April 3, 2018
Bertice Berry
Festival of Excellence Keynote Address
The Great Hall

Reflection  | PodcastPhotos

Sociologist, Bertice Berry, PhD. is, a best-selling author and award winning lecturer has been named Comedian of The Year, Lecturer of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. She has published 11 best-selling books in both fiction and non-fiction and has won numerous awards and accolades for both her writing and presentations. Berry has had her own nationally syndicated television show and has hosted, interviewed and made numerous television, documentary and radio appearances on a variety of diverse venues including The Tonight Show, Oprah Winfrey, Between The Lions, Crossfire, 20-20, NPR, PBS and Comedy Central and CBN. Berry has used her unique gifts and talents as a writer and ghost writer for others on a wide range of topics including race and gender issues, sociological studies, spirituality, sexuality, slavery and relationships.

Bertice Berry TED Talk

Event Reflection

by Billy Clouse

For the 2018 Festival of Excellence Keynote, Dr. Bertice Berry addressed a crowd that filled the Gilbert Great Hall.

In addition to nerding out about the Festival, Berry talked about the importance of processing feelings and living your purpose.

According to Berry, we all have filters that we see the world through, and when we don’t clean them, we experience life through a negative lens. She said that one way to clear our filters is to focus on gratitude.

To illustrate this, Berry shared a story from a time she was at an airport. A young child was running around, and to calm her, Berry, played a movie on her phone for the girl to watch. After boarding the plane, the girl came up and gave her one of the gloves from her doll, saying they could be sisters.

Berry said that having this gratitude expressed to her made her day, saying that “it charges your DNA, it sticks with you.” She still keeps the glove in her Kindle as a reminder.

Another major point Berry made was on purpose, saying that it isn't a job, major, sport, religion — it’s your calling. She said that it takes more than knowing, it takes doing.

Berry grew up in a family where no one had the opportunity to go to college, but she still wanted to try. Instead of listening to the people who told her that it wasn’t possible, including her high school counselor, she persisted, and eventually earned her Ph.D. at the age of 26. She said it was difficult, but “when you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny.”

When she defended her dissertation, some older women from her church wanted to be there to support her even though they didn’t know what she was talking about. She also found out later that by going to college, she inspired many youth in her community to do the same.

Similar to SUU, Berry has a commitment to lifelong learning, and she said that excellence can’t come from a vacuum. This is one of the reasons why she thinks the Festival of Excellence should be implemented at universities nationwide.

“Excellence isn’t about fretting over being the best, it’s about diversity,” she said. “You can’t do critical thinking with one thought: the more you experience, the more you evolve.”