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Meramec Campus

STLCC Significantly Impacted the Story of Jeri Schultz's Life

Now the executive director of graduate and professional studies for adult and online programs at Fontbonne University, Jeri Schultz never misses a chance to share her St. Louis Community College story when making presentations to prospective students.

Sometimes, parents really do know what’s best for their kids. Jeri Schultz wholeheartedly concurs.

An unsuccessful attempt in pursuing a music career, and prodding from her parents, led Schultz to St. Louis Community College and ultimately to a long career in retail merchandising, leadership development and as an educator herself.

Schultz’s educational journey began at Southeast Missouri State University via a music scholarship. When funding became unavailable, Schultz returned home and needed to find a new direction.

“I was lost and needed to continue my education. I was about 20 at the time, and my parents would not accept that I did not have a degree,” she recalls. “I drove over to the Meramec campus office where I could select and listen to ‘tapes’ of different programs and ‘listen’ to program faculty talk about their departments and programs. I listened to one about the Retail Buying and Merchandising program. Since I spent my high school years working after school for JC Penney and learned so much about retail and operations, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a buyer.”

Cheered on by her instructors, Schultz got involved as an officer of the Retail Club, sold cookies to earn money to go on retail trips, and was asked to serve as an intern for the May Department Stores. She worked at the Northwest Plaza Famous Barr store for 16 hours a week for free and earned credit hours for her work each semester.

After earning her associate degree from STLCC, Schultz completed bachelors and master’s degrees in management from Webster University, graduating with honors.

“It was really hard work. But when the time came, and I proved myself, I was promoted to the downtown store,” she said. “I moved into the Famous Barr Executive Training program and was the first from the Retail program to ever be accepted. It was such an honor. It was absolutely the best time of my life. I worked so hard, made so many friends and learned how to become a professional business person. I also learned how to become a role model for women.”

Then Schultz’s pathway turned toward education. She was contacted by a Meramec dean to become an adjunct instructor for retail and business courses. And she has never looked back.

“I was able to connect with the students who were so much like I was many years before and I could find internships for them, support them and give back to my college,” Schultz said. “I brought in expert retail speakers for their Retail Club and also gave them opportunities to spend time with me shadowing me on the job.”

Schultz then was asked to present at conferences on women in business, education and more. She later started her own company, through which she developed corporate leadership strategic initiatives for Fortune 500 corporations.

As a result of her teaching experience at STLCC, Schultz was offered an adjunct position at Webster University. She has taught there for 32 years and enjoys adjunct full professor status.

Schultz also has added Fontbonne, Lindenwood and Maryville universities to her teaching profile. She currently is Fontbonne’s executive director of graduate and professional studies for adult and online programs. She oversees a team that recruits students and adults who want to return to school.

“It is a great feeling to see their eyes open wide when they know they have chosen the right program and major,” she said. “Once the application is in and they are accepted, it is like they have won the lottery. They have such a sense of accomplishment.”

Schultz sees a lot of herself in each one of these students.

“I believe in the students who walk through the door, and I was one of them and I can relate to their needs and I know what they can do and be,” Schultz said. “When we receive letters and calls from our students and graduates acknowledging our work and service then we know we have truly made a difference.”

Throughout Schultz’s career, she has helped others find jobs. She has been able to encourage, support and deliver on what she promise to the community. She has served on boards and committees and worked with leaders throughout St. Louis to make a difference with and through others.

“I have far exceeded what I thought I could do. I have learned to be proud of myself,” Schultz said. “More importantly, I have had great colleagues, mentors and friends over the many years. And, I remain humble.

“Of course, having taught for over 32 years as an adjunct faculty member, I believe in education. I believe in the foundation of St. Louis Community College,” Schultz said. “I present all over St. Louis and beyond, and I never miss an opportunity to share my STLCC story.”

It’s a story that no doubt made her parents proud.