Monica M. Schmidt '03 Headshot

Undergraduate Program

Monica M. Schmidt '03

Criminal Justice & Psychology

Passions Beyond her Profession

Monica M. Schmidt ’03 is a licensed mental health counselor with an unusual hobby—she’s a Sherlockian.

A Sherlockian is someone who reads and studies the original 60 Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle (often referred to as “The Canon”). Recently, Schmidt became the 685th invested member of The Baker Street Irregulars, an exclusive literary society founded in 1934 dedicated to the continued scholarship of all things related to Sherlock Holmes.

MMU: Everyone has a story about how they came to Mount Mercy. What’s yours?

MS: I was raised on Lake Sinissippi, just outside of Hustisford, Wisconsin—a small rural town in the southeastern part of the state. I had a graduating class of 43 and was in school with many of my classmates since kindergarten. When I was searching for colleges, I was looking for a school that would give me a quality education and the personal attention to which I was accustomed. Mount Mercy gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse: a Presidential Scholarship and an opportunity to play soccer while receiving a quality education in a small-school environment. Once I was officially accepted to Mount Mercy, I stopped my search because I knew it was the right fit.

During my junior year J-term, I took a class on the Holocaust. It was completely immersive; we explored a difficult subject for four hours per day, three days per week. During the darkest time of year, we explored some of the darkest aspects of human nature. It was very psychologically challenging, but incredibly rewarding, as it made me confront the nature of human evil and to seek out the moments of goodness in the face of that evil. It taught me much about the complicated nature of existence and gave me valuable insight into how otherwise good people could justify such terrible and horrific actions against their fellow human beings.

Once I was officially accepted to Mount Mercy, I stopped my search because I knew it was the right fit.

Monica Schmidt '03
Psychology & Criminal Justice

MMU: Where has your career taken you since walking across the stage?

MS: I am a mental health counselor specializing in the treatment of addictions and am employed by Meadowlark Psychiatric Services. My choice to work in the field was influenced by both my personal humanist philosophy and the corporal works of mercy (which appear in stained glass at the chapel on campus). As a society, I believe we will be judged by how we treat the least of our people. Those who struggle with addictions are often misunderstood, stigmatized, and marginalized, and they deserve access to quality and ethical care, which I am happy to provide.

"As a society, I believe we will be judged by how we treat the least of our people."

MMU: Tell us about your hobby as a Sherlockian!

MS: Anybody who reads and studies the original 60 Sherlock Holmes stories can call themselves a Sherlockian. There are thousands of Sherlockians belonging to hundreds of Sherlock Holmes societies in several dozen countries. I am involved in more than a dozen Sherlockian societies across the U.S. and Canada and am the current president of The Younger Stamfords of Iowa City.

As of this past January, I am the 685th invested member of The Baker Street Irregulars. The membership of the BSI includes a number of venerable authors, publishers, journalists, and scholars; at this time, there are only about 300 living members. The path to membership in the BSI is by invitation and varies from person to person. I made a name for myself in the community by combining my passion for the literature with my profession; I've written articles for a number of publications and have given talks at several conferences on the subject of Holmes and mental health. When someone is inducted, that person is dubbed with an investiture name (a nickname taken from the stories). I will forever be known as “Julia Stoner” from the story The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

MMU: Will you share a fascinating fact about Sherlock Holmes?

MS: Holmes is one of the top five characters most frequently portrayed in films and television. While there is only one Sherlock Holmes (he appears in the stories written by Doyle), there are hundreds of ‘parallel’ Holmes—adaptations and interpretations of the character. Despite being forever tied to the London fog of 1895, he has been invented and re-invented by authors and screenwriters by emphasizing specific traits to appropriately reflect the changing demographics of the readers and viewers, which is why this hero is evergreen and will remain relevant for generations to come.

Additional trivia tidbits: Holmes never wore a deerstalker hat in the stories (it appeared in an illustration by Sidney Paget), and he never said, “Elementary, my dear Watson” (the phrase appeared in advertisements).

 

This idea of justice tempered with mercy appeals to me and has influenced how I view and engage with those around me, especially my justice-involved clientele.

Monica Schmidt '03
Psychology & Criminal Justice

MMU: What life advice have you taken from Holmes that might help others?

MS: Here’s a 125-year-old spoiler alert: In the story The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Holmes retrieves the stolen jewel—and he lets the criminal go free. Holmes recognizes that the jewel thief is unlikely to commit another crime, and it would be a shame to make him a jailbird for life. This idea of justice tempered with mercy appeals to me and has influenced how I view and engage with those around me, especially my justice-involved clientele.

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