When my retired journalist friends and I get together, especially in light of the stock market collapse, we yearn for the “old days” and grouse and grumble about the “younger” generation: They won’t know how to sacrifice. They can’t deal with hardship. They don’t work as hard as we did.
Maybe we should invite St. Thomas senior Chris Hansen to our next coffee klatch – that is, if he can find the time to join us.

The 21-year-old broadcast and comunications major from Waterloo, Iowa, is taking four classes, including theology and computer science. He works 20 hours a week at Wall to Wall media, shooting and editing the “Gopher Football with Tim Brewster” and “Kent Hrbek Outdoors” shows. He spends 10 hours shooting and editing a weekly web video story for the Aquin, and he is working for Web Media Services at St. Thomas, including editing a 40th anniversary video for Multicultural Student Services.

Next month when high school hockey season starts, he’ll be at Breck photographing the games for its coaches every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“I squeeze in all my classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” he says, “so I am free to work the other days.” He is carrying a 3.3 GPA.

So, how does Hansen stack up against us old-timers – hard-working, self-sacrificing and always-striving – when we were college students?

I never worked during the school year when I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin. Money from my summer job, the Army Reserve and two scholarships paid for tuition, room board and books.

Hansen, who has got two scholarships, figures he’ll owe about $17,000 in student loans when he leaves UST.

With a tougher row to hoe than I ever had, Hansen juggles all the demands on his time with good humor and a generous spirit. This summer during our ThreeSixty workshop for aspiring high school journalists, one of our broadcast mentors got the stomach flu. Hansen overheard me talking about our dilemma and volunteered immediately. The kids were working on a story about the impact of the Republican National Convention on the City of St. Paul. Hansen drove them to an interview with Mayor Chris Coleman, helped them with questions to ask, shot the interview and helped them pick out soundbites.

No big deal, he said.

The deal for me to remember, however, is that my generation didn’t have a corner on hard work and sacrifice. And there are hundreds more like Chris Hansen – on this campus alone.

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3 Responses

  1. UST student, too

    Yes, thank you for recognizing college students like us. I went to school full-time and worked part-time throughout the school year, work full-time during every break, never even had a vacation in the last five years since I entered college (unless it was to send a sibling to college outside of the Twin Cities), take care of my parents, my in-laws, my husband, my son and me, pay all sorts of bills, and still get a 3.0 GPA or above every semester.
    I think every person is different, so just because you’re young (or old) doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard or know what hard work is.

  2. Rory Mattson, St. Paul

    I first met Chris at soccer tryouts freshmen year. It didn’t work out for either of us, but it did mark the beginning of a great friendship. Four years later we’re both seniors and fellow Aquinners.
    I can attest to his wonderful attitude and work ethic. As Nimmer states in the article, college life is so much more than classes and homework. That is not only a testament to ambitious students, but also a testament to St. Thomas. This is a university where anyone can get involved and extend his or her college experience far beyond a textbook. It’s great to be surrounded by students like Chris, who inspire as all to get involved, and it is great to be on a campus where such attitudes are nurtured.

  3. Jessica Zimanske, St. Paul

    Thank you for recognizing the students who do more than just attend classes every day. Being a student is a full-time job, but there are many students, like myself and Chris Hansen, who juggle more than just coursework and they deserve to be recognized. Thank you!