When high school senior Abby Gureski was called into the academic counselor’s office at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin, she didn’t know exactly what to expect. She was soon told something was wrong with the transcript she had sent to one of the schools she applied to.
Then, she was told it didn’t matter, because her college plans were now set: Gureski is attending the University of St. Thomas, where every dollar of her education for four years will be paid for by the Czarnecki family. (Unlike the majority of scholarships, this one will pay for every dollar of Gureski's college expenses, including books, room and board, etc.)
“It’s breathtaking. It’s almost hard to wrap words around it,” Gureski said.
Gureski was selected among many applicants from Catholic Memorial, where the Czarneckis' three children all attended. Their middle child, Dan, went on to St. Thomas and graduated in 2016, and the Czarneckis decided they wanted another student from Catholic Memorial to have the same opportunity. (They also have funded four years for a student at Saint Louis University and Carroll University, where their other two children have attended.)
“Meeting these families and kids, we didn’t anticipate the emotional feeling,” Tom Czarnecki said. “You see the impact and it’s hard not to get teary eyed.”
The impact for the Gureski family is hard to overstate, three of Abby’s four younger brothers have special needs: Two have autism and one has both autism and Down syndrome. That has meant a lot of financial challenges, but also has helped make her into who she is today.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. There might be some bumps in the road, but I love it,” Gureski said. “They make our lives interesting. It’s made me a lot more caring and understanding of others. I hope to take those values into college, and I know St. Thomas has those same values.”
Gureski plans to study business and Spanish at St. Thomas, and – whatever else she does in her time here – hopes to make every moment count.
“I’m excited to pursue [my degree] and make the Czarneckis and my family proud at St. Thomas,” she said. “It was cool saying to my parents that all the sacrifices they made for me to get a great education paid off. Miracles do happen every day.”