NEWBERRY — She’s been a drum major, an ROTC drill major, and a first-generation college student. Now Rakiya Bearden helps Newberry College students stay safe and happy in their homes away from home.
Bearden serves as Newberry College’s Director of Residence Life. In that role, she looks after each hall day by day and makes sure resident advisers enforce policies. She also helps come up with various programs and events on campus.
Born in Albany, Ga., Bearden grew up in Beaufort. Her mother managed a western resort, and her father worked at Beaufort County Detention Center.
“Growing up, I was happy,” she said. “I lived with both my parents. Education was a priority, and so was religion. I went to church every week. God, family and education were the foundation of my life.”
After high school, Bearden attended the University of South Carolina at Columbia.
“School was difficult for me, but I still enjoyed it,” she remembers.“It was overwhelming, being a first-generation college student. I found it difficult to find or ask for help. I just felt there was a lack of understanding. But, nevertheless, I got through it.”
At USC, Bearden trained to become a pediatrician, but after graduation she realized she didn’t like working around people who were ill. Feeling stuck, she accepted a job managing a residence hall at USC. Two years later, she took her current post at Newberry.
Bearden says she loves her job at Newberry. She develops program and event ideas with the help of her staff.
“We sit and brainstorm,” she says. “We think about our college experiences and try to apply it to the Newberry experience. We work hard.” Bearden encourages members of the campus community to become more involved and attend the events and programs her office provides.