CFES National Advisory Board (NAB) member Vanessa Armenta Schmidt speaks from experience when she tells mentees that it’s okay when life doesn’t go as planned. If not for a late change in college major and move across the country, her currently wonderful life would be very different.

Growing up in Houston, Texas, Armenta Schmidt wanted to fulfill the dream her father could not, becoming a doctor. “My father came to this country with nothing and gave up his dreams so I could live mine,” she says. Realizing she could not tolerate the sight of blood, however, forced a change in plans. After talking with her elective professor about her enthusiasm for Consumer Behavior she switched her major to Business and “never looked back.”

“Life will not go as planned and that’s okay”

After graduating from the University of Houston, she started working near home in the insurance industry, but was offered an unbelievable promotion, contingent on a move to Connecticut. “I packed my car and my pets and off I went, moving to a new state without knowing a single soul.”
It wasn’t long before she found success as a national account manager at Global Atlantic Financial Group where she still works today. “My immigrant parents instilled a strong work ethic in all of us and I carry it with me to this day.” She also met a man she eventually married. “A child of immigrants, married to an immigrant,” she says. “We travel the world together, seeking one adventure after another.”

Armenta Schmidt is looking forward to working with CFES Alumni to share her experiences and some advice she learned on her own and from other mentors. “You have the opportunity to learn from everyone and it’s okay to have mentors at certain times in your life for certain reasons and it’s okay to outgrow your mentors.” She cites the following mentors in her life:

  • Dr. Pointer, college professor, guided me and helped me find my voice as a woman.
  • Jerry Livers took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about insurance.
  • Brenda Gempler did a fantastic job of teaching me to thrive in a male dominated industry.
  • Kelly Rutherford would challenge me and pushed me to be better when I felt like my career wasn’t going anywhere.
  • Debbie Whitten was another professor who mentored me throughout my college years.

“EVERYONE says this and it’s true, life will not go as planned and that’s okay, says Armenta Schmidt, who has been to every continent except Antarctica. “Your goals may change and that’s okay. You are your strongest critic when you should be your strongest supporter. Believe in yourself. It’s really okay to make mistakes, it honestly is. You have to own your mistakes and you absolutely have to learn from them.