Since her freshman year, Tommie Award finalist Annabel Schueneman ’24 has welcomed prospective students to the University of St. Thomas through her role as a tour guide. But she’s more than a friendly face. As a member of the Aquinas Scholars Honors Program, she also embodies the university’s values through her dedication to academics and servant leadership.
“I consider Ms. Schueneman to be among the most talented, self-motivated undergraduates I have taught at the University of St. Thomas and among the top one percent of students I have ever encountered in any context,” said Dr. David Willard, associate professor in the Department of History who was Schueneman’s adviser for the Young Scholars Student Research program. “She always served as a quiet voice of encouragement and enthusiasm for other students’ ideas – a rare attribute that makes her a profound asset in any academic setting.”
With the final Tommie Award vote taking place Feb. 6-8, here are highlights from Schueneman’s conversation with the Newsroom.
What appealed to you about being a tour guide for the admissions office?
I’ve enjoyed doing that job and talking with students and their families. I like being able to help ease the transition by giving a firsthand experience and being there to answer questions.
As an orientation leader this past summer, I really enjoyed meeting the new students and allowing them to feel comfortable and welcomed to the St. Thomas community.
What have you enjoyed most about the St. Thomas community?
I’ll have to say the relationships, creating friendships, as well as the relationships with mentors, professionals and managers in the different student jobs. I think that at St. Thomas, there’s a great opportunity for people to dive in and cultivate those relationships and make them strong and long-lasting. There are many opportunities for that through convo hour, meetings with your advisers, and all kinds of other things that allow for relationships to be created. So, that’s something that I’ve enjoyed.
What made you interested in studying history and what skills have you gained from this major?
When I met Dr. (Kari) Zimmerman, the History Department chair, during the fall of my sophomore year, she expressed to me how with a history major, you develop skills that can go into any field.
I’m grateful for the connection I have with Dr. Zimmerman. She’s been one of my biggest mentors. She’s my academic adviser for one, but she’s also just someone I look up to as a professional and as a supporter on a personal level, too.
A few skills I’ve gained are to think critically and to understand various people’s lived experiences. It’s something that I very much value as a transferable skill to go into relationships and different careers.
Tell us about the Young Scholars research program that you completed during your junior year.
My research topic was to understand the lived experiences of Black women in Minnesota during the 1960s and 1970s, and how they were able to navigate institutions of higher education.
One of my favorite parts of the research program was going to the Minnesota Historical Archives, and the University of Minnesota Archives. I found it interesting to look through all the historical documents. I was also able to talk to a few different people who were engaged in higher education during the 1960s and 1970s in Minnesota.
I enjoyed meeting with my faculty mentor, Dr. Williard, and understanding the process of research as a historian, which was super interesting and very new to me. Working with Dr. Willard gave me guidance. But then, it was my project, so that felt neat to be able to take charge but also have the support of others.
What advice would you give to students looking to make an impact?
I think I would say, just be yourself. You don’t have to be the loudest person, but you can lead by example and treat other people the way that you would want to be treated. Because in life, the most important thing is the relationships that you have, and those will continue for a long time. How you interact with people, that’s what they remember.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’ve applied to law school, but I haven’t made any decisions yet. My plan is to go to a law school in Minnesota, starting in the fall. Then we’ll see what happens!