Alumni Spotlight: Heath Beasley and Reagan Brown

Clay Development Partners Reagan Brown, Shane Seabolt, and Heath Beasley

COBA alums Heath Beasley (’16) and Reagan Brown (’19) are working to make their communities more connected places to live. Brown and partner, Shane Seabolt, founded Clay Development Partners, while Beasley joined their team shortly after. Clay Development Partners is a Dallas/Fort Worth-based real-estate development company focused on the single-family build-to-rent sector of the housing and rental markets. Their mission is “focusing on what it means, and what it takes, to build a true sense of community.”   The company strives to “create communities that are designed to promote a true sense of belonging and encourage daily neighborly interactions.”

They recently came to campus to speak with students in the Griggs Center’s CEO (College Entrepreneur’s Organization) weekly chapel about their real estate startup, sharing with students the reason for starting this particular kind of company, how they got started, as well as their previous work experience and how that helped them in this current endeavor. They also gave students a glimpse into their daily work life and how it is very different than what they’d imagined they’d be doing when they were ACU students themselves.

Beasley, with an undergraduate degree in accounting and a Master in Accountancy (’17), serves as the CFO of Clay Development Partners. He previously worked as a CPA for PricewaterhouseCoopers and for a year as the Development Officer for the ACU Athletic Department. Brown, who majored in accounting and finance, serves as President of Clay Development Partners having gained experience in the real estate market as a broker for Moriah Real Estate Company in Midland, TX and as a Development Associate for Republic Property Group in Dallas, TX. We asked Heath and Reagan to share a little about their work experiences and how their time at ACU influenced how they live out their own faith and the company’s mission with the people they come into contact with.

 

How does your faith impact your work? 

Heath: I am reminded of God’s grace every single day I am in the office. When challenges arise in the workplace, my faith reminds me that He is in control. Our core job at CDP is to build neighborhoods and communities that are welcoming and accepting; we also believe this is our call as Christians. While we may fall short of this often, we strive to represent Christ in the way we carry out business. 

Reagan: It has a huge impact. Every project we develop is focused on bringing people together. We try to design our projects in a way that allows the residents daily opportunities to connect and create meaningful relationships with one another. Ultimately, this opens the door for our residents to experience a kind of genuine fellowship that God wants for us.

 

Were there any big surprises when you entered the working world after college? 

Heath: Honestly, there were not many surprises coming out of school as COBA did a wonderful job preparing me for the working world. However, I will say the biggest challenge when entering public accounting is getting used to the ever-changing work schedule. Some weeks I could work up to 80 hours while others I could work only 20. All the work can be taught and learned over time; however, I don’t think anyone every really gets used to the long hours. The long hours do pay off though as those years prepared me for the role I am in today. 

Reagan: The world moves quickly, and it doesn’t slow down. I remember a professor at ACU that used to say “Time is money.” I didn’t think about it very much, but I do now.

 

How did your time at ACU shape your future? 

Heath: ACU shaped my future because it provided me with relationships that will last a lifetime. It is rare for me to go a full week without connecting with at least one ACU alum in some form or fashion. Sometimes we are trying to do business together and other times someone is providing me insight and guidance. ACU is an incredible place, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to attend. Without ACU, I would not be doing what I am doing today. 

Reagan: While I would like to say I was an incredible student, I was incredibly average (ask my professors). When I think back on my time at ACU it was the relationships that carried the most weight. I connect and reconnect with ACU alumni on a weekly basis, many of whom were critical parts of us starting our company

 

Heath Beasley

What advice would you give to current students to prepare them for their future? What should current students take advantage of while on campus to prepare for their future?

Heath: My advice and what to take advantage of are the same. While still on campus, meet and connect with as many ACU students as you can. For me, these friends were in my wedding, have given me dental advice, have represented my wife and I as we bought our first home, have travelled the world with me, have provided me insight and guidance on how to make strategic decisions, and have also partnered with me in business. Most importantly, I married one those incredible people I met while at ACU.   

Reagan: Invest in relationships. Obviously, the coursework is crucial to your degree, but the relationships you invest in during your time at ACU will prove to be more valuable than anything else.

 

What is your favorite ACU memory? 

Heath: It is tough to pick one, but I remember going on a road trip my sophomore year to play baseball against Arizona State and Arizona. It was memorable because we played in the last game at Arizona State’s historic Packard Stadium. The crowd was huge for the game, and it felt special to be a part of history. Later in that same trip we ended up beating the University of Arizona in Tucson, this was our first win against a power conference in our first year of being a Division I program. We did not win a lot while I was there so that win will always stick out to me as a great memory. 

Reagan: Galaxy Sing Song (Sweep Song) 2019 

 

Did you have a favorite professor? If so, who were they and why were they a favorite?

Reagan Brown

Heath: It is tough to pick one as all of them impacted me in a positive way. Dr. Little taught me how to not take things too seriously and how to identify the aspects of a business I should really focus on. Professor Fowler gave me real life examples of how companies apply accounting principles and standards. Dr. Stovall taught me how to operate a company ethically and to always do right even if it is not necessarily the easy route. Dr. Golden’s marketing class was the most fun I’ve had in a classroom. Dr. Taylor spoke about scripture with a conviction I have heard from few others. 

Reagan: Professor Fowler was my favorite. Fowler once told me, “Someday you are going to be sitting in a meeting with your boss. Your boss will say, ‘Someone needs to go get some coffee.’ For the first few years of your career, your name is Someone.” Paying your dues early is important. I never forgot that.

 

What would you say to a prospective student who was trying to decide if they should attend ACU? 

Heath: ACU is a place for people to stand out and to have a more personal education. The smaller classes give you a better opportunity to learn and interact with your professors while also making it easier to connect with your classmates as you all work through the same course track. I had classes with the same core group from my freshman year all the way through the graduate program. We all got comfortable studying together, encouraging one another, and learning from each other. ACU has a culture perfectly suited for someone who is looking to surround themselves with students/professors who will make them better.  

Reagan: You won’t find a more well-connected community than ACU. I have various childhood friends who attended larger state schools, and they are consistently amazed at the amount of people I am able to connect with because of my time at ACU. It is a special place.

The vison of the College of Business Administration is to inspire, equip and connect Christian business and technology professionals to honor God and bless the world. As Heath and Reagan strive to live out that vision in their company, with the communities they are working to build and connect, and in giving back of their time and advice to current ACU students, we see that vision lived out in them. We’re thankful for alumni who seek to serve the world around them and make it a better place. As we tell our students, “Go change the world, Wildcats!”

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Carlee Pruden

When Carlee (Finkelstein ’14) Pruden graduated from ACU with a degree in marketing, she wasn’t exactly sure what the future held. But, as they often do, an internship led to her future career. After interning for Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas post-graduation, Carlee has now been with the company for almost 8 years holding various roles in marketing, merchandising, and most recently as a merchant. As a merchant for tortillas, Tex-Mex, and salsa, she is responsible for selecting great-tasting items, negotiating the lowest costs, and giving the customers what they want and need in stores and online. Pruden furthered her studies at John Brown University graduating in 2016 with a Master in Business with a focus on International Business. She’s used her experience in retail to join in a class project for the past three semesters with Dr. Jennifer Golden.

Carlee assists and critiques students throughout the 7-week period of the accelerated course by working with Dr. Golden to create projects centered around her day-to-day duties as a merchant. These projects require students to think critically about who Walmart’s customer is, how to make their shopping experience valuable, and Walmart’s overall mission and goals.

This rare in-class opportunity has allowed students to gain insight into corporate marketing strategy and tactics and learn how these concepts relate to one of the largest employers in the world. Because of incredible alumni like Pruden, who give up their time to help educate students with real-world experiences, ACU’s College of Business continues to thrive. One member of the class said, “The fact that someone as successful as Carlee willingly sacrifices her time to teach us about what she does sets the example for future generations of graduates from ACU.” They continue, “Though this class is extremely fast-paced due to the nature of an accelerated course, it has shaped me professionally in ways I didn’t even think possible. I love that we can see what we learn be implemented in a real business environment.”

Carlee also benefits from the partnership with the class, saying, “Working with students is always a great reminder to always be learning. There are concepts they are being taught now that were not covered when I went through school, like digital marketing, that are critical to success in the workplace today. Students have taught me about upcoming technology ideas that can be applied in real time in my career.”

The seed for this classroom partnership was planted 10 years ago when Pruden was a student in Dr. Golden’s Introduction to Marketing course. Golden’s passion for teaching students about marketing sparked a desire to learn as much as possible for Pruden and many of the students in the class. Now, Golden and Carlee enjoy a friendship and mentoring relationship that has changed each of their lives for the better. Carlee says, “I am the career professional, wife, and woman I am today due to my time at ACU and my relationship with Dr. Jennifer Golden. When you sit back and watch Jennifer love God and love others it’s contagious. We have spent countless hours chatting about career life or family life, but at the end of the day, she always reminds me that our purpose in this world is to love God and love others.”

Golden’s example of loving God and loving others has spurred Pruden to action. Several years after graduating, Carlee realized that part of her passion for the community and serving others was not being completely filled by her job or other activities that she was a part of. To fill that void, she began getting involved with local non-profits and volunteering her time and talents to their causes. She has also been a part of Walmart’s Fight Hunger, Spark Change program for the past 5 years. As part of the campaign, Walmart has donated 7 billion pounds of food to Feeding America and their food bank network. In addition to her various philanthropic efforts, Carlee and her husband have 2 dogs, Barklee and Boone, and enjoy spending their time outside riding bikes, hunting, fishing, or trail riding in their side-by-side.

The College of Business Administration’s vision is to inspire, equip and connect Christian business and technology professionals to honor God and bless the world. Alumni like Carlee Pruden are walking, talking, real-life examples of that vision come to life as they inspire the next generation of COBA students.

Internship Spotlight: Katie Carr

Any baseball fan knows how much the game has changed in the last ten years. Many managers have begun focusing on stats for every aspect of the game, using staff members that specialize in analytics to help their team gain competitive advantages. This past spring Katie Carr (’22), information systems major from Wichita, Kansas, snagged an on-campus internship that has provided her with bountiful experience as she interned for the ACU baseball team as the Data Collection & Baseball Projects Manager. Katie told us more about her time with the team and how this internship has given her tangible skills and understanding to set her up for a homerun post-graduation.  

 

WHAT DID YOU DO IN YOUR INTERNSHIP?

As Data Collections & Project Manager, I analyze game statistics for player development. For example, during practices and warmups, I track pitchers as they practice to gather information on attributes such as pitch velocity, spin rate, and horizontal/vertical break. This provides valuable information for the whole team – coaches can utilize this in making decisions about starting lineups, and players can assess their performance and see what weak spots to focus on. 

Following games, I produce several reports such as top velocities, opposing pitcher compositions, and umpire statistics. I’m also in charge of setting up cameras to film the games and preparing a video guide with player appearances and times for easy navigation. 

 

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE INTERNSHIP?

My favorite part of this job is that the sports industry is never dull. Each day, it provides a different experience that leads to new challenges or ideas. If we see a trend start to appear during a game, that gives us the opportunity to dive deeper into the data to see if we find anything interesting. 

 

WHAT WERE THE GREATEST LESSONS YOU LEARNED IN THE INTERNSHIP?

The greatest lesson I learned was to always be willing to learn. This role required a good understanding of the sport and knowing how it can be implemented in the player structure. While I had limited knowledge coming in, I didn’t let it discourage me. I come early and stay late after practices, scrimmages, and games to get more experience. 

 

HOW DO YOU SEE THIS EXPERIENCE AIDING YOU IN THE FUTURE?

There are countless industries you can pursue with data analytics, and being able to get experience in those fields is important in order to get ideas of future job options. Prior to working with ACU’s baseball team, I had never considered sports analytics. However, working on the field over the last semester has helped me discover an industry I want to pursue more after graduate school. 

 

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR FUTURE INTERNS OR STUDENTS LOOKING FOR INTERNSHIPS?

Create meaningful relationships with your professors – they often have plenty of connections and are happy to help you out if you’re struggling. On one of our many office visits, I had mentioned to Dr. Ryan Jessup that I was looking for a job. Shortly after, he connected me with the baseball team’s coach who had reached out to him looking for analytics assistance. 

 

HOW HAS YOUR TIME AT ACU PREPARED YOU FOR THIS INTERNSHIP AND FOR GRAD SCHOOL AFTER GRADUATION?

Assignments with real-world applications have been incredibly beneficial. I’ve always enjoyed projects where you can truly see the impact of your work (such as going to Costa Rica for the Enterprise Consulting class or assisting with the Suitable app onboarding in the System Analysis & Design class). These were all great opportunities to practice the skills learned in the classroom in a real-life scenario. 

 

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A COBA STUDENT?

My favorite part of being a COBA student is the number of faculty and staff who genuinely care about you and your future. I have received so much support and guidance from so many COBA professors that I know I wouldn’t get anywhere else. They truly believe in their students and their ability to succeed. 

 

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Katie as she explores careers in sports and analytics. Upon graduation, Katie plans to attend Wake Forest University for her Master’s in Business Analytics.  

University Scholar Spotlight: Tyler Merritt

Tyler Merritt, a junior double major in accounting and financial management from Abilene, TX, is one of 4 business majors recognized as a University Scholar this spring. To qualify as a University Scholar, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and show a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the research of their appropriate field. Students are nominated by faculty across the university and presented for selection to the Faculty Senate for the final decision. We asked Tyler to tell us what it means to be honored and share his best advice on how students can get the most out of their college experience. Congratulations, Tyler!

 

 

Being named a University Scholar is a great honor! What was your first reaction when you received the news?

I was excited and honored to be chosen as a member of this elite group of students.

 

What extracurricular activities/student orgs were you involved with on campus?

  • Treasurer of Frater Sodalis
  • Member of U-Chorale and the A Cappella Chorus
  • A/V live events technician
  • Teaching assistant
  • Library circulation desk worker

 

What are some of your favorite memories/experiences in your department?

  • Listening to all of Dr. Fowler’s extremely entertaining auditing stories
  • Dr. Perkins bringing his guitar to class and singing a Willie Nelson parody
  • Somehow passing Dr. Neill’s bonds exam

 

What has grown you as an individual the most in your time at ACU?

Seeing and experiencing the tightly bonded community that is ACU, especially through the men of Frater Sodalis.

 

What is your favorite thing about ACU?

The kindness and care that the professors put into their lectures and interactions with their students

 

Do you have any advice for future students?

Don’t be afraid to try new things, but also don’t fill your plate up too much.  And always leave the biggest space for God and your faith life.

 

What will you be doing after graduation?

I will pursue a Master’s degree in accountancy and begin studying for the CPA certification exam.

 

University Scholar Spotlight: Destanie Crist

Destanie Crist, a financial management major from Valley Center, CA, is one of 4 business majors recognized as a University Scholar this spring. To qualify as a University Scholar, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and show a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the research of their appropriate field. Students are nominated by faculty across the university and presented for selection to the Faculty Senate for the final decision. We asked Destanie to share her best advice on how students can become involved on campus and gain experience for post-graduation life. Congratulations, Destanie! 

  

Being named a University Scholar is a great honor! What was your first reaction when you received the news? 

I was extremely grateful and honored that ACU faculty and staff picked me! It is a special reminder that God blesses, and that hard work always pays off.

  

What extracurricular activities/student orgs were you involved with on campus?

  • Heacock Scholars
  • LYNAY
  • Financial Management Association
  • Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy
  • STAR
  • AMA
  • CEO Chapel
  • Off-campus, I served as a mentor for 11th and 12th grade girls through Beltway Church

  

What are some of your favorite memories/experiences in your department?

Managing the Student Investment Fund (STAR) was by far one of my favorite experiences at ACU. I have invested from a very young age, and I enjoyed being hands-on in class with real day-to-day investing activities. Leading as the Fund Manager taught me how to bring together teams and people with many different talents. The fund also did exceptionally well that year, and I loved working with everyone in the class.

Working at the Griggs Center was such a great career-developing experience. Whether as President of Enactus or the Director of Student Competitions, there was always a task and challenges ahead that I got to help with and improve. It is a great place to learn soft skills and meet incredible leaders like Mindy, Amanda, and Jim.

 

What has grown you as an individual the most in your time at ACU?

The groups and organizations I am involved in have helped me grow the most during my time at ACU. As a leader or a learner training to be one, I was challenged in ways outside of normal academics to strengthen my soft skills and leadership abilities. Working at the Griggs Center, in COBA, and at JP Morgan Chase are all exceptional work environments which have allowed me to take the skills I learned on campus and in the classroom to an actual workplace.

 

What is your favorite thing about ACU?

My favorite thing about ACU is the people. The professors, students, faculty and staff make ACU an amazing community. ACU is unique in so many ways, but the professors and peers that I have been blessed to be friends with have brought abundant wisdom and joy into my life.

 

Do you have any advice for future students?

The best piece of advice would be to seek God in all things: school, career, relationships, and your day-to-day living. Enjoy your time at school, be involved, and try new things, but also make sure to think about your next steps and life after school.

 

What will you be doing after graduation?

After graduation, I will start working full time as a Commercial Real Estate Analyst for J.P. Morgan Chase and I will get married in August!

University Scholar Spotlight: Jose Rodriguez

Jose Rodriguez, a senior finance, accounting, and political science major originally from Reynosa, Mexico is one of 4 business majors recognized as a University Scholar this spring. To qualify as a University Scholar, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and show a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the research of their appropriate field. Students are nominated by faculty across the university and presented for selection to the Faculty Senate for the final decision. We asked Jose to talk about his experience thus far at ACU and give current and future students advice on how to make the most of their time here. Congratulations, Jose!

 

Being named a University Scholar is a great honor! What was your first reaction when you received the news? 

After receiving the email saying that I was nominated as a University Scholar, I immediately shared the news with my parents. I do not think that I would be the person who I am today without their sacrifices, support, and love. My parents trust my capabilities and know that I can take care of business. However, I always keep them up to date with my academic performance. 

 

What extracurricular activities/student orgs were you involved with on campus? 

I am the current Vice President of Frater Sodalis. I am part of LYNAY (a community service group), I am a tour guide for ACU Admissions, I am part of Chess Club, and I am a member of Financial Management Association chapter here at ACU. 

 

What are some of your favorite memories/experiences in your department? 

My first ever Departmental Chapel was special because I got to meet most of the faculty in my department. I thought that I would never get to know them all but now I can say that I have had a conversation with every one of my professors. Secondly, the COBA networking event that happened during the fall of 2021 was a great way to meet ACU alumni and to get internship/job opportunities (fun fact: that is how I got my summer internship for summer of 2022). Finally, just studying in the Griggs Center and getting to know all the COBA students is truly a blessing and something I enjoy of being a finance/accounting major.

 

What has grown you as an individual the most in your time at ACU? 

First, being able to do jail ministry has been a blessing. God has used me in a way that glorifies His name and has allowed me to serve others who need Him. Moreover, I have met great people who are in desperate need of love. All they want is to be heard and they want to know that there is someone praying for them, regardless of the conditions they are in.

Furthermore, finding the right group of friends at ACU has had a huge impact on me because I know I can rely on them and they can trust me. I have made so many good friendships that I would not otherwise have made if I had not stepped out of my comfort zone and wanting to meet new people. 

 

What is your favorite thing about ACU?

Spending time with my fraternity, with my closest friends, and the community are things that I cherish and I take pride in here at ACU. Additionally, being able to know my professors outside of the classroom has been something I enjoy doing because of how my professors care about me and about what is going on in my life outside of the classroom. 

Finally, the community at ACU is welcoming and hospitable. I found a group of friends who I could hang out with all the time and it easy to get plugged in into the dozens of student organizations on campus.

 

Do you have any advice for future students? 

My advice to future students is:

  • Be disciplined. You will thank yourself down the road when you graduate and take these skills into the workplace. Find a routine that works for you and that is efficient and stick to it—sometimes it’s okay to change it around. 
  • Make study groups. It is a great way to enhance your knowledge and to help each other out. 
  • Get to know your professors. They care about you, they are for you, and they want to be resources for you.
  • Enjoy yourself and give yourself time for fun! Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in our busy schedules that we forget that we are entitled to have fun in college. Go to the gym, go on a walk, hang out with friends, or do something that gives you energy.

What will you be doing after graduation? 

Although I graduate on May 2023, I will be preparing for the CPA exam. I hope to land a job in accounting somewhere in the DFW metroplex.