Marketing & Communications
Passion, energy, intellect define Schneider
Stephanie Schneider (center) with mentors
Drs. Jane Rosser (left) and Marc Simon (right)
When she graduates in December with a bachelor’s degree after only two and a half years at BGSU, Stephanie Schneider will have packed more into her college experience than many students do in four years, both academically and in service-learning.
Schneider, a political science major from Massillon, Ohio, is a member of the President’s Leadership Academy (PLA), which prepares students to lead with integrity and provides a renewable scholarship up to the cost of in-state tuition. “It was one of those opportunities I wasn’t expecting,” she said, although it’s easy to see why her advisers tapped her for membership.
“Service has always been an important part of my life,” Schneider said. “Since high school I’ve worked toward positive change, and that led me to the PLA.”
Students in the leadership academy come to BGSU in the summer before their first semester for an intensive orientation and experiential learning. That, in turn, led to another development: “I’m a proud Falcon Flame,” Schneider said. “The very first day of the PLA summer program, July 5, 2010, while going up in the elevator at Offenhauer I met Eric Walters.”
The fellow PLA members eventually became engaged and will be married next July. Walters, who works on the video crew for the Falcon football team, will also graduate in December.
Drawn to the concept of servant leadership embraced by the PLA, Schneider became a Civic Action Leader through the Office of Service-Learning, which assisted her in being hired by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation as the teen programmer for Bowling Green Teen Central, a positive after-school gathering place for youth whose creation was led by BGSU.
She has also interned with the United Way, where “learning the in-depth practices of a nonprofit foundation helped me achieve an understanding of managing a nonprofit organization. I have my hand in a lot of different pots,” she acknowledges. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of different opportunities.”
Dr. Marc Simon, chair of the political science department, helped arrange her United Way internship and has been an important adviser to Schneider, as has Dr. Jane Rosser, director of the Office of Service-Learning. “They’ve both been instrumental in my growth,” Schneider said. Another key figure in her development has been Paul Valdez, coordinator of the Civic Action Leader program who has supervised her within the service-learning office, where she spends about 14 hours a week.
“She’s probably one of the most talented students I’ve ever worked with, and we get a lot of pretty talented students here,” Rosser said. “She has great energy and passion and brings her whole self to everything she does. One of the things I admire most about her is her intellectual curiosity, which she shows in her academic work. She’s challenged herself intellectually, and that has opened up several career paths for her. She’s always passionate about what she’s learning, and you feel energized just being around her.
“She has set the bar for CALs (Civic Action Leaders),” Rosser added. “She is a major player in sustaining the partnership between the Office of Service-Learning and Parks and Recreation. She’s also a good teacher and strong mentor and has been a good role model for our younger students.”
Schneider arrived at the University with a running start, having taken a number of AP classes from her sophomore through senior years in high school that enabled her to test out of many basic level courses. She also brought with her the French, Spanish and Chinese she had learned in high school.
But that did not mean she opted to take any fewer classes — just the opposite. In addition to continuing her French and Spanish studies, she decided to add Japanese to her list. “My freshman mind latched onto Japanese,” she said, laughing. “It was a lot of work but I loved it.”
Her knowledge of and facility with language seemed a natural fit for a degree in international studies, and she met often with department faculty.
In the meantime, she enjoyed developing her connections with service and community leaders through the Chapman Community at Kohl, where she was hired.
“I got a job as a desk clerk at Kohl Hall with help from my resident adviser my freshman year, and continued as one at Falcon Heights as a sophomore. Working was important to me as it allowed me to learn more more skills and meet more of my fellow residents.”
“I stuffed a lot into my freshman year,” Schneider said. “I didn’t want to lose that momentum from high school, and there were so many opportunities to get involved.”
In addition to her language classes, she began taking political science courses with Simon and became so enthusiastic that she decided to double major in political science and international studies. “His international relations course really started that desire.”
She found that the public administration track in political science was a good match with her desire to work in the nonprofit arena, she said, and having the international perspective was helpful.
But juggling all those interests was becoming difficult, especially when at one point she considered triple majoring.
“The Arts and Sciences Handbook became my best friend,” she recalls. “It has a simple layout that shows what courses count toward what. I met with the Arts and Sciences advisers a lot. I had an ambitious idea of what I wanted to accomplish and they encouraged me along the way.”
Eventually, she experienced a “shift in priorities,” and, having plenty of credits, decided to graduate early with a major in political science, a minor in international studies and a specialization in Spanish that will enable her take a proficiency test and teach if she chooses.
“At BGSU I was able to find my passions and I am in the process of discovering which ones I am interested in pursuing as a career. I love political science. I love nonprofit management. I love languages. I love service and working with youth. With so many activities that I love, it will be a challenge for me in the upcoming months to decide which career will fulfill my . . . focuses, while also allowing me to achieve the family life I desire. As of right now, the possibilities are endless and that is how I am viewing the opportunities and challenges I will face as I graduate at 20. So much of my life is yet ahead of me, and I am so excited for the future that BGSU has prepared me for.”
Whatever she does, it is clear that Schneider’s future will be one of intense involvement for the betterment of others.
(Posted December 10, 2012 )