Stories of Excellence–Cheyenne Lee-Schmidt Smyre
Cheyenne Lee-Schmidt Smyre is proof that though a path may be traditional, it is not always the best path. She has gained invaluable experience in her thirty-one years and has been driven by a passion for duty and service to forge a unique path. Her adventures brought her to Mitchell, and her experiences as a student have shaped her future plans.
Smyre grew up in Alaska but made the difficult decision to leave at the age of fifteen with her older brother. She spent time in Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri and other states, never lingering in one area. Frequent moves resulted in Smyre dropping out of high school. She entered the workforce before getting her GED then enrolling in college at age seventeen and earning her associate degree in criminal justice. At age twenty-four, Smyre made the pivotal choice to enlist in the military. This decision, to which she credits much of her success, gave her experience with various jobs and cultures and enabled her to meet her husband, Phillip.
Duty is something Smyre takes very seriously, not only duty to her country, but also duty to her family. After leaving the military, Cheyenne returned to Alaska where she worked as a program manager for her mother’s business, a behavioral health provider specializing in therapeutic horseback riding. She also took in her seven-year-old niece during this time. In 2017, Smyre made the decision to move to North Carolina to start a blended family. Along with her niece and her husband’s nephew, Smyre and her husband also have two children together. They are a family of six, with four children ranging in age from eighteen months to thirteen years old.
In 2018, Smyre chose to continue her education at Mitchell, inspired by a childhood dream to become a United States Marshal. She completed the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program and graduated top of her class with the highest exam state exam score.
Although she excelled in her studies, the BLET program ultimately helped her determine to seek a different career path. Smyre began taking coursework in Mitchell’s culinary arts program to “be a better chef for my family,“ Smyre noted. She has enjoyed the coursework and the experience she has gained catering various events at Mitchell such as the Holiday Luncheon, meetings, Alumni Day and more. Smyre is on track to graduate with her culinary arts associate in applied science degree in May 2021.
Like many Mitchell students, Smyre balances professional, personal, and education responsibilities. She currently works part time at the Iredell County Jail front desk to help provide for the family. While continuing one’s education can be a financial stressor, Smyre’s veterans’ benefits have reduced the pressure of paying for classes. Mitchell’s Financial Aid office has been tremendously helpful to her while a student, Smyre shared. “Ann Wright was awesome. She answered every question and helped me through every aspect of college,” she said. “She made college at Mitchell easy to navigate.”
As she nears graduation, Smyre already has big plans for the future. Her family will soon be relocating to Virginia for her husband’s career. Once settled, Smyre plans to pursue a degree in nursing, following her passion of duty and service. In ten years, she plans to serve others as a doctor. As she works toward this goal, she is continuing her personal adventures. Smyre has plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa in January 2022.
As one who has been on a diverse journey in her life, Smyre has lots of insight for students who are just beginning their paths. “I would advise anyone to do at least do 2-4 years in the military. It gives you many benefits that you can take with you moving forward in your life, she said. “You will grow as a person, learn from other cultures, get to see the world, and learn various jobs. Then, when you are done, they pay for your college, health care, and even potentially your children’s college. It really is an amazing opportunity.”
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