Capt. Steve Beuth knows what students need not only in the classroom, but out on the ocean and in the real world. He teaches classes in Cape Fear Community College’s Marine Technology program and has served as captain of the college’s ocean-going research vessel for over 20 years.
Capt. Beuth recently won the 2009 Marylin Goodman Anderson Excellence in Teaching Award, which is awarded annually at CFCC. He was nominated by his fellow faculty members and students for his outstanding ability to motivate and inspire students, his leadership ability, devotion to student success and dedication to the mission of the college.
As a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and an officer in the Navy, he began his career at CFCC in 1976, when he was hired as the chief mate on the college’s marine research vessel the R/V Advance II.
Capt. Beuth is one of the longest-serving and busiest faculty members at the college. He earned his captain’s license in 1979 and took over as the captain of the R/V Dan Moore in 1982, when it replaced the R/V Advance II.
Over three decades at CFCC, his interest in teaching has remained strong because of the students.
“Interaction with students is my favorite part of teaching. Learning their diverse and often inspiring life stories and being able to aid them in achieving career goals is a strong motivating force to ensure we instructors deliver the knowledge thoroughly,” Beuth said.
“The greatest reward though is to witness the graduates embarking on career journeys,” he added.
As a teacher, he said that he learns right along with the students.
“An old philosopher in his quest for meaning, concluded that the lesson of life lies in learning, and that by teaching you’ll be taught,” Beuth said.
He emphasized that the unique educational setting of working offshore has provided a satisfying and stimulating setting over his career. Add to that the benefit of seagoing adventure and intrigue shared with eager, hungry minds and it’s a perfect blend.
“Thirty-three years may seem like ages, but the response and results from students provide constant renourishment,” he said.
Some of his most vivid memories are from his over 450 student training cruises where he has guided the ship and its student crew through a wide range of weather. Some of the images are beautiful, like seeing the stars, planets and comets in the night sky, and the time the ship stopped alongside a whale mother and her calf in calm seas.
Some of the memories are a bit more dramatic. Beuth still vividly recalls several voyages in particularly treacherous seas, where the ship was pitching through 19-foot waves crossing the Gulf Stream and rolling 57 degrees in giant swells while maneuvering to avoid a tropical storm.
The greatest feeling is recalling his own sense of awe as an 18-year-old marine science student 40 yrs. ago and seeing that same look in his students.
“I want each one of them to be as fortunate as I have been in finding a rewarding career,” Beuth said.