Coming to St. Ambrose University was an obvious choice for Sarah Heffron and has proven to be a rewarding and meaningful experience.
"When I visited SAU, I knew the first second I walked on campus that I would end up here. I just knew that this is where I wanted to be. I felt at home here."
However, it wasn't always as simple for Sarah as she may have portrayed. Sarah is an inspiration to others, as she overcame many obstacles and hard times.
"Sophomore year was a really hard year for me especially," she said. "I was changing my major from exercise science to art history and history because I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be."
In her time at SAU, Sarah has shown that she can overcome anything. She has been managing her chronic migraines while still maintaining a nearly perfect GPA and being heavily involved on campus.
Friends and mentors kept Sarah persevering and motivated her to overcome rather than fall behind.
"Lindsey Ekblad, my Accessibility Resource Center provider, really impacted my time at SAU," she said. "I would call her 'my person' (a reference to Grey's Anatomy). She related on a personal level and took the time to understand me and accommodate for me individually."
Lindsey also speaks highly of Sarah.
"I am not sure I have ever seen a more determined student who is able to power through and deal with school and personal life in such a graceful manner," Lindsey said. "Sarah has told me that during her four years at St. Ambrose, she has learned so much about herself that she never knew was there."
Delta Alpha Pi, the international honor society for students with documented disabilities on campus, also served as a home for Sarah, allowing her to bond with other students that are also trying to balance school while managing disabilities.
"At our most recent event for DAPi, we participated in a disability awareness display where I was able to make a collage that gave a visual look into how migraines have deeply affected my life and my time as a college student," she said. "This was very helpful to bring awareness to the chronic illness that is migraines. I'm glad that I was able to inform others of my disability because not only did it help others have awareness, but it also allowed me a chance to break the stigma surrounding disabilities."
Sarah was also involved in The Bridge Bible Fellowship, the bowling team, and served as the president of the Classical Studies/History Club. She worked in the library archives, successfully completed four internships, and studied abroad, demonstrating that life is limitless for someone with perseverance and a strong work ethic.
Sarah will be receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Art History with a minor in biology on May 11, 2019.
It was Dr. Larry Skillin's class that affirmed her love for history and persuaded her to follow her passion for it.
Sarah has received the "Thomas F. Chateau Art History Award," which goes to a hardworking and overachieving student.
This semester Sarah completed her capstone course which integrated both art history and history.
Sarah's capstone was titled "Alexander Gardner: Fighting His Way Out of the Shadows of Matthew Brady." It focused on Gardner, a Scottish Civil War photographer, Brady, a presidential photographer, and how they photographed President Abraham Lincoln throughout the Civil War.
She describes how the Civil War was the first American War to be photographed, and the photos were staged by Gardner, who would instruct his men to drag bodies and add props to make the Union soldiers to appear more heroic, spreading morale to his viewers. He would also capture photographs to demoralize the Confederate soldiers.
When deciding what to focus on for her project, Sarah knew what she wanted.
"I wanted to include Lincoln in my capstone project. I love Lincoln so much. I live in Illinois and share a birthday with him, which only elevates my passion. It also seemed like the perfect opportunity to tie art history and history into one paper."
Although Sarah's time at SAU is finishing up, it is clear that her time here was well spent and inspiring.
"I love Ambrose so much and I don't want to leave, but I'm excited for the next steps in my life that SAU prepared me for. Without knowing yourself, you can't help other people. Without knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can't succeed."