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Alumni Spotlight: Beth Behal '93

beth behal

April 2017

Please welcome to the Alumni Spotlight, Beth Behal! Beth is no stranger to the St. Ambrose stage and remembers fondly her time with the department.

Currently, Beth owns a restaurant that has a special focus on hiring special needs employees. She also volunteers with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program in her home town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Always a comedian, Beth has many fun and exciting stories to share about her time at St. Ambrose.

Graduation Year: 1993 (a VERY long time ago!)
Major(s): Music Education, minor in accounting

What did you do post-graduation and what are you doing currently?
After graduating, I became a 7th-12th grade vocal music teacher in Luverne, MN for 10 years. During that time I also completed a master's in Educational Leadership. After about nine years, I decided that it was time for a change, and after nearly a year of searching for what that next adventure should be, we decided to open a restaurant! My partner Jennifer and I opened Camille's Sidewalk Cafe in Sioux Falls, SD nearly 14 years ago and are still running strong! Although it was a big change in my life, it afforded me the opportunity to go home and help take care of my mother during the final six months of her life, a time I will always be grateful for. Things DO happen for a reason...and I'm certain my change in profession was meant to be.

My involvement at Camille's has also unintentionally put me in a role as a promoter for hiring people with disabilities. When I did our initial round of hiring, I had an interview with a gentleman with disabilities, and at the end of it he asked, "So, did I get the job?" I told him I had several more interviews and would get back in touch with his case manager in a couple of days. Jennifer and I discussed the applicants and we thought to ourselves, why wouldn't we hire someone with a disability? He was our first and we've had many more since! Now I work with a company that helps people with disabilities find employment. When we have an opening, I'll check in with the employment specialists to see if they have any clients that might be interested. Once the individual is hired, I usually train him/her until they feel comfortable in the position. We also offer a place for new clients and their job coaches to try out various positions we have to see if it might be something that he/she'd like to pursue. This gives the client an idea of what a particular job might be like, allowing the job coach to weed through various job opportunities and ultimately, setting them up for success!

As my management team has become more self-sufficient, it's also freed up time and allowed me to volunteer. I'm involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Sioux Empire. I've been a big sister to Destiny (15) for the past three years and also to Mackenzie (8) for the last year! For the past four years, I've also been on the planning committee for one of the major BBBS fundraisers they have every year.

What was your favorite memory from your college years at St. Ambrose?
Oh there are so many! Theatre-related: It was my freshman year and I had received a theatre scholarship, but for some reason, I had chosen not to audition for the first show of the year. It was early October and I went down to [Michael] Kennedy's office to "check-in," not sure exactly what I was supposed to be doing and he said, "Who are you?" I told him my name and he looked through some papers and then yelled, "Beth Behal, where the hell have you been?!!" Evidently I was supposed to be involved with every production in some form as a requirement of my scholarship! I guess I missed that fine print! Needless to say, he scared the crap out of me...seriously; I think I soiled myself a little that morning! Thankfully they didn't yank my scholarship money. Another good one is when we were in the midst of A Christmas Carol and Cory [Johnson] was sitting on stage after rehearsal going through notes with someone. I had gone down to the green room and then decided to play a little joke. I made my way through the orchestra pit and popped up through the trap door and screamed, giving them a good scare. I think Cory may have soiled herself a little that day! I still giggle when I think about that memory!

What inspires you today?
The idea that life's too short and tomorrow isn't a guarantee! So make the most of today. Also, love who we want to love, travel/explore/do what you want to do, treat everyone with respect regardless of your differences, everyone deserves a chance, and laugh every day! These are pieces of my everyday life; whether it be personal or professional, it doesn't is good!

What was your biggest post-St. Ambrose surprise?
Well besides having to be an adult and pay bills? Or, that you can't buy one of those conveyor belt toasters like they had in the cafeteria at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Take time to cherish/enjoy your family & can't get that time back, so take the 30 minutes and have coffee with your Mom or brother. If distance is an issue, pick up the phone and call them, and not just because you need money! I was 35 when my Mom passed away, 40 when I lost my Dad. I wish I could go back and recoup some of that time. Don't let life get in the way, have no regrets.

Any advice for current students?
Be involved in and experience as much as you can, because in a few short years it will be on to the real world. Enjoy your time at Ambrose, have fun!

What is a show you have acted/designed in/ stage managed that you are most proud of?
Ten years ago I was in a community theatre production of Nunsense at a dinner theatre near Sioux Falls. I played Sister Robert Anne; it was a fun role and I really felt like I did a good job with it. She was definitely the comedic one of the bunch, but there was a scene that brought out the more personal/serious side of her too. I even learned a tap number for the show! Anyone that remembers my inability to dance would be surprised at that.

What do you miss most about the department?
I miss the camaraderie of the students and staff; there was a unique bond with that group of people. We had to work together to achieve a common goal. We all enjoyed doing it and liked perfecting the process as we went.

Beth sure is a wonderful representation of what it means to be an Ambrosian! We could not be more proud of the work she is doing in her community and the spirit with which she approaches every day. Thank you Beth, and keep on making a difference!

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