June 14, 2023

Alumni Spotlight: Cara Klonoski

Cara Schmidt Klonoski (’04) just received the Secretary of Defense’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award. It’s the second-highest career award presented by the DoD and is presented for “exceptionally noteworthy service of major significance to the DoD as a whole.”

Cara has worked for several years as an analyst for the Pentagon. As an analyst, her responsibilities include accumulating information and discussing things like the withdrawal of Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“I’ve got a front row seat to history. I get to witness things as events unfold – some good; some bad. It’s a great feeling knowing I’m part of history in some way.” That’s the way Cara Klonoski describes her job.

Cara is the 37-year-old daughter of Warren “Rick” and Emma Schmidt, of Watson. She has an older brother, Derek. She attended Effingham public schools through eighth grade, but then decided to go to St. Anthony High School. “It was geared more toward college prep,” Cara noted. “It gave me the opportunity to pursue the path I wanted to go down. I was focused on what I needed to do to go to college and St. Anthony helped me accomplish that.” 

After graduating from SAHS in 2004, Cara headed to the University of Illinois. Because of the number of advanced placement classes she took, she was able to cut a full year off college and graduated in 2007 with a degree in political science.

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