Facebook pixel Celebrating Your Community’s College, Part Two

Celebrating Your Community’s College, Part Two

A special series presented by St. Louis Community College

For the past 60 years, St. Louis Community College has been an integral part of the place we call home. With 50% of all households in the St. Louis area having a student or alum who attended the College, there is no denying that STLCC has ties to virtually every family, business and organization in the region. 

April is Community College Month, and this year’s theme is “Celebrating Your Community’s College.” This month we will highlight those on our campuses who have made the College a central part of their lives and have truly become a part of the STLCC community. Read the second story below and check out the others here; a new story will publish each Thursday.

Mike BeachBeach Leverages Prior Experience to Support Students

For nearly 20 years, Mike Beach has helped provide a safe and secure environment through his role as a campus police officer. Along the way, he’s served as a champion for education, leveraging his prior experience to support students on their journey. 

And Beach should know a thing or two about going on a journey. Prior to joining STLCC, he spent nearly 40 years serving his country and community. These experiences have shaped him into the man he is today. 

Beach began his career as an airman in the U.S. Air Force.  During this time, he had the opportunity to teach business law, logistics, systems analysis and industrial management courses through Los Angeles Community College and the University of Maryland. After retiring from the military, he worked in federal, civilian and law enforcement service.  In 2001, Beach transitioned to his current role as a campus police officer, serving at Meramec for 14 years before moving to Wildwood in 2016. 

According to Beach, his career success is the result of hard work and a commitment to education. 

“As a kid growing up in Texas, my father stressed the importance of learning a skill or earning an education, so that’s exactly what I did,” he said. “Initially, I started college on a football scholarship, but I left to marry Patricia, my childhood sweetheart, in 1960. The following spring, I joined the Air Force.”

In the 21 years that followed, he and his wife welcomed four daughters while traveling around the world for his military career. His work focused on intelligence; specifically, operating data systems designed to detect enemy missiles during the Cold War. While he enjoyed the challenge, Beach aspired to become a commissioned officer. To make this dream a reality, he chose to return to the classroom.

For nine years, Beach juggled his college coursework with the demands of being a husband, father and airman. The Air Force selected him for the Airman’s Education & Commissioning Program where he earned both a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in international relations from Webster University. These credentials, along with his training, propelled him to the rank of captain. 

“After joining the military, I spent some time reconsidering my long-term and personal goals, and I knew what I had to do,” he said. “I decided to focus on my education because I wanted to advance in my career and provide a better life for my family. I truly believe that education is a lifelong process and a pathway to greater opportunities.”

This message about education is one that Beach shares with the students he meets at STLCC. One such student is Richard “RJ” Weiman, a U.S. Navy veteran who is pursuing an associate degree in engineering. Weiman met Beach through his involvement in the Veteran’s Club, a student organization that Beach has been connected with since he arrived at Wildwood. 

Mike Beach and RJ Weinman“I enjoy spending time with Officer Beach because we share some similar life experiences,” Weiman said. “It’s nice to have someone to talk with who understands the challenges I’m dealing with as a veteran, a parent and a college student. While he’s a professional at his job, I also consider him a friend.”

Stephanie Church, coordinator for campus life and college transition, echoed Weiman’s sentiments. 

“Officer Beach’s impact at Wildwood transcends the scope of his job,” she said. “Not only does he serve and protect, but he’s a friendly face who helps make everyone feel seen and valued.”

When asked what advice he would like to share with students, Beach said: “The truth lies in the educated, and the world is counting on you to find the answers to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow. The more you learn, the more resilient you’ll become, so work hard and stay focused. You can do this!”

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