Meredith Stafford, staff writer
This year, the Berry campus welcomes an influx of new staff and faculty members to accommodate the sizable freshman class. They came to Berry for a variety of reasons, bringing new goals and fresh perspectives with them.
Among them is Indra Thomas, artist in residence and fine arts voice, who taught at and was the Director of Opera at Shorter University in Rome. She also had a career as a globally renowned opera singer prior to her position at Berry. Thomas said she came to Berry because colleagues wanted her to work in the music program.
“I’ve always known about Berry, of course, and I came here because a lot of it has to do with the fact that I just wanted a change more than anything,” she said.
According to Thomas, she is looking forward to expanding Berry’s music program and working with students.
“I’m excited about the students,” Thomas said. “I got to really work with them this week. They’re very smart, very quick, very good voices and I’m very excited to see where we can go with that. I’m also excited to see the expansion of the program, to see if I can help with that on some level.”
Her goals are to expand the program and grow the quality of education for music majors. One hope she has is for Berry to host a music festival in the future, where student musicians could showcase their abilities.
“I think maybe something like that would be great to have here and to not only bring in people but also showcase our talent,” Thomas said.
Gabriel Barreneche, Dean of the Evans School, is another new faculty member. Barreneche came from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fl, where he was an associate dean for six years and found Berry to be a good fit.
“It was a terrific opportunity to come to a school very much like Rollins, a school that values student mentoring by faculty, a school that values community engagement, service learning, a school that puts the liberal arts at the forefront of the student’s education,” Barreneche said.
According to Barreneche, he is excited to bring a different perspective and energy to Evans. His goal is to aid the faculty in becoming even better than they already are.
“I hope to support the faculty, to be even more effective and I hope to reinvigorate Evans and the programs in Evans,” he said. “I hope to help students see the value of the majors and programs in this school and to help them see that these programs will help them launch beyond Berry in really meaningful ways.”
Another new faculty member, Aridany Suarez-Trujillo, Assistant Professor of Animal Science, comes to Berry from Purdue University in Indiana, where he worked as a postdoctoral researcher focusing on animal lactation and newborn care. He came to Berry in order to continue work in the world of academia.
“I always wanted to continue in academia and I found an opportunity of having a position with a large teaching load and good mentoring load and I think Berry is the place for that,” Suarez-Trujillo said.
Suarez-Trujillo said that he had extensive experience in large classrooms and liked Berry’s smaller class sizes because of the opportunity for more close-up contact between students and professors. He is also excited to engage in the animal science program and work with a variety of domestic species.
“I think the facilities and everything will be great for the students and for me to develop some of my research as well as training the students,” he said.
Prior to his role at Berry, Suarez-Trujillo worked in intensive research but had leadership opportunities working with students. He hopes to gain more experience in student mentorship here at Berry.
“I hope to be able to do the same with the students here and have them feel interested,” Suarez-Trujillo said.