I’m Milan Berry, and I’m a senior at Georgia Southern University. I am honored to be the first recipient of the OYES award, pursuing double majors in International Studies and Chinese Language while also serving as the Secretary of the Georgia Southern Equestrian Team.
It’s not every day you meet an African American woman who speaks Mandarin and rides horses. I’ve often noticed the surprised looks when I share this part of my identity. The world’s perception rarely expects me to speak one of the most complex languages and manage a one-ton animal with my heels, legs, and seat.
My love for horses traces back to my early years, sparked by watching the 1994 version of Black Beauty. Despite financial constraints, I found my way into the equestrian world by volunteering at therapeutic riding programs and securing working student positions. These experiences fueled my passion for horses and riding, ultimately leading me to the Georgia Southern Equestrian Team.
Being the only African American English rider and the first person of color to hold an officer’s position within the team brings its challenges. The lack of diversity within the equestrian community is evident, but I’m committed to breaking these barriers and advocating for inclusivity.
Beyond the stables, I’m deeply fascinated by global affairs and cultures. My journey into studying Chinese from the age of 14 led me to incredible opportunities, including becoming a Benjamin Gilman Scholar. This allowed me to explore Chinese international relations, expanding my understanding of foreign policies and relationships.
The OYES scholarship is a tremendous support that allows me to not only improve my riding skills but also advocate for diversity and inclusion within the equestrian community. I believe in breaking boundaries and paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive equestrian world.