“Don’t have an idea of what you want to do,” shared Paul Schroeder, visiting professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University, about finding one’s path in life. He has held this position for 14 years, though this year will be his last.
“My wife and I have done something different every 7-8 years. It’s time,” explained Schroeder.
Schroeder has had a long and varied history of careers, drifting far from his original goal.
Originally, he got his degree in zoology and planned to follow in his family’s footsteps by going to either dental or medical school. However, on the spring Friday he received his rejection letter from dental school, he “ran over to the journalism school and signed up for their masters program.” Schroeder got the opportunity to travel to China as a state correspondent, and from there was “bit by the China bug”—he knew he had to continue to visit.
Schroeder’s passion for the topic clearly has been a leading influence in his actions over the years, especially in how he completely reworked the political science department and created an Asian politics subfield at CWRU. However, the story of how he ended up as a professor hits the hardest.
Lance Corporal Edward August “Augie” Schroeder II died in Iraq in August, 2005, at the age of 23. It was in memory of their son that Schroeder and his wife created Families of the Fallen for Change, an anti-Iraq war peaceful protest group. They would go across the country speaking to government representatives, families and constituents in an effort to begin the process to pull out of the Iraq war.
“[Augie is] why I still get dressed up everyday,” said Schroeder in reference to his monogrammed collared shirt, tie and slacks, with his suit jacket hanging on the door behind him.
It was several months into their work with Families of the Fallen for Change when Schroeder and his wife realized they had no source of income, which was beginning to pose a problem.
“I reached out to my friend at Case Western who was taking a short leave of absence to see if she had anyone to fill in her place while she would be gone. They hired me, and I haven’t left since.”
However, Schroeder’s hardships did not end there. In 2007, his daughter Amanda was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2016, she passed away, leaving behind her husband and two children.
Once he retires, Schroeder plans on dedicating more of his time to writing, primarily about his interests in Chinese foreign policy and politics. He is also interested in working more on his urban backyard farm during the nicer months, where he and his wife grow a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Memorial videos for Augie and Amanda are posted online for those interested in learning more about their life, titled “Hole in the Soul Augie” and “Free to Be Amanda” respectively.