Ryan Beauchamp

Ryan Beauchamp is the first student to receive a master’s degree from Lees-McRae

When Ryan Beauchamp graduates on May 8, he’ll be doing so a year later than the students he started college with—and with one more degree.  

Beauchamp came to Lees-McRae from British Columbia, Canada after two of his friends attended the college. He was immediately drawn to the area, which reminded him of home, and was excited to play on the men’s lacrosse team.  

In 2018, Lees-McRae received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to add a Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education (MAT) to its catalog of academic offerings. Beauchamp was working toward a bachelor’s degree in Biology, and was asked if he would be interested in pursuing a master’s degree at the same time.  

Beauchamp started out in the Athletic Training program, but changed his major to Biology after his freshman year. 

“I was thinking about going to med school,” Beauchamp said, “but I always wanted to teach. Even in high school, I thought teaching would be a really great profession, so when this opportunity popped up, I thought, ‘yeah, I want to do this.’” 

For current Lees-McRae students pursuing a degree in History, Biology, or English, the MAT program combines undergraduate and graduate coursework, allowing students to begin the sequence for teacher licensure while completing a bachelor’s degree. The entire process takes five years and includes courses specific to the subject and education courses.   

“The way the program is set up works really well,” Beauchamp said. “The graduate-level Biology classes are ones you already have to take if you’re in the pre-med concentration, so you just have to add an extra component to the class.” 

In the first four years of the program, Beauchamp mostly focused on Biology courses with the occasional education class included, but this last year has been primarily dedicated to classes that discuss educational philosophy and emphasize learning how to teach.  

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding in the end,” Beauchamp said. “I spent a lot of time in the library.”  

He encouraged other students considering pursuing a master’s degree at Lees-McRae, or who are already in the program, to ask for help from the faculty and other students. “Everyone cares about you here,” he said.  

From taking Associate Professor Scott Woodward’s classes for the Mathematics minorwhich Beauchamp recommends highlyto practices on the lacrosse field, tutoring at the Burton Center for Student Success, student teaching at Avery High School, and researching how antioxidants affect neuromuscular responses in waxworms, Beauchamp is leaving Lees-McRae with the training to excel as a teacher and five years’ worth of positive memories.  

I really want to stay in the area, but if I don’t, this is where I want to end up,” he said. “really like the mountains and I really like small towns. I just want to stay here and fly fish for the rest of my life.”   

By Emily WebbApril 27, 2021