Best with Every Opportunity”
Kip Chase strode
across the Commencement stage in May confident,
poised, and seasoned by the work ethic he displayed
during four years at Wabash. He’s already
begun his professional career in pharmaceutical
sales for Eli Lilly, his top choice of the four
promising job offers he had received by November
of his senior year.
But like so many
Wabash men over the decades, Chase almost didn’t
attend Wabash. Once on campus, he almost didn’t
stay. Through it all, though, he developed perseverance,
a keen sense of right and wrong, and an optimism
that gives his personality refreshing buoyancy.
Recruited to Wabash
by former football coach Paul Van Wie and basketball
coach Mac Petty, Chase showed great promise in both
sports at Bedford North Lawrence High School. But
a week after graduation from high school, he got
sobering news from his parents.
me that it looked like they wouldn’t be able
to send me to Wabash,” Chase shyly admits.
“So, I moved to Indianapolis to live with
my aunt and uncle and work construction to save
as much money as possible.”
Chase became a Wabash
freshman that fall, but his work schedule left no
time for football or basketball.
“The hard part
was telling Coach Van Wie and Coach Petty that I
wouldn’t be able to play sports,” Chase
says. “I had to work. I felt as though I had
to grow up and take care of things financially and
But Chase limited
his on- and off-campus work to weekends so that
he wouldn’t miss the excitement of Wabash
life. He also stayed plugged into the events of
the world around him, voraciously reading newspapers
and magazines. And he’s had plenty of events
during his college career in which to do that: the
contested presidential election of 2000, the terrorist
attacks on 9/11, and the war in Iraq to name only
Tops on Chase’s
list, though, is the historic comeback of his best
friend, Jeff Espino ’03, who overcame brain
cancer to return to campus in less than a year.
“Jeff is the most courageous person I’ve
ever known,” says Chase, who as a history
major with a 3.7 grade point average seems to want
to place every event in historical context.
In the course of
a brief conversation he mentions what he’d
like written on his tombstone—“A Good
Wabash Man”—and the script for his ideal
Wabash education he was unable to write four years
ago—“I could never have imagined the
wonderful things that have happened to me at Wabash.”
If there were turning
points in Chase’s history at Wabash, they
all seemed to come in shocking proximity. Within
two years his parents divorced, his best friend
got cancer, he received a scholarship from Wabash
based on his academic performance, and he decided—finally—to
join the basketball team as a junior.
I had the best parents in the world, but when that
bond was broken, it taught me that they were human.
And it taught me that every decision we make in
life affects others. I told myself then that I was
going to get the very most of my Wabash experience,
and looking back on it, I think I did.”
to take Wabash by storm, assuming leadership positions
traditionally filled by fraternity men. He served
as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,
vice president of the Student Senate, worked two
summer internships in the Indiana State Treasurer’s
office, and made the Dean’s List in every
He organized the
College’s all-campus Community Service Day
that involved over 200 participants. He also spent
a good bit of time coaching a sixth grade basketball
team at the local middle school.
But the time he spent
as head resident assistant—especially his
role counseling freshmen—seems to mean as
much to him as anything he’s done.
come to you to learn about Wabash, to learn the
traditions and the way we do things,” Chase
says. “Those are moments that will stay with
me for a lifetime.”
He worked the alumni
network, too, building tight relationships with
Bob Grand and Rade Kljajic, among others. “Those
guys showed me what it’s like to be a responsible
Wabash man; doing good work and giving back to others.
They constantly strive to help others who are walking
the same path, and that showed me the definition
“I think Wabash
men learn best by example,” Chase says, and
this year’s winner of the Frank Sparks Award
for All-Around Student Achievement has learned well.
Now it’s his example that others will follow.
They’ll be wise to embrace the attitude that’s
made possible Kip Chase’s achievements at
Wabash: “I just tried to do the very best
I could with every opportunity I had while I was