Jackie Schmidt Photo

Student Spotlight: Jackie Schmidt

October 9, 2023

As part of its mission, The Chatfield Edge endeavors to support non-traditional students. Jackie Schmidt, a current Chatfield Edge scholar, certainly fits in that category.

Jackie grew up in Fayetteville and was the youngest of six children. Her mom went to Chatfield College and taught at the college after she retired from a career teaching elementary school. Jackie has fond memories of attending Vacation Bible School and taking swimming lessons on Chatfield’s campus as a young child. After graduating from high school, Jackie got married and had two children. While raising her children, she worked full-time and attended Chatfield College part-time, eventually earning her associate degree in 1999.

Her degree from Chatfield College served her well for more than two decades, allowing her to work in the accounting field and climb the corporate ladder. Then, in 2021, Jackie’s life took a turn as she was laid off from her job due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Unexpectedly, she found herself in her mid-fifties searching for employment alongside many others who had bachelor’s and advanced degrees.

Jackie did find employment, moving away from corporate accounting and landing a position as the assistant to the treasurer at The Grant Center in Bethel, Ohio.

“I took a pay cut when I left corporate, but I trusted that working in the education field would open new doors,” said Jackie.

She made it her personal goal to go back to school to get her bachelor’s degree, but finances were not readily available as she was still connected to the student loans of her two children who both graduated from college. Remembering her roots, Jackie turned to The Chatfield Edge for help.

“My prior experience at Chatfield College created a strong foundation for me many years ago,” she said.

Last February, Jackie met with David Hesson, Director of Programs at The Chatfield Edge, to search for an educational pathway that would suit her situation. Together, they found an online program at Purdue University specifically designed for middle-aged, working-class students. With guidance and financial support from The Chatfield Edge, Jackie started this self-paced program in August and hopes to graduate within twelve months with a bachelor’s degree.

To support her on this educational journey, The Chatfield Edge, through its generous donors, provided Jackie with the Cheryl Kern, Claire Castellini Thornton Wilger, Virgil G. Gifford, and Lena H. Rosselot Scholarships.

Jackie feels blessed to have this new opportunity and recognizes that not every non-traditional student has support. She knows that many are trying to fight barriers to education by themselves and wants to offer encouragement.

“Set your goal and have your faith. That’s what I’m doing on my path. Keeping my faith strong, I know I will be able to reach my goal,” she said.

Her experience has taught her that everything in society changes daily, and she believes that the way forward is to get on board with the change. As a Chatfield College alum, she watched her alma mater close last December, yet believes that the educational legacy of the Ursuline sisters lives on.

“The Chatfield Edge is still assisting and promoting education. It’s there for the community and that’s what the community needs right now.”

If you or someone you know is a non-traditional or first-generation student looking to further your goals through college, trade school, or a certificate program, contact David Hesson at david.hesson@chatfieldedge.org or 513-875-3344 ext. 115. We are here to help you gain success in life through education.