Jen Van Schuyver

Citizen Band Potawatomi

“When I graduated with my undergraduate degree my grandpa told me to keep going and get my masters. He said that I needed to continue my education and then come back to Oklahoma to work for my tribe. Instead, I accepted a position with AmeriCorps here in St. Louis.

He grew up in a different generation and didn’t have the same opportunities. He was a smart, strong, and stoic Choctaw man. He married my grandma when my mom was eight and loved us all as if we held the same blood. He taught me how to make a good cup of coffee, which part of the paper to read first and how to best tease my grandma. Each year I would come home for the holidays and he would ask if I applied to a master’s program. Each year I felt like I disappointed him all over again. The last time I heard his voice was on my first day in a new manager role. He left me a voicemail telling me what I should expect in management and to be kind to people. A couple of weeks later he passed away.

I miss him every day and my whole being aches for the lessons that he didn’t get to pass on. As I was applying for the Brown School I thought of him. He would be so proud to know that I am finally going back to school. Sometimes, when I’m on campus, it feels like he’s here too.”