Forging her own path
While her passion for gaming brought her to UCI, '23 anthropology major Nyah Beck's
ability to adapt opened other doors on campus
Nyah Beck’s path to becoming an Anteater wasn’t linear. Before enrolling as a student at UCI, she had attended seven of the nine Los Angeles Community College District colleges because her family moved regularly to accommodate her gifted brother’s education. Beck had to continually adjust to new academic settings in order to progress. Whereas others might have seen the challenge to keep pace with constantly changing studies too daunting, Beck saw a learning opportunity.
“Attending multiple community college campuses challenged me to adapt to a variety of environments,” says Beck. “Change is inevitable, so adaptability is a good skill to have, and that’s been necessary for me to survive.”
Throughout her academic moves, she remained intent on achieving her goal of attending a four year university.
UCI esports captured her attention
Beck had long been intrigued by gaming.
“I’ve been an avid gamer my whole life. When I first started community college I was unsure of what I wanted to do,” she says. “Following long conversations with my mom about gaming and esports, she suggested that I find a school or program that shared similar knowledge.” This was back in 2017, and UCI esports had just opened.
UCI was the first public university that was investing in a program relating to gaming, an interest Beck is deeply passionate about. She contacted the program to figure out what she could do to get involved. The following summer, she attended their first Girls in Gaming (GIG) Camp. Knowing that there would be other people at UCI who shared her interests, Beck prepared to transfer with the Transfer Admission Guarantee Program in 2020.
Change is inevitable, so adaptability is a good skill to have, and that’s been necessary for me to survive.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t extended an opportunity to try out for one of the UCI esports teams. But she didn’t let the disappointment deter her from pursuing her bigger goal of getting her four-year degree as an Anteater. She leaned on her incredible adaptability skills to pivot and forged her own path with gaming at UCI.
Beck was named the inaugural Pokimane Scholarship recipient for the 2022-23 academic year, an award that carried a $2500 prize.
She founded the Black Gxming Society (BGXS) to open access to gaming and esports for more students at UCI.
“BGXS is a space for Black and Brown gamers to find community, to connect students to the esports industry, and to develop professionally to play, stream and work in the professional gaming workforce,” she says.
Beck envisions BGXS growing beyond UCI and establishing it as a larger organization - business or non-profit - that uplifts individuals in the community.
To help grow BGXS, Beck plans to expand her skills in an MBA program. She would like to continue to be a force for change in gaming to help companies recruit and retain Black talent and create more Black characters.
BGXS is a space for Black and Brown gamers to find community, to connect students to the esports industry, and to develop professionally to play, stream and work in the professional gaming workforce.
Growing with SSARC, SOAR, and Umoja
While gaming has occupied a significant amount of her time, Beck has immersed herself in other organizations that emphasize student achievement and retention. She has worked at the Social Sciences Academic Resource Center (SSARC ) and the Student Outreach And Retention (SOAR) Center.
“I would credit my academic, professional, and leadership development to SSARC, SOAR, and the professional staff who have mentored me during my time at UCI,” she says. “Being a peer consultant at SSARC and the first Umoja peer educator at SOAR were instrumental roles that helped me engage with the campus. When I first transferred, life at UCI was asynchronous due to Zoom lectures with professors, and little interaction with peers. Being able to connect with others through each center's programming was critical to my campus involvement and sense of belonging.”
Ángel Salazar, SSARC coordinator, credits Beck’s passion and teamworking skills as critical to her success.
“Nyah is always willing to be part of a team and do what it takes for her committee to succeed,” he says. “This speaks to her versatile leadership and skill set as a peer consultant. Nyah has a shining personality, and always brings amazing energy into the workplace.”
Umoja is relatively new on the UCI campus, but Beck credits that program with helping her develop as a student, leader, and advocate.
“Umoja is a Kiswahili word meaning ‘Unity’ and it’s largely based in community colleges,” she says. “We are the first university to pilot a retention program to ensure the success of Black transfers.” In 2021, at the statewide Umoja conference, the foundation recognized Beck as a Student Leader of the Year for her contributions to supporting Black transfer students' success at UCI.
I realized this opportunity is what I make of it, and I made a commitment to maximize my involvement during my time at UCI and take advantage of the plethora of resources this university has to offer. Be open to learning, willing to be challenged, and present in every space. You will find beauty in being able to grow and evolve.
The next steps
As she looks ahead, Beck hopes to be admitted to an MBA program in the fall, and she’s got her sights set on continuing on as an Anteater via the UCI Merage School of Business.
For now, she’s proud of what she’s achieved as an undergraduate at UCI and hopes to continue to be a role model for students who transfer from community college. As she gets ready to graduate, she offers this advice to any community college transfer student looking to come to UCI:
“I have been there and know what it's like to struggle. Community college taught me to become resourceful, adaptable and exercise resiliency. I struggled with imposter syndrome during my first year, but please remind yourself that you truly deserve to be here, you have earned it and as a transfer, you have value to contribute to the campus community,” says Beck.
“I realized this opportunity is what I make of it, and I made a commitment to maximize my involvement during my time at UCI and take advantage of the plethora of resources this university has to offer. Be open to learning, willing to be challenged, and present in every space. You will find beauty in being able to grow and evolve.”
- Adriana Maestas for UCI Social Sciences