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In Memory of Chad McBride: Creighton University professor taught students how to communicate, how to live

"All of us should live life like any day could be our last. Tell people what they mean to you."
Posted at 5:03 PM, Apr 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-23 18:03:44-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Sunday, April 21, 2024, beloved Creighton University Professor Chad McBride passed away.

  • He had been open about his ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, diagnosis.
  • Despite its affects on his body, McBride continued to teach - and students continued to sign up for his classes, many on a waiting list, anxious for the opportunity to learn from someone with such expertise in communication and living.
  • "All of us should live life like any day could be our last. Tell people what they mean to you," McBride said in November.

Continue reading for the original broadcast transcript:

The show "This is us" was critically acclaimed. It inspired professors at Creighton to create a class around the topics in the story lines.

And students line up to take it. Though less for what it's about and more because of who's teaching.

In this season of celebrations, often full of family and friends.

Mary Nelson found what that professor has to say could influence your perspective on togetherness.

We joined after a break-out session.

"What did other groups talk about?"

Chad McBride has been with Creighton for 20 years. Though he jokes he started teaching long before.

"Much to my little sister's chagrin, I loved creating assignments and homework for her to do."

In time, Dr. McBride wouldn't just teach — he'd author and become chair of his department.

Blindsided he was diagnosed with ALS three-and-a-half years ago.

"When I was diagnosed, my doctor said to file for long-term disability and quit my job. I am so glad I didn't take the advice."

Each semester he's figured out new ways to keep going.

"Before I lost my voice, I recorded myself reading a thousand sentences, and the computer program created my voice I use on my tablet."

His voice is driven by his eyes, persevering is partly about what's good for him. But his chair and friend Dr. Sam Senda-Cook says it's also what's best for their students.

"It's not often that they would be able to talk to somebody who is an expert in this field of communication, who is going through some very slow-moving, long-term trauma like he's going through."

Dr. Amanda Holman is another colleague and friend. She co-teaches “This is Us."

"He's a life-changer, right? He changes the way you see relationships. The way you see family."

Senior Kylie Karsky heard these things and knew of Dr. McBride's research. He's why she wanted to take the class.

"I expected it to be pretty rigorous in the sense of communication, family dynamics, but truthfully, it made me admire Dr. McBride a lot more."

She says it's because of how he speaks about parenthood.

"Becoming a dad has significantly changed how I teach my classes on relationships."

Because, for him it was a dream. Evident in this video from last year.

"I don't know how to not cry about this part...He is loving, he is nurturing, he is like -- present."

And Dr. McBride explained to me it's not by chance.

"I want to make memories with my son and husband. Jackson was almost four when I was diagnosed and he is seven now. He won't remember that before I was sick, so all I can try to do is try to cram a lifetime worth of memories in whatever time I have left."

Unable to stop the hold ALS has on his body. His peace and strength of mind are as pure as anything we can understand.

"I tell my students every semester that relationships are part of the human experience. We're born into families and if we are lucky, we will have someone's hand to hold when we leave this earth."

Respect him. Feel inspired. But he's conveyed to his students: There's no room to feel sorry.

"I think - the biggest thing - is from an outsider perspective, you can look at Dr. McBride and say, 'What a cruel disease,' 'How sad this is,' 'How devastating it's going to be to those around him and close to him.' And I think it's important to notice that that's not how he views it."

Yes, ALS affects every part of his life including how he teaches and how he shows up for his family and friends. But not whether he does any of it.

"The capacity he has to advocate for himself and others. His capacity to care for students and be there for them. Even as his life and his body changes... significantly."

I asked Dr. McBride about a closing message. So that all of us could learn.

"We talk about things like end-of-life conversations with loved ones. Sometimes, those things are hard to think about, but I have a definite perspective of things now. I talk to my students about how I have a good idea about how I am going to die, but all of us should live life like any day could be our last. Tell people what they mean to you."

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