Beal bequest to bring Central African students to MSU
When Allen and Julie Beal decided to attend MSU, they hoped the experience would broaden their world. They could not have imagined that their education would lead them to the other side of the planet. Memories of the bright young people they subsequently taught in Africa recently led the couple to establish a charitable bequest from their estate that will fund scholarships for Central African students to study agriculture at MSU.
High school sweethearts Allen (Dairy, ’63) and Julie (Social Science, ’63) grew up in rural St. Joseph County where both graduated with honors from Three Rivers High School. They married as freshmen at MSU. They were intrigued by the Peace Corps Program already underway on campus but were unable to participate due to the birth of their first child.
A few years after their graduation, Allen was accepted in the MSU Kellogg Farmer’s Study Program which culminated in six weeks of international travel. The experience was life-changing, and Julie says she knew their dream of doing international work would not go on the back burner any longer.
They signed on with the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and agreed to serve in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). With their three elementary-aged children in tow, the Beals studied French in Brussels, and then set to work in a high school serving students from rural areas of Central Africa.
While in Africa, Allen spent some of his time teaching agriculture in the classroom and the balance supervising hands-on projects such as hatching baby chicks and raising beef cattle, poultry, and rabbits – all important food sources for the region. Julie provided instruction in social studies, including history, geography, and political science, and also taught some English. The Beals were impressed with the maturity and intensity of their students, who often were the only ones their families could afford to educate. “They were high school aged, but I taught at the level of what I had studied at MSU,” Allen said. Julie vividly remembers her students as “the smartest, most enthusiastic, and most interested” of any students she has ever known.
The Beals returned to the family farm, continuing the farming operation into the late ’80s. Julie completed her master’s in social work and practiced privately for over 20 years. Before retirement, Allen rounded out his agricultural career as a dairy nutritionist.
Over the years, the Beals and their children continued international interests and involvements, staying in contact with colleagues and friends they met in Africa as best as they could. When the Beals began to work on estate plans, their thoughts returned to Zaire and the passionate students they had known. “Given the support of our family, we knew we wanted to help students in Africa and realized that nothing we could do would last longer than education,” Julie said. They both agreed that it made good sense to involve Michigan State University where international programs and structures were already in place.
Once fully funded, the Allen C. and Julie A. Beal Endowed Scholarship Fund will enable students from Central Africa to attend MSU to study in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).
“MSU has made a huge impact on our lives,” Allen said. “And MSU has been involved across the globe for a long time. The university is the ideal place for us to give something back.”
For more information on the CANR, visit online at http://www.canr.msu.edu. For more information about making a gift to the college, contact Associate Director of Development Jackson Kaguri at (517) 355-0284.
A HALF CENTURY OF COLLABORATION
For more than 50 years, Michigan State University has been a national academic leader in Africa, fighting diseases, developing crops and training future physicians, farmers and leaders. More than 1,200 African students have earned an MSU degree since the 1970s. MSU faculty members work on scores of projects in 32 African nations. For more information, see the special report “MSU and Africa: A half century of collaboration” at http://special.news.msu.edu/africa/.