Stephanie Berry, a small town Pee Dee girl is pursuing a childhood fascination of science in her college and professional career.
Berry, a junior majoring in biology-pre-pharmacy with a minor in chemistry, was raised in Latta, S.C. Berry, who graduated from Latta High School said it was not her idea, but her parents’ idea, to attend FMU. Her plans were to attend a larger university and one further than only a few minutes away from home.
“I didn’t like the idea at first,” Berry said. “But now that I’m here [at FMU], I wouldn’t have it any other way; I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Upon arriving at FMU, Berry said she had no definite plans in what major to choose but eventually made her decision based on a childhood fascination with sciences. Berry said the fascination began with an elementary school teacher who noticed her love for science and space and encouraged her to study and succeed in those areas.
“I always wanted to be an astronaut or work in a lab,” Berry said. “I have always thought science and space were so cool!”
Berry is involved in several activities on campus. She occasionally attends Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) gatherings, is a student marshal, and has completed the FMU Leadership class, a class taught by Vice President for Students Affairs and Dean of Students Teresa Ramey. Apart from the current 16 credit hours she is enrolled in, Berry spends five to six hours a week working on research with Dr. Erin Eaton, assistant professor of biology, and 10 to 12 hours a week working for Diane Scarborough, biology lab coordinator.
Berry has worked under Scarborough in the Department of Biology setting up freshmen biology labs for approximately three years. Aside from setting up the labs, Berry also trains other student workers how to set up the freshmen labs.
Scarborough commented on Berry’s work ethic.
“[Stephanie] is a pleasure to work with,” Scarborough said, “She is very independent and always does what she is asked to do.”
Berry is also working on research through a program in which the university received funding for called the Biomedical Research Enhancement Program (BREP). Dr. Eaton said she and Dr. Lorianne Turner, assistant professor of biology, selected six qualified students to participate in the program. Berry’s job is to examine the organisms looking for expressed proteins that repair nucleotides in regulated areas.
Berry recently traveled with Dr. Eaton to San Jose, Calif. to present her research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). The conference, which draws thousands of attendees each year, teaches students how to present themselves in a professional setting, introduces students to skills helpful in a professional setting and informs students of graduate programs offered in relation to biology. She received national and state travel awards to offset expenses for the trip.
Berry has also interned with the Advancement of Rural Community Health (ARCH) Program. During her internship she worked the pharmacy coordinator at Mercy Medicine of Florence. Mercy Medicine is a clinic operated by volunteer nurses, doctors and pharmacists. The clinic reaches out to the homeless and those in poverty providing patients with them with the medical care they need. Berry said it was at Mercy Medicine that she truly understood her love for people and made desire to pursue her studies deeper.
Berry said upon graduating she hopes to attend pharmacy school and work towards a career as a pharmacist or clinical researcher.