“My dad, a certified public accountant, was adamant that I major in the liberal arts,” recalls history alumna Julie Schuldner ’92. “He just felt like you would be exposed to so many different subjects and that it would help you decide what you wanted your career path to be. He insisted. I’m glad he did.”
Currently the vice president of development and communications for Alzheimer’s New Jersey, which provides support groups, a help line and educational programs to families affected by the disease, Schuldner has her hands full with her day-to-day responsibilities, which put into practice the critical thinking skills typically associated with a liberal arts degree. On the communications side, she manages all of their marketing, public relations and social media outreach. When the organization officially became its own entity in 2015, having separated from the Alzheimer’s Association, she along with the CEO spearheaded its rebranding which involved a new logo, tagline and marketing materials and, more importantly, an effort to redefine themselves within the state of New Jersey. “It was almost like leading a start-up,” says Schuldner. “It was a great opportunity. You don’t normally get to do that in your career.”
On the development side, Schuldner works with a staff of six to raise money through memorial and tribute donations, annual appeals, grants and corporate funders. But the organization’s largest fundraising effort of the year is its Walk to Fight Alzheimer’s. Drawing about 5,000 total participants every year, these walks take place each fall in various parts of the state: Point Pleasant Beach in September, and Princeton, Paramus and Jersey City in October. Says Schuldner: “The walks not only raise money for our mission but also raise awareness about the disease. And it’s a great opportunity for families and friends to come together to honor those who are suffering. There’s a feel-good atmosphere that develops when you’re interacting with people you can relate to.”
Making a difference in the lives of others isn’t unfamiliar to Schuldner. Currently the chair of the Not-for-Profit Roundtable of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, volunteering has been an integral part of her life ever since she was young. “That’s actually one of the reasons I chose Seton Hall. I think my volunteering background helped me fit in with the culture here. I made friends and felt like I was where I was supposed to be,” says Schuldner. She graduated and went on to earn her M.B.A. in Health Administration, working as a senior consultant before making the decision to become a stay-at-home mother. But the desire to servant lead only became stronger as she raised her children, and she continued to involve herself in volunteering, teaching and community outreach for non-profits on a part-time basis. “It’s important to teach my kids that it’s not necessarily about how much money you make, but about being good people who contribute to positive things. At the end of the day, I just want them to be happy and to feel like they’ve been the best people they can be,” says Schuldner.
"I’ve really been able to apply my writing, research and public speaking skills to every job I’ve had."
In 2011, Schuldner reentered the workforce full time as the executive director of Family Promise of Sussex County, an emergency shelter program for homeless families. “I really got to see firsthand the successes of our efforts there,” she recalls. “I got to interact directly with the people we were working to help, and it was really rewarding to get notes from them thanking us for what we’ve done.” She joined Alzheimer’s New Jersey three years later but is still a part of the Family Promise community as both a volunteer and a board member.
Looking back at all she has accomplished, Schuldner greatly values the strong liberal arts foundation upon which her career was built. “I’ve really been able to apply my writing, research and public speaking skills to every job I’ve had,” she reflects. “My brother also majored in history, and he’s now an attorney. Being a history major was great because we both found it interesting, so we were able to gain those skills while being engaged in a topic we liked.” And being a history major at Seton Hall, specifically, has enriched her life in other ways. “It’s fun to go to all the games and continue to stay involved. You always see someone you know. It still has that small community feel even post-graduation. And if I ever did want to move on from my current position, one of the first things I would do is look to the Seton Hall network through LinkedIn, for example, and use that as a starting point. There are so many other Seton Hall graduates, especially here in the state.”
"It’s really the soft skills that you need to get you further in life...and ultimately develop a good career."
But for now, Schuldner is focusing on her son, who recently graduated from high school and plans to follow his mother’s advice, just as she did with her own father, and major in the liberal arts. “My husband and I have been telling him that it’s really the soft skills that you need to get you further in life and help you sell yourself, speak in front of a group, interact effectively with people and ultimately develop a good career,” she says. “It’s hard at 18 to know what you want your career path to be. Liberal arts is a good place to start and to help you narrow down what you see yourself doing. It’ll give you that foundation.”