UIndy senior Alex Beauford is an inspiring example of what can happen when a first-generation college student gets the right support at the right time—which is why Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers introduced him in January during her annual State of Higher Education address. As a Broad Ripple High School student and the son of a supportive but young and single mother, Alex knew he wanted to study public relations at UIndy but needed guidance in funding his education. He found it with an organization Lubbers has touted, the Starfish Initiative, a college access and mentoring program for economically disadvantaged local high school students. Also aiding in that transition was UIndy’s Bridge Scholars Program, which likewise provides support and services to students with high potential who face financial or other hurdles in entering and completing college.
Since becoming a Greyhound, Alex has taken every opportunity to gain hands-on experience in his chosen field, contributing to the Reflector student newspaper and serving on staff with the national award-winning Top Dog Communication student PR agency. His internships, most of them for pay, have included two summers working in the Indianapolis Public Schools communications office, a stint last fall with Shank Public Relations Counselors, and another this semester with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, where he is writing for newsletters and web pages, assisting with media relations, and promoting programs to the public, among other duties.
“That’s a phenomenal thing to do and have on my résumé,” he says. “I really get the opportunity to write the way I want to write.” Alex also has performed volunteer and paid freelance communications work for various businesses and organizations around town. Meanwhile, he has continued to hone his skills as a classical violinist, playing for a time with UIndy’s Chamber Orchestra, performing professionally at weddings and other occasions, and giving private lessons from his home. At age 21, he became the first black board member for Indianapolis Early Music, for which he also handles some communications and PR tasks.
Now, as he faces graduation and his 23rd birthday in May, Alex is keeping his options open. He’d be interested in permanent work with the prosecutor’s office or another public agency, or in corporate PR if the opportunity arose. He expects to attend law school at some point. And he is grateful for the many job tips and networking opportunities sent his way by the UIndy faculty. “It’s a great liberal arts college that really provides a lot of opportunities,” he says. “I wouldn’t have the relationships I have with a lot of my professors if I had gone to a larger school.”
As Teresa Lubbers noted in her address, Alex has been an inspiration not just to classmates and younger students, but also to his mother, Taisha, who is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree herself. “Alex may have the distinction of being the first member in his immediate family to complete college,” Commisioner Lubbers said, “but his mom will be the second.”