Register adds Texan to staff

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News

November 12, 2012 - 12:00 AM

It’s to the Register’s advantage that Steven Schwartz comes to the news department with a wealth of talents.
A top student, gifted writer and strong athlete, Schwartz, 24, came on board in early September as a staff writer.
Truth is, he had many opportunities for other pursuits.
A native of Denton, Texas, Schwartz attended Texas Tech University, graduating in 2010 with a degree in journalism.
With strong math and writing skills, Schwartz debated between architecture and journalism as a college major.
After a year in the school of architecture, Schwartz said he knew it was not his calling and switched to journalism.
“It’s the best of all worlds because it couples analytical thinking with a love of writing. The goal is to take a lot of information and turn it into a short story, what I call big funnel, little spout.”
Schwartz worked as a staff reporter at the university’s newspaper, The Daily Toreador.
A detour of sorts pre-empted Schwartz’s debut into journalism as a career.
An outdoors enthusiast, Schwartz joined the Outward Bound program and worked for a year as a guide at its base outside of Yosemite National Park in northern California. Schwartz had worked with Texas Tech’s outdoor program for two years while attending school. That job involved taking groups of students on adventurous excursions including caving, backpacking and rock climbing.
Schwartz is certified as a wilderness first reponder, which included 80 hours of first aid training.
His experience in California was enlightening he said, perhaps as much for the exposure to people as the elements.
“We’d have some kids whose parents enrolled them in a three-week camp because they thought they needed to be ‘toughened up,’ or that they needed to be pushed to try new things.
“The kids weren’t always responsive. Sometimes they’d try to get kicked out.”
“On the other hand, we also had students who wanted to come so badly that they applied for scholarships to come to the camps. Typically they were from urban environments, and the experience changed their lives.”
Schwartz said he personally likes to “push the envelope,” when it comes to outdoor activities. He especially enjoys winter camping and rock climbing, definitely not activities for the faint of heart. He’s also run three marathons, the most recent in early September.
On a more relaxed note, he’s an avid fly fisherman and enjoys tying his own flies.
As a youth, Schwartz ran track and cross country.
“I was OK in sports, but my brother Nic was better. I was good at cross country and track because I could run a straight line. In basketball, I was on the good side of mediocre. In football, I warmed the bench a lot.”
Academically, the twin brothers both ranked in the top 10 percent of their class which gave them entrance into any Texas public university. They both opted for the Lubbock location.

SCHWARTZ’S LIFE has not been exactly typical.
Born in Modesto, Calif., Schwartz and his two siblings were the children of a surrogate mother who was implanted with their father’s sperm.
“Legally, I’m adopted. But my mother, the woman who raised me, was in the hospital when I was born,” he said. He never knew his birth mother intimately, knowing only of his birth circumstances and that she has since died.
He and Nic are fraternal twins. Their sister, Kelly, is four years their senior.
The family located to Denton where their father was a pilot in the Air Force for 12 years, followed by a career with American Airlines. Schwartz’s mother taught art until her children were born.
“They were older than my friends’ parents,” he said. “Kind of like having young grandparents.”
When Schwartz was five, his nine-year-old sister contracted a rare form of viral encephalitis which ravaged her brain.
From then on, life would never be the same for his sister, or for her family.
“It was pretty devastating,” Schwartz said. Steven and his brother were taken out of public school so the family could travel to various hospitals across the country seeking help for Kelly, whose symptoms included severe epilepsy and a diminished brain function.
Today at 26, she lives in a group home where she has “good days and bad days,” Schwartz said. “On a bad day, she’s withdrawn and like a vegetable. On good days, she has the IQ of an eighth-grader.”
For the boys, homeschooling was not ideal. “We were pretty social kids and it was hard being around our parents all the time,” he said. “Homeschooling was more of a necessity than a choice.”
That changed when Steven and Nic were enrolled as fifth-graders in Denton Cavalry Academy, a private Christian boarding school.
“We were in the inaugural class, so they had some kinks to work out, but it was a nice change,” he said.
When the boys were freshmen, they moved to a ranch outside of Aubrey, Texas, population 1,500.
“That was great,” he said. “We got to know everyone in town. Everyone was friendly. It was much like Iola.”

ANOTHER REASON Iola seems “like home,” is that Schwartz’s grandparents, Kenneth and Clara Schwartz, live in Fort Scott. As a youth, Schwartz and his brother spent their summers with their grandparents. Steven recalls participating in swim meets in Iola and Humboldt when he swam for the Fort Scott Hurricanes.
The senior Schwartzes are 101 and 91, and Steven makes a point of visiting them often.
“It’s good to be here. I have family close by, my girlfriend is up at K-State, and I have lots to learn about Iola.”
To contact Schwartz, email him at [email protected]

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