Alumni Feature: Heather Griffin

FOCUS ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Heather Griffin arrived at Henderson State University as a freshman in 1998, but soon dropped out.

About 12 years later, at the age of 29, the Malvern native reenrolled at Henderson and graduated in 2014 with a degree in entrepreneurship.

But it wasn’t until her senior year that she decided to focus on entrepreneurship instead of business management.

“I didn’t know my business interests were swinging toward the entrepreneurship basis until my senior year,” Griffin said. “I was just taking the classes and marking them off on my course requirements when I was encouraged to look into the entrepreneurship emphasis.

“I had already taken all the entrepreneurship classes just because they fit in with my fulltime work schedule, and I realized that my line of thinking was that of a problem solver, motivator, researcher of new ideas, and education seeker, which all fall in line with what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”

Griffin said an entrepreneur is defined as “someone who takes risks, who is highly motivated, strives for distinction, and looks for opportunities to benefit themselves or others.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to start your own business or be an investor of new businesses, which is often how all people think entrepreneurs are defined,” she said. “I think like an entrepreneur in my job already and have desires to succeed in life no matter what I do, whether starting my own business or bettering a company I already work for.”

Today, Griffin is a mental health paraprofessional for a mental health company, and also a chairperson for the training committee of the Garland County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

“Working with the GCSPC has been the highlight of my career since obtaining my degree as it’s helping me to problem solve for the coalition and work out ways to keep us more involved in the state and community,” she said. “The success for the coalition is endless at this point as it is a new organization and is becoming highly recognized on the state level.”

Griffin said her degree has helped her gain more confidence both as a professional and a volunteer.

“I’m still striving for more in my career choice and role in my community,” she said. “My progressive thinking, particularly because of the knowledge and confidence I’ve receive through my degree, has me joining more committees in my town and becoming a chair member for a committee which educates citizens throughout the state.

“I am still striving to become educated in all aspects of life and want to use what I learn to be the best I can for my company and for myself.”

Griffin has praise for Henderson’s entrepreneurship program and the School of Business.

“If you have the desire to use a degree that can adapt to so many different job opportunities, this degree program can help open your eyes to seeing new ideas and solutions to problems your mind might not be exercised in doing already,” Griffin said. “I loved Henderson because of the School of Business. I honestly feel like I owe something to my professors because they cared about me.”

Griffin advises current and future students to “not be close-minded and believe that your way and your way of thinking is the right way. Be open to suggestions and really listen to those suggestions to be better able to reflect upon yourself.”

Griffin described herself as “a helper with a big heart that often doubts herself, but with a pat on the shoulder becomes highly motivated.”

If she hadn’t pursued an entrepreneurship degree, Griffin said she would have “gone the management route.”

“But I find that I can use my entrepreneurship degree to cover not only management opportunities, but so many different career avenues,” she said.

• This alumni feature is part of an ongoing project featuring Henderson's outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic programs.