Ben Schmitt

Ben Schmitt graduated from Peabody High School in 1988 and Michigan State University in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He worked as a reporter at the Concord Monitor, Savannah Morning News, American Lawyer Media and the Detroit Free Press and won a national Emmy award in 2008 for two video stories about pit bulls. He also helped report on the downfall of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, which earned the Free Press a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. He is now a staff writer for the Tribune-Review.

Helping Children Heal and Thrive

When Pamela Schanwald was pregnant, doctors relayed a terrifying image from an ultrasound: extra skin on the back of her son’s neck indicated possible Down syndrome. She immediately began searching for day care options in the Pittsburgh area for children with special needs. She couldn’t find any. “Obviously, I knew it would be a lifelong …

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A Pittsburgh Masterpiece

When Rachel Rosenberg arrived at the University of Pittsburgh from California as a freshman, she was immediately drawn to the cultural classrooms lining the Cathedral of Learning’s first and third floors: their alluring aesthetics, stunning architecture and meticulous attention to detail. “There’s nothing like this anywhere else,” she said. “They really set the University of …

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The Year of Humanities

A multicolored logo flashed over Heinz Field’s immense scoreboard on a bright fall day as a booming voice declared 2015-16 the University of Pittsburgh’s “Year of the Humanities.” The crowd of 45,000-plus fans cheered loudly. Whether they were celebrating the academic year proclamation or the fact that Pitt’s football team was beating up on the …

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Arts Aligned

They’re situated on either side of Forbes Avenue in Oakland, almost appreciatively staring at each other in a figurative manner: A world-class university and a world-class art collection. On a daily basis, backpack-sporting college students and briefcase-toting college professors weave in and out of these historic institutions, along with the general public. But not until …

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Healing Children for 125 Years

Each day, Dr. Patrick Dantzer, a fourth-year resident at Children’s Hospital of UPMC, walks past an indoor mural commemorating Jonas Salk and his polio vaccine discovery. Pretty big shoes to fill, but also a good way to kick start a shift. The milestones at Children’s are copious—so many medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine, so …

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AC / DC

Three University of Pittsburgh professors have seen the future in electrical innovation, and it begins in Homewood. They’re talking about an electrical revolution, and it’s fitting that Pittsburgh and one of its poorest neighborhoods could play a large role. In the late 1880s, Pittsburgh’s most famous Homewood resident, George Westinghouse, prevailed in what has since …

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One Pitt, One Planet

On a muggy September evening, a group of 30 University of Pittsburgh students harvested food on a green patch of land in Oakland surrounded by older brick buildings and urban hubbub. They picked tomatoes, green peppers, raspberries, kale, beets, turnips and grapes, filling large plastic bins in an effort to promote a sustainable future and …

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The Awe of Night

For nearly three centuries, a scientific debate lingered about the brilliant rings rotating around Saturn: Were they solid discs or made of some other matter? The debate finally came to rest in Pittsburgh, of all places. Astronomer James Edward Keeler, using a spectrograph attached to a refracting telescope with a 13-inch lens, observed that the …

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A Calling on Campus

When Kathy Humphrey was born, she was already an aunt, part of a family of 11 siblings and, now, 86 nieces and nephews. As a girl, she not only loved school, she played school outside of classroom hours with her hometown friends in Kansas City, Mo. And when she couldn’t find friends to join her, …

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Public Interest Radio

Marco Cardamone offered a blunt assessment in recalling the transformation from Duquesne University’s radio station WDUQ to 90.5 FM WESA, an all-news National Public Radio format: “We got pretty clobbered,” he said with a chuckle. “The backlash was much greater than we anticipated. You always lose part of an audience in a radio ownership transition, …

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The Steeler Way

Over the summer, news reports across the country have focused on the dramatic increase in NFL player arrests since the Feb. 4 Super Bowl. As of early July, the off-season arrest rate has increased 75 percent over last year, according to one labor economist. And of the 31 arrests since the Super Bowl, the murder …

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Hello ACC

How did the University of Pittsburgh celebrate its official entrance this summer into the Atlantic Coast Conference? With Downtown fireworks, of course—quintessential Pittsburgh. But Panthers fan Stephen Clendaniel is holding out for the electricity inside the Petersen Events Center when teams like Duke University pass through this upcoming season. He’s been a devoted Pitt men’s …

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Mind Over Matter

“Let me eat chocolate.” That was quadriplegic Jan Scheuermann’s simple request when she committed to a trailblazing UPMC and Pitt School of Medicine study that would let her control a robotic arm with her mind. “The doctors asked me: ‘What is your goal?’ ” Scheuermann recalled with a laugh. “I could tell they wanted to …

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Raising the Bar

Going to law school as a get-rich plan? Maybe you’ve come to the wrong place. That’s the message the University of Pittsburgh’s new law school dean, William M. “Chip” Carter Jr., relays to incoming students or existing ones seeking guidance. This is no cliché in Carter’s mind: The law is a calling. He’s serious, driven …

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African Americans in Pittsburgh: The newcomer experience

In 24 years, Marisa Bartley had never heard the “n-word” hurled at her by a white person. One day, it hung in the air in the lobby of a Verona bank, where she worked as a branch manager. A disgruntled male customer stood on the other end with an enraged expression. “It was the n-word, …

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225 Years of Pitt

When Gwendolyn Hays graduated from high school in Potter County, the idea of a female engineer seemed laughable to some. It was 1960. After rejections from two colleges, she turned to the University of Pittsburgh, which welcomed her and her dream. Pitt commemorates its 225th anniversary this year, and Hays is celebrating the university’s commitment …

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A Clearer Reflection

For a college course, the assignment seemed simple enough, if not mundane: Ride a Port Authority bus into a city neighborhood and attend a lecture at the YMCA. Things changed, however, when the Duquesne University freshmen heard the neighborhood’s name—the Hill District, a historically African American community. “Almost all 28 of them were afraid to …

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The Nuance of Nonprofits

Michael Clements looked at a vacant downtown building, with its chipped paint, outdated awning and weathered bricks. It was an eyesore, but one he knew he had to have. Three years later, the building thrives, housing the second location of the Penn Avenue Fish Company restaurant and two spacious loft apartments upstairs. “I picked the …

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