Getting Personal: Ellen Schmidt

Getting Personal: Ellen Schmidt

Each week, we offer an email Q&A with a local personality. Today, Paul Wood chats with Ellen Schmidt of Champaign, who helps keep the money rolling in for athletic programs at the University of Illinois. Her team raises money for the IFUND to provide more than 500 student-athletes with exceptional educational and athletic opportunities.

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

Most weekdays, I get up at 5 a.m. (I try to sleep in one day on the weekend). That first hour, I work out.

What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?

I had salad and chicken at the Round Barn Banquet Center with 100 of my fellow Champaign West Rotarians.

Best high school memory?

Playing basketball and singing in the choir.

Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

They are a pair of steel gray pumps; they are classy and comfortable.

What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?

Golf in the summer; a book by the fire in the winter.

Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?

"How Green Was My Valley" by Richard Llewellyn.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

Africa. My husband Peter was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and I'd like to see where he spent the first 10 years of his life. I'd also like to go on safari and photograph the animals.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

Pets are like children: You can't have favorites. I have a Lab/retriever mix named Sunshine and cats Lola (who thinks she's a dog) and Bella.

Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?

I like to think I'm a little bit like both my mom and dad. I get my faith from my mother and my love of sports from my father.

What would you order for your last meal?

Pizza.

What can you not live without?

My family and friends.

Who do you have on your iPod?

Adele, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Rascal Flatts, Bruno Mars, Keith Urban.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

The days that my children were born — and the day Peter and I got married.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?

Christiane Amanpour, Pope Benedict and Andre Dawson.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

What goes around, comes around.

What's your best piece of advice?

You're stronger than you think.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

I worked in the kitchen of a nursing home. I think I made $2 an hour.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

When I left banking for fundraising. I didn't do it consciously. I really loved everything about working at the bank. But an opportunity opened up at a nonprofit, and I liked the idea of giving back to my community.

Do you have a bad habit? What is it?

Sometimes I bite my nails.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I take a deep breath, work out or go for a walk.

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