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Meet Kylie Schmerbach: Our June Leading Woman

Name: Kylie Schmerbach

Major: Public Administration and Policy, Constitutional Democracy. Minors in History and Political Science


Hometown: Lawson, MO


What are your career/life goals?

My career/life goal is to work in Advocacy, primarily in education and child welfare policy. I have always known that I wanted to work in government, either within local governments or policy, but this summer has cemented my goal to do so. 


What is your favorite part about your major and why did you choose it?

My favorite part of my majors are the people within and the opportunities that I have because of them. I am in DC this summer because of the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, and I was chosen to represent Mizzou at the SNF National Student Dialogue Conference over spring break because of Public Admin. The professors are some of the most supportive people I have ever met; when I said that I wanted to go to grad school, their first question was, “Want to do a dual master’s degree?” Both sides never questioned my decisions and were extremely supportive. The same happened this last semester when applying to DC internships. Every rejection hurt, but they reassured me that it wasn’t me and that the internship market this summer was the most competitive it had ever been, and by the end of the semester, I got my choice of which internship I took. 


What organizations or hobbies are you passionate about?

Traveling!! I love to see new places and experience new things. I grew up in rural Missouri; because of this, I love being in nature, but I also love experiencing new places and cities. I backpacked Europe with my sister, where we visited 5 cities in 15 days, and it was the best trip I have ever taken. I got to eat Fish and Chips while looking at Big Ben, and three days later, I ate homemade Italian pasta while staying in Rome. This summer, I have the opportunity to see a new thing every week. Exploring the DC area has been a dream, my commute to work includes walking past the White House, or I get to attend hearings in Congress. I also love to see the different birds, the city has a lot of pigeons, and they are my favorite birds, but when you go farther out, the wildlife is so much different than what I am used to.  I was recently accepted into the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women, a network of women, collegiate or alumnae, who are extremely supportive of everyone in the group. Meeting alumnae is inspiring, especially older women, because they broke down barriers to open so many opportunities for women today. 


Where are you interning this summer and what has your experience been like so far?

I am a Public Policy Intern with the Child Welfare League of America, one of the nation's oldest organizations whose goal is to uplift all children, and primarily the children that are in the child welfare system. I do a wide range of things, including going to weekly coalition meetings to cover the basis of child welfare, tracking current legislation that Congress is working on, writing up summaries for CWLA supporters so that they also know what is happening, and doing research on current political candidates and their policy issues. I have the amazing opportunity to attend House and Senate Hearings covering Child Welfare, which there is a lot of this summer due to efforts to reauthorize Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, which funds Child Welfare Services. Through my internship, I get to see behind the scenes, I was able to meet CASA volunteers at the National Level, something that I didn’t think I would ever do. 

I’m in DC through Mizzou; I also am taking a class and fun things on Fridays with other Mizzou Students. I live in an apartment with 5 other girls, it truly is great. I get to take classes with a revolving list of teachers, allowing me to experience the city through not only a tourist stance but a historian’s. So far this summer, I’ve had breakfast with a US Ambassador, took a tour of Annapolis, Maryland, and so many other things. When I moved to DC, I was nervous because it would truly be the first time living on my own, and 1000 miles away from my parents, but the experience is truly amazing. I love being outside and walking, especially because I can look around and see hundreds of years of history of the United States, like being able to walk down Pennsylvania Ave, from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House, which is truly amazing.


How have your experiences in Theta changed you?

My experiences within Theta have made me more confident. I was a COB, because I didn’t know if I wanted to be in a sorority and feared that I wouldn’t make it through recruitment before coming to college. I was afraid to speak up in class, share my ideas, or ask questions fearing that I would be wrong and humiliate myself. Now, I am the first to ask a question and speaking in front of large groups of people is a less scary task because of the confidence that Theta has instilled in me. I take classes with master’s students; Theta has taught me that it’s just imposter syndrome, I do belong in those classrooms and I have important things to say. I am included in the conversation for a reason, and my opinions have value, and to push myself to reach my full potential. Without Theta, I think I would still have that fear to speak up and not take the hard classes that have been the most impactful to my education and future career. 


What does Theta mean to you?

Theta is a place where I know I won't be judged, giving me a safe space to be myself unashamed; I have found my best friends within, a support system for all my dreams, and a place where I know I am always welcome. Theta means having a place where I feel that every side of me is represented. If I want to study or practice a presentation for class, I have a group of people in Theta with whom I share class every day. I can go to them and get advice or help with any problem; I’ll always have a study buddy (Thanks Zoe!!!). But if I want to go hiking on MKT or venture downtown and go out to eat (Thanks Eden!!), I’ll also always have a buddy. I feel supported in whatever I do in Theta because of the amazing and diverse group of women I’ve met. I know that I will always have a home in Theta, physically in the form of 603 and emotionally in the love and friendships I have within. 


Do you have any advice for underclassmen?

Take the risk; it sounds like something that everyone would say, but do it. Attend the random club meeting, email the professor for a meeting, hang out with new people you’ve never talked to before, talk to the person you sit next to in your intro classes, knock on your neighbor's door, join the sorority. Because you don’t know where that will lead you, I joined Theta unsure of what would happen because one of my best friends and future roommate, Zoe, said that I would like it, and it has been one of the best parts of my undergrad. 

Do you have a favorite Theta memory?

There are too many to count, but if I had to pick one, it would be initiation week in fall 2023; when I found out that Abby Plenge was my little, I started crying tears of joy because I knew from the first time we met, she would be my little and that day confirmed it. I made an Instagram page getting ready for a big/little reveal and got photos from her mom to post; I was so excited. I made it 36 hours before I messed up, posted on my main account with her tagged, and spent the rest of the week trying to throw her off. I wrote one note in Spanish and told her I was fluent; I have never taken a Spanish class in my life. Then, on big/little reveal, I ran out to meet her, hugged her, lost my balance, and fell; after I asked her if she knew, she looked at me and said, “Umm, you tagged me on Monday night; I knew immediately.” That night, Abby won Miss Columbia, which qualified her for Miss Missouri, and I have never been more proud of a single person in my life. After, our pledge family went out to get Wendy’s frostys and talked till midnight. Ever since then, Abby and I are closer than ever, to the point that we have become coworkers and have our own little inside jokes.


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