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STLCC Alum Pens Five Books Post Retirement

Although Laura Schuermann has always had a special interest in music, art and creative writing, she never seriously pursued them. That is, until now.

illustration of the story's main character, Beatrice, conduct After retiring from a lengthy career as a medical professional, Schuermann has been focusing her energy on writing and illustrating children’s books. Her first book, “Beatrice - Star of the Heavenly Concert,” was published in January. In February, she released her second story, “Kirkpatrick's Special Job - A Christmas Story.” By May, she intends to release three additional titles – “Billy & Annie Bluebird:  Neighborhood Friends,” “Little Friends of the Snow Village” and “Timmy's Delightful Halloween Display.”

According to Schuermann, her passion to create these books has been fueled by the positive experience she’s had as a student at St. Louis Community College.

A lifelong learner, Schuermann enrolled in her first course at STLCC in 1973. In the 47 years that followed, she’s completed nearly two dozen courses at the Meramec and Wildwood campuses, advancing her skills and exploring her interest in a broad range of areas.

Initially, she came to STLCC determined to earn a nursing degree. After completing a few courses, however, she shifted her attention toward courses that would help her advance in her profession as a medical transcriptionist. After a 20-year career in this field, she returned to the College to pursue her interests in the arts and humanities.

“I’ve truly enjoyed being a student at STLCC,” Schuermann said. “When I was working as a medical transcriptionist at Washington University’s School of Medicine, I took several courses to brush up on my computer skills. After retirement, I enrolled in courses that aligned with my creative interests. Along the way, I’ve met some incredible faculty members who have inspired me to achieve my goals.”

Among them, she named two professors who have helped support her as a writer and illustrator: Gary Gackstatter, professor of music and orchestra director, and Daniel F. Yezbick, Ph.D., professor of English.

illustration of a heavenly concert“They have had a profound impact on my recent success,” she said. “I appreciate the encouragement and support I’ve received from both of them. Not only are they both excellent instructors, but their classes inspired me to create my first two books.”

She noted Gackstatter’s impact on her publication, “Beatrice – Star of the Heavenly Concert.” It is a tale is about child angels who play music in an orchestra in heaven.

“Professor Gackstatter is not only a gifted artist, composer, conductor and author, but also the most influential and dynamic instructor I have ever encountered,” she said.

The story’s star drummer, Beatrice, is a little on the wild side. While she beats to her own drum, she eventually learns to play heavenly songs from the bottom of her heart. The story ends with a belief that Schuermann holds deep in her heart: Remember, there is always Music in Heaven!

Gackstatter commended Schuermann on her success. He also said he was moved to learn that she dedicated a story to him.

“When Laura was a student in my class, she took every assignment seriously. No matter if we were talking about prehistoric music, Bach or the Beatles, she approached her work with enthusiasm,” he said. “She would always get to my room early and I would help her with her art class projects. From there, she started writing and illustrating her own books. It was unbelievable to me that she was and is so creative, with a style that reflects her caring, thoughtful and sweet spirit. She is a remarkable person and a true treasure.”

Schuermann said she’s excited to share her books with the community.

“I’ve created a list of places I plan to visit this summer, once all five of my books are printed,” she said. “It is my hope that local daycares and elementary schools, as well as independent bookstores and area libraries, will provide an outlet for me to share my stories with children and families.”

Although Schuermann never completed her degree at STLCC, she feels fortunate to have lived a blessed life surrounded by family. A resident of Chesterfield, Mo., Schuermann enjoys spending her free time writing and illustrating books as well as sewing, cake decorating and making floral arrangements.

For more information about Schuermann’s work, contact her via email at lauradisplay@charter.net.

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