Beard follows passion as children's book author, artist

Release Date: 3/10/2015

Thoughts become things. Things become you. Your actions are your thoughts You think to be true.

Those words are the central theme behind a children's book written by University of the Ozarks student Theodore "Taz" Beard IV. The senior from Tyler, Texas, who also sketched the illustrations for the book, hopes to get it published this summer.

"I've always loved creating something out of nothing and this book was something I'd been thinking about for a while," said Beard, who dedicated the book to his 3-year-old son, Theodore Beard V. "I wanted to create a children's book that had a strong, inspiring message, because those were the types of books I liked when I was a kid."

Beard is on schedule to graduate in May with a major in biology and minors in both art and business administration. He will be the first in his family to earn a college degree, something that is even more impressive considering that he left Ozarks in 2008 to pursue a music career. He returned to the university in 2013 to complete the 60 hours he needed for his degree.

"I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to finish my degree and I always liked the comfort and personal attention that Ozarks offered," Beard said. "It hasn't been easy being an older student and having a child, so it's going to be quite emotional when I walk across that stage to receive my diploma. It's going to be a huge accomplishment for me. I know what I've gone through to get that degree, and that makes it even sweeter."

Theodore "Taz" Beard IV

Theodore "Taz" Beard IV, a senior from Tyler, Texas, has written and illustrated a children's book that he hopes to get published this summer. Beard will become the first member of his family to graduate from college when he receives his diploma in May.

Beard has not only taken care of the academics at Ozarks, he's been a standout on the men's basketball team. He earned the nickname "Taz," many years ago for his tenacious "Tasmanian Devil-like" effort on the defensive side of the court. As an under-sized 6-foot-2 post player, Beard has been one of the top scorers and rebounders for the Eagles the past two seasons. This past year he averaged 12 points and 7.5 rebounds a game against players who were 8-10 years younger. He ended his career among the top 12 all-time scorers and rebounders in program history.

"I know my basketball career is over and I'm all right with that," Beard said. "This last year when I woke up in the morning after games, I could definitely feel my age. I'm proud of what I was able to do on the basketball court, but It's time to leave the game to the younger guys and go to that next chapter in my life."

Though Beard is not quite sure what that next chapter is, he knows it will involve pursuing his writing and art career, something that evolved when he was a student at Ozarks the first time in 2005-08. He and another Ozarks student began writing lyrics to rap music and posting them online. That quickly led to a music deal with a major recording studio and later a European tour.

"I just realized that I had a knack for writing lyrics and songs that I didn't know I had," Beard said. "It was really crazy how quickly that all came about. The music thing just took off over night and we just kind of held on for the ride."

When his music career began to wane, Beard found himself working for Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research in Dallas making prosthetics. He discovered another thing about himself during that experience.

"I really thrived in that environment because I was able to use my creative, artistic side to create prosthetics that looked life-like," Beard said. "I learned that I had the patience and attention to detail to be really good at that type of work. And, I was helping change lives for the better. That was very rewarding."

Back in college at Ozarks, Beard began to look for ways to combine his love of writing and art. The idea for a children's book came about one day as he was watching cartoons.

"As I was watching the cartoons I began to think that they don't make cartoons or books like they used to; like I read when I was a kid," he said. "I began to look at children's books and I didn't the strong messages and lessons that I had seen growing up. That got me thinking about writing a book."

That's how "Whoosh, Said the Bad Thought," became a reality. The book is about a boy who, with the help of a mockingbird, learns the importance of having a positive attitude. Beard plans to attend a book publishing conference this summer in San Francisco to help get it published.

"It's been a long process but it's been a very satisfying and rewarding experience," Beard said. "The book started out with 2,000 words and I got it down to about 700. Plus, you add all the research and illustrations and it's a very involved process. But I've loved every minute of it."

He has already started on his second book, tentatively called, "The Words You Eat."

"One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to follow your passion and that's exactly what I plan to do," Beard said.