Richard Shawger, '05
Richard Shawger, a 2005 graduate from Ashville, Ohio, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics with a secondary education licensure while at Muskingum.
Shawger, who earned an academic scholarship from Muskingum, knew he wanted to teach high school math and play college football; Muskingum afforded him the opportunity to do both.
Since graduating, Shawger’s life has taken a turn from what he originally envisioned for himself, and his faith has played a large part in that. He was teaching math at his home high school, coaching football, and advising Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He says, “God gave me everything I wanted professionally and personally. I was given the opportunity to fulfill my dreams but I found out that life was not about accomplishing my dreams, it was about living for Jesus.”
This spiritual reawakening was pivotal in Shawger’s life. He says, “I began to seek the Lord if being a high school math teacher was what I was supposed to be doing.” Ultimately, Shawger felt that it wasn’t what he chose to do with his life vocationally that mattered as much as serving God in whatever he did.
Shawger began to consider joining the U.S. Army. He explains, “I felt I was healthy, I was able, and the United States was at war.” He completed Basic Training at Fort Jackson in 2007 and earned his commission by completing Officer Candidate School in 2008. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Chemical Corps and was the Distinguished Honor Graduate of his Officer Basic Course.
After being stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Shawger was deployed to Iraq for a year. He later completed Captain’s Career Couse and Ranger School, which is the premier military leadership school. After being stationed in Hawaii, he was deployed overseas again, this time to Afghanistan.
Shawger recently transferred to becoming a Nuclear Counter-Proliferation Officer. He has returned to Ohio with his family and is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from The Ohio State University. When he completes his degree, he will be a professor of Physics and Nuclear Engineering at West Point.
Shawger gives credit to his math professors at Muskingum for excellent classroom instruction. He earned a 4.0 in his math courses, which, he says, “helped me get hired as a teacher but it especially helped me get accepted into graduate school.”
Shawger learned some of his most important lessons outside the classroom. He admits, “I was not a very good football player at Muskingum.” He considered quitting because he knew he wasn’t competitive at the college level, but he thought about others who wished they could play but weren’t afforded that opportunity, and chose to see his commitment through. He says, “God used football to help me look really deep inside myself and learn about humility, team, commitment, and sacrifice.”
When Shawger was a student, the Program Houses lined Lakeside Drive. He and his friends lived in what was dubbed the “No Program Program House.” He explains, “It was there the Lord got a hold of us men. It was there where my commitment to Jesus was driven to the bedrock of who I am. We grew in the knowledge, grace and love of the Lord. It is the Lord who has brought all my success since graduation.”
Shawger has three pieces of advice for college-bound seniors who are trying to determine their next steps in life: “First, success in this world is temporal. Live for the eternal and the temporal will take care of itself. By the world's standards I am successful but it is not me, it is the Lord who has blessed me.
“Second, conquer fear. Fear is a great motivator of not doing what you ought. One must find the origin of fear in themselves and decide if they are going to allow that to control him or her for his or her life. Once we are able to remove fear…then making the right steps is easier as opposed to just making the next steps.
“Lastly, perspective. The fact is what you sow in your 20s you will reap in your 30s…it is important to vision cast. It is important to have short term and long term goals, but remember no matter what goals you achieve, accomplishments are not life. Life is found beyond ourselves.”