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  • Glen Providence

Opening Doors

Captain Ronald Beasley

The opening of a door is something most

people do without thinking. For Ronald

Beasley, once a door is open he doesn't just

walk through it, he blasts through it while

holding it open for others to bring them

through. The Tallahassee native was an

athlete in high school and upon graduation

from Florida High School in 1973, attended

Florida A & M University on a track & field

scholarship. However, facing some very

stiff competition from others on the team

who would go on to star in their own right,

Beasley made the decision to switch gears

and enter the Navy in a very non-traditional

way. Beasley would join a strict and very

competitive Navy ROTC program in Newport,

Rhode Island where he would have to

complete the equivalent of the 1st and 2nd

year of Navy ROTC in 16 weeks. The program

which boasted over 400+ participants from

across the country only had 20 African

American students. Of those 20 only seven

would successfully complete the program.

However, those seven would go on to

greatness including Captain, Commander,

and Admiral.

Beasley recounts his time at the program, a

culture shock of sorts, where he was called

racist names and treatment that he had never

experienced on that level and states that in

order to be successful, he had to teach himself

how to persevere. As an athlete, he knew what

it meant to compete and this was an opponent he was

determined to beat. He would eventually complete the

program and return home to finish his last two years of

college and earn his Navy Commission.

He barely had two weeks to

celebrate his recent accolades as

he would receive orders to report

to his first ship the USS Chicago

stationed in San Diego, CA in 1978.

There, he would face a whole new

level of racism where he was the

only African American officer on a ship with 80 other

Navy officers. Beasley shared a story about how he

was demeaned by a prank by other officers on the ship

that affected him to the point where he was ready call

it quits. It would take the urging of his mother to stay

the course.

Beasley would go on to have an illustrious 23-year

military career which included being recognized as the

General Naval Office Recruiter of the Year as well

as the Minority Officer Recruiter of the Year for the

Navy. After his success in Field Officer Recruitment, he

was then promoted to Commanding Officer of Naval

Reserve Recruiting where he led the Western United

States offices to 3 consecutive years as Naval Reserve

Recruiting Command of the Year.

For most people, that is where the story would end.

However for Beasley, after a couple of years doing IT

Recruitment, it was another door opening that would

lead him to establish a (first of its kind at the time) Navy

ROTC program at a middle school.

The newly formed Sea Cadets program was

established at the Denn John Middle School

in Osceola County. The success of that program

resulted was Beasley being selected as Osceola County

Vocational Teacher of the Year and also earned him

the Walt Disney World Teacheriffic Award winner for

Osceola County.

Beasley's story could end there and it would be a great

one however as they say in infomercials, "wait - there's

more". When Orange County District 5 School Board

member Dr. Kathleen "KAT" Butler Gordon who

worked at Denn John with Beasley called him to work

on a school in Orange County, one phrase came to

mind, "Where you put a question mark, God will put a

period." That call would lead him to Evans High School

where as he describes it, he felt that he needed to the

there. He had to model what success looked like for

the kids and help keep them accountable. Compared

to other ROTC programs he had visited, the program at

Evans was on the brink of collapse. However, under the

leadership of Beasley, he would transform the program

in a few short years to a precise, polished unit ranked

among the top in the state. Beasley's teams at Evans

would on to sweep the state competitions and, even

earned the coveted Distinguished Unit award given

to the top one-third of programs in the area. It would

earn the distinction of being the nation's third mostimproved

unit finishing 124th out of 1,375 units

nationwide in 2007.

While it may sound cliche,

the apple doesn't fall too

far from the tree as the

Beasley’s two children

have carved their own

path to success as military

officers with their daughter

a Lieutenant Commander and United States Navy

JAG Corps and their son, also a Lieutenant and a

Doctor of Pharmacy.


hese days you can find the Beasley's

enjoying a lazy afternoon with their dog

at their beautifully decorated home

which feels more like an exclusive art

museum. But don't think for a second

he has slowed down. His Talented

Ten organization is working to identify

diverse candidates from under-served areas for Tier

One colleges, universities, and military academies in

preparation for STEM-related studies. 

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