When Charlotte Jackson Berry ’51 “talked the talk” about civic service as Mary Baldwin University’s 2006 Commencement speaker May 21, the audience was assured that she also “walks the walk.” She spoke about the reality of community activism and volunteerism in a way that only one who has connected deeply with the topic can. Her civic engagement began in childhood — she collected dimes for the American Red Cross and raised $13 for the children’s milk charity fund. It was only a matter of time before she took on ever greater roles in community service.
Her life’s work is all the preparation she needed for this — her second — Mary Baldwin Commencement address.
“Women’s roles have changed dramatically, as we expected they would, but my advice still holds true and applies directly to volunteerism, too. There is a growing understanding that, no matter what other decisions one makes in life, he or she should give back with their time, talents, and treasures,” she said.
After graduation, Jackson put her degree to work in the field of mental health. For the only child of a wealthy real estate developer, it was an awakening to see how people with mental illness were stigmatized.
The following list only hints at the organizations that have benefited from her tireless service and the recognition it has earned her: United Way (from which she received a lifetime achievement award), Asheville Symphony, American Red Cross (she earned the prestigious Harriman Award), Pisgah Girl Scout Council, first woman board member for Wachovia Bank in North Carolina, and Asheville Woman of the Year.
Now in her 70s, she continues to blaze a path of inspiring community service. She was recently in Moldova — a poor Eastern European country that was formerly part of the Soviet Union — to aid grassroots volunteer organizations.
“The scenario is much more global now. We didn’t used to talk about international volunteerism, but that is the imperative today,” Berry said. “Students are encouraged to think about service not only as an activity, but also as an academic experience.”
For more about Commencement 2006 events and history, please visit go.marybaldwin.edu/commencement. Also, look for more about some of the college’s compelling graduates in the link below!
Related Commencement 2006 articles:
Brain-Based Learning Inspired MAT Student
Baldwin Online and Adult Programs Student’s Personal Journey in Chinese Studies
Liberal Arts Approach Does Graduates Good
Students Share Senior Projects
Front image and first inside image: Recent photo of Charlotte Jackson Berry ’51, by Ian Bradshaw
Image two: Charlotte Jackson in her 1951 Bluestocking yearbook photo.