Meet Jesse Beal!
What is your current position at Suffolk?
I currently serve as the Acting Director of the Office of Diversity Services, the primary campus resource for students of color and LGBTQ+ students.
What do you love about working at Suffolk?
I have two answers to this question. First, my students. Suffolk students are humble and hardworking. They are passionate and not entitled. They are often commuting and working in addition to their academics and their co-curricular work. In my time at Suffolk, I have worked with some of the most talented, kind, and caring students in the world. They have made me a better student affairs practitioner.
Second, Suffolk has afforded me the opportunity to dream big and develop programs from the ground up. I have felt empowered to do some of my very best work here.
When you aren’t working, how do you spend your free time?
What’s free time? I’m mostly joking. In my free time I enjoy reading and writing. I teach a course through the Tufts Experimental College called “Understanding Social Justice Through Young Adult Fiction” which combines my passion for social justice pedagogy with my affinity for pop culture. I also provide a number of trainings and workshops in the Greater Boston area on a variety of LGBTQ+ and social justice topics. I love to cook, to spend time with my wife, and to explore Boston—since I’ve only been here for 4 years. I am
Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?
I was an undergraduate at UT Austin and during my time there I served as both an intern for the Gender and Sexuality Center and a peer educator on LGBTQ+ topics as a part of the Peers for Pride program. Shane Whalley, the former education coordinator of the GSC, was my mentor and is now my good friend. If I could credit anyone with inspiring me to become a student affairs practitioner, it would be Shane. Some people get into this work because they want to be the person they needed and didn’t have in college. I did it so that I could be the person that Shane was for me for someone else.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in your career (so far)?
I feel that I have learned so many important lessons. But, the lesson that I keep learning and relearning is how important it is to build relationships on your campus and in your community. There have been so many times in my career where I either completely or partially can attribute a success to the fact that I had positive relationships with the stakeholders involved. I am not a WOO (Strengthsquest)—I don’t enjoy small talk and conversations with acquaintances wear me out. But, I have had to push through my discomfort to build connections with people. I also take the time to meet in person or call when something is important, instead of sending an email, and do a lot of meetings before and after an important meeting to connect with the people I need to reach. People are much more likely to support an initiative of yours if they respect you or even care about you.
What is on your Higher Ed bucket list?
I have been working with a team to create an intercollegiate retreat for Transgender, GenderQueer, and Nonbinary students for the past year. Getting this program off the ground would certainly be on my bucket list!
What advice would you offer to new professionals who are starting their first professional position?
Build relationships. Find mentors and a team of supporters—build your network. This work is critical in higher ed for your future career success, but for professionals who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or people of color, this is a matter of survival.
Listen to your mentors, have them review your resumés and cover letters, and thank them for their work with you. Find people who “get it” who you can call and have “real” conversations with when things are hard. But, you also need people who you can call and get some coaching about how to navigate a particularly challenging situation or tricky dynamic. Make connections both with people who hold the position you aspire to and the position you are coming from. If you are a person with a marginalized identity, be sure to find ways to pipeline people like you into the field, but don’t forget to seek out a pipeline for yourself and your development.