Don’t Give Up! Lessons from a 2020 graduate

HeffronA few years ago, Lisa Heffron set a goal. 

She wanted to complete her bachelor’s degree before they did, but it wasn’t an easy goal. A single mother of a son and a teenage daughter, Heffron was working full-time and doing her best to care for her children and her family. Roadblock after roadblock seemed to ensure that she’d never reach that goal. 

But during Trevecca’s Conferral Ceremony on May 16, Heffron will become a Trevecca graduate, having completed all the requirements to earn her Bachelor of Arts in management and human relations. 

Recently, Heffron shared a few thoughts about her journey to completing her degree, her plans for the future and why, despite all the obstacles, she never gave up. 

How did you find out about Trevecca? 
I found out about Trevecca when Dr. Dan Boone [Trevecca president] came to speak at our church, Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, in Lakeland, Florida, in 2012. He has such a gift for storytelling, and I was captivated by his passion for our loving Father and by his stories of Harvey the squirrel at Trevecca. Over the next two years, not only did Dr. Boone come back to Highland Park Church to speak to the middle school and high school students, but Awaken [one of Trevecca’s PR groups] came as well. In 2015, I looked on Trevecca’s website and saw that they offered an online course of study. I applied, and over the next few days had spoken with Andrea Robinson [associate director of enrollment, School Of Graduate and Continuing Studies] and began the process of becoming a Trevecca student.

Completing your degree wasn’t the easiest path. What kind of obstacles did you face? 
There have been numerous obstacles over the past five years. It has been extremely difficult juggling a full-time job—and sometimes an additional part-time job— while also having a teenager in high school and her involvement in softball through the high school as well as travel ball teams. I also had some health challenges. In March of 2019, my mom had a severe bacterial infection and became septic. We almost lost her. This was an absolutely horrible time, as I was 1,200 miles south of her and my siblings, who were living in Illinois. She had to learn to do everything for herself as if she were an infant. So, in June 2019, I left a stable job, my apartment, my church, friends, and everything that had been familiar for 18 years, and moved in with my mom to help her transition out of rehab. My daughter and I stayed with her for a short time, then moved into our own apartment in August 2019. During the past year, Mom has continually battled to become fully independent and has regained all the strength and capabilities she had prior to the infection. 

In the midst of all of that, what helped you to stay focused on completing your degree? Why was it so important to you to finish?
I have had continued love, support, encouragement from my advisors at Trevecca, Andrea Robinson, and numerous friends and family members. They never let me quit. They never let me give up on something that I have poured my heart and soul into for years. I wanted to finish my degree before my children finished theirs. Guess what? I am! 

What advice might you give students who are facing roadblocks to finishing their degrees?
You can get through anything—absolutely anything—in this lifetime one minute at a time. You will have times when you doubt your ability to go on, and you will struggle and get overwhelmed. If you feel like you want to quit, my advice to you is don’t quit. If you have to pause, if you have to reschedule your next class to a later date, do that, but don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on the journey. You never know where it will lead.

What are your post-graduation goals or dreams?
It is extraordinary how God is orchestrating this next part of my journey. I didn’t know what God would lay before me, but He sure did. I was laid off in March 2020, and within three days, I already had another job offer to join a health care organization with tremendous personal and professional growth potential, where I can put everything I have learned at Trevecca into practice. The company has been in existence for more than 100 years, and the Bannockburn, Illinois, location has only been open for 18 months. During that time, several people have been promoted to leadership roles. This is a perfect opportunity to join the organization on the ground level and grow into a new and exciting future. I would like to become a corporate trainer, training new employees, setting them up for success, helping them recognize their strengths and encouraging them to pursue their passions.

Heffron is just one of the many graduates Trevecca will send out into the world this May to live out our mission of leadership and service. Class of 2020, we’re so proud of you!

Ready to take the next step?

Whether you want to complete your degree or earn your master’s or doctorate, Trevecca has a program for you. Learn more about what Trevecca has to offer.