Always a Musician
Music has always been an integral part of Tim Schmidt’s life. As a child, he reveled in the rich harmonies produced by the organist and choir at Calvary Lutheran Church in Amherst, New York, where his father serves as pastor.
When he was in sixth grade, Schmidt starting taking private piano lessons and quickly became adept. He played piano in the orchestra at Kenmore East High School and accompanied the choir to a competition in Washington, D.C. By his senior year, Schmidt’s musical proficiency landed him a spot within the Buffalo State Music Department. Meanwhile, his top-notch grades qualified him for acceptance into the college’s Muriel A. Howard Honors Program.
“I chose Buffalo State because it has an excellent music program, has a good sense of community, and it was easily accessible,” said Schmidt, who commutes from his family’s home in Tonawanda, New York.
Two Degrees, Two Minors
As much as he loves the piano, Schmidt knew he didn’t want to pursue a music career. As a freshman, he was unsure exactly what he wanted to do. He explored courses through the Communication Department, and by his sophomore year, arrived at a second major, public communication, along with two minors—political science and public administration.
Together these disciplines directed him toward his chosen career path. He’s entering a master’s program in public administration at Syracuse University with the ultimate goal of working in state government.
“I’ve been able to explore a lot of avenues I wouldn’t have been able to at many other schools. Buffalo State offers a lot of different programs and coursework I could fit into my degree,” he said. “And I was still able to finish within four years.”
It’s an impressive enough feat to graduate with dual degrees and two minors within four years. But Schmidt accomplished this while maintaining a 3.95 grade point average. He also delved into an intensive independent study research project. His performance prompted assistant professor of political science (public administration division), Jason Rivera to invite Schmidt to help him conduct research on representative bureaucracy during the spring semester.
“It was the kind of research students typically do in graduate school, not so much as an undergraduate,” Schmidt said. “It was probably the most difficult assignment I’ve ever done. I feel like I’m an expert in that little piece of the field.”
Although he won’t pursue music professionally, Schmidt said he’s grateful he auditioned for the music program. He’s enjoyed the opportunities he’s had to play with campus ensembles and as an accompanist for vocalists. He’s also made good friends within the department.
“You are involved with these students from the very beginning so it’s hard not to make friends,” he said with a smile.
“I’ve been able to explore a lot of avenues I wouldn’t have been able to at many other schools. Buffalo State offers a lot of different programs and coursework I could fit into my degree.”
Prepared for the Future
Through all his experiences at Buffalo State, Schmidt said he feels prepared for life after graduation.
“Both the music and the communication departments give you real-life skills you can use to get a job and work in whatever field you want to go into. In the PR major, we have a writing course that results in a whole portfolio of work. If I wanted to apply for a PR job, I would have a portfolio to show a potential employer and the skills to do the job and do it well.”
When he decided to pursue public administration in graduate school, Schmidt said he found great faculty support.
“Dr. Rivera and Dr. (Suparna) Soni have helped me on a weekly basis—with grad school applications, reading through my papers, and helping me find research topics,” he said. “They have been the most welcoming faculty.”
Other students should expect to find similar support at Buffalo State.
“If you put in the effort and try your hardest, opportunities will arise. Faculty will help you out,” he said. “You can’t constantly be at 100 percent. We’re only human. But know when to step up your game and give it your all. You’ll definitely find opportunities at Buffalo State.”