After graduating from Trinity High School in 2004, Sharmayne Schaffer began her college career at John Carroll University, but discovered that was not the right fit for her. She left after a year with thousands of dollars in debt, and took various restaurant jobs to help pay her debt. “I can remember saying to myself, ‘I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life,’” she said. “I knew I had more in me.” In 2014, she enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College with the goal of earning an Associate of Arts degree and then transferring to a four-year school. “When I look back now, I’m thankful I was out for so long,” Schaffer said. “I’ve lived life and understand why college is so important. It made me more determined and dedicated to my studies.”
While at Tri-C, Schaffer immersed herself in the college experience, joining the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Eastern Campus (she was eventually named president of the award-winning chapter). Her interest in journalism led her to The Voice, the College’s independent student newspaper, where she ascended to the campus editor position. Schaffer was selected for the inaugural class of future leaders attending Tri-C’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center, and called the leadership program “Training 101” for her future aspirations. The Tri-C Foundation and Frances M. Franklin Scholarship recipient was named a 2016 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Scholar, a national award recognizing students for leadership, community service and academic excellence. She also earned a spot on the All-Ohio Community College Academic Team, which honors top students at the state’s two-year schools.
Schaffer graduated with an Associate of Arts degree and numerous academic honors in May and transferred to Case Western Reserve University, where she is majoring in Women and Gender Studies. She plans to continue her education by pursuing a Masters in Non-Profit Management, with the hope of opening a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring young women in Greater Cleveland. “A lot of important people in my life pushed me to do the things I’ve done,” Schaffer said. “I want to be that person for others. I want to give back. That’s my passion. That’s my calling.”