Love to Give: Common Ground

Freshman Vicky (Hooper) Shanaman (’86) sat in accounting at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of class in 1982 completely unaware that her deep family ties to Gonzaga University were about to become even deeper. She was one of many Zags in her family; her father, Stanton Hooper, was on the Board of Regents, her older sister Pam and her twin sister Katie also went to GU.

Sitting in Vicky’s accounting class that morning was fellow business major Rick Shanaman (’86). His mother, Jane Shanaman, was also a member of the Board of Regents and his grandfather was former GU Regent and Trustee John L. Aram, for whom Gonzaga has named an endowed chair of business ethics.

With so much in common, it made sense that when Rick and Vicky met that morning in class, they would find a unique connection. They went on a few dates in the following years, including one that wasn’t meant to be theirs at all. The “Spring Fling” was an event in the basement of Catherine-Monica. Vicky took a date, as did Rick, though they didn’t take each other. It didn’t take long for the two of them to realize whom they should have taken in the first place. Vicky and Rick snuck away to a restaurant called “Packi’s.” After that, they dated off and on, and as Vicky put it, “From then on, we were just together.

Rick and Vicky’s connections to Gonzaga continued to grow throughout the years. October 10, 1987, they were married by Fr. Bernard J. Coughlin, who was the University president at the time. A few years later, her sister and her husband were married by Fr. Tony Lehmann, and then a few years after that, both sisters had their children baptized by Fr. Coughlin and Fr. Lehmann.

“Gonzaga’s role in our life is huge,” said Vicky. “It’s a rich tradition for our family – we all just live and breathe it.”

Giving has also been an important tradition for the Shanaman family. They have given in support of each of the Catholic schools their children attended, including Gonzaga. Together, Rick and Vicky started the Tacoma Regional Scholarship at Gonzaga, intended to help students from that region who need financial assistance to attend GU. They hope to pass on their passion for giving to others as well.

shanaman1“When my kids graduated, they said ‘We can’t afford to give to our schools!’ and we told them, ‘You don’t need to give them a lot, but you need to start it now. You need to learn to give back,’” Vicky explained. “That’s exactly why we started the scholarship fund. Hopefully, whoever can receive the scholarship can experience the well-rounded education that we got – not just our business degrees, but four years of philosophy, religion, arts and philanthropy – we want them to have a piece of the happiness that Gonzaga brought to my husband and me.”

Vicky and Rick are grateful for everything they gained from Gonzaga over the years. She summed up their connections and said, “I went there. I met my husband there. The president of the University married us. Then he baptized my kids. One of my kids went there. It’s all just one positive experience after another. So, when you say ‘Gonzaga’ to me, it brings joy to my heart. Gonzaga is the most amazing place on earth.”