Family of the Year
Congratulations to the 2018 Falcon Family of the Year - The Elsass Family!
By Bob Cunningham ’18
Nick Elsass always knew he wanted to thank his parents somehow for all of the sacrifices they’ve made in order for him to attend Bowling Green State University debt free.
Then, one day on Twitter, he saw his chance to honor his family just days before the deadline for an annual award.
On September 15, the Elsass family — Nick and his parents, Bob ’67, ’69 and Kathy ’01— was recognized as the 2018 Falcon Family of the Year during halftime of the Falcons’ 42-35 victory over Eastern Kentucky at Doyt Perry Stadium.
It was the second time the Elsass family has taken center stage at BGSU. Kathy addressed her fellow graduates at Anderson Arena in 2001 as the student commencement speaker, when she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering.
"Never miss the opportunity to learn something new," she said in at the time. "Your education doesn't end until the end of life itself."
Her youngest son, Nick, a junior from Fostoria, Ohio, majoring in accounting and finance, said his parents not only have been the two most important supporters of his collegiate career, but also his life.
“I was their fourth child so they had a lot of experience,” he said. “Even though I was the last of the bunch, they always tried to help me out as much as possible — not only through college, but also through elementary school and high school. Just as far back as I can remember, they have always been my No. 1 supporters.”
Bob Elsass graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Science in education with a specialization in mathematics and a Master of Education with a specialization in physical education. He retired after a 35-year career as a teacher and junior high and high school basketball coach.
“My dad is stricken with both arthritis and Parkinson’s disease, which makes it very hard for him to walk,” Nick Elsasss said. “Even with his disabilities, he still accompanied me on all of my campus tours and showed me how much he cared about the quality of my education. My parents have inspired me to do my best and know that I can overcome anything that stands in my way.”
Kathy Elsass was a nontraditional student while attending BGSU; as a student, she was mother to four children and held a full-time position with a local automotive manufacturer. Even with all of her responsibilities, she was able to graduate Summa Cum Laude. Still today, she said being a guest speaker at commencement was the highlight of her collegiate career.
“It was an absolute thrill to stand up in front of my fellow classmates and their families to tell our story,” she said. “Being a nontraditional student, I often found myself in a classroom of students who were 20 years younger than me — and, often, I was the only female in the technical classes. So, I was humbled by the opportunity and, at the same time, very proud to talk about my BGSU experience. I’ll never forget the excitement and pride of that day.”
Even though his parents have strong ties to the University, Nick Elsass said his parents never pushed their children to go to one school or another.
“I toured six campuses before I chose BGSU,” said Elsass, whose sister, Kelli Bauman ’08, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in education from the University. “BGSU has an excellent business program. It’s one of the best in the nation, so that was one of the main reasons I chose to come here. Plus, the University isn’t too far from home — only about a half-hour drive — which is nice because I go home on the weekends sometime and help around the house.”
As a young student, Elsass’ parents helped him with his homework when he needed it. Now that he’s in college, they still find other ways to pitch in.
“Whether it’s suggestions for how to find a tutor or helping me find and apply for scholarships, they’re always there for me,” he said. “Sometimes when I visit home, they even use my study guides to quiz me on material they’ve never heard of. With their help, I’ve been able to make the dean’s list every semester at BGSU.”
Elsass said his family has made financial sacrifices to make sure he has a well-rounded college experience.
“My mom is the main breadwinner and some of the sacrifices she has made for me include using her work bonuses to help pay for my tuition,” he said. “Also, we sacrificed going on a family vacation so I could study abroad in China and expand my horizons there.”
Elsass said that BGSU has surpassed his expectations, and it’s encouraged him to get involved in student organizations. He is a member of the Schmidthorst College of Business Student Ambassadors, National Society for Leadership Success and the National Society for Collegiate Scholars. He’s also joined the Financial Management Society.
“It’s easy to see why BGSU’s Schmidthorst College of Business is so highly regarded,” he said.
Elsass’s career goals include working in the manufacturing sector someday.
“With accounting and finance, there are a lot of different pathways I can take because every business needs someone who can handle money,” he said. “I think manufacturing will work best for me because I have a little experience in it and I enjoy it.”
Elsass has learned in his business classes the dangers of having too much debt. Even before arriving on campus, it was his parents’ goal to have their son graduate debt free.
“The financial side of college is one of the most stressful aspects for our family, but we are continuously discovering ways to fund my education,” he said. “While the scholarships have helped, they haven’t covered all the costs. My parents decided it would be best to start selling some of the clutter we have in our house through garage sales and multiple online sites such as Facebook, ebay and Craigslist. My mom also put her entire Christmas bonus into my tuition. I am proud to say that I completed my first two years of college debt free thanks to the generosity of my parents.”
Elsass said he will always remember the time his family was honored by the University.
“It’s going to be huge for them to walk out and to be recognized by a crowd of people rooting for the Falcons,” he said. “Our family name is going down in BGSU history as the 2018 Falcon Family of the Year, and that means everything to them and everything to me. I’m definitely excited for the opportunity, and I know they are too.”