In Hindsight

It has been almost exactly one year since I went into my first BEAM lesson. I had heard about all the opportunities BEAM gave to its students, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Now, in hindsight, I can see all the ways BEAM changed me- ranging from drastic changes to subtle differences in my life. The most visible changes include the fact that I now have a paying job at a major Silicon Valley tech company, my LinkedIn account exists, and my résumé actually looks like a real résumé. In part, these were the goals I was expecting to achieve through the course. But while these things are extremely valuable in themselves, I gained much more than what was listed under “Business, Entrepreneurship, and Math” in the course catalog. 

Most important to me personally, BEAM gave me the chance to raise awareness for mental health. I launched my social entrepreneurship startup, Project Oyster, with two other classmates through BEAM. Project Oyster is a student-run mental health podcast that has episodes featuring Gunn/PALY students and alumni talk about their  stories of emotional struggle. The podcast provides guest speakers a platform to share their journey through recovering from mental illness, while giving listeners a chance to hear what their peers have gone through. BEAM provided me and my team with mentors, resources, and knowledge about project management and marketing that proved to be essential to the growth of our podcast. After one year, Project Oyster has eleven full-length episodes and has been featured in numerous news outlets. We also gained partnership with the YMCA, the City of Palo Alto, Project Safety Net, among others.The pitching skills taught in BEAM helped my team gain a large amount of funding from the City of Palto, which covered our marketing and overhead costs.

After just one year, BEAM has changed me from an ordinary student to an intern, a producer of a podcast, and an entrepreneur. 

- Hanna Suh, Gunn BEAM COO

James Chang-Davidson