Kristin Beck ’89 knows the importance of leadership. That is evident by her time in the military, when she served for two decades with distinction as a U.S. Navy SEAL. The courage and leadership she exhibited during 13 deployments to places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq was also there in 2013, when she came out as the first transgender retired Navy SEAL.

Recognizing the importance of developing leaders, I am pleased to let you know that Kristin has established a scholarship award at Alfred University that honors and assists veterans and members of the military.

The VALOR (Veterans and their Advancement in Leadership Opportunities and Resilience) Scholar Award will support U.S. veterans and active duty military personnel who pursue an education focused on programs leading to careers that promote cognitive growth, such as psychology, health counseling, and mentorship. Kristin has provided the initial lead gift for the award with a goal of raising $50,000 by early June. If you would like to contribute to the endeavor please contact Robin Mazejka ’20 MBA of our Advancement team.

The establishment of the VALOR Scholar Award is but the latest example of Kristin’s leadership in advocating for the military on our campus. According to Dillon Smith ’19, ’21 MS, Military Affairs liaison at Alfred University, Kristin’s advocacy was pivotal to encouraging our faculty to resume awarding academic credit to Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets for military science coursework.

Our University stopped awarding credit for ROTC courses in 1992, when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that in practice discriminated against individuals based on sexual orientation, was implemented by the U.S. government. The policy was repealed in 2011, but our University did not resume offering credit for ROTC classes until this spring. Kristin accompanied Dillon to a faculty meeting last fall and encouraged our faculty to make the change. Among the faculty at the meeting was the late William “Bill” Dibrell, professor of philosophy who passed away last month. Bill, a respected member of our faculty and former Faculty Senate president, spoke of coming from a military family and later protesting the Vietnam War. He encouraged his colleagues to openly promote and welcome military personnel and veterans to our campus.

Kristin exemplifies our University’s efforts to promote inclusivity, through her work advocating on behalf of the transgender community and her efforts to promote the continued education of our nation’s veterans and military personnel.

Kristin Beck ’89 presents Alfred University president Mark Zupan with the lead gift for the VALOR Scholar Award
In Carnegie Hall last month before the days of social distancing and telework set in, Kristin Beck ’89 presents Alfred University president Mark Zupan with the lead gift for the VALOR Scholar Award.

Alfred University is a place where leadership is formed and nurtured, and young people learn the importance of contributing to society in impactful ways. Kristin Beck demonstrates such leadership and makes meaningful contributions every day, by promoting understanding and inclusivity, and by advocating for the service men and women who sacrifice so much for the good of our country. We are proud to join in her efforts to honor and support our next generation of leaders, by giving back to those who have given so much on behalf of our nation.