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Cultivate Resourcefulness

May 2, 2022 - -
Dacia Berry, Class of 2022

Dacia Berry’s approach to the world has a razor-sharp focus and clarity. Spend a few minutes with her, and Dacia’s attentive nature and keen professionalism belie that she’s on the verge of graduation—unsurprisingly, a year ahead of schedule. “I’m a hard worker—I’ll say that about myself,” says Dacia. “I have always been driven since I was very little. It’s just a personality trait that I can’t shake.” Given that Dacia is walking across the Commencement stage with both a diploma and career direction already in hand, many are glad this character trait is as unshakable as her work ethic.

Coming to UofL in 2019, Dacia was already involved in activities beyond the typical incoming college student. She worked with her family as a part of an arts nonprofit since 2010. Along with the nonprofit, Dacia had already done contract work for the Kentucky Derby Festival as an artist. Both experiences led her to a dual major of art and business, but early on at UofL, Dacia made a difficult decision.

“I did a visual art program in high school, so I was encouraged to apply to the fine arts program through the Hite Institute,” says Dacia. “When I realized it would take me six years to do a double major, my mental health and my pockets would not have been very happy with that choice…I decided that the three-year track would be better for me.”

A Timely Decision

While not an easy one, this choice was spurred on in part by the great experiences she had at the College. “I wasn’t necessarily wanting to create art for my professional career,” Dacia reflects. “I wanted to interact more with people—working as a team. That was going to happen more from the business degree.”

Pursuing a business degree not only fostered Dacia’s desire to collaborate but it put her in direct connection with the franchising world and Dr. Kathy Gosser. Taking classes with “Dr. G” rekindled Dacia’s interest in the franchise world. “I had previously worked for a swim instruction franchise. So, I understand the business model, I liked it, and I was curious about it,” explains Dacia.

Still in its formative stages, UofL’s partnership with YUM! Brands has already opened the doors to the world of franchising to many students. Dacia will be one of the first students to graduate from UofL with all the franchise courses under her belt. With a career path beginning to take shape, Dacia took the initiative to follow up with Dr. Gosser.

“I said, ‘Okay, this is where I want to work. I want to get experience this way and start my career because I’m in love with YUM! as a company—how they treat their employees and how they run their business. I could potentially see myself as a franchisee.’ Dr. G was very excited that I was passionate about it. So, because of that passion, she was very quick to start putting me in the places that I need to be to make these connections.”

Unshakeable Foundations

As Dacia began networking with franchisees, she continued developing her resume, with tenures at UofL’s Testing Service Office and Digital Media Suite. Eventually, Dacia joined the Family Business Center as a marketing intern. All the while, her resourcefulness helped Dacia build the skillsets needed to prepare her for the next phase of her career.

Making the most of her time at the College and the opportunities afforded her, Dacia recently became a communications intern with the KFC Foundation. She couldn’t be more excited to join YUM!—even more so to be engaged in the company’s nonprofit organization. The KFC Foundation provides education and hardship assistance to resilient restaurant employees in an inclusive environment. Dacia’s eyes light up when discussing the foundation’s work. “My background is predominately in nonprofit work. My heart is in helping others.”

KFC Foundation Director Emma Horn shares in Dacia’s enthusiasm. “Dacia brings a level of professionalism, creativity, and passion that we couldn’t wait to add to our team. Her classwork, internships, and extracurricular activities (like founding the Intercollegiate Franchise Network!) prepared her to step onto our team, ready to hit the ground running…She knows what she wants for her life, and we love that we are a part of her journey.”