Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe shares stories from his high school and college days, and offers advice as you consider higher education.
1. What was your childhood like?
I was raised by a single mom — I never met my dad. She didn’t finish high school, and without a diploma, she was limited in what she could do to raise me and support herself.
While I was born in northeast Arkansas, during elementary school I lived in Detroit, Chicago, Missouri, three places in Florida, Houston, New Mexico… I went to five different schools in four different states in the fifth grade. It was a lot of moving. But the summer after eighth grade, we moved back to Arkansas and I went to Newport High School. It was the most stable period of my life.
2. What advice do you give to students facing challenges similar to those you faced growing up?
Napoleon said, “The difficult we can do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer,” so that ought to be your attitude. Even if you think your obstacles are insurmountable, there are people to help and there are ways to get there if you persevere.
3. Did you have any college role models growing up?
Nobody in a previous generation [in my family] went to college. Heck, I didn’t know I was going to college. The only reason I ended up going is because I wanted to be an FBI agent. An FBI agent talked with me and said, you got to go to college and then you got to go to law school. So I went.
4. Well, you’re obviously not an FBI agent. What changed?
I got a summer job in Searcy at a law firm between my first and second year of law school and it totally changed my mind. I liked it. Just the variety of tasks — running errands, going with the lawyers to court and watching them, pushing papers.
And then the next summer, I worked for the Treasury Department in Washington and I got to see the exact opposite, and I didn’t like it, which further cemented that I didn’t want to work for the FBI.
5. Is changing majors OK?
Your values change; your aims change; it’s part of maturity. Don’t get stuck in one thing. It’s fine to have a dream and pursue it, but if something else piques your interest in a different way, be flexible enough and open-minded enough to accept that and change directions.
6. Were you a good student?
I could always make good grades if I wanted to. My first semester in college I made a 2.6… I was a typical boy; [for a couple semesters], I did only what you had to do. In today’s world, if you’ll do more than just what you have to, then you can get assistance that’ll help defray the need for student loans.
7. Do you think college is important?
What an education does is it gives you options – options, for example, my mother didn’t have. You get a college degree, you’ve got a choice.
8. How did you pay for your higher education?
Student loans, and my mother scrimped – if she made a dime I probably made nine cents of it. And I worked in the summer. [We didn’t have as many scholarship opportunities as students have today.]
9. Final words of wisdom for this year’s students?
In college, and life, don’t get stuck in one thing. Your values change; your aims change; it’s part of maturity. It’s fine to have a dream and pursue it, but if something else piques your interest in a different way, be flexible enough and open-minded enough to accept that and change directions.
Fun Facts About Gov. Beebe
|High School:||Newport High School, Class of 1964|
|College:||Arkansas State University|
|Favorite thing about college:||The social life|
|Law school:||University of Arkansas|
|First job (ever):||Kroger|
|What did you want to be when you grew up?||An FBI agent|
|Did you rush?||Yes, I was a Sigma Pi at ASU|
|Military experience:||Army Reserves|