Megan Beaman

Megan Beaman
Major/Job Title:
Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership, Certified Nonprofit Professional, CNP, Credential
Hopkinton, Iowa
Class Year:

Megan Beaman

Why did you choose this degree -- and to pursue this degree at UNI?
I originally came to UNI as a teaching major. I lasted two days in the program before I realized that I would not thrive in a professional school setting. I knew of the recreation, tourism and nonprofit leadership (RTNL) major from friends and was pulled towards the major after discovering the different areas it covered.

What kind of path did you take to achieve your degree?
After high school, I went to community college for my associate's degree because I was unsure of what career path I wanted to take. In high school, I received my emergency medical technician (EMT) license and thought I wanted to become a paramedic. After working in emergency medicine, I realized it was not where my passion was. I reflected on my experiences with youth work, I knew it was the industry I wanted to get back into. I finished my associate's degree at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, took a year off during COVID-19, and transferred to UNI. I quickly switched majors from elementary education to RTNL.

How has any internship or field experience prepared you for your career?
I completed my internship at CrawDaddy Outdoors in Waverly, Iowa. I had never worked in a retail atmosphere before so I gained a whole new skill set in that area. CrawDaddy specializes in outdoor gear, so I learned a ton about the outdoor recreation industry through constant exposure to new gear and people coming in to talk about their adventures. In addition, CrawDaddy hosts trips and classes, so I was able to pull in my knowledge from the tourism aspect of this major. As I go forth into my future career, I know I will pull experience not only from my major but my internship to aid me.

What does completing your degree mean to you?
A former teacher of mine said that education is the first investment that students make in themselves. Completing my degree symbolizes the time, money and effort that I put into myself. I decided when I was 16 that I was going to pay college off, without taking any loans. I am proud to say I have accomplished that goal. The completion of my degree is the final step in a plan I set for myself almost 6 years ago. It will be a constant reminder of the work and dedication I put forth. 

What challenges did you face as you worked toward this degree – and how did you overcome them?
As a first-generation college student, I had to figure out my college path without much guidance from my family. While they did not always know how to help, they gave constant support throughout my journey. Most of my time working towards my degree was pretty painless, I was welcomed to UNI with open arms and knew I was in the right place. During my senior year, I did face challenges. I had to leave a job so I lost financial security, my car was down and I felt like my goals were out of my reach. I was devastated because it felt like the hard work and sacrifices I made were for nothing. I was in a dark place for a while, but I kept going. It was by attending classes, being around my teachers and peers, and continuing down toward my degree that I felt I still had a purpose.

How did UNI help you achieve your goals?
I cannot express the gratitude I have for my professors and peers in the RTNL program. I was given constant reassurance and the resources I needed. I am especially grateful for the counseling center and for being able to have people to talk to when I needed it the most. They are the reason I kept going, even when I wanted to quit.

We often say UNI is student focused; a place where professors care--and teach; a place where learning happens in and out of the classroom;  and is perfectly sized. How do any of these statements ring true for you?
As I stated, the RTNL program is a community. We have each other's backs and help support each other. We do not view ourselves as competing but rather as connection and resource. I always had people I could reach out to by phone to ask about homework, tests, or events coming up. One specific experience I had was dealing with my class schedule. I learned I would not be able to graduate when I originally thought I would, throwing a major wrench into my carefully formatted plan. I was struggling to figure out what I was going to do, but my advisor reassured me everything was going to be okay. They gave me a huge pep talk about how capable I was to handle this. I felt so seen that day, they saw me as a person and not just a student.

What’s your best memory of your time at UNI?
My best memory was taking a trip with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance to Houston, Texas, for a fundraising conference. Not only was it a great learning experience, but I had a great time exploring the city with my peers.

What advice would you give to students considering UNI?
My advice would be to not underestimate the power of showing up. There were many days when I did not want to go to class, attend meetings or do much of anything. I still showed up for these events, and by doing so I was showing up for myself. You don't need to wow anyone with big grand things, people will enjoy you for simply being there. Your presence will be taken notice of and can lead to big things.

What do you plan to do with your degree?
I will be taking the summer off and recoup after graduation. I will be taking a programming position with a summer camp in the fall. From there I hope to travel and explore.