Heather Fox has dedicated herself to helping students actualize their potential in life. As the Student Success Advisor at Ross, Heather helps students navigate all of the challenges and adversity they may encounter on their journey to becoming health professionals. After graduating from the MIBOA program in 2013, she went on to work for one of the largest hospital systems in Ontario, and then later came back to Ross to work in Career Services and to obtain her Associate of Applied Science in Medical Office Management degree. As a previous Ross grad, mentor, and active member of her community, Heather strives to use her experience and passion to make a difference in the community and in the lives of her students.
We sat down with Heather to hear more about her journey.
Here is what she had to say:
Tell me about your journey at Ross and how you got started.
So my journey at Ross goes way back. In 2012, I started school at the Ontario campus. I remember walking on campus for the first time and I just felt so excited to start something new. The admissions team was really excited, as well; they helped so much and just overall made it a smooth process for me. So I started classes and eventually graduated from the MIBOA program in 2013. After I graduated, I got hired right off of my externship into one of the largest hospital systems in our area. I worked in one of those hospitals for about four years before I went on to a federally qualified health center where I worked as a front desk manager and oversaw about 17 receptionists at seven different locations. It was definitely a big responsibility, but a fun job.
I was perfectly happy in that position, but then in 2018, Ms. Peters, who was the campus director in Ontario, Ohio at the time, approached me and said I would be amazing in Career Services and wanted to know if I would interview or consider it. Well, obviously I was a little bit nervous, but I’ve always been one that told people to step outside of their comfort zone and do things that make them uncomfortable because really, that’s the only way you can grow. So yeah, I interviewed with Eric Stoneking and he was really excited and said he felt like I would be a good fit for the position. Then I interviewed with Val and I got into Career Services where I started the online associate degree program. You have to have an associate degree in order to hold that position, and since I didn’t have it, I thought, “What better time than now?” So I ended up going to school to complete the associate degree while working full time in Career Services.
So I definitely have a good understanding of what the students do. I think that’s one thing that makes me a huge asset. I know what it’s like to be a student but I also know what it’s like to be an employee. Working in Career Services made me realize that helping students and changing their lives was a huge driving force for me. I was connecting with the students in such a way that I even became friends with some of them. I also had really good relationships with the hospital systems since I worked there for a few years. We had three hospital campuses in our area. We had one in Ontario, Galion, and Bucyrus. I worked at every one of those campuses. Also, I’m definitely one of those people that likes to network at all times because the more you get your name out there, the more people that know you, the more beneficial you are in every aspect. So I’m a huge networker. I’m also a member of the chamber of commerce through Ross. A while back, I actually put together a proposal and Shaun Fracassi approved it. So then I started to go out and network in the community even more and that really benefited us. The chamber of commerce actually decided that we would do a major grand re-opening of the Ontario campus, which kind of got our name out there a little bit. I’m all about free publicity and doing anything I can do to get our name out there. I became really good friends with the president of the chamber of commerce and she suggested that we have elected officials and the lieutenant governor come to the re-opening. So we had a TV station there and I did a little interview. Those are the kinds of things I like to do.
I like to step outside of the box and do things differently while still keeping it exciting. One thing you’re going to learn if you don’t already know is that I’m extremely passionate about Ross. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so passionate about anything in my life. So that’s why I’m so dead set on being the best possible employee and advisor that I can possibly be.
Fast forward a few years, I was still working in Career Services and I found out I was going to be moving to Florida. It was a very hard decision, but I had to put in my resignation. Shortly after, I got a call from Doreen and she said she didn’t want to lose me and asked if I would be interested in a possible position online working from home while I was in Florida. So of course I took the opportunity and I interviewed with Joe and Heather H. They hired me and I’ve been with them ever since. It’s truly the best job I can ever imagine anybody having out there.
Who has inspired you to progress as a person?
Well, I’m not sure if it was just one person in particular, but I came from a family where there were virtually no college graduates. Everybody graduated from high school, but there were really no college grads, and I just wanted to make a difference. But, I think the one thing that really pushed me, more than anything, is just the fact that I had some really bad relationships. I always told my daughter growing up that I never wanted her to have to rely on a man; that she should work to be an independent woman. So yeah, just going through some turmoil in my life is what pushed me to want to be a better person and then actually finding my passion with Ross is when things really started changing. I tell this to my students all the time, too. My life started changing when I came to Ross. It wasn’t just the job, but the entire experience of going to school that really shaped me, too. That’s another reason why I’m so passionate about it, too. I truly believe Ross changed my life.
Did you always know you would be in education?
I always thought that I was going to be a singer, and I did do some of that. I never did any public singing aside from a couple of weddings. When I came to Ross, I started to gain so much confidence in myself and came out of my shell. I realized that I have the ability to change the world. I’ve always just wanted to make a difference, and I truly feel like I’m doing that now.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a new path in life?
They won’t ever know unless they try and one thing I always tell students is that there’s always a short sacrifice that’s involved for anything. These sacrifices could ultimately change your life, though. If you don’t sacrifice something, you’re always going to be in the same place. One of my favorite quotes of all time is “Do what you’ve always done and you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” And it’s so true. If you continue to do the same things, you’re not going to get a different result. You have to step outside of the box and do something different, and that’s what I’m all about: just making an impact and being the best possible version of myself. Every relationship I have in my life is just as passionate as the next, whether it’s family, friends, kids, etc. I put in the same amount of energy and effort into all of my relationships.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to sing karaoke. I did America’s Got Talent. I didn’t get anywhere on it, but my biggest thing was, I didn’t sing a really powerful song. I sang something that meant a lot to me. It was the very first song that I sang where my dad heard me and came in and said, “Oh my gosh, you can sing.” He was listening to me through the door. So I just started to sing more and that’s when I realized that it’s a huge passion of mine.
I also do some motivational speaking. I used to go around to travel and give motivational speeches. I’m a weight loss patient of a doctor in Ohio. So I would go around with him and I would give speeches about my journey and experience. I also did Mind Body Align, which is a women’s group, and I wrote an article called “The Pursuit of Happiness.” When you hear someone say, “Wow, I felt that, you motivated me to change some things in my life,” that’s when you know you made an impact.
What are three lessons you’ve learned?
One of the lessons I’ve tried to learn here recently is that I have to have a backbone in certain situations. Because I’m such an empath, I don’t ever want to hurt anyone’s feelings or ruffle feathers. Also, just be kind to people because you don’t know where they’re coming from or what they’re going through. That’s a lesson that I feel like everybody should learn. I think you learn that with age, too. A lot changes from when you were a kid to where you’re at right now. Another important lesson is the golden rule. Just treat everybody how you would like to be treated.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
I would say to listen to your gut at all times. Not your head and not your heart. But always listen to your gut because your gut is right all the time.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
I have quite a few. Most are after Ross. But prior to Ross, my biggest accomplishments are my children. I love my children a lot. I have two boys and one girl and they’re my greatest accomplishment. But aside from that, I was on the Sittin’ Down with Kelby King show twice and I talked about my weight loss journey. I was her very first guest and then she wanted to do it a year later, too. The other show I was on was called I Love My Job and I talked about Ross. I went on with Michelle Peters who was the campus director at the time. I also did the Mind Body Align thing. That was fun. I went on to Mix 106.1. I was there for about five hours and I did some interviews and sang. And then for America’s Got Talent, I did a big concert that was a very memorable moment for me. I also put together the Elected Officials Day event at Ross. I brought in Mark Romanchuk who was a senator here in Ohio. The talk was mostly about professionalism and what it’s like to be under the public eye all the time.
What is one fun fact about you?
I am actually a bit of a contortionist. I can do weird things with my fingers that most people can’t do. I can turn my leg completely around the other one. When I showed Dr. Randall, the orthopedic surgeon I worked for, he goes, “Um, don’t do that, that’s not normal.”
Tell me about a memorable moment at Ross.
I would say there is one in particular that sticks out to me. I was the advisor of a student who was trying to get a scholarship and she wrote a letter about me being the biggest influencer in her life and the stuff she wrote about me made me cry. It was so emotional and I actually received a letter back from that company. They were so moved by it that they wanted to pass it on to our CEO. It was definitely a very moving one. I don’t think there’s been too many days that went by where I don’t get someone saying thank you for pushing them. I had a girl who told me that I not only made her a better woman, but I changed her life as well. And she sent me a picture of her and her daughter that left me in tears.
Do you have three tips on how to succeed in your field?
Being passionate is number one. Also, have empathy because we don’t know what people are going through on a daily basis and we have to empathize with their situations. And lastly, be a good communicator.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
So obviously, I want to continue changing lives. I’m super excited about our social media. I hope I can continue to do a good job. I also really want to bring back Ross gear.
How do you stay motivated?
My biggest motivator is getting up and reading my messages for the day. Even if I have a bad day, getting just one positive message back changes my whole day and makes it better. It’s not too hard to stay motivated when you love what you do.