Steve Schroeder remembered for his “larger than life” personality and love of his students

Alison Pfaff, Managing Editor

Remembered for his love of Disney, Phi Theta Kappa and theater, Steve Schroeder left a legacy at COD and beyond. 

The Phi Theta Kappa adviser of 19 years, former forensics adviser and speech communication professor passed away on June 20, 2019, just two days before his 54th birthday. 

Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society for two year schools. 

Current and former Phi Theta Kappa members reflected on their time with Schroeder. 

Rachel Matug, a former member of PTK, fondly the Phi Beta (COD’s chapter) trip to Disney World in April 2019.

“Him and I decided to cut it close and make a final stop at his favorite ride. I was able to see the pure happiness radiate from Steve that day, and I am beyond thankful that my final memory was such a positive one.” Matug said. 

Shannon Hernandez, a fellow adviser of Phi Theta Kappa at COD, explained what it was like working with Schroeder. 

“Steve really loved students. His big thing was how does he empower them; how does he help them grow. Especially in the communications area, because that was his love. So if there was a student who was quiet and wanted to be more out of their shell, better at their presentation skills, that totally made him shine,” Hernandez said. “He would take [students] where they came to us and build them up to that next level where they needed to go to.” 

Sofia Noonan was on the trip to Orlando with PTK students for the Annual PTK Catalyst convention. She recalls the amount of support she received from Schroeder. 

“I went up on stage and he was all smiles the entire time. I went up to the stage to ask the speaker a question, and when I walked back to my seat there he was smiling and praising me for having the courage to go up there in front of everyone,” Noonan said. “If it weren’t for Steve, I might’ve never had the courage to run for a regional officer position. I could never thank him enough.” Noonan is currently the Vice President of the northern Illinois region. 

Hernandez says Schroeder gave students the confidence to grow. His legacy  lives on with the impact he had on students.

“Really that whole love of students. He really loved his job and he really loved seeing the development of a student to where they start to where they end. Whether that be a class, or for us Phi Theta Kappa, from the year they start until they leave, and he was great at staying connected with them after,” Hernandez said. “He was so larger than life. When he went into a room he was never quiet about it.” 

Schroeder was also involved with Wheaton Drama, a volunteer community theater group,  and the Jeff Awards, which honors theater productions in Chicago.  

His memorial service, which took place on Aug. 12, had over 500 people attend. 

Schroeder’s put Phi Theta Kappa in his will, donating a sum of money to the organization. The donation makes Schroeder an Athena Society Member. The money may be used for scholarships.