Senior Spotlight: Anna Beck
Feb. 17, 2012
By Mae Margaret Davis, Auburn Media Relations
Anna Beck has always had a special connection to Auburn. Born the daughter of two University of Alabama graduates, she is also the granddaughter of the late Emory Cunningham, an Auburn graduate from the College of Agriculture.
Despite having influences from both universities, Beck grew up with a great respect and appreciation for both institutions, but chose to attend college at Auburn in order to be a member of the equestrian team, a sport she had grown to love growing up.
"I was only interested in Auburn's equestrian team," Beck said. "I knew I didn't want to go very far. The only other school I looked at was Ole Miss, and I loved it, but I basically just decided that I really wanted to be a part of the team."
Beck grew up riding in her hometown of Mountain Brook, Ala. Equestrian was a family affair for the females in Beck's family, as she followed in her mother's and sister's footsteps.
"My mom grew up riding, and we have a farm in Birmingham, and we just always rode out there," Beck said. "Then when my sister and I became more interested in it, my mom kept taking bigger steps with being more serious with the sport.
"We always rode Western. It was never a choice. It was just how it was. All my trainers have come from far away. They haven't really been in this area. We just committed to traveling and putting some miles on the car, and we just went all over."
Because of the lack of a Western riding circuit in the southeast, Beck and her family traveled throughout the country to competitions, an experience Beck said was great for a young rider.
"That was just a really great experience to be involved with," Beck said. "I just made friends from all over, and you just meet so many different people. It was a wonderful experience."
In 2008, just before Beck started at Auburn, her grandfather was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Auburn and the College of Agriculture. Cunningham had made significant contributions to both Auburn and the agriculture community after graduating with a degree in agriculture in 1948. He was the founder of Southern Living magazine, as well as the publisher for Progressive Farmer magazine.
Beck said that her grandfather's influence at Auburn and in his professional community was an important part of her life and made her even more excited to attend his alma mater.
"He got a Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was a really awesome thing to be a part of," Beck said. "The coaches came too and stuff, and that was right before I started my freshman year. It really made me even more excited to be here because I saw what a really big part it played in my grandfather's life and how much he did for the university."
Now in her senior year, Beck will graduate with a degree in collaborative special education and is looking forward to working with students with severe disabilities.
"I want to look for jobs either at schools with severe self-contained rooms, or at some sort of community place," Beck said. "There's a place in Birmingham that focuses just on autism which is really interesting to me. That's kind of where I see that going."
With so much experience riding, Beck also said she hopes to one day use equestrian to help children with disabilities.
"I also work at a summer camp every summer in North Alabama, Riverview Camp for Girls," Beck said. "I love it, and I help teach the riding program there. I have a lot of experience with camp settings, and I would really like to somehow do some therapeutic riding work. I don't know how I'm going to go about it yet. It's a big task, but I'd love to get involved, and I definitely see that in my future."
No matter where the future takes her, Beck knows that everything she learned as a member of the Auburn equestrian team will stay with her in all facets of her life.
"It's one thing to be able to get things done for yourself," Beck said, "but for so many other people to be able to get along and work successfully, that's just really such a valuable learning experience."
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