MUHS’s Beauchamp wins coveted Gates scholarship
MIDDLEBURY — Some people become defined by tragedy and are unable to overcome it.
But Nick Beauchamp continues to draw inspiration from the worst night of his life — Sept. 10, 2005. That’s when his dad died in a car crash in New Jersey.
Beauchamp was only 6 years old at the time, but the events will forever be etched in his memory.
“My whole family huddled in the living room, torrents of tears sweeping through the room,” he wrote in an essay about that soul-draining day.
Suddenly, Beauchamp would have to be content with memories of his dad, with one recollection in particular standing out. He had told his father, not long before his death, “Dad, I’m gonna be successful just like you.”
His dad had run a very successful business recruiting tech/computer professionals for major companies.
“Through my despondency, my thoughts reverberated to that single thing I said to my father,” Beauchamp recounts. “Although I knew my father would not want me to anguish over a boyhood promise, it kept gnawing at me to do better.”
A promise made.
A promise well on its way to being kept.
Beauchamp, now 17, will graduate from Middlebury Union High School this June with a GPA hovering near 4.0 after having taken some of the most rigorous courses offered. That academic record — coupled with a budding résumé replete with athletic accolades and community service — has helped propel him to a coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) that will give him a clear financial path through undergraduate and graduate studies beginning at Williams College, where he is headed this August.
He ultimately hopes to parlay his education and self-motivation into a career as a money manager in the world of high finance.
Beauchamp has put in a lot of hard work to get to where he is today.
The Beauchamps moved to Middlebury from Montclair, N.J., when Nick was in the middle of 7th grade.
“I needed to get my kids out of the city,” recalled Nick’s mom, Leah Beauchamp, a longtime special educator currently working at Bridport Central School. Nick’s sister, Olivia, is finishing the 10th grade.
Nick Beauchamp was able to mesh well in a new, rural environment featuring relatively few other people of color.
“I feel when I moved up here, it was the last time I would have been able to make a move like that and integrate well with the kids,” Beauchamp said. “Middle school is a time in Middlebury where a lot of different kids from different schools come together. It’s nice, because I kind of got thrown into that ‘pile’ and was able to make friends in that scenario.”
He’s made the most of his time at MUHS. He has emerged as one of the school’s premier student-athletes, earning membership with the National Honor Society (2015), and was inducted this past weekend into the Hall of Fame of the National Football Foundation, Vermont Chapter. Beauchamp is a state champion wrestler (220 weight class), and won the P.L. Dorey Cup for Leadership, Academics and Sportsmanship last year.
His other awards and citations include:
• Green Mountain Boys’ State Program (2015).
• Student representative to the UD-3 school board (2015-2016).
• MUHS Volunteer of the Year 2013 to 2015.
• Wrestling Spirit Award 2015.
• 21st Century Discovery Award in English 2015.
He has served as a teen mentor for area students, as well as for the Counseling Service of Addison County and Vermont Department for Children & Families.
Beauchamp’s typical day begins at around 5 a.m. with a vigorous workout, followed by school, team practices, work at a part-time job, homework and sleep.
“You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do,” Beauchamp said.
He was recruited by several colleges and universities, and picked Williams for its academic reputation and its football program. Beauchamp played multiple positions on the MUHS varsity football team, which he helped to Division I state titles in 2013 and 2014.
Getting accepted to Williams was a big accomplishment. But finding the $67,535 it would take each year to attend the school (tuition, fees and room and board) was a daunting task for the Beauchamp family.
“We couldn’t afford that,” Leah Beauchamp said.
That’s when Nick’s uncle gave him a heads-up about the Gates Millennium Scholarship program. They quickly filled out an application.
“If it wasn’t for my uncle, I wouldn’t have known about this scholarship,” Beauchamp said.
Established in 1999 through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates scholarship program is a $1.6 billion initiative designed to promote academic excellence and an “opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential.”
The program assists qualifying minority students (with a GPA of at least 3.3) who are pursuing studies in computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and the sciences, “where these groups are severely underrepresented,” according to Gates scholarship literature.
Beauchamp was one of more than 53,000 students nationwide to apply for the scholarship this year. He was washing dishes at his part-time gig at Nino’s Pizza a few weeks ago when his mom walked in and shared the news: He was the only Vermont recipient of one of the 1,000 Gates Millennium Scholarship aid packages handed out this year. Beauchamp will be eligible for assistance through the master’s and doctoral levels, according to the acceptance letter he received on April 15.
“My mom came in and said, ‘Nick, you got it!’” Beauchamp recalled of the day he received the big news. “I said, ‘What? No way!’”
It took a while for the news to actually sink in.
“The first couple of days, I didn’t really understand the depth of it,” Beauchamp said. “Then I started thinking about it — I’m not going to have debt after I graduate. This is so huge. I was ecstatic.”
Those who know Beauchamp and have worked with him throughout the years said he is very deserving of the scholarship.
“He’s been a strong student, athlete and community member,” said Lauren Daly, his guidance counselor at MUHS.
She added Beauchamp puts maximum effort in everything he does.
“It’s all-encompassing for him,” she said. “When you think about a student’s day, he fills every hour. There is no doubt that when he leaves Middlebury … he will do great.”
UD-3 school board Chair Peter Conlon has been impressed with Beauchamp’s contributions to the school.
“Nick has been a great addition to the UD-3 board,” he said. “He confidently shares his insights and views about life at MUHS, and his input has been greatly appreciated and has helped lead to improvements. I only wish we didn’t have to share him with all his other activities.”
His mom couldn’t be happier.
“This is a wonderful thing for him,” Leah Beauchamp said. “He works so hard, and I’m so pleased to see it pay off.”
And the success doesn’t appear to be going to his head.
“I’m always amazed at how humble Nick is,” she said.
So Nick Beauchamp will pack his bags for Williams this summer. He’ll show up early for football camp, doing what he always does — putting in the hours to ensure future success.
Building a foundation and fulfilling a promise.
“He’d definitely be proud,” Nick said of his dad.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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