Memories of BYU
Although it’s been a couple decades since Eliza Mansuetto Schade (BA ’02) has been on BYU campus, her effervescent recollections of her time as a student makes it sound as though she’d just graduated. Schade’s passion for BYU was fostered early. When she was just 12 years old, Schade travelled across the country from New York to Utah to attend a 2-week long, girls-only summer camp at BYU. Known as the Academy for Girls, Schade says it’s similar to EFY: “You hear talks and you play games and there’s all types of activities….We got to stay in the dorms….It was a blast.”
These two weeks served to have a big impact on Schade. “It was amazing. When I went and I did that I was like, ‘I’m going to this school. I have to go to this school.’” She threw herself into preparing for college applications immediately. “Even in middle school it was my goal,” Schade explains, spending both middle and high school working extremely hard towards her goal. “I was never really super great at school. Everything was a challenge for me; I had to work hard at everything I did.”
Schade was so excited to apply to BYU that she sent her application in on the first day of senior year of high school. “By October, I had been admitted….When I got my letter I was crying. I had a BYU sweatshirt and I remember running up and down the hallways at my school [shouting] ‘I got into BYU!’” This exuberant attitude remained with her as she eventually left her home for a campus halfway across the country. While others had parents to help them move in, Schade only made the journey with her sister, Jennie.
Her first hurdle came almost immediately. Schade arrived at Helaman Halls to discover her roommate in Helaman Halls was a sophomore, which meant Schade was left to tackle orientation alone. “I had nobody. Here I was in this new state, new city, new school, new everything. I didn’t know anyone.” Still, Schade was not one to wallow. As she wandered the halls of her new dorm, she found another girl who had also ended up with a sophomore roommate. “Without realizing that I was messing up the entire organization of the floor,” Schade says with a laugh, “I had this girl move into my room. I didn’t ask permission. I [just] said, ‘Move into my room.’”
While the bold move eventually landed them both in an awkward situation when their sophomore roommates arrived, Schade doesn’t regret it. “I was so glad that I had this other roommate. We were friends. I love her to pieces.” Schade’s suit mates also became good friends.
Schade’s outgoing nature ended up becoming a source of memorable experiences at BYU. For example, between her loud voice and unending school spirit, Schade was a force to be reckoned with at BYU football games. At one game, a guy kept turning around to look at her when she cheered. Schade assumed he was annoyed, but to her surprise, he turned out to be her cousin! “I couldn’t believe it,” Schade says, “I met my cousin for the first time at a BYU football game.”
Schade also had a great bond with her older sister, Jennie. When Schade moved into Helaman, Jennie moved into an apartment complex across the street in order to be close to her sister. “Our relationship is funny, we’ve always shared a special bond. [When I was at Helaman] my sister used to take these classes at 7:00 in the morning. She’d come, and because my room was on the bottom floor she could knock on my window….It was almost daily that she’d be knocking on my window for something.”
While Schade was close with her sister, she decided after freshman year that she would move in with strangers. “My second year, my friends wanted to [live] together…and I said, ‘No, I really would like to keep you guys as friends but meet new people so I can open up a whole new branch in my life.’”
Some of Schade’s new roommates caused her a lot of grief. “They often treated me with disrespect.” Still, Schade saw merit in the experience; her social sphere still grew and she gained practice in dealing with difficult people. “I do not regret branching out despite the challenges. I learned many things that helped me deal with people on my mission, in the workplace, family and parenting.” Despite the risk of ending up with bad roommates, Shade encourages new freshmen to branch out from the friends they might already have. “Don’t stay in your comfort zone. Do something that’s uncomfortable. Just because you’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.”
After graduating, Schade experienced some discomfort as she returned to New York. She had thrived at BYU, flourishing in a culture surrounded by those who shared her beliefs, so trading a big Provo ward for a small New York branch wasn’t easy. This feeling increased as she was immediately put to work. Between her Spanish major and her piano expertise, Schade’s skills were always in demand. “I learned a lot,” Schade admitted, “I learned how to say no. I learned how to stand up for myself….I got really strong coming back and figuring that all out.”
While she still hasn’t returned to her alma mater, Schade is just as exuberant now as she was when she was first accepted to BYU. “The East Coast is great. I really enjoy having friends from all different backgrounds. We are all brothers and sisters.” Schade says brightly. Her extroversion has come in handy, too, as Schade is excited to share her love for the gospel with her friends and neighbors. “My goal is to spread as much love and joy as possible to everyone I am in contact with. I hope I am learning to be more Christ-like with every passing year, so my kids will be proud that I am their Mom.”