Now in her mid-30s, Beaudry chooses the age of 16 as the point at which her story began.
Living in Apache Junction at the time, she had difficulty identifying herself within the high school scene. When she discovered where she fit within the teenage social circle, a few familial eyebrows were raised.
“What I wasn’t aware of then was that I was having issues with my sexual orientation,” Beaudry said. “Being raised in a Catholic household, that raised some issues and some conflict between my parents and I.”
Feeling alienated, Beaudry ran away from home and dropped out of school soon thereafter. From there, her life fell into a tailspin that proved to be a far cry from the promising existence she enjoys now.
Beaudry became addicted to crystal meth, an affliction that took her seven years to overcome. Before she could rid herself of the substance, however, Beaudry’s living situation was far from the lap of luxury.
“[My addiction] actually had me living in the desert, at one point,” she remembered. “I was living among the Palo Verdes, not far from CAC’s Superstition Mountain Campus.”
After seven years of sobriety, Beaudry was able to attain entry-level employment in retail, climbing up the ladder, eventually becoming a key carrier and being recognized as one of her store’s top sellers. Unfortunately, this was the pinnacle of her retail career.
“I just kept hitting multiple glass ceilings,” she said.
Growing tired of hitting her head against the unyielding ceilings, Beaudry elected to go back to school. Because of the economy (and the cost of education, in general) as well as the fact that she never graduated from high school, Beaudry chose to enroll in CAC’s no-cost GED prep class upon seeing it advertised on the Superstition Mountain Campus marquee.
“Having been out of contact for any kind of education, at all, for at least 16 years, I said, ‘That’s probably something I should take advantage of.’”
When she visited the campus to sign up for the GED class, Beaudry also learned about the scholarship opportunities that exist for GED students that wish to enroll at CAC to earn their associate degree.
“I really set my sights on that scholarship because there’s no way I would have been able to afford to go to school.”
In attending the GED class, Beaudry also learned about herself. She found that she had a hidden passion for knowledge.
“[I thought] maybe I shouldn’t have made those decisions I made in the past…but if I hadn’t, then this opportunity wouldn’t be in front of me.”
From there, Beaudry finished the classes, passed the test, received her GED and earned the scholarship she had so eagerly desired at the very beginning. From that moment on, the possibilities were endless.
“It was just one door of opportunity right after another that opened up for me.”
Upon starting along the path to her associate degree, Beaudry was immediately introduced to the college’s honors program at its Superstition Mountain Campus. She credits the honors program with opening more doors for her and encourages her fellow students to follow in her path.
“I feel like everybody should join the honors program,” she said, later adding, “it’s amazing what you can find if you look within yourself and push yourself passed the limits you had for yourself.”
When asked which limitations she had for herself, Beaudry is quick to respond.
“I spent my whole life convincing myself that I wasn’t good at academics, that I wasn’t smart.” Once she enrolled in GED classes, she had told herself “that it was too late [to get my education], that I was too old.”
Conventional wisdom holds that students are to have graduated from both high school and college and have their careers figured out before they reach their 30s. Beaudry is proud to have debunked her doubts, finding that more difficult to do than the actual GED test itself.
Having overcome what amounted to her biggest academic (and psychological) obstacle up to that point, Beaudry attended CAC but didn’t just have her nose buried in her textbooks. She got involved in the honors program and the local community.
Additionally, it was at CAC that Beaudry and her partner learned to be open about their relationship. In doing so, however, she was confronted with the same intolerance that drove her to run away from home as a teenager. Instead of crying foul, though, Beaudry and her partner saw an opportunity.
“We started to notice that it wasn’t malicious, that people weren’t trying to be that way,” she explained, “they had just never been around it or been in an environment where any gay or lesbian individuals were around.”
With that, Beaudry and her partner sought out to bring a group of students together that could learn from one another and teach others about equal rights as well as the LGBT community. From that, the student organization known as SMPride (short for Superstition Mountain Pride) was born.
The group’s crowning achievement occurred when it hosted its first Social Justice Forum on the Superstition Mountain Campus during the spring 2012 semester.
The forum addressed a multitude of injustices along gender, socio-economic and sexual orientation lines, just to name a few. SMPride plans to host its second such forum in April 2013.
“The intention of the forum is to provide education, of course, but to also focus on some volunteerism,” Beaudry said.
With a GED and a burgeoning academic career in her pocket, Beaudry looked ahead to life after CAC knowing that she wanted to experience the university environment but lacked the funds to do so.
Beaudry received the assistance she needed in spades, parlaying her work in the honors program to earn enough scholarship money to cover the rest of her undergraduate career.
First, Beaudry was announced to the All-Arizona Academic Team, which earned her a scholarship that will cover up to 60 credits of tuition at any of Arizona’s state universities.
She then received her most prestigious honor when she was bestowed the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. This award, for which there were only 60 recipients out of 786 applicants nationwide this year, gives a student up to $30,000 per year toward tuition, books, room and board, and fees for up to three years. That’s up to $90,000 in scholarship funds, not even including her All-Arizona Academic Scholarship.
Needless to say, Beaudry, who will begin attending Arizona State University, will never need to pay a cent while enrolled there.
Considering how far she has come, it should come as no surprise that Beaudry still feels a need to pinch herself.
“I still don’t think it’s sunk in,” she stated. “I haven’t been able to process it. I still have that frame of thought, ‘Oh, that will never happen to me.’ It’s huge to be able to come from where I went and know that whatever you set your mind on, you can achieve.”
So what’s next for Beaudry? She will be attending ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College and plans to use her abundant scholarship funds to earn a bachelor’s degree in justice studies as well as a writing certificate.
From there, she plans to go to law school and become legal counsel for equality and environmental issues. Her big dream is to become a Supreme Court justice.
“Who knows?” she said. “I could go anywhere.”