Education: Highland Park High School
Her mother calls it an entrepreneurial heart, she calls it being stubborn, but whatever the adjective, Highland Park High School senior Reagan Van Eaton has always used her creativity to solve problems.
Most recently, she took a challenge and locked up a provisional patent on a bright idea that tackles a problem that’s relatable to anyone who’s worn a retainer or Invisalign adjuster.
And it all began in the trash can.
“It was embarrassing,” she said about the act of furtively recovering her retainer at the lunch table as a freshman and then carefully wrapping it in a napkin while she ate. The awkward way of dealing with her retainer worked until she accidentally threw it away.
That incident – and a stern lecture from her mother – was the lightbulb moment that led to the creation of what Reagan has named a BeAM Bracelet. Simple in design, almost resembling a headband, the fashionable bracelet lined with food-grade material serves as a storage device.
After researching patents and the process, Reagan took it upon herself to write her own and was recently awarded a provisional patent for her creation and is going into mass production this summer – all while battling typical high school deadlines, managing an award-winning yearbook, interning with a community-wide interdenominational Christian ministry, and catering to clients from her digital scrapbook business.
“I like a project, and I like a challenge,” Reagan said. “I’m the kind of person that once I have something, I’m like this is what I’m doing now.”
Preparing to attend the University of Missouri to study journalism next year, Reagan doesn’t just stand out as a youth on the rise because of her tenacity to invent something meaningful before graduating high school. Her heart for others also is impressive. As she prepares to commercialize her bracelet, Meagan already has promised to donate 10 percent of profits to those who do not have access to dental care.
Reagan also was awarded a Presidential Service Award for her community service and completed a life-changing mission trip to Haiti. She is adventurous and curious about the world around her. She is a Cornerstone Scholar Athlete and a member of the National Honor Society and Quill & Scroll International Journalism Honor Society.
With myriad interests and the rest of her life in front of her, Reagan said developing her bracelet is a passion she wants to keep for life.
“That is the one thing that I don’t have to do,” she said. “This is the one thing I am doing because I enjoy it.”
Q: If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?
A: “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek. Reading this book has changed my perspective on leadership and caused me to begin to become more passionate and have a better understanding of what it means to be a leader in and out of the workplace.
Q: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
A: My first official job was working with parents in the community to put together digital scrapbooks for their families. Clients send me around 1000 photos from each year they need a book for and my job is to filter through the photos and create a book that accurately represents the stories of that year of their lives. I have learned skills in working with people, digital design, Adobe products and other software, and editing photos.
Q: Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?
A: Ten years from now, I hope to be still actively pursuing ideas inside the creative world, figuring out how to make ideas work, and strategically market them to others. Although I am not positive about the exact path I wish to take, I am excited to be following my passions and look forward to using my next 4 years in college to practice self-discovery and truly find out what my real purpose is and how I will make my mark on society.
Q: What was your “lightbulb moment” that lead you to your career?
A: When I first got my braces off, I had to wear a retainer full time for almost a year. One day at lunch, I had set my retainer in a napkin on my lunch tray and at the close of the period mindlessly dumped the tray of trash into the garbage and continued on with my day. It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized what I had done. Talking to my peers, I realized that this issue, along with meanwhile keeping their retainers clean, was extremely common amongst people with some sort of removable orthodontic device, whether that be wire retainers, clear retainers, Invisalign, etc. This was my initial inspiration for my Beam Bracelets. Beam is fashioned as a stylish bracelet with a retainer-sized pocket lined with ProCare food-safe and medical-grade fabric with the intention to keep track of the user’s retainer, along with keeping it clean and off of the table or napkin.
Q: Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?
A: Public speaking–aah! When I was young, my dad always told me to never pass up an opportunity to speak in public. Following this advice, I have grown immensely and learned that public speaking is not a natural trait for anyone, but is a practiced skill that will improve with time. My job on my school’s yearbook staff is the Managing Editor, which requires me to start each day with a new presentation regarding the state of our progress. Making the most of these opportunities has truly allowed me to become more comfortable in front of large group settings and helped shaped me into a more effective leader.
Q: What do you love about the Park Cities or Preston Hollow community and why?
A: Moving to the Park Cities before my freshman year of high school, I have a unique perspective and ability to compare my experience as a student here with that of my old hometown. One thing I admire most about the youth culture in this area is the intentional competition, intensely motivated individuals, and high level of achievement and genuine encouragement along the way. We are constantly being challenged by our teachers, coaches, parents, mentors, and peers to become better every day academically, athletically, spiritually, and morally. The community truly cares to shape us into the best and most well-rounded versions of ourselves and that has been super rewarding for me.
Q: What is your favorite local store?
A: St. Bernard
Q: Where is the best place in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow for a power lunch – what do you order?
A: The Juice Bar Choco-Cado Bowl
Q: If there was ONE thing that you could change or improve in the community, what would it be?
A: If I could improve one aspect, I would provide more opportunities for new families to connect and get involved in the community. Compared to most, this is a fairly scary place to move into considering a prominent stereotype and long-standing generational family relationships. Moving here, everything turned out just fine in the end, but maybe some social boost and better communication for information would be beneficial to everyone.
Q: If someone made a movie of your life, what would the title be and who would play you?
A: “All of Ephesians” and Dolly Parton. The book of Ephesians in the Bible is what I am constantly trying to model my life after.
Q: If we looked at your social media accounts, what would we learn about you?
A: My social media accounts, especially my Instagram, reveal my passion for travel, friendship, and photography. I try my best to capture my favorite memories in my social media, as sort of a digital scrapbook, so the majority of my posts are of things I want future Reagan to remember. My goal is to be “living in the moment” most of my time, so I allow myself only a limited amount of time on social media per week.
Q: If you could, what advice would you have for your teenage self and why?
A: Considering that I still am my teenage self, if I could have a do-over of high school, I would tell myself to take a little more time to breathe. I enjoy keeping myself busy and absolutely adored my high school experience, my only regret is not setting aside time for myself often enough to just be a kid.
Q: What, to date, has been your most impressive or rewarding accomplishment in both your professional and personal life?
A: My most rewarding accomplishment in my professional life until now has, without a doubt, been creating my Beam Bracelet, researching the patent process, obtaining a provisional patent on my idea, and building a product prototype.