Spotlight ArchivePatrick Bonnot
Anthony "Tony" Brenneke
Our Foundation for the Benefit of Helias Catholic High School Alumni Spotlight shines on Brad Shimmens this month. A 2007 graduate of Helias, Brad is the Director of Operations and Membership for the National Biodiesel Board. He is married to fellow Class of 2007 Crusader Alicia Shimmens, née Dunn, and they are the proud parents of 2-year-old daughter Henley.
After graduating from Helias in 2007, Brad attended the University of Missouri where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and banking. He later did post graduate studies at William Woods University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA).
After finishing his studies, Brad returned to Jefferson City to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in banking – and to give back to his alma mater.
“Helias feels like a true home,” Shimmens said. “I never envisioned myself ever leaving Jefferson City. When I came back from school, I knew I wanted to get involved with Helias in any capacity that I could.”
Suffice it to say, Shimmens has been very involved. From playing in the Foundation golf tournament, to being on the committee for every Young Crusaders tournament since its inception, to currently serving as co-chair for the Foundation’s “Continue the Legacy: One Gift, One Goal” fund drive campaign, Shimmens has given freely of himself to help ensure the growth and financial stability of Helias Catholic High School, as well as the accessibility of Catholic education to everyone in his hometown – something he strongly supports.
“When I graduated from college and started working at a local bank here in town, I quickly realized how much of a crucial part the donors and givers in the Helias community play in the day-to-day operations of Helias,” Shimmens says. “You really start to see that without them giving their time or their resources, Helias really wouldn’t be able to operate the way it does today; it wouldn’t be open; tuition wouldn’t be low; local kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to gain a Catholic education here in town like we all want.”
“It’s important for everyone to realize that it takes a lot of resources to provide this education to these kids. That’s why I give. That’s why I’m involved. That’s why I think everyone should be.”
Shimmens also emphasizes that sometimes to fulfill a community’s need, the community members must answer the call.
“We live in Jefferson City,” Shimmens explains. “We don’t live in Kansas City or St. Louis where families pay $10,000 to $20,000 per year to send their kids to places like C.B.C. or other comparable schools in those areas. I’ve got friends who send their kids to those schools, and I think they’re great schools. But what sets Helias apart is how much we all benefit from the generosity of a few families here in mid-Missouri. However, it takes the rest of us – the masses to help make up the difference to help keep costs down and affordable for everyone in this area.”
“So that means all of us either giving a little bit, or a lot, every single year, whatever you can afford. It’s not an “I’ve given once, I’m good to go,” type of thing. It’s something you need to do continually, either with your time, your dollars, your community service; whatever you have the capacity to contribute.”
According to Shimmens, Helias is much more than just a school; it’s more than the building he sat in or the ball fields he played on. It’s where his professional foundation was laid – where he learned his guiding principles and the tenets that shaped the professional he is today.
“Helias taught me work ethic. They gave me structure,” Shimmens explains. “I didn’t see myself to be any different from other students when I went to Mizzou, but I eventually realized that I found college life and academics to be a little easier than I was expecting because of the education I received at Helias. Nothing about college was ever overwhelming to me, and I think that’s because of the education, structure, and work ethic I learned while at Helias.”
Shimmens said the value Helias placed on being a well-rounded individual in high school had a tremendous impact on him as a college student.
“My time at Helias taught me how to be able to balance work life,” Shimmens said. “Work is such a big part of life when you get older, and I think Helias does a good job of preparing you for that. Not just academically but professionally as well. Starting with college, you go to an environment where you’ve got so much free time interspersed with a set daily schedule, finding a balance can be hard for undisciplined students. Because Helias values well-rounded students with good work ethics, balance, discipline and structure, as an alum you’ve automatically got a leg up because you’re prepared to handle that type of situation.”
“A Helias education is a privilege,” Shimmens continues. “It’s a privilege to go there. And you get so much more than what you pay for when you go there or send your kids there. As a parent, I can see why my parents wanted me to go to Helias. It’s got a small school feel even though it’s not really a small school.”
“Faith is such a big part of my family, my friends, and the people that I associate with,” Shimmens says. “I think it’s important that faith, family, friends – all the things I feel that Helias stands for and values – it’s good that there’s a school where people who have the same beliefs and who want to serve the Lord can get an education and prepare for the future.”
“Helias was such a big part of my life, my brothers’ lives, my parents’ lives, my grandparents’ lives, my cousins’ lives while we were growing up. Being here and being involved is really a family thing for me. And I look forward to continuing that tradition with my kids one day.”
“For me Helias is home.”
To nominate someone for the Alumni Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.