Student Spotlight: Heather Havericak
Heather Miller Havericak originally attended a four-year university in order to study elementary education.
But deciding that wasn’t for her, Havericak transferred to College of DuPage and began working on her prerequisites. Her life then changed when her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
“I was with my mother during all of her treatments and immediately realized the skill and expertise all of her nursing care providers had,” she said. “This particular part of my mother’s cancer journey is what ultimately drove me to Nursing at COD. I immediately made an appointment to meet with Nursing program coordinator Ellen Davel, who helped me navigate my prerequisites. Ultimately I was accepted into the program.”
She was fortunate to have professors who consistently helped model a strong clinical experience.
“The professors always made it a point to understand what we were passionate about and how they could translate that into our clinical practicum,” she said. “From early on, all of my professors knew about my passion for oncology and helped bring those experiences to me in both adult and pediatric clinical rotations. Additionally, I was able to serve on our class’s student governing body as both the vice president and later president. This experience helped me bring different groups of people together for a common goal, a skill set that I continue to use daily.”
Because of this experience, Havericak started her career doing exactly what she hoped to do – pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplant. She spent five years at Miami Children’s Hospital and then moved to another hospital that afforded her leadership opportunities, from assistant nurse manager to nurse manager. Havericak is now at the Lillian S. Wells Women’s Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where she has been the Regional Director of Cancer Services and is now the Administrative Director of Product Lines.
“I have been fortunate to cultivate teams that deliver world-class cancer care for adult and pediatric patients,” she said.
Havericak is also chairman of the Board of Directors for Gilda’s Club South Florida. Her ultimate goal is to become the CEO of a hospital or health system.
In 2015, Havericak was honored by the College of DuPage Foundation as one of eight honorees for the second annual Distinguished Alumni Award. She appreciates what she received at College of DuPage and encourages others to follow their passion.
“COD is truly a unique place. It has grown by leaps and bounds and will continue to be a destination to train health care providers and leaders of the future,” she said. “Students should embrace the opportunities they have while at COD. Be passionate about what you want and let that help you excel in the future. Always take that opportunity that scares you a little bit because it will be the role that helps you grow.”
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