Washougal High Valedictorian Beyonce Bea

State champion basketball star is just as proud of valedictorian title

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Beyonce Bea says being top of her class was a goal even before she started playing basketball. (Contributed photo courtesy of Beyonce Bea)

The name Beyonce Bea may look familiar to Post-Record readers who have followed the Washougal High School senior’s progress as a star athlete over the past few years.

Bea’s achievements on the basketball court, including a 30-point performance in the state championship finals in February, brought the Panthers their first state championship in basketball.

Bea said she is extremely proud of her team’s state championship win, but there is another honor that is just as thrilling: the University of Idaho-bound Bea was recently named one of Washougal High’s four valedictorians for the class of 2019.

“I think the two achievements are really similar, actually, because it takes a lot of sacrifice. You have to make certain choices that allow you to be successful, just like in basketball,” Bea said. Bea’s goal of being valedictorian goes back to her elementary school years, before she started playing basketball.

“Academics probably come first for me, but at the same time I think both basketball and academics took the same amount of work for me,” Bea said.

Set to graduate with a 4.0 grade point average, Bea will earn her high school diploma and associate degree as a member of Washougal High’s Running Start program, which has allowed her to take the majority of her classes as an upperclassman at Clark College in Vancouver.

Bea said that, although she missed being with classmates during the day at Washougal High, she felt her participation in sports kept her in the social loop. Each day, Bea returned to Washough High for volleyball practice (in the fall), basketball practice (in the winter) and tennis practice (in the spring).

Bea said she decided to take early college classes as a sophomore after deciding to become a medical doctor as an adult.

“The whole purpose was to try and get two years of college out of the way early because I knew I wanted to be a doctor and it would take a lot of schooling. So I figured getting two years of college out of the way would be beneficial and also help financially,” Bea said.

Her plan is to major in exercise science while playing basketball for the Division I University of Idaho Vandals and then go to medical school after her college basketball career is over.

The exercise science degree would be a good back-up plan if Bea changes her mind about medical school, but right now, she said she “is very interested and excited to become a doctor.”

Born and raised in Washougal, Bea says teachers in Washougal have all been wonderful, but when pressed on a favorite teacher she chose her eighth grade math teacher, Leanna Vaughan, from Canyon Creek Middle School. Mrs. Vaughan and her family have closely followed Beyonce’s academic and athletic successes through the years. Bea said Vaughan’s daughter is an avid Panthers basketball fan and the family made the trip to Yakima to watch Bea win the state championship.

“I just love Mrs. Vaughan as a teacher, and she made math so much fun for me and was always so encouraging for me both academically and on the athletic side of things as well,” Bea said. As Bea moves on to play basketball at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho in the fall, she prepares to join a team that won the Big Sky Conference Championship and made a run at the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, eventually losing to the Arizona Wildcats. Bea’s dedication and work ethic will be tested on a whole new level as she competes with the best college basketball players in the country, while taking a full load of pre-medical school classes.

The Washougal valedictorian said she is excited to take on the new challenges ahead. However, before she embarks on her journey, she hopes to provide her classmates with a little inspiration when she makes her commencement address.

‘”I just want to encourage my classmates as they move on to look at challenges they face as opportunities to grow,” Bea said. “I just hope to inspire them to do their best and work hard.”