SURREY — For almost a decade, it has distinguished itself as a memorial scholarship by asking its many Grade 12 student applicants to ponder a question so deeply understood by its namesake.
And when you very fittingly digest that same question these days, over the final weeks of the most challenging of school years, it’s hard to imagine an educational award more empowering than the Tessa Beauchamp Foundation’s B.C. graduation scholarship.
Named in honour of the courageous student and basketball player from Surrey’s Holy Cross Regional Secondary, who in early 2012 lost a battle with cancer at the tender age of 18, the scholarship, like so many others awarded at various points over the school year by her foundation, seem figuratively imbued with her own passionate spirit to overcome.
The Tessa Beauchamp Foundation’s B.C. graduation scholarships are open to any graduating B.C. high school student, not just student-athletes, however the deadline to apply for the $1,000 awards is May 30. Application forms are available by clicking here.
The application question which undoubtedly speaks closest to Tessa’s heart?
“Consider a time when you dealt with an adversity in your life. Describe how you dealt with that adversity and what personal characteristics enabled you to face this obstacle.”
Ask her dad, Douglas College head women’s basketball coach Steve Beauchamp, about just how much more meaningful the scholarships are, over a season in which all Grade 12 students had the experiences of their final year of high school compromised by the pandemic, and he’s just grateful that their struggles can be recognized with some needed financial assistance in the name of his late daughter, who for almost four full years, bravely waged her battle with cancer.
“You definitely see that adversity component, and it’s one of the things that the scholarship application talks about,” he begins.
“It asks ‘What did you have to do to overcome adversity?’ and I think it’s going to be relevant to every athlete that applies,” Beauchamp continued. “Sure, there’s a difference in the type of adversity, but at the same time, it’s just that. It’s the mental health aspect that all of the student-athletes are going through.
“Then, there’s the physical challenges,” Beauchamp added. “It’s the stop and go, the ‘How do you get to a gym?’, and then ‘Oh, the gyms aren’t open,’ and ‘Oh, I am not allowed to do this.’ It’s so relevant today, the fact that we are able to offer scholarships that really talk to an athlete, a student overcoming adversity… there’s some satisfaction there that we have something that we know will make a difference to some athletes who can kind of relate to some of the experiences Tessa would have had to go through.”
Steve Beauchamp stresses that the two scholarships, each valued at $1,000 (there could be more depending on the quality of applications), are not just for student-athletes, but for any graduating student in B.C., a fact which he stresses reflect the varied interests Tessa had in her life.
Since its inception in 2013, the Tessa Beauchamp Foundation has empowered its dedicated core of volunteers to tirelessly fundraise, and has provided over $100,000 in scholarship monies to deserving students looking to further their post-secondary experience.
Besides the B.C. graduation awards, the TBF also provides scholarships at the Surrey Firefighter’s tournament, as well as its own Tessa’s Tournament, the B.C. Catholic Basketball Championships, and at Holy Cross Regional Secondary graduation. This season, despite a virtual running of Tessa’s Tournament, $1,000 scholarships were awarded to Maezell Del Mundo (Notre Dame), Tanveer Waraich (Panorama Ridge), Ito Ologhola (Holy Cross) and Nyah Courchesne (Heritage Woods).
“Who’d have thought nine years ago we’d be anywhere close to this?” asks Beauchamp who thanks the many who have been generous with donations, including great community partners like the Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association.
“It’s pretty heartwarming for sure, and I can’t express how much it means to us,” he said of his wife Wendy, daughters Amy and Rachel, and himself. “We have so many great volunteers and they are all so energized and dedicated. There’s no sense of this slowing. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s continuing to build and we have more and more people wanting to be involved.”
All of that adds up to more opportunities for students, and especially student-athletes, to continue their journeys at the next level… ones which will ultimately shape the rest of their lives.
Tessa Beauchamp never got that chance, yet her fighter’s spirit has lived on.
In that story, Trinity Western Spartans head women’s basketball coach Cheryl Jean-Paul, who had recruited Tessa to the Langley-based U Sports team, told me upon her passing: “There are a lot of people who choose to define themselves by what holds them back in life. Tessa refused to do that. She was very blunt with me when she came here on her recruiting visit. She said ‘My cancer is back, there might be a battle ahead, but it is something I am prepared to go up against.’ I was in awe of her. What an incredible kid. She even e-mailed me a few weeks ago to wish me a Happy New Year.”
Students from the Class of 2021, she shared the same dreams for the future as you. And to this day, she continues to inspire all who knew her.
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