Anna Claire Beasley, an electronic media & communications major, talks about what impacted her during her time at Texas Tech.
When considering her collegiate future, Anna Claire Beasley met with David Perlmutter, dean of the College of Media & Communication on a visit to Texas Tech University in 2014. Beasley, still considering various Ivy League schools including Harvard University at the time, said Perlmutter told her something during their discussion that stuck with her through her time at Texas Tech.
“He said, ‘If you want to learn the theory of how to do something, go to an Ivy League university. But, if you want to get down and dirty and actually do something, come to Texas Tech,'” Beasley said.
Now, closing in on graduation, Beasley said her time at Texas Tech was shaped by her role in the College of Media & Communication, her role in the Honors College and as founder of her own student organization, Students Ending Slavery.
Why Beasley chose Texas Tech
Before choosing Texas Tech, Beasley had her eyes set on another path entirely. She said she had received acceptance into her dream school, New York University and planned to pursue a major in photojournalism with an emphasis on global health.
Because of the cost of attendance, Beasley began looking at in-state schools, landing on Texas Tech due to the Terry Foundation scholarship. Beasley applied and eventually received the scholarship.
After receiving the scholarship, Beasley started digging into the programs offered at Texas Tech, including the electronic media & communications program.
“I was blown away by the breadth of what was offered at Texas Tech and how much of it was hands-on,” Beasley said. “I'm a very hands-on person, that's how I learn. I was very excited to see that.”
Beasley first visited Texas Tech in the fall of 2014, a year before she was set to start her college career. Todd Chambers, associate dean for undergraduate affairs in the college, met Beasley during that initial visit and found she was one of the most articulate high school students he had ever met.
“When Anna Claire talked about her interests, I knew she was passionate about visual storytelling and social justice issues,” Chambers said. “I knew if she was able to meet faculty in the College of Media & Communication, she would find a home here.”
Beasley chose to attend Texas Tech as an electronic media & communications major. The small community feel and the focus on student success helped her make the choice.
“While there are some big names in the college, they are truly interested in student success, and they will meet with you one-on-one even if it means they have to work later to get their job done,” Beasley said. “They make taking care of students their job and their No. 1 priority.”
Beasley also became a student in the Honors College her freshman year. Susan Tomlinson, assistant dean and associate professor in the Honors College, said she first met Beasley while she was in her Honors First Semester Experience class.
One thing stood out to Tomlinson when Beasley was in her class, she said.
“One of the first things I noticed about Anna Claire was how thoughtful and mature her writing was for a freshman,” Tomlinson said.
During Beasley's first year at Texas Tech, she took a step back and picked a few extracurricular activities she was interested in, including being a member of the photography staff at The Daily Toreador, the student-run newspaper on campus. She said being on the team taught her many of her photography skills.
However, in February of her freshman year, Beasley found out about a position within the Outdoor Pursuits Center on Texas Tech's campus. Her work within the center has helped shape the majority of her extracurricular college experience.
“The Outdoor Pursuits Center is not only an adventure program that takes people on trips and rents them gear,” Beasley said. “It's also a leadership candidate program. A big focus is that our bosses are training us, as employees, to be good leaders. That's been really awesome because l have become a better teacher, a better people person and better at handling tough situations.”
While leading backpacking, kayaking and canoeing trips, Beasley said she got the chance to meet students in other colleges. While it is easy to be pigeonholed into one college, this opportunity helped Beasley get out of her comfort zone and meet students she would not have met otherwise.
Beasley said through her work in the Outdoor Pursuits Center, being outdoors and taking trips have become a passion.
“I can't even imagine living life now without trips and adventure,” Beasley said.
Students Ending Slavery
Along with her other extracurricular activities, Beasley wanted to start a student organization raising awareness about something she was passionate about, human trafficking. Toward the end of her freshman year, Beasley began Students Ending Slavery, influenced by a survivor of trafficking she met in eighth grade while volunteering at a children's home in Arkansas.
“Her story shook me to my core, and I had heard nothing like it before,” Beasley said. “I knew there were evil people out there and bad things happened, but I never heard of anything like this. I kept thinking, ‘What on earth could I do about this?' I figured other people would be asking the same question, so when I got to college, I aimed to figure out some way to connect people with that question so we could figure it out together.”
Initially, Beasley said, the organization was more focused on sex trafficking in Texas and within the Lubbock area. But, as the organization grew, it has taken a step back and is looking at trafficking as more of a global issue.
Beasley wanted the organization to be a resource for students to learn more about human trafficking as a whole and what students can do to help.
“This happens in every community,” Beasley said. “We are here in Lubbock so I wanted Students Ending Slavery to be a partnership and plug into places that are already doing stuff so students do not just talk about trafficking but they do something about it.”
Along with her work in her student organization, Beasley also has incorporated her passion of raising awareness of human trafficking through her work in the classes she took. Beasley said in the first semester of her sophomore year, she got the chance to make a documentary over the issue of human sex trafficking in Lubbock with four other students.
Beasley said through the process of making this documentary, they interviewed both a local survivor of human sex trafficking and with organizations that are doing work around the area to raise awareness and leading prevention efforts.
“That was a really cool experience,” Beasley said. “It was my first time ever making a documentary. It was interesting seeing all the pieces come together. That's where I want to go in the future with my work.”
Beasley also does personal work raising awareness of human trafficking around the area. She said this includes doing interviews with local media outlets on the subject and helping students with assignments relating to the subject. Beasley also has done field work at a local strip club, observing and speaking with the dancers about the subject.
Beasley said she utilized things she learned though the College of Media & Communication while she was completing her field work.
“The biggest thing I have learned is to not have expectations, just listen,” Beasley said. “The college does a really good job of instilling that narrative of being a storyteller. We are not just taking stories from people. We are not just shoving cameras in people's faces. We are sitting back and listening and letting them tell their story. We are helping them document that.”
Beasley said one faculty member who stressed the importance of being a storyteller to her was Jerod Foster, an associate professor of practice in the College of Media & Communication. Chambers introduced Beasley to him during her first visit to campus.
Foster invited Beasley to come to his class in Junction for a day when she was a high-school senior to see firsthand what it would be like as a potential student. Beasley said that invitation was another reason why she chose to attend Texas Tech.
“Even before freshman year, [Foster] was investing in me,” Beasley said. “It's so important because it shows students that they are valued outside the classroom and outside a letter grade. They are valued as people.”
Once Beasley became a student at Texas Tech, she got the chance to experience Foster's class in Junction for herself at the end of her freshman year. She said the class combined all the things she loves: production, storytelling, the outdoors and the classroom.
While she was taking that class, Beasley learned a lot about her camera and shooting style. She also developed discipline by waking up early and having to produce quality content immediately.
“Production is not glamorous,” Beasley said. “You are not trudging around, looking great, taking one beautiful photo and leaving. It's a lot of standing in cold water and waiting for the sun to go down to hopefully get that one shot. That class would be one of the best and most important memories from my undergraduate experience. It really set the tone for the last two years.”
Foster has continued to be a mentor to Beasley through her time in the College of Media & Communication, she said. He connected with her and made her interests, no matter how vast, his priority.
When Beasley studied abroad in Denmark through the college, she got the chance to explore other facets of human trafficking. Through the classes she took over the trip, Beasley said she realized that to appropriately tell these kinds of stories, you must have an underlying understanding of why those people got where they are. This reason is why Beasley is continuing her education as a student in the Texas Tech Anthropology graduate program.
Beasley said she plans on utilizing the skills she learned in the College of Media & Communication in her graduate school journey. Beasley is considering making a full-length documentary about human trafficking as her senior thesis.
“I think being trained as a storyteller and how to relate to people is important for every field,” Beasley said. “I will be taking those storytelling skills into my studies of anthropology and looking at things from a story perspective.”
Beasley's goal is to be a filmmaker who creates documentaries that can affect policy changes internationally. Beasley said she would love to show her films at a United Nations meeting and then discuss with international leaders the things that need to be changed.
Tomlinson said she has been amazed at Beasley's boldness and willingness to take risks in pursuit of her goals throughout her undergraduate experience at Texas Tech. Other students can learn from her boldness and from the way she is willing to risk failure in order to learn things.
“She is someone who is capable of formulating a goal, making up her mind to achieve it - no matter how formidable that goal is - and then working hard toward it,” Tomlinson said. “She dares to dream big, imagine big and act big.”
Impact of Texas Tech
Looking back, Beasley said she would be trying really hard to make a name for herself if she had attended an Ivy League university.
“I would have lost myself a little bit,” Beasley said. “I would have gotten caught up in so much of the work that I wouldn't have been able to do so much of the self-actualization that I have done here at Texas Tech. I also would not have the same community or faculty support that I have had at Texas Tech.”
The College of Media & Communication has made a huge impact on Beasley throughout her time at Texas Tech. The college is always looking for ways to give students a better experience and makes investing in students a priority.
“Honestly, Anna Claire embodies our College of Media & Communication – stellar academics, outstanding leadership and expertise as a communicator,” Chambers said. “I used to talk about Anna Claire as a student who had choices of Harvard, NYU and Texas Tech - and she chose Texas Tech. Now, I share Anna Claire's story as a visual storyteller who is passionate about social issues and looking for ways to use her craft to help solve problems facing society. I'm so proud of her journey and can't wait to see what graduate school holds for her.”
When other people ask her about why they should come to Texas Tech, Beasley said she just tells them about her own experience.
“Usually, I don't try and convince them to come to Texas Tech,” Beasley said. “I just tell them stories. I tell them about my experience and the things I have been able to do here. Usually, that does the trick.”