Patricia E. Berry ’81 (left) was presented the 2015-16 Dartmouth Alumni Award by Jennifer Avellino ’89, president of the Alumni Council, at the 211th Alumni Council Session on October 23, 2015.
Vivacious, effervescent, brilliant, exuberant, creative, vibrant, and loyal — these are but a few of the traits possessed by the extraordinary being that is Pat Berry! As a young child, you were thrilled to follow your father, Bob Berry ’54, and mother, Fay, to Dartmouth reunions, Homecoming, and other events. In fact, you have essentially adopted many members of the Class of 1954 into what you consider to be your extended family.
You still remember riding the school bus in the 7th grade when an announcement came on the radio that Dartmouth College would begin to accept women. From that moment on, you felt destined to enter the College, and your dedication to that dream led to an early acceptance into the Class of 1981. As a Dartmouth student, you immersed yourself in a wide range of organizations including the Green Key Society, Sigma Kappa sorority, and the first women’s club rugby team. Majoring in English, you thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities you had to serve as an intern for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and as a reporter and news editor for The Dartmouth. You have commented that the latter two experiences were especially meaningful for you, providing you with an opportunity to “pretend to be a real writer,” and giving you access to mentors like Anne Bagamery ’78 and the magazine’s editor, Dennis Dinan ’61. In your own words, “Dartmouth was at its most magical when I had opportunities to immerse myself in ways that would become so very important to my life.”
An impressive career focused on writing and editing followed graduation. Stops along the way included serving as associate editor of the Children’s Television Workshop; freelance writing and editing for a breadth of magazines (including Dartmouth Alumni Magazine); eight years with Time Warner, Inc. as senior and assistant managing editor for Sports Illustrated for Kids; and your current role as a college essay coach and editorial consultant. You earned a Master of Fine Arts degree focusing on creative non-fiction writing from Columbia University in 2012.
Right out of the gate, you began to weave your magic connecting classmates with one another. Elected to the Class of 1981 Council, you have served as your class vice president (under current trustee and classmate Bill Burgess ’81), agent, fall mini-reunion chair, Alumni Council representative, reunion committee chair, assistant head agent, reunion giving committee member, class newsletter editor, and co-class president. In addition, you have led the Class Presidents Association as their president; served on the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine editorial board; supported admissions efforts as a district enrollment director; and are the moderator of the Class of 1981 and the Women of Dartmouth Facebook pages. Creative juices flow 24/7 throughout your system. Your recent inspirational initiatives include the “Virtual 81st day of the year Reunion” on the Class of 1981 Facebook page and a replay of President John Kemeny’s Commencement speech to your class during their recent class reunion dinner in the Bema. Commenting on your classmates, you have noted, “The joy of being together, especially when we’re together in Hanover, is palpable.”
You also generously lend your talents to your community. You served as the newsletter editor of the Montclair Public Schools; ran a very successful fundraiser for the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault; served on the First Congregational Church of Montclair board; have been the manager of many of your children’s sports teams; and have raised dogs with your family for the Seeing Eye Foundation.
As much effort as you spend connecting others, almost 30 years ago it was your friends who decided to play matchmaker for you, setting you up on a blind date with Mitch Heisler, who became your husband. Although a Colgate alumnus, he has allowed you to add some green to his wardrobe and supported the enormous amount of time you spend volunteering for your alma mater. The two of you are the very proud parents of three extraordinary daughters, Meg ’14, Alex, and Cate.
In appreciation for your immense contributions to connecting the many members of our Dartmouth family and your selfless support of our alma mater, we proudly present you with the Dartmouth Alumni Award.