There are a few reasons why Juaun Bean did not apply to college after high school. For one, he didn’t love school even though he got good grades. Also, he had just scored a promotion at Shoe Carnival and was making decent money.
But there was another reason, one Bean kept to himself: doubt.
“I wasn’t sure I could cut it in college,” Bean said. “I didn’t have confidence in myself. I could never imagine that this day would come.”
On May 20, the day before he turns 30, Bean will serve as the University College student marshal at Washington University’s 161st Commencement ceremony, where he will celebrate earning a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in human resources management.
It hasn’t been easy. Bean works full time as an assistant manager for School of Medicine Protective Services and is the dad of two young children: 1-year-old Jayce and Jackson, who is nearly 3. He has typed papers with one hand while feeding a baby with the other and has spent countless hours studying with a tiny body affixed to his chest. Indeed, he presented his capstone project on millennials in the workforce just hours before his wife, Jessica, a dialysis nurse, delivered Jayce.
“I finished my presentation, grabbed my hospital dad bag and headed to the hospital,” recalled Bean, who took two to three classes every session. “While obtaining my associate’s degree, I took a few breaks between semesters. I didn’t want to do that this time. It was tough, but through God’s strength and with the support of my beautiful wife, I was able to fulfill the commitment I made to myself. I will forever be grateful to my family, my managers and University College faculty, staff and students, and especially my adviser Elisa Wang, who supported me on this journey.”
Bean joined Protective Services in 2014. By that point, he had earned an associate’s degree in justice administration and planned to become a police officer. A job in security seemed like a good first step. But after meeting Jessica, Bean started to reconsider. Police officers work nights and holidays; Bean wanted a job where he could spend time with family. He decided to enroll in University College and took two classes — “Principles of Management” and “Communications Technology and New Media.” He got As in both.
“I had those same doubts about whether I would succeed, especially at a school as prestigious as Washington University. But I figured that I would never know if I didn’t try,” Bean said. “I surprised myself and did really well.”
Another surprise was his passion for human resources. Bean had not planned to get a master’s degree, but the more he learned about the field, the more he realized it aligned with his natural talents.
“I found my niche,” Bean said. “I’ve always been big on people being treated fairly and doing what’s right by employees. Through my coursework, I was able to learn how to build a strong team and plan for the future.”
Bean has brought some of those lessons back to the School of Medicine, where he recruits and hires security officers and helps create department policy.
“The experience has reinforced my ideas about effective management and the importance of a positive culture,” Bean said. “I believe it’s really important to give your employees a voice and to trust them to do their jobs. It’s also important to provide clear guidelines and set expectations, especially in the field of policing. And I think we’ve achieved that here. Really, it’s all about helping your employees succeed.”