BVU Thrower Aims for Career in Cyber Security

National track meet qualifier Drew Beall reflects on his undergraduate experience, which has culminated with CyberCorps Scholarship at George Washington University and work for the US Department of Defense.

Minutes after finishing his final workout prior to the American Rivers Conference track championships, Buena Vista University senior Drew Beall lifts straps for two bags over his shoulders and walks through Siebens Forum, making his way to his suite where a hot shower awaits.

Those bags contain much of what he needs for an afternoon of class and workouts:  textbooks, notebooks, laptop, track shoes, lifting shoes. Lugging it all constitutes a post-workout workout, if that makes sense.

Beall, an NCAA Division III National Track Meet qualifier, shrugs off any so-called strain. BVU’s computer science senior of the year has welcomed challenges since stepping foot on campus four years ago. In fact, in an interview set up to discuss track and academics, Beall shifts into talk about residence life and the political landscape.

“Coach Maier knows what he’s talking about. His lifting program and work with me have me throwing farther than I did in high school, and that’s with using a heavier discus.”

Drew Beall

“Residence life at BVU shaped me quite a bit,” he says. “I wanted to do residence life and work as an RA (resident advisor) because that was something out of my wheelhouse. In doing that, I’ve learned a lot about people, about where they come from and some of the challenges they face.”

That important work with his peers helps guide Beall, keeping him focused and intentional on a course of study that’s leading him to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he’s earned a prestigious CyberCorps Scholarship, which wholly funds his education while providing a stipend. The Anamosa native will earn a master’s in information assurance while serving an internship and then working full-time for either the U.S. Department of Defense or an agency under the auspices of the National Science Foundation.

And while he could aim for work in the Silicon Valley, in social media channels, or the gaming industry, Beall commits to work for the government for two years following his academic work. He’s serious about cyber security.

“Maybe I’m being naïve, but I think doing work in information assurance has more meaning for me,” he says.

“Drew is a gifted and thoughtful student,” says Dr. Jason Shepherd, associate professor of computer science. “He truly values that his knowledge and talent can and should be used in the service of others.”

Beall’s work will also place him in the nation’s political epicenter, a bonus for a 22-year-old increasingly interested in politics.

“When I was in high school, I was focused on all the activities you get to do in high school, whether it was sports or speech or drama, and I missed some of the important stuff,” he says. “I try to listen to podcasts and read about politics now to be more informed.”

Beall, who took nearly every computer science course available at BVU and participated in the Start-Up in Seattle computer science internship, lights up while talking about a history course he takes as an elective in his final semester: “History of the United States After 1877,” taught by Dr. Bill Feis, professor of history.

“I took Dr. Feis’ class that covered American history prior to 1877 a few semesters ago and really enjoyed it. I figured I better take his post-1877 class, too.”

Beall misses class on Friday while traveling across Iowa to compete in his fourth and final conference track meet, at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. The 6-foot, 5-inch thrower has earned all-league accolades in past meets, reaching a high-point his junior season with a berth in the national meet. He executes his best throw of the year to take second place in the league with a heave of 153 feet, 6 inches.

“Coach (Shane) Maier works with the throwers and he was a Big Ten shot put champion at Iowa,” Beall says. “Coach Maier knows what he’s talking about. His lifting program and work with me have me throwing farther than I did in high school, and that’s with using a heavier discus.”

Drew Beall

“Drew has been a great asset to BVU track and field,” says Colton Slack, head coach. “He’s been a four-time all-conference performer and a qualifier in the national championships. He’s been named to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s all-academic team twice and likely will again after his senior season concludes. He truly embodies what being a student-athlete is all about.”

Beall keeps a BVU alum in mind as he takes Maier’s teaching points and reaches out to advise freshmen throwers on this year’s team. The caveat: The alum wasn’t a member of the track squad, she was a golfer for the Beavers.

“'Lizzy' Kim was my RA when I was a freshman and she served as my mentor,” says Beall of Elizabeth Kim, now a second-year medical student at the University of Minnesota. “I remember what she did for me and now I’m trying to do something similar for my teammates.”