- Hometown: Oswego
- Major @ OCC: Liberal Arts: Humanities & Social Sciences with minors in Honors and Women’s Studies
Heather Flewelling is a 34-year-old mother who has become one of OCC’s top students. She’s overcome significant life hurdles to reach this point. “My journey has been filled with so many ups and downs and I have learned and gained from those experiences. Everyday seems to have either new joys or challenges both at school and at home. I’m very proud and can’t wait to see where this journey will take me.”
Flewelling earned her GED in 1999, tried to go to college but wasn’t ready for the challenge. Then life happened. She gave birth to a daughter with disabilities. “School was put on hold for a long time. I needed to be with my daughter every day.”
Three years ago Flewelling was ready to try college again. “It was time for me to go back to school. It was time for me to pursue what I wanted to pursue as a career.” Her pursuit focused on the health field. “My daughter requires a lot of my time and attention. A career in public health would give me the flexibility that I need at home to have the career I want.”
Flewelling’s desire to return to college was aided by a scholarship opportunity through the OCC Foundation. She applied for and was awarded the Helen & John Etherington Endowed Scholarship. “The money helped me so much. I don’t work during the semester but still have to live. It was a big relief.” Helen Etherington enrolled in OCC in 1965 while raising four children. She earned her degree at OCC and three additional degrees from Syracuse University. Etherington returned to OCC as a faculty member, became an administrator, OCC Foundation Board Director and an Alumni Faces honoree. The Helen & John Etherington Scholarship is awarded to female students who are 25 or older and have dependents at home.
Flewelling has taken advantage of the support she’s received. She’s earned membership in international honor society Phi Theta Kappa thanks to hard work coupled with the wisdom which comes with being older. “My dedication is much different now. I’m very on top of everything. I go above and beyond what is expected of me. I look for bigger and better opportunities. My age and life experience have made a difference. I’m very dedicated to being in the classroom.
In March, Flewelling will travel to Albany and represent OCC as one of two honorees at the USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team Recognition Ceremony. She was overjoyed when she learned she had been selected. “I remember when I got the email. I was so overly excited. I was in the middle of the mall jumping up and down. I’m very proud of that. It’s a big honor!”
When Flewelling receives her degree in May she’ll leave campus with wonderful memories and an appreciation for those around her. “My experience here was wonderful. I fostered so many relationships with students and professors. Relationships here really opened up doors for me. I made a great decision coming here.”
Flewelling plans to transfer to Syracuse University and pursue a bachelor’s in Public Health with a minor in Medical Anthropology.