Graduating from Upper Iowa University together Saturday were brothers Mitchell (left) and Storm Schmitt.
FAYETTE, Iowa (May 13, 2013) - Storm Schmitt resisted the thought of attending college at Upper Iowa University. The Sumner, Iowa, native felt its 14-mile proximity to home was way too close for comfort. However, after dozens of college visits around the region, he could not find the right fit. Finally, a community leader strongly suggested he visit Upper Iowa. The Friday before high school graduation, Storm took a tour, talked to a professor, and ate lunch. He made his admissions deposit that day.
"I got a good vibe right away; one that I had not felt at any of the other college visits I'd been on," he said. "Everyone I talked to was so down to earth. I've very glad I changed my mind about Upper Iowa."
As someone accustomed to being active in high school, Storm jumped right in at UIU. He played center for the men's basketball team for four years, was a student ambassador and summer orientation assistant. His senior year, he was crowned Homecoming king.
"Every experience I've had at Upper Iowa has led to more and better experiences," he said. "They've built upon each other."
A few months after graduation in 2009, Storm was hired as an admissions counselor for Upper Iowa. He loved telling potential students his story and being able to share his love for UIU.
Education is very important in the Schmitt family. Both parents earned bachelor's degrees. Mother, Mary, is a retired teacher having taught high school business education for over 32 years, and father, Dan, is a retired pharmaceutical representative. Oldest brother, Brooks, has earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Ill.
Storm knew that his education wouldn't stop after earning his undergraduate degree, and he enrolled in the Upper Iowa Master of Business Administration (MBA) online program with an emphasis in human resource management. The program was challenging and well worth the extra effort. "I had to say no to my friends quite a bit, so I could study," he said.
In January, he was hired as the UIU executive director of admissions.
Saturday, May 11, Storm received his graduate hood during Upper Iowa University's MBA commencement ceremony. Walking across the stage in the same ceremony was Storm's youngest brother, Mitchell, who earned his bachelor's degree in accounting.
Mitchell, too, hadn't considered Upper Iowa University. He said he didn't want to be known as "Storm's little brother," eventually, however, he had to endure the title.
After graduating from Sumner-Fredericksburg High School in 2010, Mitchell headed to Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he intended to play football for the Kohawks and major in economics.
With his freshman year behind him, Mitchell worked on the support crew for UIU's Team Peacock during RAGBRAI. What he saw during that week-long adventure inspired him. "I saw how the professors genuinely cared about their students, and I was impressed that they ride RAGBRAI to raise scholarship money for their students," he said.
Mitchell said he really liked Coe, but felt that Upper Iowa was more his scene.
During a campus visit, he sat down with Randy Thomas, UIU associate professor of accounting, who mapped out Mitchell's college career. Working diligently, and at Mitchell's request, Randy took into account Mitchell's transfer credits and came up with a plan so he could graduate from Upper Iowa in just two years.
Mitchell is headed to South Bend, Ind., in the fall where he has been accepted into the master of accountancy program at the University of Notre Dame. Growing up Catholic, a Notre Dame education has a certain appeal to Mitchell. The university is also known for its high placement rate of graduates with the country's big four accounting firms, which is where he wants to start his career.
Like Storm, when Mitchell arrived at Upper Iowa, he hit the ground running. He was a student ambassador, a student assistant in admissions and a member of the UIU Business Club.
And, as much as he didn't want to be known as "Storm's Little Brother" on campus, it happened. "I'd have people come up to me and say, 'Do you know Storm?' And I'd say, 'A little bit.' Then they'd say, 'Well, you look just like him,'" he said. "It was pretty bad for a while, but it's okay now."
"I'm glad I chose Upper Iowa," Mitchell added. "It's because of UIU that I will be able to step into the master's program at Notre Dame and build from there."
About Upper Iowa University Upper Iowa University has 19 U.S. off-campus education centers, a traditional residential campus in Fayette, international centers in Hong Kong and Malaysia, as well as an extensive online program and an independent study program. About 2,000 students who completed their associate's, bachelor's or master's degrees through these UIU offerings graduated in three ceremonies. Of those, 700 graduated from the Fayette location, more than 1,000 completed their degree at a U.S. center, 500 graduated through online or independent study program, and 250 were from the international centers. UIU is one of the most diverse universities in Iowa. In all, the graduates represented 36 states and 14 nations.