By Casey Schaub (’11)
In graduating from Gonzaga University, I transcend the boundaries of this campus equip with an education and the proper tools to foster a successful career; however, I have learned from this institution, that authentic success is defined equally by not only what you know, but also who you are. Therefore, the academic preparation I have received in International Relations and Political Science is only one element in my equation to success. The other element is located deep within our Jesuit foundation, which encourages each student to become a “person for others.” Although I learned the phrase at Gonzaga, the greatest example of such selfless and intentional action is located in my parents Tom and Vicki Schaub, whom I nominate as Gonzaga University Parents of the Year.
Since the moment I was born with Cerebral Palsy, my parents have devoted limitlessly to my growth and development. My dad spent much time in the early months of my life turning me every few hours of the night to prevent my suffocation. Together, they decided to uproot my family and move to Yakima, Washington so that I could have better access to medical treatments. They both possessed hope that I could walk when doctors were convinced that I would be permanently wheelchair bound. My mom took me to physical and occupational therapy appointments and shared in the daily triumphs or tribulations as with each minute step I was learning to navigate the world in my own way. When it came time to start school, my parents were adamant about not placing me in a confined classroom due to my disability. They firmly believed that the only place I could thrive was in the presence of other children. The decisions they made in these early years have led me to the opportunity to study at Gonzaga University; therefore, with each step I take on a tour with a prospective student and class I attend, I give thanks for the steadfast dedication of my parents to which I owe every success at Gonzaga.
As individuals, my parents also exhibit servant hearts in their work each day. My mom, a registered nurse, speaks of her time spent with patients amid a lofty degree of empathy and love. The genuine degree with which she cares for each person is evidenced in the fact that her voice heightens and face brightens when speaking of her patients. With a deep desire to better care for her patients, she is currently a Gonzaga student seeking her lifelong dream of obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. On several occasions, I have been able to witness the impact she makes on her patients as they approach her in public and thank her for taking care of them. Each time, her response is a gracious and humble “thank you.” In her mind, a nurse is always on call and it does not matter if a friend or stranger, at work or on vacation, and day or night, needs her expertise because helping someone in need knows no boundaries. Her example of unconditional love for each patient is an encouraging daily reminder that each person possesses inherent value.
As the manager of a physician practice, my dad wears multiple hats in his occupational role without complaint effectively balancing his additional responsibility as the company’s inspector for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The long hours he logs in service to the organization do not do justice to describing the impact he has had, and continues to have, on the company. Modest in demeanor, he is quick to diminish the fact that the leadership he brought to the organization has improved the quality of care and services provided to the patients of his clinic. When the workday officially ends, he continues to give of his time and energy because of the great degree with which he cares for the welfare of the company and his coworkers. One such example is volunteering to plow the company parking lot during the winter months as a means of ensuring the safety and well-being of his fellow employees. A firm believer in the value of a good laugh, he is also a natural source of comic relief by offering a classic punch line or joke to someone at just the precise time. His presence in the room causes those who surround him to become better people due to his influence.
Over the years, my parents have shown me the importance of serving within the family. Arriving home one day, my dad announced to my mom that he was not sure why but that God was telling him he needed to leave the successful restaurant business he had operated for fifteen years. My mom was confused but supportive and my dad’s answer to that question came two years later when my older brother Chris was diagnosed with a fatal, inoperable brain tumor at the age of sixteen. Not having the business gave my dad the opportunity to care for him full-time in the final two years of his life. My mom continued her work as a nurse to maintain our health insurance coverage as my dad dedicated every waking minute to ensuring not only Chris’ comfort but enjoyment too. To my dad, it did not matter if the request was something as simple as fluffing a pillow or driving from Yakima to Seattle while Chris was in the hospital to retrieve his favorite food from a local restaurant. No task was too complicated. In these moments, I became inspired by my parents and the undying love they had for their child. I saw them, for the first time, as not only my parents but also people whose enduring servant spirit I aspire to emulate.
As years have passed and I find myself at Gonzaga, the giving nature of my parents has not ceased. If anything, it has become more abundant. Providing an education for their children has always been a common goal of my parents who saved since our birth for this purpose. The funds that were intended for Chris’ education are now directed at an annual scholarship my parents gift in his name. In my case, my parents are granting me the priceless gift of never experiencing a student loan. I am confident that if Chris were still here they would provide him the same. My mom and dad operate on a parental philosophy that their job of financial support is not finished until I can receive the education that allows me to provide adequately for myself. As a result, they both work countless hours so that I can focus solely on my educational experience. Although I have incurred no monetary debt from Gonzaga, I am eternally indebted to my parents in gratitude for the priceless gift of an education that they have bestowed on me.
Not limited to finances, my parents have also been giving in their wisdom throughout my duration at Gonzaga. I can recall countless times that I picked up the phone in need of a pep talk before a crucial exam or simply because I needed to hear their voices. No matter the hour of day or night or the task currently at their hands, they are always available to talk. Often a moral compass, my dad provides the reassurance that regardless of the consequences of whatever choice I make, he will always respond, “I love you, unconditionally.” Possessing a literal lack of navigational skills, my mom’s advice serves as a personal Global Positioning System (GPS) to direct my actions. The moment I sense any degree of uncertainty about the direction in which I am headed she is quick to remind me that “God meant for you to be where you are. Enjoy the path you are traveling. You can never get lost as long as you travel in the direction you are going.” In her mind, the direction that I am currently traveling is always the right path because it is uniquely mine. Taken collectively, the guidance offered by my parents serve as complements of one another. I appreciated the gentle nature of every word of advice given, both those solicited and not, knowing all the while that they always knew what was best for me.
The actions taken by my parents have taught me of their willingness to abandon all their plans in an effort to come to my aid, an example of which occurred during the fall of my freshman year. That particular morning, I spoke with my mom as was customary. I think she could tell from the inflection in my voice the profound desire that I had to be with my parents that day. I had succumbed to homesickness. In ending the conversation, she revealed that she was going to accomplish some housework and assured me we would speak in a few hours. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from my dad asking if I wanted to go out to dinner. Reminding him that I did not have a car in Spokane and that they were three hours away in Yakima, such a task would prove to be difficult. It is at this point he revealed that he and my mom were standing outside my dorm room ready to take me to dinner. I have never forgotten the actions taken by my parents that day to trust my mother’s intuition and drive to Spokane solely to console me. Their actions served to remind me of how much I am truly loved.
When the potential of studying abroad entered the realm of possibilities, my parents selflessly set aside their fears in full support of allowing me to travel the world. Being the first person with a chronic disability to study in Florence, Italy it was natural for my parents to experience some initial hesitation which they resolved by purchasing three tickets to Italy in order to scope out the campus of Gonzaga in Florence. The choice made by my parents to literally fly around the world for me was the quintessential example of their unconditional support. Prior to my departure, my dad certainly did not spare himself of any opportunity to reinforce his reservations having me watch Liam Neeson’s film Taken, in which his daughter becomes abducted while in France and requesting that I not return to the United States engaged to be married (a reference to my fondness of the film Father of the Bride). The intention behind both of these comical, yet endearing gestures taken by my dad is the profound degree of love that rests in their foundation. On that fateful day in September 2009, my parents effectively masked any degree of apprehension for the sake of allowing me to learn the greatest lessons in independence from my interactions with the Italian people.
Through the culmination of these factors, my parents have brought to life the three simple words contained within the Jesuit’s call to be a “person for others.” They both give so much of themselves each day expecting nothing in return. May the words offered here express the heartfelt thanks of a daughter to her parents that is long overdue. As a product of their example, I am prepared to venture wherever the world leads me with the confidence that service to others will be at the root of my every action. The ordinary actions taken by my parents have fostered an extraordinary impact on me, the largest of which is the desire to follow their lead through the conscious choice of being a person in service of others.