Inspirational Clarke Alumna to Speak at Commencement

posted on April 12, 2010

Clarke College is pleased to announce that Lori Schneider, a 1978 Clarke graduate, will address the graduates at the college’s 167th Commencement on Saturday, May 8, on the Clarke campus. Schneider will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters at the ceremony.

Schneider, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, is the first climber in the world with multiple sclerosis to conquer the “Seven Summits,” a collection of the highest peaks in Africa, Europe, South America, North America, Australia, Antarctica and Asia. After graduating with elementary education and special education degrees from Clarke, Schneider began a 20-year teaching career working with special education children, as well as kindergarten and first grade students.

In 1999, at the age of 43, Schneider awoke one morning with numbness in over 50 percent of her body. Within two months, it had spread throughout her entire body. Her doctors uttered two little letters from an alphabet she had recited so many times - MS. When the crippling shock of the multiple sclerosis diagnosis wore off, Lori decided to accelerate her love of travel and mountains, and set out to climb the highest peak on each continent - a goal she proudly accomplished. In addition to her climbing, Schneider travels the world sharing a unique message as a teacher and inspirational speaker - that if we believe, we can achieve.

“…my hopes and health are strong, and I approach my future with a positive outlook,” said Schneider in a letter to visitors on her Web site. “The one vital lesson that I have learned through all of this is not to let your limitations define you, and never let go of your dreams.  Life is too short not to go for the gusto when you are given the opportunity.”

This year’s Commencement exercises begin with a baccalaureate liturgy at 10 a.m. in Clarke’s Robert and Ruth Kehl Center, at which graduates will receive their academic hoods. At 2 p.m., the official Commencement ceremony begins, at which graduates will receive their diplomas and special awards and honors will be bestowed. In addition to Schneider receiving an honorary degree at the ceremony, one will be presented to Roger Ott, MD, a retired physician who acts as a mentor for Clarke students preparing to enter health fields.

At this year’s Commencement, degrees will be conferred upon approximately 250 undergraduate and graduate students. To accommodate additional guests, the liturgy and ceremony will be simulcast on televisions in Clarke’s Student Activity Center, which is connected to the Kehl Center. This year, the College will also stream the ceremony via Clarke’s Web site at

For more information, contact the Clarke College Marketing and Communication Office at (563)588-6318.


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