Western Grove’s Helen Haley has been selected by North Arkansas College faculty members as the 2019-20 Academic All-Star. She will attend the Arkansas Community Colleges annual conference held in Little Rock in October to be recognized and be presented with a scholarship.
“I am extremely honored to be the recipient of the Academic All-Star Award,” Helen commented. “I owe a great deal of thanks to my family and I would also like to thank the faculty and advisors at Northark for the encouragement and support to achieve my goals.”
Helen had dreamed of finishing college for a long time. Three years ago, at age 44, a devastating diagnosis of cervical cancer propelled her into action. Her family packed up and moved from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to Western Grove to be near her husband’s family. “We chose to follow my dream, no matter what the outcome of my diagnoses,” she says. “I was very fortunate that my cancer had not spread, and my doctors were able to take care of it by surgery. This was a blessing as most of the women in my family were not as lucky.”
Helen will achieve her dream when she graduates from Northark next May and transfers to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She currently holds a 4.0 GPA. She has served as a Northark tutor and worked as a secretary in Student Support Services. Her volunteer efforts have benefited organizations such as the Christian Ophthalmic Surgery Expedition Network, Boone County Senior Center and Mary Mother of God Catholic Church.
Helen is pursuing a career in Ophthalmic Medical Technology and ultimately wants to work as a Physician’s Assistant. “I have been blessed to have worked in the field of Ophthalmology since 2003. One of the reasons I enjoy this field so much is that I learn something new every day,” she explained. “I chose to become a Physician Assistant in Ophthalmology because I am fascinated by the pathology, function, and structure of the eye.”
She was nominated by Northark English Instructor Celia DeWoody. “As well as being an excellent student, Helen is a genuinely nice person who always has a smile on her face,” Celia says. “I believe she has both the intellectual ability, personality, and dedication to achieve success in her chosen field of endeavor.”
Some non-traditional students have reservations about returning to college, but Helen encourages them to forge ahead. “My advice to others who are considering a career change or becoming a non-traditional student is to be realistic about your life circumstances and consider how returning to school will affect you and your family. By planning ahead, setting goals, and utilizing time management skills, the stress of juggling these situations can be minimalized.”
Helen is married to Levi and they have three children: Sebastian, age 17, Rey, age 15, and Braden, age 13.