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Ask Bruce Shylo in which class year he graduated – 1971 or 1972 – and he’ll laugh and say it’s an interesting story. It is an interesting story, and one that is at the foundation of his love for Hiram College.
In 1971, during the Vietnam era, in the spring of his senior year, Bruce got called to report to basic training with the Ohio National Guard. He left Hiram only weeks before he was due to graduate. That could have been the end of his college story. Except, he says, for the fact that Hiram crunched some numbers, and made his spring financial aid available to him the following fall so he could finish his coursework.
That personal attention, coupled with the concern of his professors, made a profound and lasting impression on him.
“So I was able to come back and finish and graduate with the class of ’72. That was significant and profound, that the College cared that much to do that when they didn’t have to… I never felt more cared for or a stronger sense of affiliation … it really changed my perception from one of affection for the College more to one of commitment and a strong loyalty.”
– Bruce Shylo
Bruce and Karen Shylo are not timid about telling perfect strangers about Hiram – at least one serendipitous encounter in a supermarket resulted in a family learning about the College and enrolling their student. In addition to making it their mission to educate people about Hiram and all the College has to offer, they also give of their time and resources more directly. Bruce served on the alumni executive board and is a current board of trustees member.
“It’s our responsibility,” Bruce explains, “even though we may not be the direct beneficiaries of new classrooms or residence halls, to make these things possible, just as others had done for us.” Doing that in itself is rewarding, according to Bruce. He says the more involved they got, the better they felt about it and the more they enjoyed it. And they take advantage of chance encounters.
“We were returning from lunch and we drove by a place and saw a Hiram van. We wondered what Hiram was doing here, so we turned around and went in. We met Coach [and Economics Professor] Earl Kissell and the cross-country team who were getting lunch before heading back to campus. I said, just have them get whatever they want, and I’ll pick up the tab. The students were so interesting, and interested in what we were doing and engaged us. I came away feeling reaffirmed that if these students are representative of the generation that will be running things in several years, then we’re in good hands.”
– Bruce and Karen Shylo
Today, Bruce serves on the board of trustees, and he and Karen attend formal College functions and other official events. But don’t be surprised to also find them spontaneously pulled over at a rural roadside store, enjoying the company of a van-load of Hiram cross-country team members on their way home from a meet.
The Shylos have hosted the cross-country team at their Springfield Country Club. “My wife and I for days afterwards talked about just how much fun that was, and what a rewarding experience for us.”
– Bruce and Karen Shylo