January Alum Spotlight: Emily (Sides) Schlitz

Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders – Truman, May 2000
Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders – Saint Louis University, May 2002

Years involved at Newman: August of 1996 through May of 2000

Current city of residence: 

St. Louis, MO

What brought you to Newman and when did you first start taking part? I first began attending the Newman center in August of 1996.  I had always attended Mass weekly with my family prior to leaving for college, and I was interested in checking out the Newman Center, to consider how I was going to approach my faith once I was out of my parents’ house, and at a place in life to make my own decisions.  I also really enjoyed singing, and was interested in joining the choir – at that time it was led by several dynamic older students, and they made it a very compelling reason to check out the Newman Center.

What is your earliest memory of Newman? My earliest memory is of attending Thursday night choir rehearsals.  It was so life-giving to find a bunch of people my own age, choosing to make music for Mass, not because an adult was telling them they should, but because they chose to express joy/love/prayer in that way for themselves.

Sum up your Newman experience in six words or fewer. Laughing, singing, praising, growing, learning, praying.

What was the most iconic “Newman” moment you ever witnessed? It was actually after I graduated…I was newly employed, and needing to take some training courses for a certification. I was newly off in the “adult” world, and still poor as dirt. It just so happened that one of the trainings I needed was being offered in Kirksville. I didn’t have the money for a hotel, but needed to stay overnight. I called the Newman Director at the time, Bettie Lesczynski, and asked if I could sleep on a couch at Newman. She didn’t hesitate to say yes, and…for me…having a “home” in Kirksville with a couch to crash on after I had graduated and left for the adult world meant more than I can say!!

1997-choir
The Newman Center Choir in 1997.

With what Newman committees/activities did you participate? What do you remember most about them? I participated in many retreats, choir rehearsals, dances, BBQs, finals weeks, concerts, Masses, and even a homecoming skit at Baldwin Hall! I remember most that it felt SO wonderful to have other students who were young adults just like me who didn’t necessarily have their lives all figured out, but who could have tons of fun with other people, while also honoring and sharing a faith.

2000-choir
The Newman Center Choir spring semester of 2000.

Where are you now? I work as a Speech-Language Pathologist in St. Louis, MO for one of the city’s charter school districts – Confluence Academies.  I am married to a delightful man, Aaron Schiltz, who I first spoke to at the Newman Center!  We sang together in the choir for most of our time in Kirksville. We have two kids, Ben (11) and Molly (8).  We are still active in our church (St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis), and both still sing in choir.  We were even able to travel to Scotland with our church choir recently!

How has Newman impacted you in the long term? Newman provided me the vital knowledge at the ages of 18-22…that I didn’t need to have it “all figured out”…I just needed to keep walking forward and keep myself grounded in prayer and faith…that it was ok to ask questions, and to not know the answers…and that most people my age were just like me – forging their way ahead – taking their faith with them – even with all the unanswered questions and all the work that is required to leave high school and walk the path into adulthood.

What advice would you give to present-day Newman-ites? Keep attending Newman, even while you are figuring out for yourself and for your own heart what it means to be the adult you are seeking to become. Ground yourself in weekly Mass–an hour each week that you “plug in” to prayerfully asking questions of faith, with others around you who are walking the same type of journey. You won’t regret attending Mass–no matter where your life and faith journey take you. And it just might happen that you will meet AMAZING people along the way who “get” your own journey in ways you could never have imagined.

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Kim Westerman

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