For Bernadette Schmidinger Brown ’01, traveling from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Peddie to begin her freshman year was a journey full of anticipation, wonder and a little apprehension. She and her family were confident that Peddie, despite the distance, was the right school for her, especially given her swimming talent, but the transition was still a big challenge.
Her parents, natives of Austria, exposed Bernadette to a peripatetic life as they followed her father’s career in the hotel industry. “Coming from an international school in Asia and from a family that spoke German at home, having to adapt to the language and culture of America was harder than I expected,” remembered Bernadette. “It was a big adjustment, but I had tremendous support from my teachers, friends and coaches, and especially from my advisor, Mrs. Tennyson. In fact, my mother would call her once a week, which always put her mind at ease.”
Bernadette’s college years only heightened her appreciation for all that Peddie offered her. “My transition to Bucknell University was easy, and I am grateful for how well-prepared I was after four years at Peddie,” she said.
Bernadette now lives outside London with her husband, Chris, and their young son, Philip. Her parents have recently moved back to Europe from Hong Kong, and having them in Madrid allows for easier family get-togethers, and more opportunities for them all to return to the family homestead in Austria.
Helping Peddie with one of its highest priorities
A loyal donor to the Peddie Fund ever since graduation, Bernadette was looking for a way to make an even greater impact on the school. Together, she and Chris chose to make a multi-year gift in support of financial aid, helping Peddie with one of its highest priorities: providing greater access for deserving and talented students who will make a significant impact at Peddie and in the larger world.
“There is such a great spirit at Peddie, and I think it’s important for students who may have financial limitations to be able to experience this incredible school that remains such a big part of me,” she said.
Long involved as a volunteer, Bernadette has served as a class secretary, class agent and co-sponsor of young alumni leadership gatherings. As a member of the Peddie Leadership Council, her understanding of her alma mater deepened further.
“I learned so much about the inner workings of Peddie, from the remarkable work of the faculty to the wide array of opportunities available to the students,” she said. “In addition, coming from a banking career, I had a new respect for how important it is to grow the Peddie Fund and the endowment. That’s such an important investment in the school’s future.”
Bernadette continues to maintain close ties with her Peddie friends, availing herself of opportunities to reconnect with them during her travels around the world. “While Peddie may mean something different to all of us, it is the school that we all have in common. To continue to be friends after 20 years is the sign of a great community.”