NORFOLK, NE - A Norfolk man has been recognized by the Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA) as a distinguished alumnus. John Schmitt was honored for outstanding career achievement recently with the NCCA’s Northeast Community College Area Distinguished Alumni Award during the organization’s annual meeting here.
The award is presented annually to one alumnus from each of five of the state’s community college areas.
Originally from Wisner, Schmitt is a 1974 graduate of Northeast, then Northeast Technical Community College, where he earned a degree in air conditioning and major appliance repair. He was a heating and cooling contractor for eleven years after graduation. In 1985, Schmitt earned an associate of arts degree (Liberal Arts). He has also earned degrees from Wayne State College and Northern Illinois University.
Schmitt is presently employed by the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired as a vocational rehabilitation counselor.
As a counselor, he works in promoting a positive understanding of blindness; career counseling and job placement; provides independent living skills training; offers transition services from high school to adult life; and provides assistance to older individuals who are blind, among other services.
Schmitt has also served as a board member and treasurer of Blind Corps, Incorporated. He has worked in developing countries with the visually impaired and with professionals who work with and taught independent living skills to visually impaired individuals in teaching a positive philosophy toward blindness.
Schmitt said, “I have developed a great fondness for the country of Turkey and its people. Through my work with Blind Corps, I had the privilege of working on projects in Istanbul in 2008 and 2010. I am looking forward to returning someday.”
Schmitt also participated in mission work in Mexico, Vietnam and China.
He has also been involved in his community including his association with Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Elkhorn Valley Museum and Research Center, Norfolk Civil Service Commission, Sons of the American Legion, Leadership Norfolk, Norfolk Rotary Club, and Friendship Partners, a Christian ministry that helps meet the unique needs of international students at Northeast Community College.
Schmitt was presented the Wisner-Pilger Alumni Achievement Award in 2002 … the same year he was inducted into the Northeast Community College Alumni Hall of Success.
He isn’t the only member of his family who has had an appreciation for Northeast Community College. His late father, Clarence, was a member of the Board of Governors for approximately 18-years.
Schmitt said he has a great deal of respect for Northeast Community College.
“Northeast gave me the opportunity to acquire skills that have allowed me to find meaningful employment. I have gained some lifelong friendships with both staff and students of the college. I know the time my father invested with Northeast gave him some of the most gratifying experiences of his lifetime.”
He also offers this advice to students.
“When you start your post-secondary education at Northeast, you can be assured that you are making a wise and affordable investment in yourself that will benefit you for a lifetime.”
Schmitt and his wife, Shirley, have two children, son Andrew, and his wife, Chelsea Schmitt of Fremont, daughter, Natalie Schmitt, of Omaha, and three grandchildren.