Barry McNamara  |   Published May 09, 2016

Role model

After being influenced by leaders as freshman, Berge ’16 blossomed at Monmouth
  • Graduating Monmouth College senior Amber Berge takes a moment to look out at the crowd during April’s Honors Convocation, which she helped oversee as outgoing president of the Associated Students of Monmouth College.
As a student at Riverdale High School in Port Byron, Ill., Amber Berge had solid academic credentials. Not only a member of the National Honor Society, she served as the organization’s president.

But when it came to leadership positions, that NHS role was one of few she had on her high school résumé.

Four years later, Berge is set to leave Monmouth College with a long list of cocurricular accomplishments, including the presidency of three major campus organizations – the Associated Students of Monmouth College; the Association for Student Activity Programming; and her women’s fraternity, Pi Beta Phi. She also had residence life responsibilities that included serving as a resident assistant in Liedman Hall and a head resident over 85 students in Peterson Hall.

“I’m so thankful for the experiences that Monmouth College has given me,” said Berge, who will graduate on Sunday with a degree in communication studies and public relations. “I tried to be involved in everything I could be. I wouldn’t have wanted to do my college education any other way.”

In the final weeks of the spring semester, Berge received the prestigious White and Crimson Leadership Award from the Division of Student Affairs, as well as Senior Woman of the Year from the Mortar Board honor society and Greek Woman of the Year.

“I’ve grown so much as a person here,” Berge said. “Taking on these positions has taught me a lot about myself. It’s taught me how I respond when things get tough – how determined I can be, and how focused. Those are things I didn’t realize about myself before.”

When she was a freshman, Berge said students such as Katie Washburn ’14 and Becca Wilson ’14 made an impression on her.

“As a freshman, I saw these accomplished students on campus like Katie and Becca,” she said. “People knew who they were. Little by little, I became more involved. I realized I wanted to be a leader, to be involved and to do the best I could.”

One of the main lessons that Berge said she learned was to first listen to others and then help them succeed.

“As ASMC president, I learned to understand what issues the students were focused on, and to help those things change,” said Berge, who helped plan and coordinate the 3rd Annual Scots Leadership Conference that was sponsored by ASMC and the Wackerle Center. “The conference has become a highly anticipated event and a great way to bring leadership excellence and expertise to the student body without them having to travel or pay, as many off-campus conferences require. It’s really great to see new emerging leaders and established leaders get together on campus and enhance their leadership skills.”

While carrying out residence life duties, Berge said she was humbled by the “trust and responsibility” required.

“I had 15 freshmen girls in Liedman,” she said. “I just helped them find their place and get involved. To see them now as juniors who are really doing good things on campus is pretty rewarding.”

Berge did essentially the same thing in her role as Pi Beta Phi’s chapter president in 2014-15, “figuring out how to help (her sisters) attain their goals for events, and give them experience and leadership skills to help them have a successful chapter.”

Berge also worked behind the scenes on the April 28 dedication of the new Pi Beta Phi house.

“Everyone is so excited to see it come to completion,” she said. “I’m going to stay there every time I come back.”

Geographically, that will be a strong possibility. After she graduates, Berge will work at the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau as sales and servicing manager.

“I have a passion for event coordinating, and I have a passion for the Quad Cities,” she said. “This job will allow me to continue with both of those. I love coordinating events. You get to meet some really great people.”

Associate director of student involvement and fraternity and sorority life Billy Bernard, who witnessed many of Berge’s leadership accomplishments, said “she will be successful in anything she pursues.”
“Amber has demonstrated superior initiative, motivation, judgment and maturity in each of her roles and has been an inspiration to many younger students,” he said. “Not only has she been a strong leader, but she found a strong balance between leading and maintaining a positive attitude and fun environment. It’s been a true pleasure to work with her over the years.”   Listen to Vanessa Wetterling ’96 interview Amber Berge and fellow classmate Drake Decker on The WRAM Morning Show.
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