@GonzagaNews Service RSS

A Nontraditional Gonzaga Love Story

Posted on February 17, 2010 in: @Gonzaga, Alumni, Parents, Students

Mary Hawkins commutes to Gonzaga from Wyoming for the Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies and is supported by her loving husband Rip.

By Sabrina Jones
February is often called the month of love, with Valentine’s Day and all. For 55-year-old doctoral candidate Mary Hawkins, love is exactly what saw her through her two-year commute to Gonzaga from her ranch in Devil’s Tower, Wyo. Yep, that’s right: Wyoming to Gonzaga.

Her husband “Rip,” a graduate of University of North Carolina (’61) and Emory Law School (’68), has been her biggest supporter – except during last season’s NCAA basketball semifinals. “Rip” remains familiar with the nontraditional academic experience. He attended law school during the off-season when he played middle linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings (1961-65).

“The design of the Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies allowed me to attend classes two to three months at a time, and then go home for a month, which my husband really appreciated,” said Hawkins, who has lived this routine with her husband of 25 years since January 2008. She also was able to be near her son, Jason Lair (’09), who lived in Spokane after earning a master’s degree in Gonzaga’s religious studies program.

Hawkins’ doctoral dissertation is titled, “A Hermeneutic Inquiry of Mindfulness-Based Practices in Cardiac Care: A Model for Leadership.” In essence, it means “leading from the heart,” something Hawkins said she has been doing in different ways throughout her life. When she was 18, she was ready to attend college, scholarship in hand. But when her mother became gravely ill, Hawkins’ priorities shifted to family.

“Now I call the whole experience delayed gratification,” she said. “While I was caring for Mom, I became certified in respiratory therapy, biofeedback, massage therapy, and earned a master’s in physical therapy. Stress-related care has always been a passion of mine,” she said.

Completing a doctorate is another chapter in this heartfelt story.

Heart disease runs in the Hawkins’ family. Rip’s mother succumbed to a heart attack at an early age, and both of Mary’s parents died of cardiac disease. Her father died just as she began the doctoral program. An older brother suffered a severe cardiac arrest last spring and awaits an experimental stem cell implantation procedure. Several more of her siblings are being treated for arrhythmias and hypertension. She has been researching a range of alternative methods in cardiac care including mindfulness, a 2,500-year-old meditative practice that promotes awareness in the present moment to help reduce anxiety and stress. Her study also explores Heart Math™, using instrumentation to become aware of heart rate variability. She examines these heart healthy practices as a wellness leadership model.

Mary completed her doctoral coursework at Gonzaga last fall but will return to campus this spring to defend her dissertation proposal. She hopes to have the book-length study completed and approved this summer.

To me, this whole experience is more than a study about the heart, it’s from the heart,” Hawkins said. “This is a true love story. One of love and faith in God to follow a calling that said, ‘Go here.’ A story made possible by the endless love of my husband and family, who support my deep love of learning.”

  1. Muriel Garvis
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I can related to this story as my heart also called me to Gonzaga back in 2001. And I traveled from Idaho to spend three to four days in Spokane every six weeks. My love was to attain my Masters Degree in Nursing and become a Nurse Practitioner. Through the time I was there I cared for my ailling mother only with the hepl of my husband and family members. I came to love Gonzaga and the way the people at Gonzaga worked to make my experience and experience of a lifetime. During the period from 2001-2004, I made new friends and grew so much as a person, not to mention my ability now to help people on another level of care. Thank you for this story to help remind me of my great life experiences. I would do it all again.

  2. Heather Veeder
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Having been a classmate of Mary’s for the last couple of years I can attest to the wonderful blessing she has been to my Gonzaga experience. Mary is full of compassion and her commitment to an attitude of gratitude is contagious. I thank you for your perseverance in the doctoral program despite the distance and I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor as they culminate in your very important dissertation.