Volume 18 • Issue 1
Southwestern @ Georgetown
Nicole Kosarek
Southwestern Stories
Pay It Forward

My name is Nicole Kosarek ’03 and this is my Southwestern story.

Getting into Southwestern and doing so with the help of scholarships and grants was my first miracle. Finding a way to financially support the remainder of my education my junior year became a new obstacle as I found myself maxed out on loans and student work hours as an RA and a “labbie.” I was beginning to fear that I could no longer afford to stay at Southwestern.

Just when I was starting to lose hope, one evening I noticed President Jake Schrum ’68, still dressed up from a day’s work, eating dinner in the Commons and enjoying a nice quiet meal. I somehow gathered the nerve to interrupt and sit down to tell him my story in hopes that he would have words of advice. He listened intently, made a few suggestions and told me he would see what could be done.

A couple of weeks later, Dr. Schrum informed me that he had found someone who wanted to pay the remainder of my tuition. He had been shopping in Salado, where a shop owner curiously asked what his job as University president entailed. He described the various responsibilities, but focused in on the importance of his relationships with students. He mentioned me, our talk and the obstacle I was facing. The shop owner asked what I needed. “I’ll do it,” she said and was immediately willing to provide me the money that I needed. I couldn’t believe it. My shock and amazement transformed into extreme gratitude and appreciation.

Dr. Schrum held a lovely lunch in his office set up for us to meet, and I had the opportunity to thank this amazing woman for what she had done for me. In payment, I vow to someday do the same for a student in need. Talk about being in the right place, at the right time, with the very best of people.

Southwestern @ Georgetown
A Keepsake

My name is Arianna Chavez ’00 and this is my Southwestern story.

At SU there are many things you can always depend on. For me, the more memorable include the annual cricket invasion and MallBall. My junior year, I looked forward to the completion of the Red & Charline McCombs Campus Center. The new campus center was to house our dining facility, the bookstore, a new snack bar and, more importantly, the post office—finally finding a permanent home after years of nomadic existence. The new post office was set to expand, giving each student his or her own mailbox. Sadly for me, that meant saying goodbye to my current box with its little glass window, perfect for sneaking a peek to see if I had mail.

Although the location of Southwestern’s post office may have been less than desirable, I knew I could always count on its most loyal staff member, Faye Hubbard. Among the many caring staff members who make up Southwestern’s community, Faye still stands out as one of the kindest I ever met during my four years spent at Southwestern. Not only was she incredibly sweet, but she had a memory like a steel trap! If you ever needed to know anyone’s box number, all you had to do was ask Faye.

One afternoon after we had moved into the campus center and the old Commons was long gone, I received a notice in my box that I had a package waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting anything from Mom and Dad that week, so it was with complete bewilderment and excitement that I approached the counter and greeted Faye, who as usual, was all smiles. Packages for any college student are like pure gold, so I carefully handed her the slip. I took the small FedEx box she handed me and as I turned to walk away, Faye leaned over and said, “Promise me you won’t say where you got that, I wouldn’t want anyone else’s feelings to get hurt.” I wondered what on earth she was talking about, but still I replied, “Sure, Faye,” and quickly walked away, ready to open my surprise. I think I waited 10 steps before I ripped into the small box. My eyes widened in quick recognition as a small, metal mailbox door with its tiny glass window slid out of the box. On the window were four very familiar stickers that read 6-2-6-8. It was my old mailbox door! Faye had rescued it from demolition, along with the accompanying key and hinge and given it to me as a gift.

It may have been a small gesture on her part, but for me that small metal door will always be a symbol of the years I spent at Southwestern and of the people whose paths crossed mine and whose actions helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Southwestern @ Georgetown
1949 production of "Our Town"
More Than Buildings!

My name is Harold Dean Burkhardt ’49 and this is my Southwestern story.

It was Fall 1946, I had finished my freshman year at junior college, sold my 1934 Chevrolet, made it to Georgetown from Corpus Christi on the Greyhound bus to where I was standing in front of my new home, Mood Hall.

There were many experiences that made lasting friendships and positive growth in my life. I enjoyed membership in several campus student groups, was part of the choir, men’s chorus, the school band and in fellow student Grant Scoggins’ ’49 campus dance band, but I remember especially the faculty and the way they influenced my life.

Mrs. Ruth Ferguson: My English teacher for Shakespearean and Greek drama. She not only helped me find the intricacies and deeper meanings of the plays and poetry, but of my own life as well.

Angus Springer: The Mask and Wig Players. I only had a small part in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and was a dead man (who had a speaking part!) in “Our Town.” Mr. Springer showed me that if I spoke the line right, even “timid” me could get a laugh! He taught me that I could be someone more than I thought I was.

B.F. Jackson: Though the whole campus, chapel, bible courses and service groups provided Christian nurture, my major was religious education. Dr. “Biff” Jackson was our teacher, not only in the classroom, but also through the off-campus, hands-on experiences, interacting with the lives of real people. He really gave guidance to this budding pre-theology!

John D. Richards: Director of the choral programs, he was a man of few words, but he had the right ones to instruct, correct, encourage and motivate us to, not only sing together, but to bond. We had A Cappella Choir tryouts each year. I sang tenor, but was certainly no soloist, so when I told him I was worried that my schedule might prevent me from trying out, he said in a reassuring way, “You’re one of my boys!” So Mr. Richards, along with being chosen by the faculty to be in newly formed Blue Key Honor Fraternity, was so affirming to this former Kansas country kid.

I didn’t realize in 1946 that I had enrolled in Southwestern 60 years and 10 buildings too soon!

But you know, even as nice and as needed as those new buildings are, it isn’t the buildings that make Southwestern what it is. It’s the faculty and staff, students and alumni, backed by the Board of Trustees and administration, who form your life, not only through what they do, but also through their affirmation and encouragement. Through them, you can learn, grow and change and do it all with a sense of self worth that enables you to be of worth to the world around you.

Southwestern @ Georgetown
Lee Silva Ferguson
Coming Around Full Circle

My name is Lee Silva Ferguson ’95 and this is my Southwestern story.

When I entered Southwestern in fall 1991, like many others in my class, I was an aspiring pre-med student. I’d done all the prep I could do in high school to get myself ready for medical school and was ready to tackle university-level science classes. I toughed out Dr. Hilgeman’s and Dr. Soulen’s chemistry classes, drank in as much about genetics and embryology from Dr. Jacob as possible and learned a lot of what I needed to know about teaching biology from Dr. Morgan and Dr. Villa.

During my first years at Southwestern, I learned along the way that medicine was not my calling, and that teaching suited me better. So after a particularly difficult physics class, I made an appointment to talk with Dr. Sikes about what I needed to do for my teaching credentials. I resigned myself to my decision. After all, becoming a doctor had been my lifelong dream and here I was getting ready to become something I’d never intended to be. I’d even been quoted in my high school’s yearbook as saying, “I’ll never teach.”

Dr. Sikes helped me to formulate a plan for graduating with all my teaching certification requirements and instructed me on the finer points of teaching high school.

I began my teaching career in the Plano ISD. In my first day of school introduction, I proudly tell my students that I am a Southwestern alumna and how much I enjoyed my time there. One year, that message stuck with one of my students, Matt Barnes ’06. Matt applied for admission his senior year and was awarded a Brown Scholarship. When he told me that I was one of the most important factors in his decision to attend Southwestern, I knew then my decision to become a teacher was the right one.

Matt is one of several former students I have taught that have attended Southwestern. Others include Julia Lerew Matthews ’05, Daniel Hines ’08 and Alison Kuo ’08, another Brown Scholar. Earlier this summer, while traveling to Nebraska to grade AP Biology exams, I ran into Matt at DFW airport. He was returning from Alaska, where he’d given a paper on research he’d conducted at Southwestern. We chatted a bit and discussed his future plans to attend Notre Dame for his Ph.D. in Biology.

And when I asked what he planned to do with his doctorate, he said, “Teach.” I just smiled widely.

Thank you, Southwestern, for changing my life, so that I may help change those of others.

Southwestern @ Georgetown
Doug Hooker
The Day I Chose My Future

My name is Rana Afeiche ’96 and this is my Southwestern story.

My first semester at Southwestern was anything but auspicious. I remember Dr. Barnhart, dean of academic affairs at the time, calling me into her office to talk about my academic status. In short, she urged me to reconsider the “one-year commitment” I made to the pre-med program in order to please my parents, who did not feel that my interest in subjects like psychology and classics would be conducive to a lucrative profession, nor a good financial investment in my college education. Although I passed those pre-med classes by the skin of my teeth, I entered the spring semester limping. I had serious doubts about my future at Southwestern.

That was the weight on my mind when I arrived at my first class of Humanistic Psychology with Dr. Hooker. He lectured sotto voce, which made me feel like I was the only student in that classroom. He related the principles of humanistic psychology to our journey as first-year collegians. “Non-growth” choices, while safe, often lead to stagnant, meaningless and unhappy lives. We need to make our own “growth” choices that allow us to take chances in order to have successful, fulfilling lives. Instead of succumbing to society’s pressure to compare ourselves to others, choose to measure yourself according to your own potential. “Be what you want to be, make your own choices,” Dr. Hooker advised.

As Dr. Hooker continued, I quit taking notes and simply sat in rapt attention. After class ended, I stayed behind, crying quietly, shaken and convicted over what I heard and how it related to my dilemma. I knew what I had to do to turn this tide of unhappiness and fear of failure that threatened to engulf me. It would mean disappointing my parents and possibly losing their support. I also realized that the only college experience worth having was one based on my interests and choices. So I headed over to the Registrar and collected add/drop cards.

As scary as it was, I never looked back on my decision; from that point, my Southwestern experience became the amazing intellectual odyssey I always dreamed it would be. To be safe, I waited until I was sure that my tuition for next year was paid before I told my parents the truth. They were disappointed, but not enough to prevent me from returning to Southwestern. Southwestern had won their respect and trust as an institution that would educate me well for a good price. I also think they were relieved to finally see me make A’s.

Dr. Hooker and my professors at Southwestern did not just teach me to be a lifelong scholar. They also taught me to trust my instincts, to have the courage to change my circumstances when they no longer work for me and to be proud of my gifts.