From Advocate to Graduate: How One Wausau Grad Found the Right Career Path for Her

On April 22, 2010, Heather Martell spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the Rasmussen College Wausau campus. At the time, Martell was an ambassador for the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce. She spoke on behalf of the Chamber about the impact they hoped the College would have on its future students and the community at large.

In her speech, Martell said, “From the young adult fresh out of high school—to the seasoned employee looking to further their career—to the parent who finally has the time to get the degree they always wanted or needed, Rasmussen College stands to educate everyone … We celebrate you, Rasmussen College, and thank you for all that you will do for your graduates’ futures.”

Little did Martell know, six years later she would find her words relevant and applicable to her own life.

Heather Martell, Wausau Graduate

Fast-forward to February 4, 2017. On this day, Martell addressed a different crowd; this time, she was speaking to her fellow graduates as the commencement speaker at the Rasmussen College Wausau graduation ceremony.

Martell’s journey to graduation was filled with highs and lows, but the one thing that stayed consistent was the support she felt as a student at Rasmussen College.

Back in 2011, while Martell was eagerly searching for a job, she experienced more than 70 job application rejections. She was told she was overqualified for some of the entry-level positions but underqualified for others because she did not have a college degree. Martell said, “My lack of a degree was negatively impacting my future,” so she decided she had to go to school and made attaining a degree one of her biggest life goals.

Martell decided she wanted to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management because the field excited her. Always a go-getter, she “wanted to help mold something better for the future” and felt a career in healthcare management would be the perfect fit for her.

Martell’s personal connection to the healthcare field runs deep. Her very best friend and oldest daughter are both cancer survivors, and in helping them through their sicknesses, she realized she had a knack for managing the world of medicine. “I used my lack of shyness combined with my networking skills to talk to doctors, insurance agents, pharmacists and billing departments,” she said. In pursuing her degree in Healthcare Management, Martell hopes she will one day be able to give back to all of the healthcare professionals that helped save two of the most important people in her life—and support and empower other families challenged with serious injury or illness, too.

When looking for schools that would help her achieve her goal of earning a degree, Martell felt there was “just something different about Rasmussen. I could see the passion behind the eyes of every person I spoke to at the College.” Even when life tried to stand in her way, she felt the staff members were so passionate and “really knew when I needed the extra support, reassurance and pat on the back to keep going.”

Martell knew that in order to be successful in college, she would have to juggle classwork with working full time, raising children, teaching leadership development, authoring a book and volunteering in her community. Because Rasmussen College had the option for her to take all of her courses online, she was able to do her classwork at night and ultimately earn her Bachelor’s degree.

About a year into her schooling, Martell set a goal for herself to speak at her graduation ceremony one day, hoping to be able to share her story. The opportunity finally came for Martell to once again address Rasmussen College as she did at the ribbon-cutting ceremony many years before. Martell was thrilled to have the opportunity to address all of those who supported her throughout her journey and her fellow graduates.

“Being a Rasmussen graduate makes you feel limitless, and I am looking forward to all of the avenues this degree will open for me,” Martell said.

Are you considering a career in the healthcare field? Explore our Healthcare Career Matchmaker infographic to learn more about your many options.

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About the author

Hannah Burn

Hannah is a Sr. Communications Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She loves to share stories and hopes that her content inspires others to pursue their educational goals.

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