New WGSS professor encourages students to tackle social injustices

Leaving a university of 50,000 students to teach at a liberal arts college of 1800 was an exciting opportunity for Faculty Fellow in American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Myrl Beam.

Coming to teach at a liberal arts school was like returning home for Beam, who is a first-year professor at the College.

Beam studied at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. “I love the liberal arts college environment; it’s an experience that I wish everyone could have, spending four years tackling big ideas, figuring out what one believes in and making transformative connections with people. I was incredibly lucky to have that experience,” he said.

Beam was brought to the college through, according to him, a mix of luck and intention. He said, “I’m a newly minted PhD in an extremely competitive job market,” he said, “so I was very lucky to be offered this job.”

Beam said that teaching at an institution like the College is just the type of teaching he always wanted to do. Students come to a liberal arts school looking for a very unique type of education and therfore Beam wanted to be able to support and have a direct interaction with students in all their endeavors.

Beam loves working with students that are highly engaged in what they are doing and that are motivated to investigate important social injustices around the world. His goal, as a professor, is for his students to graduate knowing that they can go out into the work force and address those injustices.

Beam said that he is having a great experience so far on the Hill. “I’m really excited about the classes I’m teaching this year and the students in those classes, as well as others that I’ve met in my time here, are engaged, critical and a lot of fun to talk about big issues with,” he said. Perhaps that is the most important and reassuring thing for students to hear about a new professor: the person teaching them is equally as ambitious.

For Beam, coming from Minnesota to Maine is not only a big change in school population, but also in weather. Students who have lived in Maine know that it is known for its “less than ideal” weather.

But contrary to what some might assume, Beam likes it. “This may sound weird, but I love the weather,” he said.

“I grew up in Michigan, and I’ve lived in various spots in the northern Midwest my whole life”. He loves the changing seasons and even the winter.

Minnesota winters are actually worse than Maine, but at times can be as cold as forty degrees below zero.

Beam said that he learned to “embrace the outdoors in the winter.” He loves skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and any other winter activity.

“My partner, who grew up in New England and spent summers on the Maine coast, remarked many times when we were living in Minnesota that the north shore of Lake Superior looked just like the coast of Maine, except it smelled wrong —no salt and no seaweed,” Beam said. “So I’m getting used to a new landscape and a new set of smells, but in many ways it actually feels really familiar.”

Beam considers himself very lucky to be in his new position. He is ready to embrace the College and his first Maine winter.

Professor Beam may be new on campus, but that will not stop him from taking advantage of every opportunity. The department and the students are excited for the passion and knowledge he brings.

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