Alumnus Hannah Fitzsimmons Schielke: Concordia Nebraska “helped me be the best version of myself”

Published by Amy Crawford 2 weeks ago on Tue, May 14, 2024 8:00 AM

Hannah Fitzsimmons Schielke ‘21 was born and raised in Lincoln, so she has always been very familiar with Concordia Nebraska. She attended Lutheran elementary, middle and high schools that promoted the university to students and many of her teachers over the years were university alumni. 

“Many of my previous teachers had nothing but great things to say about Concordia Nebraska,” she said.  “Originally, I was planning to attend Wesleyan University but three weeks before classes started, I decided to transfer to Concordia Nebraska. My sister was planning to attend Concordia and was on the dance team all four years. After attending small Lutheran schools my whole life, I wanted to continue in a small community. Concordia Nebraska was close to home but far enough away to experience some independence.” 

Schielke has a bachelor of science degree in public health and fitness and currently pursuing a master’s degree. During her junior year, she served as a resident assistant in David Hall.  She said she loved her time as a resident assistant because she met some of her closest friends while serving in that capacity.  

Schielke said that her time on the Concordia Nebraska campus helped to develop her faith

“I grew up in a home that has always loved Jesus,” she explained. “At Concordia, I always found myself surrounded by peers who loved Jesus with their whole hearts. You can feel the unconditional love of Christ all over campus and it's such a contagious feeling.” 

During her time on campus and even afterwards, Schielke said her professors were simply outstanding role models and helped her to discover her purpose. 

“Even after graduating, they have helped me pursue higher education by writing letters of recommendation. My professors were and are genuine and authentic individuals,” she said. “They always made sure to create a personal connection and always helped me be the best version of myself. My professors were great about spreading awareness of internship opportunities as well as career opportunities. I want to give Dr. Jennifer Janousek a big shout out. Without her, I would not have such an amazing job at Nebraska Extension, thank you!” 

She said her time at the university prepared her for her current work. She currently works at Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County for the nutrition education program. At graduation, she was working as a pharmacy technician and was not sure what her future would hold. She knew she wanted to pursue something that involved health, nutrition and fitness. Following graduation, one of her professors emailed her about a position at Nebraska Extension with the nutrition education program, which led to the position where she currently serves. 

“Concordia Nebraska prepared me in so many ways,” she said. “The classes that I took prepared me to be in the role that I am currently fulfilling. I was able to strengthen my public speaking skills at Concordia, which was a tremendous help since my job includes teaching a wide range of individuals daily. I never saw myself working with youth, but I have fallen in love with it! I wake up each day with a passion for my work and wanting to make a difference in the lives of the youth that I encounter.” 

During the school year, Schielke works with Lincoln Public Schools elementary schools. Nebraska Extension created a health curriculum that is now mandatory in all of these elementary schools, and Schielke coordinates with teachers to provide nutrition lessons for third through fifth grade students.  

“The teachers can select one of the following nutrition topics: a food experience lesson, hand washing lesson or a physical activity lesson that I teach directly in the classroom,” she said. “Each of these three lessons provides a hands-on learning experience for the students and provides an opportunity for the students to put their knowledge into action. The teachers work hard to teach the students using the curriculum developed by Nebraska Extension, and then I serve the role of directly teaching in the classroom as a guest speaker to review with the students.” 

She also promotes a program known as Double Up Food Bucks. This statewide program focuses on promoting access to fruits and vegetables. Double Up Food Bucks is available for any person who utilizes SNAP benefits and has an active EBT card. When individuals swipe their EBT Card, Double Up matches the fruit and vegetable purchases dollar for dollar, up to $20 per day. This program is honored at many Lincoln locations including Open Harvest Grocery Store, Lincoln Mediterranean Market, Sunday Farmers Market, Fallbrook Farmers Market, Hub Farmers Market and Picnic Hill Orchard.  

“I love being around youth all day and getting to see the world through their eyes. It is so refreshing to teach youth because it makes me feel like a kid again,” she said. “I never thought I would want to work with youth, but I have fallen in love with it. It is such a great feeling when students not only remember me from previous years but when they also remember the lesson that I taught or the activity and seeing them make solid connections to the material. I also love being able to reach low-income individuals and families.”  

Within the nutrition education program at Nebraska Extension, Schielke’s work is grant funded. The two grants include SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) and EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program). SNAP-Ed aims to reach Nebraska families living on a limited budget to make healthier food choices, increase physical activity and live healthier lives.  

She married her best friend and college sweetheart, Jacob Schielke ‘21, in August 2022. He also attended Concordia Nebraska and graduated with a degree in history and a minor in criminal justice. He is pursuing his master's degree in criminal justice and works for the federal government in homeland security. 

Her twin sister Haleigh Fitzsimmons ‘22 is currently employed at the university as a student accounts counselor and will be serving as an adjunct professor this coming fall. She also attended the university, was on the dance team and was involved in theater. Her sister is currently pursuing her master's degree in English.  

“My sister and I are fraternal twins, so we do not look alike. We are complete opposites in every way, with different interests, likes and hobbies,” she said. “It is so cool seeing her make her mark at Concordia, previously as a student and now as an adjunct professor.” 

Schielke said her parents Chris and Renee Fitzsimmons are “the best parents ever” and were always incredibly supportive of her.  

“Without my parents, and their unconditional love and support, I definitely would not be the person that I am today,” she said. 

When she’s not working, she loves being active, walking her dog Milo, going hiking and spending time outdoors. 

“My husband and I love traveling to Estes Park in Colorado and hiking and taking in the great outdoors. I love any excuse to travel! I value spending time with my family as well. Running has always been a passion of mine, and running a half marathon has always been on my bucket list,” she said. 

A bachelor’s degree in public health and fitness from Concordia University, Nebraska teaches students how to create and execute fitness and health education programs for individuals and populations so they can advocate for healthy living and improving the overall health of the community through all levels of prevention.