Back in the late ‘90s when Eric Schmitt was just a political science student at Truman State University, he never thought he’d become the Missouri State Treasurer.
Schmitt said Truman offered him many invaluable experiences. He said the free exchange of ideas was important to him, so he would attend speeches even if he didn’t necessarily agree with a subject. Schmitt said Truman taught him how to find common ground with others to bring some humility into his life in politics.
“I think people having an understanding of the American experiment and the uniqueness of the country we live in, its institutions and how important those are and valuing other people as human beings is all really important,” Schmitt said. “But that was, you know, part cultivated here in the classes I took as a political science major, and I was a philosophy and religion minor and so I love that stuff. So I was able to really kind of dig in here.”
Growing up in North County in St. Louis, Schmitt went to De Smet High School. Schmitt graduated from Truman in 1997 with a bachelors in political science and minor in philosophy and religion. He then went to law school at St. Louis University where he began to start a family and form a vision for what he wanted to be a part of today.
“It was really when my son was born and was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition — tuberous sclerosis and on the autism spectrum — so Stephen is 13 and nonverbal,” Schmitt said. “Seeing what he went through with seizures and everything else made me want to do more in what I was doing. For me, the way that I could serve my community was to run for office.”
Schmitt said De Smet offered many community-style services. Since Truman offered the chance to be a part of a community, it was similar to home and it was important for his own personal development. Schmitt said he learned about relating and dealing with people as human beings and having respect while at Truman.
Schmitt said he grew up in a middle-class family with hard-working parents and a grandfather who shaped his work ethic today. Schmitt said he wants to fight for middle-class people and people with developmental disabilities and bring those same values he learned into the treasurer’s office. He said he was here last week to talk about the initiative Missouri First, which is focused around investing in small businesses in agriculture.
Schmitt said Truman taught him many lessons from serving people in your community to realizing we are all in this together. He said being an engaged citizen is important, and it helped him pursue some skills which affected him later in his life.
Schmitt said the friendships and relationships he built at Truman were the most important part of his time here, and he wanted to remind future graduates to make the most of their time at Truman.
“I think there’s a tendency, especially here, there’s a lot of students that want to go off and do great things, and that is great, but I think appreciating and being grateful for where you’re at — The friendships that you have, the experiences that you’re having — because it goes by pretty fast,” Schmitt said. “So it’s been fun for me to be in town today and just seeing places that I haven’t seen in a while and recalling memories that I had with people — [those] are the really important things in life.”