Senior Bethany Beekly Balances Art, Science

January 25, 2017
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University senior Bethany Beekly is gifted in both science and the humanities, and does not allow her rigorous course load to hamper her enthusiasm for music, dance and helping others. An honors student majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry, she has been on the President’s List (minimum 3.85 grade-point average) virtually her entire Gonzaga career.

She spent the past two summers in a Michigan State University neuroendocrine lab doing research focused on obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Last summer, the lead researcher for the project sponsored Beekly’s application for a research fellowship through the Endocrine Society.

Beekly traces her interest in neuroscience to her sophomore year at the prestigious Holy Names Academy in Seattle. After taking an addiction course at Gonzaga, Beekly discovered that she particularly enjoys learning about reward and motivation. Her senior honors thesis is an exploration of philosophy with elements of cognitive science.

She said the Honors Program provides a “good balance” academically – and welcome intellectual contrast – among the preponderance of biology and chemistry lectures and lab courses.

“Honors is really an expanded core and I already enjoy subjects like language, philosophy and English,” she said.

Musical aptitude is another of Beekly’s many gifts. She considers her involvement in the music department, where she has met some of her best friends, as the favorite part of her Gonzaga experience.

Beekly has played clarinet in the Gonzaga Wind Symphony every semester. She played in the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra for a few semesters and even dabbled in voice lessons. If she is selected for a concerto competition this spring, she will play with Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra again.

She continues to grow and learn outside of the classroom as well. She had not danced before a friend practically dragged her to swing dance club as a freshman. Now, she’s co-president of the club. Dance has become an integral part of her life and has included Scottish dancing abroad and Latin dancing at her summer internship.

Beekly said her semester abroad in Glasgow, Scotland was transformative. Scottish education philosophy, which limits in-class time, allowed her a great deal of time and freedom, she said. While she usually stayed close to campus at Gonzaga, Beekly realized she should expand her horizons while away.

“It was a lot of figuring out how to drag myself out of my room,” she said with a laugh. “That semester abroad was the point at which I started doing things for me because I enjoy them.”

Even with her demanding classes and involvement in music and dance, Beekly still finds time to give back to the Spokane community by teaching clarinet lessons to middle and high school students. She is taking conducting lessons this year to further hone her craft.

Throughout high school and at Gonzaga, Beekly always saw medical school on her horizon. However, she recently presented research from her summer internship to a conference in Boston and realized she was no longer interested in clinical research. As a result, she is applying for doctoral programs in the sciences and hopes to teach science at a university.