Hannah Beauchamp-Pope is the featured student speaker at the 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony on May 13, 2023.
It’s a Sunday night, and while many of us are escaping into our favorite TV shows, Hannah Beauchamp-Pope is traveling back from Madison after a long day of public speaking. The reason? “I was invited by the Secretary of State to speak at the capitol, to turn out the vote for the Wisconsin State Supreme Court election, and I was happy to show out.”
At UW-Green Bay, “rise” is the metaphor of choice, especially during Commencement, but Hannah is all about moving forward. Not that she hasn’t personally risen from the deepest personal depths. You can learn about those events in her TEDx talk, “Healing Us, Healing America,” in which she refers to “the notorious year of 2020.” What brings her to the commencement stage, however, is what she’s accomplished despite, and even during, one very bad year.
Beauchamp-Pope makes an immediate and remarkable impression with her unflinching honesty, especially about herself. Such a quality may seem counter-intuitive for someone who plans to attend law school, but she defies preconceived notions. “Unfortunately, I’m not the strongest candidate in terms of GPA, although I do lots of other things that make me a solid candidate for attending law school,” she admits. She also loves to learn. And is so devoted to her studies in Democracy and Justice Studies and Psychology that her work has been described by faculty as “on par with any other student our university has sent to graduate school or law school in the recent past.”
Beauchamp-Pope was born and raised in Green Bay, spending the majority of her childhood growing up in a duplex about five minutes from the main campus. She attended Preble High School and was always involved with extracurricular activities, and she was a strong leader in athletics. In her first year of college she would go back to Preble to coach their girls’ basketball team. During COVID-19 she worked at PINK at the local mall, “fitting young girls with their first bras and teaching them how to be comfortable with their bodies.” She did this while taking a full 18-credit course load and working overnight at the Freedom House, a homeless shelter near campus. Her family is blended, with a mom, step-dad, and “no lawyers in the family. Just lots of hard-working folk.”
Like many a first-year student, Beauchamp-Pope came to college searching for a path—considering social work and human biology. Then the notorious 2020 opened her perspective and set her on a path to achieve justice through her studies. “It wasn’t until then that I really became engaged and started noticing these other issues that I was like, ‘Wow, we need more Black women as lawyers and doctors.’ So, I changed to Democracy and Justice and Psychology.”
Then she took off—became the forefront of many Black Lives Matter protests in Green Bay, as well as other areas of the state, and even traveled to Washington D.C. for the March on Washington. “We organized the first Juneteenth here in the city of Green Bay, which was awesome. And the mayor came in and signed it into law.”
Following this year, Hannah would strive to engage her campus community by taking on many leadership positions. Here at UW-Green Bay she has served as the president of the Black Student Union, the president and fellow for Leaders Igniting Transformation, the chief justice of the Student Court, and even took matters into her own hands by creating (and eventually elected president of) the Phoenix Law Society to create a student organization that supports pre-law students in their journey to law school. She was also nominated and selected by Chancellor Alexander to represent UW-Green Bay as the Newman Civic Fellow in 2021-2022 where she led a community project that focused on developing empathetic and strong leaders at Preble High School while engaging in conversations about civic engagement.
For her next act? Running for public office—although not winning, she garnered nearly 42% of the vote for the 88th state assembly district, which includes the UW-Green Bay campus. Not bad for someone so shy growing up that she admits, “I couldn’t even ask the waiter for ketchup. I had to ask my parents to do it for me.” She was motivated by an uncontested ballot in the fall 2022 midterms, and despite her hesitation towards U.S. politics, she decided she needed to run for her community and to give the 88th district an option on their ballots.
Now (one last metaphor) it’s time for Hannah to spread her wings and fly—probably to the east coast and law school. But like those Peregrine Falcons that inevitably find their way back home sooner or later, don’t be surprised by a future Hannah Beauchamp-Pope sighting. “Who knows? When I’m wrinkly and old, I’ll come back and try to organize people on campus again or something. Green Bay is my home, and I will always owe so much to this city. It is important that after I achieve my dreams and develop myself into an activist of a higher caliber that I return home to Wisconsin and the city of Green Bay to transform the issues I am already starting to identify in my community.”
- Leading as the co-chair of Board of Directors for state-wide racial justice organization LIT (Leaders Igniting Transformation.)
- Elected President of the UW-Green Bay Black Student Union, serving a total of three years on the Executive Board.
- Selected as the very first student to present at TEDxUW-Green Bay series, delivering a visceral, honest talk on healing racial division in America.
- Ran for 88th state assembly district, earning endorsements of progressive organizations and labor unions.
- Excelled in upper division Democracy and Justice Studies and Psychology courses. Complementing her double major with a double minor in Criminal Justice and Sociology & Anthropology.
- Conducted a highly developed original research project on voter disfranchisement and the criminal justice system.
- Served as an intern with the law firm of Conway, Olejniczak, & Jerry for over two years.
Assisted in developing the Phoenix Law Society, a group for students interested in studying law.
- Selected to represent UW-Green Bay in Campus Compact’s Newman Civic Fellow program for 2021-22. Where she worked with The Preble Diversity Leadership Group and mentored students of color at Preble High.
- Finished top of her class in the summer internship program The Fund for American Studies in the Leadership and American Presidency internship track. She lived in Washington D.C. for the summer of 2022 where she completed this academic internship program while taking classes at George Mason University and interning at the National Reentry Network for Retuning Citizens – an organization that helps moved formerly incarcerated citizens back into society in a healthy and supportive matter.
- Made history in the Neville Public Museum as a part of their “HerStory” exhibit that highlighted women who make change in society.