Dennis Beale, assistant director of UW-Eau Claire's Blugold Beginnings program, is a two-time alumnus of the university, graduating in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in sociology and in 2015 with a master's degree in higher education professional development.
Growing up in a single-parent household was not always easy, Beale said. Seeing his mom face many challenges while raising him and his older sister encouraged him to pursue post-secondary education.
His undergraduate and graduate studies at UW-Eau Claire proved to be a rewarding, yet challenging, experience, he said.
“When I was on campus during my undergraduate years, and even in graduate school, just imagine you being one of the only African Americans on the football team or one of the few, and you don’t even have a brotherhood," Beale says. "Or, you walk past an individual who looks like yourself and they barely speak to you, or you might have a topic brought up in class about diversity, and then, where do all the eyes shift? They shift to you. So, my best thing is, how do we change that?”
Driven to change the campus climate, Beale founded the Black Male Empowerment student group in February 2017. The group gives black male students, mostly from inner cities around the Midwest, the ability to express themselves, gain professional development skills and connect with other students and the community. He said BME’s mission is to bring together men to form a brotherhood.
“When you come from an inner city and are trying to adjust to a rural area, it’s not easy, especially being a minority,” Beale says. “The way somebody perceives you on a first initial meet and greet, the first impression is always the best impression. Having the BME students dress up in professional attire is going to change a lot of people’s mindsets and get that stereotype out of people’s minds about African American males.”
Beale describes his career at UW-Eau Claire not as a "9-to-5 job," saying he responds and helps his students no matter what time of day or night it might be. “I don’t really drink coffee. When I get an email or text from a student, that’s what really gets me started for the day.”
“We make dreams come true here at UW-Eau Claire,” Beale says. “My goal is to change lives daily. It’s not really a job. It’s my passion.”
Watch the video above to learn more about Dennis Beale.