April 12, 2010
Chrysa [Sandewicz] Smith '82CBA has always been a writer. "I
loved to write as far back as I can remember," she recalled, "even
when I was in elementary school, but I never really thought about
doing it as a career until years later."
After graduating from the College of Business Administration at St.
John's University in 1982, she put her degree to good use by
entering the corporate world, first in the film industry in New
York City, where she met her husband, and later as a sales
promotion person and editor at a major publishing corporation. It
was when the company moved its operations to Minnesota that she
considered the possibility of becoming a freelance writer. "I
didn't want to move out-of-town, and I was tired of always facing
the possibility of corporate downsizing. That's when I decided to
switch gears and begin a new career doing what I always loved.
Also, as a freelance writer I was more in control of my time, and
as a woman with a family, that really worked for me."
After spending more than 20 years as a freelancer, Smith decided in
2007 to embark upon a slightly different aspect of her profession
and become a self-published author of children's books. "All of my
life experiences led up to a consideration of how I was going to
publish this juvenile fiction. I did a bunch of research and
decided to do this on my own, as my own adventure. I hired my own
printer, my own illustrator and my own editors. I test marketed my
ideas and talked to bookstore owners, trying to get as many people
involved as possible. I came up with the name Well Bred Book as the
corporate name for what I was publishing."
Her first two books, a series titled The Adventures of the
Poodle Posse, have received critical acclaim from parents,
teachers, librarians and reading specialists, earning Smith the
Mom's Choice Award for excellence in family-friendly media,
products and services. She is presently completing work on a
new book with a Halloween theme.
Recognizing the importance of making reading and writing fun for
young people, this engaging author spends countless hours in the
classrooms of elementary schools, visiting with and asking for
suggestions from her potential readers. "I came to the realization
that some of the kids might want to take a look at the manuscript
and experience what it would be like to be part of it. I've opened
the process to every school that I've ever visited and now there
are 24 schools that are participating in the previewing and editing
of my current book. I like being able to bring a fun, living
experience into the classroom. It's been a great experience
for all of us – the schools, the kids and me."
As personally generous as she is professionally creative, her
visits to local schools are always free.
Smith credits her experiences at St. John's with helping her to
become the person that she is today. "St. John's is where I really
learned to do critical thinking, which has helped a ton in
everything I've ever done," she said. "My business education really
helped me to become my own boss. So many writers struggle with the
marketing and sales aspects of their career, and that's never been
a problem for me. I attribute that to my business degree from the
She continues to embrace the Vincentian values that have always
been a unique aspect of the St. John's experience. She donates sets
of books to many child caring and social service organizations, toy
drives, charity golf outings, animal rescue fund organizations and
schools serving underprivileged areas in the Philadelphia area.
"The Vincentian values resonate in so many areas of my life. My
mother worked at the University throughout most of my upbringing,
so I was given the gift of free tuition when my family really
needed it. My father had passed away by the time I started college
and we were really grateful for what St. John's did for us. I
really try to give back to today's students as much as I
Smith is active with alumni in the Philadelphia area, and has
spoken at events for potential St. John's students. She hopes that
by sharing her experiences at St. John's she will encourage other
young men and women to follow in her footsteps. "I always tell
young people to find their passion in life and to do what they
love. They need to find what they love and then figure out how to
make a living at it. I've always loved writing, I've always loved
dogs – I have two poodles – and so writing about poodles is what
brings me the greatest joy. What I learned at St. John's helped me
to pull everything together, and I hope that I can share my
blessings with others in any way possible."