Tiffany Schmitt: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!

Stasia Lopez's picture

Tiffany Schmitt earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from a different university in 2016, and decided to come back to school after a long hiatus. Up until just last year, she’s been farm-hopping across northern California and southern Oregon. Although she went to school for psychology, she found it difficult to break into the field at her degree level, and ultimately decided to do something totally different and adventurous! After the pandemic hit in 2020, Tiffany found that lifestyle was no longer sustainable, and had to really consider what kind of profession would suit her best. She saw the need for nurses, and had always wanted to join the medical field, but had been intimidated when she was younger. Now at 27, Tiffany felt better prepared for the challenge, and is currently taking pre-requisites for the nursing program at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). She is also working part-time at the Learning Assistance Center (LAC) as a Peer Tutor for Anatomy & Physiology (A&P). She loves it so far, and she feels extremely confident in her decision to make this big change. 

Tiffany Schmitt: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!

How did you choose your major in college? How did you choose CCAC? Did you have a mentor or person who helped guide you through that process? 
I chose my major because I see a need for nurses in this country, now more than ever. I've always been interested in biology and medicine but felt like I was stuck trying to put my previous degree to use, even though my heart was no longer in it. 

Now seemed like the right time, and CCAC seemed like the right place. Not only because it's local and affordable, but because out of the five or so institutions I reached out to, the staff at CCAC were the only ones who answered all of my questions, took the time to explain enrollment to me, and treated me like a person rather than a dollar sign. 

I did not have a mentor to guide me through the enrollment/financial process, but I don't feel I needed one. The advisors and financial aid staff at CCAC helped me through the process; it was easier than I thought it would be. 

What student activities were you involved in, while attending college? Were you involved with any activities or work experience outside of school? Any advice for current students about getting involved to gain relevant skills and experience? 
I am currently a Peer Tutor at the Learning Assistance Center, at Boyce campus. I started this semester, and while I haven't had an opportunity to tutor too many students yet, I'm really enjoying helping students understand their material. 

Outside of school, I volunteer in the summer at Oliver Miller Homestead, a historical society in my hometown. We dress up in 18th century costumes and act as Tour Guides and Educators about "frontier" life back in the mid to late 1700s. My main interest there is in the medicinal herb gardening. It's fascinating to see how far we've advanced in the medical field since then, and to teach people about what was actually effective versus what we now know was just simple hocus pocus. 

Tutoring in biology keeps past information fresh in my mind; I feel like I'm helping myself just as much as my students. Even something that wouldn't seem relevant on the outside, like historical reenactment, can still tie back into your major all while making the material just a little more interesting. 

What skills did you gain from being involved and/or working? 
Between tutoring students and giving tours at the Homestead, I've become much better at public speaking! 

What special memories, if any, can you share from your time at CCAC? 
I'm only two semesters into my education at CCAC, but my experience here so far has been ten times better than at my last undergrad. I have never had more attentive professors, more down to earth peers, or more helpful administration than I've had so far at CCAC.

Tiffany Schmitt: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!

Anything else you'd like to share for your spotlight article? 
I would like to thank my A&P professor, Dr. Tursonzadah, for recommending me for my tutoring job and encouraging me to apply for a student spotlight! 

Tiffany Schmitt: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!


Read more stories, and why community college is so important, on #CommunityCollegeBecause:




Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is Director of Student Life and Engagement at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), as well as an Instructor for a class on "The Job Search" at CCAC. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University in 2013 and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel, college to career topics and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.