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A generous life, an enduring legacy

Fred W. Beazley is a permanent fixture on Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth Campus.

A 96-inch original bronze statue that faces the quad on the Portsmouth Campus, which also bears the Beazley name, commemorates the philanthropist. It was his gift of land to the commonwealth that led to the establishment of TCC.

In February 1956, Beazley formed the Foundation Boys Academy to operate Frederick Military Academy and later Frederick College.

When Frederick College closed in 1968, Beazley, a longtime believer in the value of education, donated land near the Portsmouth-Suffolk city line to the commonwealth. Though Beazley quit school at age 15 – needing $15 to buy a horse-drawn cart to start his own business delivering coal door-to-door – he went on to become a self-made millionaire.

Yet he still longed for the education he never achieved and became passionate about providing opportunity to young people.

The Charter of Foundation Boys Academy later became Frederick Foundation and embraced an expanded mission. In 1993, Frederick Foundation merged into the present Beazley Foundation. The foundation awards grants to an array of organizations and programs serving southeastern Virginia.

A dream to educate

man speaking at a podium
Judge Richard Bray, president and 
CEO of the Beazley Foundation,
delivers remarks at a TCC
Educational Foundation ceremony.

The Beazley Foundation has been led since 2002 by Portsmouth native Richard S. Bray, a retired judge for the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

Judge Bray said Fred Beazley would be overwhelmed by the evolution of the college. “Community college was a vision back then,” he said. “TCC is exactly the model that Mr. Beazley envisioned. To be able to do the most for the greatest number of people with the least dollars.

“The mantra of ‘College, College, College’ in the four-year sense does not equate to success or high-paying jobs,” Judge Bray said. “Many students with a bachelor’s degree struggle to find a decent career – and they’re head over heels in debt.

“Community colleges are designed to prepare students for jobs – good ones! That is how we support Mr. Beazley’s dream to educate as many young people as he possibly could to give them the opportunity that he did not have.”

Tidewater Community College’s Educational Foundation announced a major expansion of the college’s dual-enrollment program on January 26 that will allow more high school students in Portsmouth Public Schools to jump start their college careers.

The expansion is made possible thanks to a $125,000 gift for the first year from the Beazley Foundation.

“As a college president, I am a huge fan of dual enrollment,” said TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani. “It’s clear from research that students who complete more than one dual enrollment course are more likely to finish college, and once they’re in college, their GPAs are higher.”

5 people holding a large check
Representatives from the Beazley
Foundation, Portsmouth Public
Schools, and TCC celebrate the
$125,000 gift that will allow for the
expansion of the college’s
dual-enrollment program.

Portsmouth’s dual-enrollment program, First College, allows qualified high school students to take TCC classes and attain college credits. Since the program began in 2006, more than 1,200 students have earned college credit through TCC, many of them tuition-free thanks to support from the Beazley Foundation.

Currently, seniors have an opportunity to graduate with at least 18 college credits in programs focusing on either college transfer or career/technical fields, including welding, automotive and computer-aided drafting and design.

The additional investment from the Beazley Foundation allows TCC to expand those offerings to pathways in cybersecurity and nurse aide training.

In addition, TCC will create a First College Scholars Graduate Academy that will provide pathways for students to complete a high school diploma and a Certificate in General Education. Generally, the certificate fulfills first-year requirements at TCC and four-year colleges and universities.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to introduce students in the ninth grade to an educational process that will forever change their lives,” Judge Bray said. “It’s not going to be an abstraction to them. They’re going to know about TCC. There are going to be counselors to advise them about TCC and the opportunities available to them at TCC.”

Gifts in action

The Beazley Foundation’s contributions to TCC have included establishing the Beazley School of Nursing at the Fred W. Beazley Portsmouth Campus. The Foundation also funds nursing students through the Beazley Nursing Scholarship, which is awarded through the TCC Educational Foundation.
Sherine Villegas
Sherine Villegas credits a Beazley
Nursing Scholarship with allowing her
to cut back on work hours and devote
more time to her studies.

Sherine Villegas, a Beazley Nursing Scholarship recipient, credits the award for allowing her to get more from her college experience. “I was working 30 hours a week to pay for school. This funding allowed me to cut back on my work hours so I could put more of myself into the program. I’ve had more study hours – and I’ve been able to participate in the Student Nurse Association thanks to this scholarship.”

For Sherine, the support is more than financial; it’s a vote of confidence. “I’m not here to mess around; I’m owning my education and I want to show the donors how far I can go,” she said.

“Some donors know they’re making an impact,” Sherine said, “but they may not realize how much of an impact. Going to school full time and trying to make ends meet… it’s a lot. These scholarships have been absolutely life-changing for me.”

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