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'I Want To Be Like My Mom'

May 2017


Dylan Mitchell is confident his late mother Donna would have loved the university he now calls his alma mater.

As a para-educator at Wilson Elementary School, Donna Mitchell epitomized the St. Ambrose University mission goal of enriching lives, said her son.

"As a para-educator, my Mom showed me compassion," Dylan recently remembered. "If it was cold outside and she had gloves on, she would take them off and give them to little kids who didn't have gloves at recess. Who does that? She cared more about others, her kids, her students, anybody before herself. I want to be like my Mom."

In one important way he is now like his mom. Dylan received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Teacher Education/Physical Education at the May 13 spring commencement ceremony and followed his mother into the field of education.

His father and brothers were there to celebrate with him, as was his wife Sydney, a former SAU classmate, and their 15-month-old daughter Isla.

Missing will be Donna and Dylan's two sisters, Kourtni and Suzi. They died in May of 2010 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident just a few miles from the Mitchell's Davenport home.

Dylan earned his degree with the assistance of a full-tuition scholarship St. Ambrose that had been promised in the months following the accident. But while the scholarship eased his financial burden in pursuit of a childhood dream of becoming a teacher and coach, Dylan didn't have an easy path to his degree. Instead, he worked diligently to balance the fulltime challenges of work, school and starting a family.

A varsity wrestler at Davenport West from his freshman year on, Dylan initially had hoped to wrestle at a larger state school, either with an athletic scholarship or as a walk-on.

May 22, 2010, the date of the tragic accident, changed that.

Dylan said the support of the community and, particularly, the Adventure Christian Community Church, helped him, his father and three brothers through the first difficult months after the accident. A benefit that summer helped the Mitchell men move away from a home filled with "too many memories, too many empty bedrooms" and closer to their church, he said.

"God and our relationship with him brought my family through this time," Dylan said, noting the Mitchells continue to rely on the support of the church.

After high school graduation, Mitchell realized St. Ambrose was his best opportunity to realize his dream of following Donna into education.

"I honestly never thought I would make it this far," he said. "The journey has been so crazy and so great, but it's tough to work and go to school. I am excited to graduate."

He was also excited to celebrate with his family.

"At first, it was sadness," he said of memories tied to the month of May, "but it has moved toward remembering the great person my Mom was and the joy my sisters had about everything. There was nothing that held them back in life. They were great.

"I definitely did this for myself," he said of earning his teaching degree, "but I also did it for my Mom and my sisters."

MORE LIKE THIS:About SAU Students, AmbroseZine

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