As a Rider student in the 1960s, Susan Polis Schutz ’66 (pictured in the center) pursued her passions. She majored in biology and English, wrote for the Rider News and participated in Delta Phi Epsilon, Scribes and student government. She went on to graduate school in physiology while also teaching elementary-age students in Harlem and writing for magazines and newspapers. “I have always been a writer, as far back as age 7, when I put together a neighborhood newspaper in Peekskill, New York,” she says.
Schutz has remained devoted to pursuing her passions and supporting causes she believes in. With Steve Schutz, her husband of more than 44 years, she has created a thriving artistic life, starting with Blue Mountain Arts, a greeting card, poster and gift book publisher, and continuing with the documentary Seeds of Resiliency. She also produced and directed Anyone and Everyone, a documentary film featuring the coming-out stories of gay sons and daughters and their parents. In all, she has directed five documentaries that have aired on PBS stations and is currently working on two more.
Schutz has penned numerous best-selling books of poetry, and her poems have been published in over 425 million greeting cards, magazines and textbooks. She has also written an autobiography of her working life, Blue Mountain: Turning Dreams Into Reality, and Depression and Back: A Poetic Journey Through Depression and Recovery, which describes her three-year journey through depression.
Rider, too, has remained one of her passions. She was honored with the distinguished alumna award in both 1990 and 2004, as well as an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Rider in 1996. This year, she received Rider’s Sesquicentennial Medal of Honor.
Throughout her life, Schutz has served as a reminder to those around her that one should pursue the things he or she loves the most. And through her philanthropy, she has also made it possible for others to achieve their dreams. “This life is yours,” one of her poems reads. “Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life.”