Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt just added a new honor to her already overloaded mantle: a place on Illinois’ Senior Hall of Fame.
The Catholic nun and longtime chaplain of the Loyola-Chicago basketball team became a celebrity last March as the Ramblers reached the NCAA Final Four. In August she celebrated her 99th birthday.
Schmidt received the Illinois Department of Aging's award for her "outstanding achievements in education."
"I think of it not just as something I have earned," Schmidt said. "It’s a team effort."
Schmidt won the hearts of many as she cheered the Ramblers during the NCAA tournament. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, in conjunction with Loyola University, even produced a limited edition Sister Jean bobblehead.
Loyola alum John Cullerton, who nominated her for the latest honor, said her influence has been felt beyond basketball.
"In the '60s, she was active in the Civil Rights movement," Cullterton said. "In the '70s she helped establish policies for fairness during the student strike. More recently she has been honored with not one but two bobblehead dolls."
There are times, Schmidt said, that she wishes she were younger because of so much going on that she might miss out on.
She has this advice to other seniors considering their own retirements.
"I just want every one of you to work until you actually want to stop," she said. "And you really never should stop. If you stop, that’s the end of the line in my way of thinking."
And Sister Jean said she isn't stopping anytime soon.