Dahkotahv Beckham: Finding a Home at Antioch
Many of us take having a place to sleep at night for granted. Not so for Dahkotahv Beckham. Originally from the Czech Republic, Beckham came to Washington when he was six years old and spent his formative years in the foster care system and homeless in Sumner. At the time, college wasn’t even on his radar.
“I didn’t think I would go to college,” he said. “I did high school, that was hard enough.”
Now, at 23, Beckham is a Bachelor of Arts student at Antioch University Seattle, where he plans to major in Health Counseling and Psychology.
When he was 18, Beckham moved to Seattle. He was still living on the streets but the amount of resources King County offered homeless youth and young adults inspired him to take action on behalf of rural areas like Sumner that lacked resources. With the help of the Mockingbird Society, an advocacy organization dedicated to improving foster care and ending homelessness for youth, Beckham wrote the Homeless Youth Act. The Act states that each city and town in the state of Washington needs to provide shelter for youth and young adults. Washington passed it as state law in 2015.
Writing the Homeless Youth Act ignited a passion for advocacy work within Beckham and he decided to go to college. After obtaining housing, he enrolled in community college at Seattle Central. During this time, he continued his advocacy work for homeless youth. His efforts led to more laws getting passed that help youth and young adults, such as a law that allows foster kids who turn 18 to have their records expunged, giving them a clean slate. He was also able to help get foster care extended to age 21, rather than having it end at age 18.
Beckham discovered Antioch while at Seattle Central, where he took a class from an Antioch alumna whom they respected. He continued to learn more about Antioch and decided to switch his focus from social services, which he had originally planned to major in, to psychology and counseling. With all of his previous work, Antioch was the right fit.
“I’ll always be an advocate and do lots of advocacy work,” Beckham said, “but I could do that without a degree and have done that already.”
Just under a year into their studies at Antioch, Beckham has found a solid community of friends and an engaging learning environment with supportive faculty.
“It’s more intimate here with the teachers and you get a lot of one-on-one time so you can really understand the curriculum,” he said.
Beckham hopes to continue from the Health Counseling and Psychology BA to the PsyD program, with plans to eventually become a therapist and work with homeless youth and young adults.
“It’s a wonderful school,” Beckham said. “Just the amount of opportunity there is to advance, and to show I got this, I’m intelligent, there’s room for growth, and potential that you’re letting me explore. That unstructured path has really helped me create structure. Antioch is more like ‘figure it out, we trust you’ and I really like that because I’ve been able to thrive a lot with my education that way.”