07 December

Sister Jean to Release Debut Memoir, Wake Up with Purpose!: What I’ve Learned in My First Hundred Years with Harper Select, on February 28, 2023 

The Loyola Chicago matriarch gives readers a remarkable memoir filled with history, wonder, and common-sense wisdom for this century and beyond. 

Fresh off the success of their initial, instant New York Times bestselling release of Joanna Gaines’ memoir, The Stories We Tell, Harper Select announced they will publish Wake Up with Purpose!: What I’ve Learned in My First Hundred Years by Sister Jean on February 28, 2023.  Wake Up with Purpose! is a remarkable memoir that is part life story, part philosophy text, and part spiritual guide.  

“Wisdom can be hard to come by these days, but I can think of no one who carries more of it than Sister Jean,” said Matt Baugher, publisher of Harper Select.  “Her life and her story are both remarkable. We are honored to be her publisher.”  

Known to millions as simply “Sister Jean,” the Loyola Chicago matriarch and college basketball icon, recently celebrated her 103rd birthday this past August.  She, along with her collaborator Seth Davis—an award-winning writer, broadcaster, and New York Times bestselling author— worked together to capture the narrative and life lessons she has gleaned from her fascinating century-long life.  “When Seth Davis asked if I would be interested in writing a book together, I was skeptical that I could find the time. I still go into my office at Loyola five days a week and keep a very busy schedule year-round,” said Sister Jean. “I’m glad I agreed to give it a try, because I enjoyed so much revisiting all these memories that I hadn’t thought about in so many years. 

From teaching at a Catholic school during the Second World War to serving on a Chicago college campus in the sixties and beyond, Sister Jean was already living a treasured life before she became a national treasure while cheering from the sidelines for her beloved Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team at the NCAA tournament in March 2018.  “As I write in the book, it took me 98 years to become an overnight sensation, and I have a lot more living to do. I hope people will enjoy taking this very, very long stroll down memory lane with me.” 

Wake Up with Purpose! has broad appeal and application that transcends religious creed, belief, and even feelings on Loyola’s basketball team. “I’m happy with how this book came out, but I know that words could never do justice to explain just how much of a national treasure she is. She is truly a gift from God. Sister Jean is just as happy, hopeful, funny, and cool as she seems. She has a loving heart, a giving soul, and a superhuman memory. I tried to capture not just her words but her spirit, so that every reader will get to feel what I felt during all those hours of conversations. Writing this book with her has been one of the great honors of my life,” said Seth Davis.  

“I’ve seen so many changes in the last 103 years, but the important things remain the same. I wanted to recount the story of my life for people, not because I feel that I am so special or my life has been so extraordinary, but rather as a way to give people hope and optimism that once they find their purpose, they can go through life with joy and fulfillment,” added Sister Jean. 

Wake Up with Purpose! will be available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook. You can pre-order today at https://www.harpercollinsfocus.com/harper-horizon/wake-up-with-purpose/ 


Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM is a religious sister of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She has spent her entire adult life working as a teacher, administrator, and volunteer, first at elementary and grade schools in Chicago and Los Angeles, and later at Mundelein College and Loyola University. Since 1994, Sister Jean, as she is known, has served as team chaplain for Loyola’s men’s basketball team. She gained national – and international – fame in 2018 when the Ramblers went on a Cinderella run to the Final Four.  Sister Jean has been a household name ever since. In August 2022 Sister Jean celebrated her 103rd birthday. 


Seth Davis is an award-winning college basketball studio analyst for CBS Sports and a senior writer for college basketball at The Athletic. Since 2004 he has been a mainstay of CBS and Turner Sports coverage of the NCAA tournament. Seth is the author of eight books, including the New York Times bestsellers Wooden: A Coach’s Life and When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball; the memoir Equinunk, Tell Your Story: My Return to Summer Camp; and The Soccer Prince, a novel for middle school readers. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Melissa, their sons, Zachary, Noah, and Gabriel, and their Goldendoodles, Clarence and Sadie. 


Harper Select is a boutique-style imprint, based in Nashville, TN, publishing an exclusive number of hand-selected memoirs and narrative nonfiction focused on stories of hope and determination.  

Media Contact:

Kevin Smith 

Publicity Director, Harper Select 

Tel: 615-902-1738 

Web: [email protected]