Franklin & Marshall’s 224th Commencement was always going to be special for the Schein family. It would not only be the graduation day for twin sisters Chelsea Schein ’11 and Johanna Schein ’11, but the continuation of a family legacy at the College that includes the twins’ mother, Jan Schein ’78, and older sister, Hallie Schein ’07.
When the Office of the Dean of the College asked Chelsea to stop by Old Main last week, Saturday’s ceremony took on a new meaning. Johanna accompanied her sister to visit Dean of the College Kent Trachte.
“I went into Dean Trachte’s office, and he said, “Congratulations, you’ve won the Williamson Medal,’” Chelsea says. “I started crying. I went out and told Jo, and we just hugged for a minute or two.”
Winning the College’s most prestigious student award would make many students emotional, but for Schein, it carries special significance. Having attended several F&M Commencement ceremonies, the Baltimore native is familiar with the College’s impressive list of Williamson winners and the impact they have had at F&M and beyond.
“Receiving this award is humbling. It’s also very surreal,” says Shein, who graduates with a major in scientific & philosophical studies of mind and a minor in psychology. “I remember hearing about the Williamson at my sister’s graduation and others. Eranda Jayawickre ’05 and Aditi Malik ’09 [previous Williamson recipients] are people I look up to. It’s weird to think that other people might look at me the same way.”
Over the past four years, Schein has blazed an eclectic trail of high-quality research, influential community service and leadership in student life. Along with Johanna (who is a Rouse Scholar), she graduates Summa Cum Laude and has been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She also won the Edward S. Reed Prize and the Stanley Craig Memorial Prize, among others. Academic achievement runs in the family, as Jan Schein won the William H. Hager Prize in Business, while Hallie was a member of the Sociology Honor Society and graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Schein might be most fulfilled by her work on the executive board of the Alice Drum Women’s Center, and especially her effort to help launch a celebration of diversity, gender and sexuality during her sophomore year. After posters put up by LGBTA (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered and their Allies) were vandalized in 2009, Schein responded by planning the inaugural Gender Bender Ball—an event that invites students to push the boundaries of sexual identity.
“Up to that point, students’ questions about gender and sexuality only seemed to be discussed below the radar,” Schein says. “I thought it was time to do something positive. More than 300 students showed up, and it was the most proud I’ve been at F&M.”
Schein also has a remarkable record of community service, from volunteer work with the School District of Lancaster to her recent participation in a medical mission to Guatemala, among a host of other initiatives. During her junior and senior years, she served as a voting member of the Pennsylvania Department of Health HIV/AIDS Community Planning Group, the result of her work with the Pittsburgh Prevention Project’s Young Adult Roundtable for HIV/AIDS Prevention.
“I learned about character and community service over 13 years in Jewish Day School,” says Schein, who spent much of her spare time in F&M’s Klehr Center for Jewish Life. “So by the time I got to F&M, service was already important to me.”
Schein served the College in many capacities. Along with her sister, she was a house adviser for three years in Ware College House, home of many of her favorite memories. She also got a personal look at F&M’s administration, serving as a member of the Educational Policy Committee, Faculty Council on Campus Life, Board of Trustees External Relations Committee and Great Teaching Great Learning Committee.
A two-time Hackman Scholar with departmental honors in her major, Schein now prepares to enter the Ph.D. program in social, decision and organizational sciences at the University of Maryland. She looks back on her undergraduate education with happiness and fulfillment.
“I feel like I got as much out of an F&M education as I could possibly get,” she says.
It is a Schein family tradition.