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Young Alumnus Award winner has been devoted to mental health services

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – It’s hard to think of Prairie View Mental Health Services in Newton without thinking of Bethel College graduate Matthew Schmidt.

Schmidt has been working at Prairie View for most of the past 18 years. Like many Bethel students, he was a mental health worker while still in college, employed starting in 1993, his junior year, in the inpatient psychiatric unit.

Schmidt is the winner of Bethel’s 2011 Young Alumnus Award. He graduated in 1994 with a B.A. (major in psychology, minor in history) and continued at Prairie View until 1996, when he left for graduate school at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. He earned a master’s degree in social work (MSW) there in 1998.

Schmidt then returned to Prairie View as the adult team social worker on the inpatient treatment team and has been with the organization ever since.

In 2002, Schmidt became director of Community Support Services (CSS) at Prairie View, a program that “provides community based mental health services to adults in Harvey, Marion and McPherson counties experiencing severe and persistent mental illnesses,” he said. “I [give] the primary clinical and programmatic supervision to the CSS staff.”

In 2007, Schmidt took on the additional role of director of Access/Emergency Services, which handles both initial admissions and intake as well as 24-hour crisis coverage.

Schmidt has just completed a three-year term as chair of the statewide CSS director’s group and is the current president-elect of the Kansas chapter of the U.S. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Association. He is on the core team for the Kansas Social and Rehabilitative Services (SRS) Mental Health Division Unified Training Advisory Group.

Schmidt’s community activities and memberships include the screening team for Big Brothers/Big Sisters; the executive board of the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale; serving as congregational moderator at Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton; and involvement in the local chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI).

Schmidt has been married to Amy (Franz) Schmidt, a 1993 Bethel graduate, since 1994. They have two children, Abby, nearly 12, and Luke, 8.

Schmidt represents a long legacy at Bethel College – his mother (Deb Schmidt, current Bethel Board member), father (Don Schmidt) and brothers (Phil and Mark) as well as both sisters-in-law (Marla and Emily) all graduated from Bethel – “not to mention aunts, uncles, grandparents and so on.”

Schmidt noted that while he is a great-grandson of David “Uncle Davy” Richert, he “did not pick up any of the math genes.”

“I had an absolutely wonderful experience at Bethel,” Schmidt said. “In addition to [my wife] Amy, I also met many of the people that I continue to consider my closest friends.”

Schmidt will speak in a Bethel College convocation Monday, March 14, where he will receive the 2011 Young Alumnus Award.

The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association names one or more Young Alumnus Award winners each year. The Young Alumnus Award recognizes character and citizenship, achievement or service rendered, and honors and recognition received. The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger and present a convocation program for Bethel students, faculty and staff.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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