Pyne Prize awarded to Princeton Class of 2024 GSS Student Casey Beidel

Feb. 22, 2024

Beidel is a sociology major from Rutherford, New Jersey, pursuing certificates in American studies, music theater, and gender and sexuality studies.

He is a two-time recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, winner of the George B. Wood Sophomore Legacy Prize and three-time winner of the Music Theater Award for Outstanding Contribution given by the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Beidel has devoted much of his time inside and outside the classroom to his dual passions: advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and music and theater performance.

“Princeton has provided me with countless opportunities,” Beidel said. “From aiming to effect change for the LGBTQ+ community as an intern at the Human Rights Campaign through Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS), to taking ‘Advanced Fiction’ with one of my literary idols, Joyce Carol Oates, to touring the globe with my a cappella group, the Nassoons, I have cherished every step of my Princeton journey as it’s shaped me as a student, advocate and person.”

Last summer, Beidel supported the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts to end discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community by working on the organization’s Youth Well-Being Program. He previously interned at New Door Ventures in San Francisco, working to extend educational and employment opportunities to disconnected youth.

On campus, he was a research assistant for Princeton’s Human Diversity Lab, supporting the lab’s national study on transgender youth.

“Casey does things not because they are a pathway to something else, but because they are an end in themselves. In concrete terms, he takes on activities where he believes he can be of service to others, and where those activities will bring him joy and meaning,” said Jennifer Jennings, professor of sociology and public affairs. “The strength of his commitment to the issue of educational justice for young people, especially LGBTQ+ youth, is seen in the consistency through which he has followed it in his academic and extracurricular work.”

Beidel’s senior thesis is titled “Don’t Say Gay: A Study of Gender, Sexuality and Freedoms in the Classroom.” He is studying how K-12 educators in New Jersey and Pennsylvania respond to policies that attempt to limit topics related to gender and sexuality, surveying how the policies affect classroom curricula as well as teachers’ interpersonal relations with students.

“I am simply blown away by how intellectually hungry Casey is, and how far he’s willing to push himself to answer questions that matter in a creative, rigorous way,” said Jennings, who is also Beidel’s senior thesis adviser. “As a senior, Casey is already operating at a level we expect of our very best doctoral students in sociology.”

Timothy Nelson, a lecturer in the School of Public and International Affairs, met Beidel teaching the course “Sociology of Religion” and served as his junior paper adviser.  

“One thing that impressed me about Casey from the beginning was his seriousness of purpose and inquiring mind,” Nelson wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Casey is one to relish the opportunity to pursue a question that is of interest to him, and will leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of the answer.”

After graduation, Beidel said he hopes to attend law school to work on civil rights issues, particularly those related to LGBTQ+ equality.

Beidel served as president and business manager of the Princeton Nassoons, the University’s oldest student a cappella group. He also has been a Princeton University Triangle Club performer since 2020. In summer 2021, he interned for the New York Foundation for the Arts.

As part of his independent work in music theater, he will perform this spring in an updated portrayal of the production “She Loves Me” at the Lewis Center for the Arts.

In addition, he is a head writing fellow at The Writing Center and previously served as a peer academic adviser at Mathey College. He also is a tour guide for Orange Key.

“Walking around campus still feels surreal to me; I never expected that I’d be able to attend an institution like Princeton, let alone be recognized for my contributions to the campus community with the Pyne Prize,” Beidel said. “On my campus tours, I always tell prospective students and their families how I’ve been amazed and, at times, intimidated, by the vast array of accolades, experiences, and viewpoints of my peers and professors.”

He added: “Ultimately, none of the things I’ve accomplished as a Princeton have been done alone. I’m indebted to the professors who supervised my research and supported me through office hours and assignments, the students with whom I’ve studied, performed and worked, and my family for always believing in me.”