From St. Albans to Montana: Sam Boudreau’s Journey


Photo Credit: Sam Boudreau

Helen Simmons, Editor

BFA Alumnus Samuel Boudreau (‘15), better known as Sam, has used his rural Vermont adolescence for success in early adulthood. Growing up in St. Albans Town, Boudreau reflected on how the people and experiences in Vermont influenced his future. 

Boudreau is working on his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Montana tuition-free, but before he could receive a full ride to graduate school, he had to be determined. At BFA, Boudreau took advantage of the resources available, from taking AP Language and Composition and an independent study in poetry with English teacher Larissa Hebert, to participating in the Poetry Out Loud competition every year. 

In both 2014 and 2015, Boudreau was the Poetry Out Loud Vermont state champion and went on to compete nationally in Washington D.C. He placed in the top 20 of the competitors. For both the state and national competitions he recited three poems each year.

After graduating in 2015, Boudreau was accepted to Middlebury College and received his undergraduate degree in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist studies and Psychology. Instead of walking at graduation, Boudreau ran the Burlington marathon. 

“BFA really prepared me for Middlebury in a lot of different ways. It gave me confidence, it gave me strength, it gave me excellent academic rigor, and Middlebury did the same for my MFA program… [BFA] isn’t just knowledge-based, they want you to be critical about who you are and the ways in which you exist in the world,” Boudreau said. 

Boudreau made an agreement with the University of Montana in Missoula, Mont. to teach part-time in exchange for free tuition and a small paycheck. Along with working towards his MFA in poetry, he teaches introductory and intermediate writing courses and a poetry workshop. 

Boudreau believes that his success and passion for teaching came from his teachers. He worked closely with, and admires, Middlebury College professor and writer Spring Ulmer, former BFA English teacher and current Proficiency Instructional Coach Polly Rico and BFA English teacher Larissa Hebert. 

“Find[ing] people who do support you and your ideas and your work is really, really important and I found that, and that was, Hebert at BFA, and it was professor Spring Ulmer at Middlebury and they continue to support me today… it’s these awesome teachers, really, who go above and beyond for their job, and I think the reason why I am a good teacher, or I hope I’m a good teacher, is because I try to do the same, and I had excellent role models to learn from. Also, people like Rico who just love you so full wholeheartedly. That’s incredible,” Boudreau said. 

With hopes of continuing teaching, Boudreau is working on expanding his resume. He works part-time for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, where he is the writer and digital content coordinator intern. Teaming up with the University of Montana’s MFA program, Boudreau is writing a book of poems with a tentative title, An Anthology of Invasive Species, in which he is “trying to channel intimacy and care into that we should love the environment the ways in which we do the people we love,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau has been inspired the most by the hardships that he has had to face throughout his life. He had an intense personal life during high school but turned his trauma into inspiration. 

“We all have skeletons in our closet, and we all have baggage, and my inspiration is finding healing and love through the things that have hurt us the most, and sort of using poetry as a medium for not only my students, but for me to explore the ways in which I exist in the world, and how I can make the world a better place,” Boudreau said. 

As a BFA alumnus who has had success in his early adulthood, here is his advice to Franklin County high school students:

“… I would say never burn a bridge. And I would say, get involved as much as you can because all of your contacts, all of your colleagues, at one point in time will be helpful for you, and… will [help you grow], too. Beyond just professionally speaking, personally, they can be really, really valuable.”

When asked if he has any advice for young writers, Boudreau said, “Advice for young writers is take a breath, and don’t think that you need to write a book in high school or in undergrad or even in an MFA program… Let it simmer. Use your mental crockpot as a sort of a way to find your voice and to find the heart of the poem, or the narrative or the research paper. I don’t think we give enough time to our writing, and I think we should.”