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Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Jane Beers Memorial Scholarship (Video: Scott Hargrove)

Degree Shift: A Scholarship That Keeps a Passion Alive

Jane Beers ('68) never achieved the master's in social work she wanted, but a memorial scholarship helps new students continue her life's work of keeping families together.
By Ryan Schuler

“We were talking with her about establishing a scholarship at San Diego State in the MSW program. She just got this big grin on her face like that would be so wonderful.”

Support your favorite campus program, organization or scholarship and make a difference at San Diego State University on Wednesday, Sept. 25 for the university’s fourth annual Day of Giving, a single-day, online blitz to raise funding for students, faculty, research and important programs university-wide.

It had always been of dream of Jane Beers (’68) to attend San Diego State University’s Master’s in Social Work (MSW) program. 

Even after years of working as a social work professional for the Armed Services YMCA in San Diego, the Red Cross, and a number of other organizations, the SDSU alumna had always hoped to return to her alma mater to complete her master’s degree.

The timing never worked. Though she was never able to attend, her passion for social work lives on through the students supported by the Jane Beers Memorial Scholarship.

Following a tragic breast cancer diagnosis, Jane’s husband, Thomas, and their two sons hoped to do something to memorialize her.

"We were talking with her about establishing a scholarship at San Diego State in the MSW program," said Thomas Beers. "She just got this big grin on her face like that would be so wonderful."

Their work continues today. In the six years since her death, the scholarship has awarded eight recipients, changing their lives the way Jane did for so many. 

"I have had the opportunity to meet most of them," said Thomas. "When I meet with them, it’s striking to me. They’re all committed to work with individuals and families and really about being of service to others and a professional commitment."

A graduate of San Diego State College with a bachelor’s degree in social work, Jane pulled from her life experiences to become a relentless advocate for keeping families together. Following the death of her parents at the age of four, she was raised by her sister and brother-in-law in Flint, Michigan. 

Thomas Beers believes her upbringing played a role in her choice to pursue social work as a career and keep families together. 

"There was just a piece of fiercely believing in the importance of family," Thomas said. "She really felt like families need to stay together and people need to help each other."

But she credited her time at San Diego State with helping her decide that social work was for her.

"She felt inspired by the school itself. The training she got – she always talked about her field placement even as an undergraduate that really helped her decide this is the field I want to go into," said Thomas. "She always spoke of how incredibly supportive the school was of the students going through the master’s in social work program."

Thomas and his family continue to honor Jane’s legacy today through the scholarship.

"This feels like it’s an opportunity to spread the impact further and wider because you see each one of these people going out and becoming involved with an agency or with families," he said. "What we do with this is very important and has the potential to help students. Those students are going to go out and do the kind of work that is beneficial and inspirational to their patients."  

And he never forgets the impact she had on his life.

"She was an amazing person." Thomas Beers said. "Her life was a good model, and her work was inspirational."