place in this world,”.

Berry is not only passionate about helping others grow and learn, but he is also very passionate about bettering his own knowledge, he said.

“I am passionate about my own life-long learning opportunities. I believe that much of the meaning and purpose that we can find in life comes from learning opportunities in many situations and forms,” said Berry.

The Vol State advisor has found his job assisting and guiding to be an honor and pleasure in his life he shared.

“Every conversation with each individual student is enjoyable and satisfying, even when the subject of the conversation may be difficult and challenging. I remind myself with each conversation that I am talking with a unique individual with hopes and plans. Every chance I get to help someone see a different perspective, to help re-ignite motivation when it waned, to give frank advice that may be hard to hear but exactly what someone needs to make productive decisions is a good moment,” Berry said.

Not only is it an honor and a pleasure for Berry to work with others at Vol State, but Berry has made many peoples experience with the college enjoyable said one of Berry’s former English students, Gisela Olalde Granados.

“I enjoyed working with Mr. Berry because he was very patient and kind to his students. As an ESL student, sometimes it is difficult to find support in school because you have a different culture and speak another language. But Mr. Berry was the greatest fit for me. He always empowered me. He also encouraged me to believe I have the potential to write and I still believe that,” Granados said.  

“When I met Duane, I could tell he had a passion for working with students and helping them navigate while in college,” said Young.

“Duane is a fascinating person. As a faculty advisor before, and now as a full-time Advisor/Counselor, Duane has continuously demonstrated the passion for student success that is crucial to this role. He learns quickly, always has a positive attitude and has a great sense of humor that keeps things lighthearted. He also has such an eclectic background that he can have a conversation about just about anything, in more than one language. Duane adds so much to our team and I think I speak for everyone when I say we are thankful to have him as part of the family,” said Vol State Advisor Lindsay Guenther.

Duane Barry student advisor, picture provided by VSCC.

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