Westmont Magazine Developing a Family-Friendly Focus
Nicky Schrim Suard
Nicky Schrim Suard ’78 toured Europe in a van for a semester with the late Professor Ed Bouslough, tracing the travels of the Apostle Paul. She’ll never forget her adventures or the paper she wrote about becoming the kind of woman described in Proverbs 31. “That study has shaped my decisions about work and my life at home for the past 30 years,” she says. “I’ve been a full-time wife and mother and part-time everything else.”
Like the woman in Proverbs, Nicky hasn’t been idle. She’s made a home for her husband, Thomas, a family doctor, and their sons, Tyler ’07 and Cory ’08, while working part time as an attorney, investing in property and founding numerous non-profit organizations. In 1997 she received one of 20 National Regional Role Model awards in the Life Savers “Take a Bigger Role” program, and she’s been named Citizen of the Year in Napa, Calif., where she lives. She appreciates these honors only because they give her an opportunity to talk about her faith to the media.
A tribute in the Federal Register states, “Nicky Suard sees a need and comes up with a solution.” As an attorney, she focused on children’s rights, representing abused youngsters and teenage mothers. Her expertise in estate planning enables her to assist non-profit organizations, especially those that are faith-based or benefit children. In 1990, she and her husband founded a home for unwed mothers, Choix de Vie, which continues to operate. She also helped established Lytehouse, a center for teenagers, and the Community Foundation of Napa Valley, which assists non- profit organizations in the area. Today she supports the National Christian Foundation and encourages donors to use this organization and a component fund, the Northern California Christian Foundation. “I’ve decided only to work with Christ-centered organizations in the future,” she says.
Nicky gave up her part-time law practice in 1997 to focus on volunteer work and activities that allow her to be outdoors. She provides legal advice pro bono to a number of churches, Christian organizations and individuals and also does research for donors who want to make sure they give to worthy and well- run non-profit projects.
A business major at Westmont, Nicky has enjoyed investing in property over the years. In 1997, she and her husband purchased Snug Harbor marina and RV harbor in the Sacramento Delta. “Developing an older, dilapidated park into a family-friendly resort with rental cabins has been my part-time job for the last 10 years,” she says. “We spent a lot of time in the area when the boys were young and like it there.”
Nicky was delighted when her sons decided to attend Westmont and turned down offers of admission from several UC schools. She appreciates the excellent business classes she took at Westmont and says she still uses what she learned in college.
“We’ve been impressed with Westmont’s academic standards,” she says. “Both my sons are very happy with their choice.” Tyler majored in economics and business and served as the Westmont Student Association business manager, but his real love was music and singing with the choir and the jazz band. After graduating, he spent a year working for a songwriter but decided he didn’t like the lifestyles in the music industry. He works in human resources for a corporation and con- tinues to write songs while he decides what to do with his life.
Cory, a biology major, began medical school this fall at Loma Linda University. As a child he wanted to be a vet, but shadowing a doctor at Cottage Hospital, working with a surgeon in Napa and taking a summer EMT course during college led him into medicine. Serving on the Potter’s Clay medical team helped him focus more on treating people and provided a great experience.
Nicky and Thomas traveled to Ensenada, Mexico, with Potter’s Clay the last three years, accompanying their sons. Thomas worked as one of the doctors on the medical team and Nicky became the unofficial photographer. “Potter’s Clay is incredibly important for the students,” she says. “Being involved with it has added to our positive impression of Westmont students. At the campfire on the last night, I hear how much the experience affects the students and what a positive impact it made on them.”
When she visited campus as a parent, Nicky discovered the mission of Westmont hadn’t changed. “It’s more open than other Christian colleges to discussing difficult issues and letting students figure things out for themselves,” she says. “As parents, we think that’s important, and it’s something about Westmont we admire.”
Nicky didn’t expect to become an attorney when she graduated from college. After working for a congressman while Thomas went to medical school, she applied to both law school and business school and got her first acceptance letter from Whittier Law School. She’s glad it worked out that way. “I highly recommend that students choose law school over business school,” she says. “It opens so many more doors and offers the flexibility to be family-focused. That’s been very important to me.”