A drive to serve has led Nebraska’s Gabe Chase to the front lines of a global pandemic.
The new Master of Business Administration grad is one of a number of University of Nebraska–Lincoln students who are a part of the Nebraska National Guard’s 155th Air Refueling Wing and called to assist with COVID-19 testing statewide. Chase’s section within the 155th’s medical group has served primarily in central and western Nebraska, operating drive-through testing stations in Grand Island and Lexington.
Chase’s role has been serving primarily as one of the first faces Nebraskans see when they pull into the testing stations.
“I’m more of a people person, so I like to work registration,” Chase said. “It gives me a chance to talk directly to people and, if needed, calm them down about the testing. It’s a task I feel I’m gifted at doing.”
The non-traditional student has built a career on serving others. Now in his fourth year with the National Guard, Chase previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard after graduating high school and has assisted with humanitarian relief efforts in Africa.
While he hoped to make a career of humanitarian work overseas, circumstances beyond his control brought him back to Nebraska. Chase said the transition from the work in Africa was difficult, but he kept moving forward and started a small construction business.
“I didn’t know what else to do, so I went with something I knew,” Chase said. “It took me a bit, but I realized there was this greater need for medical aid around the world, so I figured I’d spend a few years here in the states then, hopefully, go overseas again.”
That decision led him to sign up with the National Guard. And, while in the guard, Chase has completed education goals — including completing the MBA program with Nebraska Business. His was among the record 3,500-plus degrees conferred during the university’s May 9 virtual graduation celebration.
“I’ve had a stretching experience at the University of Nebraska,” Chase said. “It’s setting me up well for the next step in life.”
In late June, Chase will transition out of the National Guard and into the U.S. Air Force full time. He will enter as a first lieutenant and serve primarily as a hospital administrator. Chase’s first duty station is projected to be at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia.
As his family prepares for the move, Chase will continue to happily serve as needed to assist with the state’s COVID-19 response.
“I’m just one of many students representing the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on the National Guard testing teams,” Chase said. “They’re out here working full days and going back to their rooms to do homework and other assignments. They’re giving up college life to serve the needs of the Nebraskans.”
Chase — who was lucky enough to have completed his coursework before the university’s shift to remote teaching — said the dedication of those students and fellow National Guard members’ dedication in the face of a global pandemic has been inspiring.
“We’re out here doing exactly what is needed to serve the greater good and there’s no place I would rather be right now,” Chase said. “We only have one life and I believe we should live it to the max. And, to me, the best life one can lead is one lived in service to others.”