Making a difference is a big part of Rachel Heckathorn’s life. In fact, it’s one of the reasons she looked at Ashland in the first place.
Rachel liked the fact that Ashland University offers lots of opportunities to get involved. She also loved the safe campus, the fact that it had strong departments in both biology and religion, and the school colors. “When I finally toured Ashland, everything just clicked. By the time the tour was over, I knew it was the school for me.”
After envisioning herself as an overseas missionary anesthesiologist, Rachel realized within her first semester that to do what she really wanted, she’d need to change things a little.“I realized,” she says, “that the right decision for me was to work in the U.S. where I could do even more good on a very personal, very involved level, even if it meant making less money.”
With that thought in mind, Rachel switched her major to social work and hasn’t looked back. She discovered while taking a course in Juvenile Delinquency that she has a special ability for working with teenagers – work that she truly loves.
As she looks to the future, Rachel has big plans. Upon graduation in 2012, she hopes to receive her master’s degree in macro social work and start her own non-profit agency working with teens in juvenile delinquency programs.
When it comes time to open the doors to her own non-profit, Rachel certainly won’t be lacking in experience. She is a member of the Executive Team for Community Care, an on-campus service program, which she started her freshman year. She is part of the Hunger Team in the annual Crop Walk, a three-mile walk in which students partner with a local church to raise money for non-profit organizations. She participated in The 30-hour Famine, a fast to raise money for the worldís hungry children. She assists customers at the Pump House, a food pantry that distributes the money locally, nationally and worldwide ñ wherever the need is greatest, every second and fourth week of the month. And somehow, she still finds time to serve breakfast every Saturday morning at the Breakfast Center.
“I’ve always had a desire to help others,” Rachel recalls. “Although, as a child, I wasn’t as active in my community as I am today, I did go to both the Ukraine and Mexico to do mission work with my church. Now, my focus is on helping at a local level, and becoming personally involved with the people I assist.”
With an Ashland education nearly behind her and her eye firmly on the future, Rachel is poised to truly make a difference, doing exactly what she loves.