While still just a teenager, Stevi Kay Berry worked as a substitute teacher. Her experience in the classroom fueled her desire to work in educational policy. She recently received a Purdy Emerging Leaders Scholarship to help her work toward that goal.
Ozarks Technical Community College graduate Stevi Kay Berry is a recipient of the prestigious Purdy Emerging Leaders Scholarship for the 2022-2023 school year. Berry will use the $5,000 annual grant to pursue a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre education at Missouri State University. Managed by the Missouri Scholarship and Loan Foundation, the Purdy Emerging Leaders Scholarship provides merit-based scholarships to emerging leaders who are outstanding students. The scholarship is renewable for up to three years.
A 2020 Kickapoo High School graduate, Berry used her A+ scholarship to enroll at OTC the following fall and received her Associate of Arts in Teaching in May 2022. After completing her bachelor’s, Berry plans to earn a master’s degree in political science or education and policy, which she hopes to use to work as a community organizer or lobbyist on behalf of children and educational institutions.
Berry’s passion for education and children began during her first year at OTC when she worked as a substitute teacher. Her substitute teaching experience exposed Berry to young students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, which sparked her desire to advocate for better educational opportunities.
“As a substitute teacher, I encountered children who just wanted to be heard and listened to,” Berry said. “I have a heart for at-risk children and would most like to work for that population of students.”
During her two years at OTC, Berry was enrolled in the college’s Honors Program and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa — the national honor society for students at two-year institutions.
“Stevi is an exceptional student who excels academically, and she is extremely engaged,” said Todd Yerby, OTC Honors Program director.”
Berry’s fellow 2022 OTC graduate and Honors Program member Noah Duwe was the college’s other recipient of the Purdy Emerging Leaders Scholarship for the upcoming school year. Duwe will transfer to Missouri State University in the fall.