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Three Generations of Emersonians: Grandmother, Mother, and Now, Son

Three family members embrace while looking at the camera
Emily Schmalholz ’90, Dorothy Napp Schindel, and Justin Schmalholz ’22 are looking forward to celebrating Justin’s graduation.

Once he graduates, Justin Schmalholz ’22 will complete the hat trick for his family.

Justin’s mother, Emily Schmalholz, graduated in 1990, and Emily’s mother, Dorothy Napp Schindel, attended Emerson in the early 1960s.

His mother and grandmother didn’t pressure Justin to attend Emerson, but it became evident that his interests and talents aligned perfectly with the school.

“I’ve always been told it was a creative place, full of passionate and determined students who knew exactly what they wanted to do, and had a path in their head of what they wanted to do after graduating,” said Justin, a Marketing Communication major. “They told me about being able to travel the world, the Castle and the LA program, internships with professionals. It all trickled down from the top because that’s what I heard growing up.”

When they visited Emerson, Emily remembers telling herself to not steer him to Emerson, to let Justin decide for himself.

“It was very clear when he started thinking about colleges that Emerson would be the right fit for him,” said Emily. “He’s always been a highly-motivated, super-focused kid, and I feel that Emerson is filled with those and always has been.”

A mother and daughter stand outside a building while the daughter is wearing a graduation gown and holding her diploma
Emily Schmalholz ’90 proudly displays her Emerson College diploma with her mother Dorothy Napp Schindel.

While the ethos of Emersonians has not changed, the campus has moved since Emily graduated. Most of her classes were in Beacon Street brownstones, and she lived in the infamous Charlesgate dormitory, as well as the Fensgate dorm. Dorothy lived in an old Victorian building on Commonwealth Avenue in her first year, and had a long walk to Beacon Street for classes.

The biggest change in Dorothy’s mind is Emerson’s growing international prestige. Now Emerson is much larger and offers far more programs in Boston and around the world.

Getting Involved Is in Their Blood

Dorothy was the vice president of her class for two years, and co-captain of the cheerleading squad. She went on to work as a director and teacher in educational theatre for 45 years, and as a scenic designer. She co-authored two books, including Pioneer Journeys: Drama in Museum Education, which was a recipient of the Distinguished Book Award from the American Alliance for Theater and Education. She is now a co-owner of Gallery 14 in Florida.

Emily played on the women’s basketball team her first year, went to Kasteel Well her sophomore year, and was very active with Emerson Independent Video and WERS. In high school, Emily wanted to work in the music industry, and knew about WERS. She studied radio programming and production at Emerson, and a TV 101 class changed her focus after making a music video.

“I decided that’s what I wanted to do for a living,” said Emily. “My junior year I got an internship at MTV through an Emerson alum.”

Dorothy Napp Schindel, standing right side, was co-captain of Emerson’s cheerleading squad.

Her senior year, Emerson paid her to make a documentary about comedians, and she interviewed Denis Leary ’79, among other alums, and a young Chris Rock. After graduating, she bounced around working for different shows in New York, and then settled in at VH1 as a producer of music specials and documentaries. She went on to create her own event planning business, and is now head of special events for the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York.

Justin interned at MGM Studios in LA this past fall, and like his mother, he spent a semester at Kasteel Well. He worked on the EVVYs, Good Morning Emerson, and other Emerson Channel shows. He photographed events, games, campus life, and more for the offices of Communications and Marketing (Emerson Today is produced by the Office of Communication, and uses photos and videos produced by the Office of Marketing). His photos have appeared in ad campaigns, Expression Magazine, Emerson Today, external media outlets, and more.

Justin already has plenty of irons in the fire for his next moves. He’s been talking with agencies and brands, looking to break into the creative side of marketing. He’s got his own production company, his photography business is flourishing, and he’s producing content for the musician Rosie when she goes on tour.

Enterprising Emersonians

Like Justin, Dorothy and Emily credit Emerson with having a great influence on their careers.

“Emily is doing now what she always dreamed of. She was interested in music television when she was a child. It became apparent to me that Emerson would be the perfect place for her,” said Dorothy. “When we got to Justin, it seemed more than perfect. I can’t imagine Justin anywhere else. It just worked out that way.”

“As an alum you understand all of it, and how important those experiences are to shape your whole Emerson experience,” said Emily. “I’m really proud we’ve brought three generations to Emerson. The opportunities that it brought our family, starting with my mother, then myself and Justin, there aren’t many schools we could’ve had these opportunities. I’m really thankful and grateful for that. We’re going to miss Emerson.”

All three generations are planning to attend Justin’s graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 8. Dorothy is looking forward to seeing her grandson graduate and getting a campus tour. Years ago, Dorothy got a tour of the Cutler Majestic Theatre after Emerson first purchased it and hadn’t restored it yet, and she’d like to see what it looks like now.  

“I think Emerson has had a huge effect on our family,” said Dorothy. “And there’s been a lot of success because of Emerson, which is really amazing when you think about it.”

As for whether there will be a fourth generation.

“How amazing would it be to have a fourth generation go? Why not?” said Emily.

No pressure, Justin.

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