Gabe Beaver Aspen Institute Fellows

BGSU student selected for prestigious Aspen Institute fellowship

Gabriel Beaver, a Sidney A. Ribeau President's Leadership Academy Scholar at BGSU, is excited to contribute to Aspen Institute’s mission

Bowling Green State University junior Gabriel Beaver always has been a naturally inquisitive person who liked meeting people and hearing their stories.

As a child, Beaver and his father would go to a local restaurant near his native Lakewood, Ohio, to watch NFL games on Sundays, and Beaver would wander over to other patrons wearing football gear and ask why they picked their various favorite teams, then listen politely to their stories about how their career transported them to the Cleveland area or how a childhood connection established a lifelong bond to a particular team.

The genuine interest in learning about others is a quality that has served Beaver well as a Sidney A. Ribeau President's Leadership Academy Scholar (PLA) at BGSU, and a key reason he was one of just 14 students nationally selected for a prestigious Aspen Institute fellowship. Beaver also has spent the past three years hosting a podcast called “The Bridge,” named for the process of bridging the gap between who someone is and who they want to become.

The Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to address societal issues through action, aims to reach 2.5 million youth during the next decade through a digital tool, the Development Index, which will use data to increase “access, quality and resourcing of youth leadership programs nationally.”

Index Impact Fellows will contribute to the project, to which Beaver became connected through one of his classes at BGSU.

A communications major and a leadership minor, one of Beaver’s leadership classes featured a textbook written by Dr. John P. Dugan, the executive director of youth leadership programs at the Aspen Institute, who later became a guest speaker.

“I didn’t pick the fellowship so much as it found me,” Beaver said. “John Dugan wrote the leadership book for one of my classes, then spoke to our class via Zoom. After the presentation, he opened it up for questions, and I had been really curious about his story. Nobody asked questions, so I asked all my questions. Then he put his email in the chat and told us to feel free to reach out to him.”

Beaver thought Dugan’s story had been fascinating and invited Dugan to be a guest on his podcast, and the connection was made: the two stayed in touch and Dugan later invited Beaver to apply for the fellowship.

Beaver said he instantly felt connected to the Aspen Institute’s mission, so accepting was an easy choice.

“He reached out to me about this opportunity and we spoke about the logistics and how they’re trying to impact over a million youth," Beaver said. “I felt aligned with other people who have big dreams. Whenever a group or a company wants to positively impact over a million people, I’m in. No questions asked. Yes.”

Dr. Jacob Clemens, the senior director of the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, said Beaver consistently has demonstrated a willingness to connect with others as a PLA Scholar and through his work with the Marvin Center.

“He’s curious about bigger questions, questions about making meaning, and he is very authentic,” Clemens said. “At the end of the day, he cares about people and doesn’t put much stock into titles or prestige. He approaches his interactions with others with a great deal of humility, so those characteristics lead to naturally being curious about people and their stories.”

Beaver said his passion is to help people be their authentic selves and to redefine what success really means in the greater context of life. In addition to doing well in school or at work, Beaver said he believes someone can create meaningful opportunities like this by understanding their values and core selves.

“I think something I try to live by is that the world needs you, and the world needs you to be you,” Beaver said. “I think one of my ‘whys’ is to help young people find what they’re passionate about and redefine success. Everybody says success is the big house, the fancy car and all the money in the world, but I know people with millions of dollars who are depressed and sad. 

“I think the conversation about success needs to change and I have a responsibility to use my voice to express that.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 12/06/2022 03:41PM