Rachel ’10 and Andy ’08 Berry were among 21 communication and theatre alumni who shared their experiences and expertise with Concordia students.
Even after the rigors of graduate school, Rachel (Anderson) ’10 and Andy ’08 Berry discovered it’s a big transition to life in a tight-knit, small town.
That was one of the insights they passed along to students at the annual CSTA Alumni Teach Days during Homecoming weekend. Twenty-one alumni participated in the two-day event that encourages former students to visit with students in communication studies and theatre art courses.
Teach Day keeps alumni connected with the department, and it gives students the chance to hear them articulate how they are using their majors beyond Concordia, says Dr. Cindy Larson-Casselton, CSTA associate professor.
“Students gain insights from these personal visits, and they can see the value of how their degree in communication will serve them in whatever career they choose,” she says.
Rachel Berry is completing a master’s degree in organizational communication at Northern Illinois University. Her husband, Andy graduated from Wartburg Seminary and accepted his first call to serve a Lutheran congregation in Littlefork, Minn., located near the Canadian border.
Their expertise in communication serves them well in a community that welcomes newcomers but prefers to keep them initially at arm’s length.
“Being a pastor makes it easier for me to get into the community,” says Andy Berry. “But generally it takes outsiders longer to get involved in the town and learn the status quo on how things operate.”
Rachel Berry relies on all of her communication skills to connect with the community.
“I constantly need to be aware of conversations and keep a sharp eye on what’s going on,” she says. “A new world is opening up for us, and it’s a fascinating experience for both of us. We’re learning things about communicating not usually taught in college or seminary.”
Andy Berry says the skills he learned at Concordia are transferable.
“I was a residence hall assistant, and that work is a lot like small town living,” he says. “Being an RA was good training for what I’m doing now. In both cases I learned to live with lots of different people, each with their own quirks. Both Concordia and Littlefork are places where you might know everybody, but everyone has their own diverse, unique background.”