Alumnus Honored for Giving Back

By: Liz Daubenmire

UC Alumnus Clark Beck has been changing hearts-including his own, since he graduated with his degree in mechanical engineering.

Clark Beck, right, was one of two African-Americans who helped break the color barrier in engineering. With him is his grandson, Emory, one of hundreds of minority students he has mentored. photo/Lisa Ventre

Clark Beck, right, was one of two African-Americans who helped break the color barrier in engineering. With him is his grandson, Emory, one of hundreds of minority students he has mentored. Photo by: Lisa Ventre

As Clark Beck noted in a previous article, his admission into UC 60 plus years ago was anything but an easy transition.  Beck remembers the Dean’s warning explaining that the engineering program was not diverse and that if Beck enrolled, he would likely not graduate due to the added difficulty of the tension filled times.

After five challenge filled years, Beck completed his degree against all odds.  Years of healing took place to overcome the hurt from segregation that overwhelmed his college experience.  Eventually, Beck came to a place of full forgiveness and committed his life to making education accessible to others in difficult places. 

Through his donations, he allowed several students, and eventually his grandson to attend the University of Cincinnati.  “The best thing you can do for anyone is give them an education. You ask a question, mention a problem, and education is the answer. Education will enable people to understand each other better, take away misgivings and biases people have against one another.”

Beck has come a long way since his harsh college years.  While undergoing dialysis during his work as an engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Beck desperately waited for a kidney transplant.  Although his doctor informed him that the kidney only had a 50 percent chance of lasting six months, Beck has since celebrated the 40th anniversary of his transplant.

The tough times never brought Beck down.  He continued to build into his community by founding the Wright STEPP program at Wright State University in 1987. The Science, Technology, and Engineering Preparatory Program is designed to enhance the development and education of youth underrepresented in the fields of engineering, math, and science.

Beck also enjoyed a 31-year career at Wright-Patterson and was the first black president of the Dayton Engineers Club. He is a Donate Life Ambassador for Life Connection of Ohio and serves on several community boards.

For all these reasons and many more, Beck will be awarded the Top Ten African American Award by the Parity Inc. on February 19th.  The award recognizes African American males who “have made a significant contribution and paved a brighter path for African Americans within the greater Dayton, Ohio community.”

Cathi Arends of Life Connection Ohio says, “Beck is our voice in the community and we are so glad to have him working with us.”

From the time he first overcame obstacles in pursuit of his dreams, to his heart warming generosity today, Clark Beck is truly a man with a golden heart.