Life of A Brave: The Story of Dr. Wickstrom, A Man Of Faith, Intellect, Leadership and Citizenship.
By John Udabe
Over the summer, St John Bosco hired on a new President and CEO of the school to bring change to the Bosco community, Dr. Brian Wickstrom.
With a rich resume, Dr. Wickstrom is an exciting and enriching addition to the Bosco community.
Dr. Wickstrom was raised and educated in the state of Kansas, along with his identical twin. As a student athlete in high school, he eventually went on to receive a full scholarship to Kansas State as a Track and Field athlete running the 400 meter. This background makes it easy for him to relate to the load many Bosco student-athletes take up in order to have an opportunity to compete at the next level, as he has experienced first-hand what that feels like.
“You have to learn to manage your time and you have to learn to survive, make friends, get along and build relationships to get through school and set yourself up to be able to have the contacts for the rest of your life,” Dr. Wickstrom said. “I think it’s very similar to going through the brotherhood of St John Bosco and the value of the relationships and the brotherhood that you make here in school.”
At Kansas State, he earned his MBA with a management concentration. After that, he earned a Masters of Sports Administration from Ohio University and later became a Doctor of Education and Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University.
“I just knew that I had such a great student experience and student athlete experience, that I wanted to impact students,” Dr. Wickstrom says.
Dr. Wickstrom’s family is a testament to the emphasis and importance of education on his life.
His twin brother is an accountant, his older brother is an iMax film producer, his sister in law is the first prenatal care specialist at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and his sister is a lawyer.
“Academics has always been pretty high in my family … we’ve always wanted to be a part of successful academic programs” said Dr. Wickstrom.
And Dr. Wickstrom has indeed been part of many successful programs. Dr. Wickstrom’s career has taken him all across the country as a part of institutions including the University of Ohio, the University of Missouri, the University of California Riverside, and most recently the University of Incarnate Word, just to name a few. With about 20 years of experience working in collegiate athletics, Dr. Wickstrom is no stranger to high level positions in some of the country’s most prominent institutions and he has left a positive impact everywhere he’s been.
Dr. Wickstrom also expressed that his former roles have given him a “great broad background of all these different experiences and philosophies that have helped give [him] a full gamut of experiences to make St. John Bosco that national leader it can be.”
But what is it like moving a family of seven to different places across the country? That’s right, seven. Along with his wife Celina, together they have five children. He has four sons, James (3), David Grant (8), John Christian (9), Vince (12), and his daughter Bricelle (5).
To Dr. Wickstrom, the moves across the country have been quite a learning experience for him and his kids, “I think it’s cool, they get to learn about different parts of the country, different cultures, from eating crawfish in Louisiana to becoming a part of San Antonio… It broadens their thoughts, it broadens their viewpoints on a lot of different things in terms of different diversities, different backgrounds, different educational levels, and it’s been a great experience for them,” he says.
Dr. Wickstrom is looking forward to his family joining the Bosco community as well. His sons John Christian and Vince are currently in 4th grade and 8th grade respectively at Dominic Savio and Vince will be going to St. John Bosco next year.
“It’s exciting to help build a school that’s going to help put our kids in a great university someday when they get to Bosco,” and he continues “and partner up with St. Josephs for our daughter Bricelle, so it’s an exciting time to watch our kids grow and be a part of this growth at St John Bosco.
Dr. Wickstrom has not been fazed either with the transition to St. John Bosco during Covid: “It’s a little bit of a blessing in terms of coming here with school not being open so we can focus on all the internal operations and not have to necessarily worry about the students,” Wickstrom admits.
Dr. Wickstrom is optimistic of making the best out of the substantial changes surrounding the Bosco community. Plenty of advancements are being made to prepare the school to acclimate to the current worldwide situation.
“We have spent almost $200,000 to get the school prepared to come back…we’re in a better position to come back than most high schools with our distancing capabilities. We have a great plan in place when the time comes.”
Dr. Wickstrom notes that St. John Bosco is currently going above and beyond, exceeding county requirements. Having one of the biggest private high school campuses has had some advantages; with 36 acres of land, students will be able to spread out outside across the campus.
Technological advancements have been made as well, exceeding increased numbers of hand sanitizer dispensers and changes and layout. One of the biggest advancements is the bipolar ionization system.
“It’s a system that uses bipolar ionization through the HVAC system in the buildings that will kill bacteria, that will kill viruses, that will kill fungi, and it’s something that we put in all the student areas already,” Dr. Wickstrom explains.
A major accomplishment for Bosco and something not many schools have the opportunity to implement yet.
Dr. Wickstrom is constantly working to bring new and exciting changes to the school. Take the Bosco Community Garden for example, a project in which he is working, only in his first few months at Bosco.
“Dr. Wickstrom is easy going and fun to work with, and is fitting in well at St. John Bosco,” Mrs. Ellison, the Dean of Enrollment Management says, “Dr. Wickstrom brings outstanding leadership to Bosco. He is results driven and motivates others to achieve excellence. In addition to creating an environment focused on excellence, he is also a very approachable and considerate leader who always brings a positive attitude.”
In all, Dr. Wickstrom is an invaluable and thrilling addition to the Bosco community. His goals are clear as he says, “As I progressed in my career and my wife and I have grown our family, we wanted to be able to have a major impact on our kids, their lives, and basically set all the students up that we can come into contact with to be on a great path to accomplish all their goals.”
He has an unwavering commitment to the education and the success of all the students he is involved with. With Dr. Wickstrom at the helm, St. John Bosco appears to have a bright future ahead. Wickstrom is looking forward for him and his family to grow with the Bosco family.
“We’ve already seen some great accomplishments as an institution and we are just getting started, so the fun is just beginning.”
For all of the many accomplishments he has done and the ones that are on the works, Dr. Wickstrom deserves much appreciation and respect for his work. Everyone at Saint John Bosco is excited to see what other great additions he has planned for the future.