Beauboeuf didn't plan to end up studying in Urbana-Champaign, but her life changed on Jan. 12, 2010, when she was a freshman in college at Faculte des Sciences and a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated her native city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
"I was leaving my school when it happened, probably five minutes after I left," she said. "I went back to see my school, and it had collapsed. A lot of houses, a lot of buildings, everything, just everything, was on the floor. And I was speaking to one of my professors in Haiti and he was telling me, 'You always liked to major in engineering — now you know what you're gonna do.'"
Beauboeuf said that was when she knew her "calling" was to earn a degree in civil engineering. ...
Shortly after the earthquake, Beauboeuf left Haiti with her mother, who was transferred from her job in the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Haitian Consulate in Chicago.
She enrolled at Harold Washington College Downtown in its fast-paced engineering science program, and graduated this spring with an associate's degree and advanced physics prerequisites under her belt.