Sheri Ann Schmitz '23 wanted a fresh start in a new place (not in Florida). That's how she found her grandfather's name hanging on the walls.
When Mickey Mouse calls, you don't get a whole lot of advance warning. In 2017, Sheri Ann Schmitz '21 was unexpectadley laid off. She had been working in marketing for six years in New York City, but was let go when her company was acquired by a larger company. Schmitz quickly applied to a lot of jobs in a lot of cities, including Walt Disney World in Orlando. It had always been a dream to work for Disney, but for two months, she heard nothing. When they did finally call, Schmitz had all of three days to make her way to Florida.
Days later, when Schmitz started her new job in ticketing, she was living out her own fairytale in the shadow of Cinderella's castle. The New Jersey native worked at the Magical Kingdom and Epcot and lived on Disney property. Plus, as a cast member, she had unlimited access to the parks. For a while, she couldn't have been happier at the 'Most Magical Place on Earth.' But a feeling had been gnawing at her for four years, and by 2019, she couldn't ignore it any longer.
In 2015, Schmitz's grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer. The experience ignited a new interest in nursing. Of course, Schmitz was already a working professional, and her undergraduate degree was in international relations. Pursuing nursing would mean leaving Disney, going back to school, and starting over at 30 years old. She uprooted her life to move to Orlando and it worked... she decided to do it again.
Schmitz's dad grew up in Albany, and she knew her grandfather had gone to Siena. Also, she has a cousin on campus and another graduated from Siena last year. When Schmitz learned Siena had recently launched a nursing program, she took a closer look. Not only did she find the perfect program - she found her last name honorably dedicated on the campus.
"I spoke with Dr. Lisa Lally about the program, and she was so incredibly helpful and encouraging! She helped me realize that it wasn't too late to start working towards a nursing degree or to be worried about how long it had been since I'd been in a classroom. I could not be happier to be pursuing my nursing degree here at Siena!
I love the small class size because it allows us to become such a tight knit community. It's great having a group of people who understand what you're going through and who you can study with. And I loved having the opportunity to be a SAINT this semester and welcome new and transfer students to campus."
Sheri Ann Schmitz '23
Anthony "Tony" Schmitz grew up in Albany, but by 18, he was fighting in Sicily. Drafted into service, Schmitz survived some of WWII's heaviest fighting in the Battle of Anzio and was part of a division that invaded Southern France in 1944. Many years later, France's ambassador to the United States thanked Schmitz for his bravery in helping liberate France from Nazi invasion.
When Schmitz returned home from Europe, he enrolled at Siena. He graduated in 1955 and in many ways, he never left. Schmitz had season basketball tickets and rarely missed a game. The record board near the Siena pool bears his name; Schmitz is also recognized by name in the new ARC lobby.
Schmitz was 93 when passed away peacefully at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany. That was three years ago, about one month after his granddaughter, Sheri Ann, started a new job in Florida. He would be pleased beyond words to know she is now a Saint.