Perseverance, Character... Hope.
Though he was very young at the time, Breck Sandvall (BS '11) can still remember coming home from church to find his family's home ablaze. Nearly everything they owned was consumed in the flames that Sunday. But the emotional pain brought on by that experience was only a hint of what lay ahead for his family in the coming months and years.
Not long after the incident, a knock at the door by IRS agents with a warrant and a note of seizure marked the beginning of what would become a 25-year tax battle for the Sandvall family. At the time, Breck was too young to understand the circumstances and events that led up to the collapse of his father's private practice and the loss of all their earthly possessions. But he did comprehend the sacrifices made by his mother and five older brothers and sisters and the vital support of their church body as they fought to keep their family together, healing and growing stronger despite the aftermath of challenges and set-backs that must have seemed like they would never end.
"The IRS does not forgive debts like God does," Breck reflected. "Instead, they garnish our family's income and allow only specific living expenses, not including college tuition."
It was a heartbreaking reality for a family with six children, all with dreams of college. Serious medical conditions among various family members only compounded the financial struggle.
But in the years that followed, Breck began to witness God provide for each and every one of his older siblings through scholarships--scholarships to Baylor University.
"Baylor would have been completely out of reach without the financial encouragement from the network of scholarship donors that continues to give so unselfishly so that kids like us can impact our world for Christ," Breck said.
The youngest in his family, when it was Breck's turn to apply to college, he found that he had his own hurdles to face.
Gifted with an extraordinarily keen mind, from fifth grade on Breck had been placed in a class two years ahead of his academic age group. And, at the tender age of 15, he graduated from high school at the top of his class.
"Though I wrote countless essays and completed many applications for need- and merit-based scholarships, my age was perceived by many as a reason to doubt my ability to handle college life, and I received one consolation letter after another," Breck recalled. "Fortunately, Baylor believed in me, invested in me and adopted me. So I became a proud Baylor Bear, and I always will be."
"Through it all, my endowed scholarship family provided the funds to keep me going and help me reach the next goal. Because of their faithful and intentional investment in my life, I have learned so much, grown wiser and pursued God's plan for my life."
Where is that "plan" leading him now? Well, today Breck is a Baylor graduate with his sights set on medical school... and a lifetime of giving back.
"I want to be the best physician I can be, and I'll be so thankful to honor God and love people in that way," Breck said -- "Without coming to Baylor, I would not be the person I am today, and without the giving of my donor family, coming here would not have been possible. So it would be my complete joy to one day provide for any number of other students to be able to have this same experience."
Extraordinary Stories are unfolding at Baylor.
Set in motion before students ever set foot on our campus, their stories continue wherever their feet carry them. Write your own chapter in the life of a remarkable student. Baylor graduates are changing the world. And every gift, no matter the size, helps them get there. Make your gift today.