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Evangel is a family legacy for Tim and Jena (Saaybe) Schaumburg

July 12, 2013 | Ashli O'Connell


As roommates at Evangel in the mid-1970s, Diane (Mortellite) Saaybe and Debbie (Mitchell) Schaumburg formed a friendship that, like many Evangel relationships, would stand the test of time.

After they graduated in 1974, they both returned to their home state of New Jersey and established their families and careers. For years, the women exchanged Christmas cards and stayed in touch with occasional visits. But neither imagined just how closely their lives would intertwine when their own children grew up to attend college.

An Evangel family legacy is common for many of the university’s alumni, and a variety of families have now sent three generations of students to Evangel. But the Saaybe/Schaumburg story is unique. It starts with two college roommates and ends with three children who now call both of those women Grandma.

A love story

Debbie’s oldest child, Tim, enrolled at Evangel in 1996. Two years later, Diane’s oldest child, Jena, enrolled. Though Tim and Jena’s mothers were friends and they both grew up in New Jersey (having even attended the same school for a time), the two had hardly ever spoken to each other. However, because of the shared connection through their mothers, Tim and Jena became better acquainted at Evangel.

But it was their mutual love of music that truly brought them together.

Schaumburg kids

Tim and Jena Schaumburg’s three children (from left), Edie, Lincoln and Lily were born into a family rich with Evangel legacy.

“Finally, my sophomore year, Tim joined the Concert Choir,” recalls Jena. “We toured together that fall, and by the spring semester of that year we were exclusively dating. Tim stayed in Springfield after he graduated so we could be near each other. He proposed the fall semester of my senior year, and we were married the September after I graduated.” That was in 2002.

Today, the couple has three children and a deep appreciation for their shared Evangel experience.

Career and educational advancement

Tim’s degree in Marketing from Evangel has helped him climb the ranks with Enterprise Holdings, a job he started shortly after graduating. Enterprise is the largest car rental company in North America. Tim began at the bottom, as is their policy, as a management trainee, but his abilities and performance kept him advancing.

Today, Tim is the assistant Vice President of Rental for the Southeastern United States. He is based in St. Louis, but the job keeps him traveling extensively as he interacts with the company’s operating groups in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico and works with more than a thousand regional locations.

Tim says his experiences at Evangel uniquely prepared him for the work he does now. “As I stepped out of my comfort zone to things that were new to me, I grew,” he says. “I had to learn how to focus on schooling, sports and music while interacting with very different peer groups. You realize very quickly that everyone at the core is pretty much the same, regardless of where they came from or what they like to do for hobbies.”

He says he found the wisdom and experience of his professors, who had achieved successful business careers prior to teaching, made the learning process both more fun and more real for him. He also believes that his years at Evangel were valuable in forming his Christian worldview and time-management skills, both of which have been an integral part in his success today.

As Tim was moving up the ranks at Enterprise, Jena, who earned her degree in Communication Studies from Evangel, worked for a few years as administrative assistant to Hal Donaldson, who is the founder and president of Convoy of Hope. When Tim was promoted from branch manager in Springfield to a corporate account manager in Jefferson City, Missouri, she decided it was the perfect opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou). She graduated from Mizzou in 2008. Today, Jena concentrates much of her time on raising the couple’s three children, Lily, Lincoln and Edie.

“Jena is the best thing that has happened to me,” Tim says, “and I owe her so much for supporting my career as we have moved. Our children are truly blessed to have a mom like Jena.”

Jena is equally grateful to have Tim in her life. “Living in the Midwest as New Jersey transplants together has really helped mold us and soften our edges,” she says. “We’ve had a lot of our childhood (and young adult) assumptions proven wrong, and we’ve learned to hold onto what’s true rather than what’s easy. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate than Tim. We both expect a lot from each other and ourselves, and God has blessed our home with His grace and joy as iron sharpens iron. I am so proud of him and what he’s accomplished, but more so by his willingness to be teachable, humble and dedicated to always improving in work and always recognizing his work as worship when he does everything as unto the Lord. We both want to always seek Him first and be willing to lay aside whatever we desire as He sees fit. God is gracious to allow two imperfect people this easy yoke.”

Read Jena’s alumni blog.

A legacy

Janelle Saaybe

Three Saaybe alumni: Jena and Diane celebrate Janelle’s 2009 graduation from Evangel. Not pictured is proud dad and husband John Saaybe.

When it comes time for Lily, Lincoln and Edie to choose a college, they will have a host of family members recommending Evangel. Following is a list of all the members of the Saaybe/Schaumburg family who count themselves as alumni:

  • Diane (Mortellite) Saaybe, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, 1974
  • Debbie (Mitchell) Schaumburg, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, 1974; and Master of Education in Reading, 2010
  • Tim Schaumburg, Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, 2000
  • Jena (Saaybe) Schaumburg, Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies, 2002
  • Kristin (Schaumburg) Felton, Elementary Education/Special Education, 2005; Master of Science in School Counseling, 2010
  •  Janelle Saaybe, Bachelor of Arts in Advertising/Public Relations, 2009.

Whatever path the Schaumburg children choose, Tim will likely share with them the same advice he has for Evangel students today:

“Get uncomfortable,” he says. “Push yourself and experience things that make you uncomfortable. Living outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens, but you will have to fight the natural, human urge to return to your comfort zone.”

Schaumburg family

The extended Schaumburg family at Evangel University’s 2010 commencement, celebrating Debbie and Kristin’s master’s degrees. From left: Tim Schaumburg, Lincoln Schaumburg, Debbie (Mitchell) Schaumburg), Tom Schaumburg, Kristin (Schaumburg) Felton, Lily Schaumburg, Jena (Saaybe) Schaumburg, and Clayton Felton.

Tim encourages students to take advantage of opportunities to go on mission trips, take tough classes and join different teams and clubs.

“Surround yourself with people and experiences that are different than you,” he says. “True growth happens when you get uncomfortable because that is where changes occur. Evangel can give you that opportunity to get uncomfortable, but you will have to take the plunge for yourself. Perhaps one day, being uncomfortable will be your new comfort zone. There is nothing more comforting and fulfilling than being where the Lord wants you, regardless of how uncomfortable the process may be.”

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