Schwerdt brings real-world experience to class


Jenna Black

Instructor of Business and Economics Paulette Schwerdt delivers details about an upcoming project to her Corporate Finance class on Nov. 21.

Story by Spencer Brown, Assistant News Editor

It is no surprise that faculty members at Baker have widely diverse backgrounds. Instructor of Business and Economics Paulette Schwerdt is only one of these instructors with a particularly unique story about how she found her way into teaching nearly a decade ago.

“When I finished my MBA, I thought I wanted to go into academia,” Schwerdt said. “To me, there’s something uniquely good about college students. I know where they’re going, and I want them to be confident doing it.”

However, without a Ph.D., Schwerdt found it particularly challenging to immediately find a teaching position within the undergraduate atmosphere, so she became an adjunct teacher.

“I first started teaching investments at Baker in the spring of 2008,” she said. “I did three years of adjunct work before a full-time position opened up here.”

With more than 20 years of real-world experience, Schwerdt brings a special perspective to the classroom. From her knowledge of Garmin to connections with executives at Security Benefit, Schwerdt fills her students’ learning opportunities with stories that provide reality to the theory that they study.

“I hope that I give them a sense of what they’re going to see when they get out there,” she said. “I remember being incredulous as a new college grad. The reality is that I have a master’s degree. I do not have all of the academic training, so I would be hard-pressed dismissing all the theory; however, what I do have is the corporate experience throughout many business upturns and downturns.”

Schwerdt mostly wants students to recognize the change that they will experience throughout their lifetime. Having held numerous positions, she constantly mentors students in preparation for job interviews and working within the corporate world.

“I’ve done hundreds of interviews,” she said. “I’ve mentored even more on how to prep. We talk about their history and what they have to offer. I’ve had 20 plus years of managing people, projects and processes, so I’ve actually done a lot of the things that [students] are going to go do.”

Teaching courses at all different undergraduate levels, Schwerdt loves being able to see the evolution of a student throughout their college experience.

Senior Mackenzie Brock, an accounting major, has had multiple opportunities to build a relationship with Schwerdt. From being her student to being her peer student instructor for managerial accounting and corporate finance, Brock has had the ability to utilize Schwerdt’s strong background to help further her own résumé as she prepares to enter the workforce.

“Paulette teaches using real-world examples, which allows for me to understand the concepts better,” Brock said. “I think everyone should try to take at least one class with Paulette before they graduate. While it might not relate to your major, she teaches topics we will know later on in life, specifically setting up 401k’s, investing in the stock market and more.”