Bessie Erese Schiroky
Recipient: National Prism Award for Women of Style and Achievements
The Powerhouse That’s Bessie Erese Schiroky By Nelia Dingcong Bernabe. Her resume packs a powerful punch. From any perspective, it speaks of a woman who has it all – a wife, a mother, a career woman, a community leader, a fundraiser, a medical missionary, a card dealer, a dancer, a romantic and many more. She is multi-faceted as she is stylish and a woman on the go. Bessie is blissfully married for almost 29 years to Dr. Gerhard Schiroky, holder of a Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering and who also graduated Summa Cum Laude from Erlangen University in Germany; they have three kids and they are her pride and joy.
Oldest son Preston, now almost 25 years-old, finished high school in two years and went to college on a scholarship, finishing his B.S. in Mathematics from Brown University and his M.S. in Computational Finance from Carnegie Mellon University. He now works for UBS in New York City.
Second child, Zorina, 23, holds a Business Marketing degree from Ohio University. An honor student all through her academic life, she is also a beauty pageant titleholder having won the local Miss Cities of America contest in 2003 where she also competed nationally. She now works for a tire and automotive company in Twinsburg, OH and loves to entertain her parents by playing the piano.
Tamra at 21 is the youngest of the Schiroky children. Currently a senior at Miami University in Oxford, OH, she’s on a partial scholarship studying business and majoring in accounting. Of the three kids according to Bessie, Tamra is the most athletic. She is a member of the university’s water skiing team and travels to compete.
Bessie (and her twin sister Annie Clemente) is big sister to Epifanio, a civil engineer; Lourdes, an industrial engineer. Her twin sister Annie has an M.S. in Industrial Engineering.
Bessie Erese Schiroky is one powerhouse to reckon with. Her stellar accomplishments and style are innate. She believes that living means one must live life to the fullest while helping uplift others along the way. “Have faith…pray that your dreams will come true but at the same time, plan your strategy to get there,” she said. “Good fortune does not automatically fall on the lap of someone who’s lazy and dependent.”
She graduated valedictorian in high school and attended the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC) College of Nursing on a scholarship and where she also received her B.S. in Nursing.
Her nursing career was launched when she became a staff nurse at the ICU of Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital in Manila. After moving to the United States in 1977, she worked full time in all areas of critical care – trauma/neurological, cardiovascular, medical/surgical and coronary as staff and charge nurse in spite of moving at least five times all over the country due to her husband’s job.
Her secret in making it in her adopted country is simple. “Once you are here in the United States, strive to prove to yourself to be just as good or better than others. Where you graduated from or your family standing back in the Philippines doesn’t really matter. What you make of yourself once you’re here is what matters,” she said.
Bessie co-owns Heritage Home Health Care of Stark and Portage Counties with her twin sister, Annie and first cousin, Glenna Heppner. She serves as the Director of Nursing of the business and her responsibilities include screening job applicants, staff training, assessments and supervisory visits of all the clients; and helps in marketing and strategic planning. She also reaches out to out-ofwork Filipinos, who their clients love, in her community and employs them as caregivers in their agency.
Bessie’s list of community service, awards and recognition is akin to a Who’s Who list that you’ll find in the respectable Forbes magazine. She served in various positions as officer of Pilipino American Society of Delaware (PAAD) for 14 years, she was in charge of all the youth educational/socio-cultural activities, she was a member of the PAAD choir and she received the PAAD Service and Leadership Awards in 1992 and 1996.
She was elected president of the Philippine Nurses Association of Ohio (PNAO) in 2006 – 2008, was the recipient of PNAO’s Most Outstanding Nurse of the Year Award in 2004 and its Service Recognition Award twice, in 2002 and 2006.
While she was the PNAO president, she succeeded in increasing PNAO’s membership, enhanced its local and national visibility, made it financially viable, encouraged volunteer work during Thanksgiving by serving meals to the poor and by working with MedWish, a foundation that collects medical surplus from area hospitals to be used in medical missions around the world.
Bessie was also the PAAD’s Balitaan newsletter editor from 1994 – 2000, the PNAO’s Perspective newsletter editor in 2004 and is a regular writer/contributor of The Pulse, the newsletter of Pilipino Physicians of Ohio (APPO).
Despite the many activities that she is currently involved in, she still finds the time to serve as a co chair of Philippine Nurses Association of America’s (PNAA) Kababayan Emergency Preparedness Fund committee, member of PNAA’s membership committee and volunteer instructor for its Balikturo/Adopt-a-School Committee.
“If you do something, always aim to do it with excellence…either you aim for perfection or you don’t do it at all!” she said. “You’re not only representing yourself in everything you do, you’re also representing the Filipino community as a whole.”
She takes her profession as a nurse across the ocean and beyond the borders of America. She has embarked on medical missions to the Philippines since 2005, something that she considers her yearly commitment. During these missions, she coordinates all nursing volunteers who will be working in surgery while grabbing the chance to teach Filipino nursing students at the same time. These missions also allow Bessie to show her prowess in card dealing when she helps out with the mission’s poker fundraiser.
Bessie has indeed come a long way from her hometown of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, Philippines. Born to Pedro and Lucena Erese, devoted grade school teachers who were well loved and respected by their students. She embodies the values taught by her beloved parents and takes so much pride in passing them on to her own three children.
“I enjoyed the flexibility of working as a PRN critical care nurse when my first child was born in 1984,” she said. “This allowed me to give my children the care that they deserved without placing them in a day-care center. My kids possess the combined values of their Filipina mother and their German father”
There is another side to this Prism awardee. When her busy schedule would allow it, she finds time to indulge in her other joys – cooking, gardening, sewing, home decorating, flower arranging, traveling, singing, dancing, reading, writing and romancing her hubby always; emphasis on the latter.
“When you love someone – give your all – to it and hope that the object of your love will do the same,” she said. “Nothing is more precious than being deeply in love and being deeply loved in return. Love gives us the ultimate sense of inner peace and contentment.”