Name: Cindi Schaefer

Hometown: Rockford, Ill.

Title: Student support services counselor/advisor; graduate student (education)

Business: University of South Florida

Cindi knew her calling. Lakeland, and its psychology program, reaffirmed what she had long felt in her heart.

“For me, it’s always been about helping people,” she says.

That’s exactly what she’s doing now, and what she plans to do for many years to come.

Cindi, a 2012 Lakeland grad, takes classes full-time and teaches two classes as a teaching assistant at South Florida, where she counsels incoming conditional undergrad students as they try to gain permanent fall enrollment.

“I consider myself a life skills coach,” says Cindi, whose graduate schooling is paid for by USF.

Her compassion and hard work have paid off. One young man arrived as an immature freshman who acted inappropriately in class and was on the verge of being dismissed. Cindi saw something in him and convinced the administration to give him another chance.

“He’s turned it around, and now he’s going to be a real leader on this campus,” Cindi says. “He went through a transformation, and that’s really cool for me, knowing I helped.”

Cindi’s long-term goals include earning a Ph.D. by the time she’s 30, working as a dean of students at a small Midwestern college or university and continuing to answer her calling. She looks back at her time at Lakeland fondly, and praises her professors for helping her land internships at the Safe Harbor domestic violence shelter in Sheboygan and pushing her to “get out of my comfort zone.”

“I just hope someday I can give back to a place like Lakeland as much as Lakeland gave to me,” she says. “I simply can’t say enough good things about Lakeland. People may not have heard about it, or know where it is, but honestly, it changed my life.”