First-generation student credits success to involvement

Photo courtesy Jedediah Heeran

Charlotte Reilly

Like many college students, Jedediah Heeran struggled with calculus. Unlike many students, he could not ask his parents for college advice.

Heeran is a first-generation college student. His mother has a travel certificate and works at the Travel and Transport building in Aksarben. His father went to trade school and is a mechanic.

“My parents have helped me with what they can through college,” Heeran said. “They have taught me how to work hard.”

After he graduated high school, Heeran attended Metropolitan Community College (Metro), then he transferred to UNO.

“Going from high school to Metro was a life adjustment,” Heeran said. “…But the knowledge I’ve learned from college has blown my mind.”

While at Metro, Heeran took computer science courses. After taking a few courses, he decided that route was not for him, so he took business courses. Now, he is majoring in human resources at UNO.

“I hope to work at Union Pacific one day, but now I just want to get my feet wet and work wherever I can,” Heeran said.

On top of schoolwork, Heeran is treasurer of the Human Resources Association, a member of Students against Hunger, part of Project Achieve and secretary of the UNO student chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

“One of his identifiers is he takes the initiative,” said Project Achieve advisor Constance Sorensen- Birk. “He sees what needs to be done and doesn’t hesitate.”

Throughout his years at UNO, Heeran has become more involved. Sorensen-Birk said his confidence and leadership skills have blossomed.

“He’s become a lot more confident in his leadership abilities because he has had success, after success, after success. He’s taken on more, and more, and more. I sometimes sit back and worry he’s taken on too much,” Sorensen-Birk said. “As that old saying goes, ‘If you want to get something done, give to the people who are busiest.’ He is the perfect example of that.”

His personality has allowed him to form connections with his peers and become a leader.

“He is always so positive and cheerful. I think that is one of the secrets to his leadership,” Sorsensen- Birk said. “People want to be around him, and want to join in on what he is doing because he is so personable.”

Heeran credits his dad for his work ethic.

“My dad always told me try, try, try again. There was a point at Metro where I failed a class. That was hard for him to watch because I beat myself up over it,” Heeran said. “No one likes failure, but you learn from it. He’s always taught me just because you fall down, it isn’t over. It’s about how many times you get back up. “

Heeran is grateful for all of the clubs, services and opportunities at UNO because they have forced him to become more involved.

“I was kind of a shut in throughout high school. It was my choice, but after high school I made a lot of friends and had more opportunities,” Heeran said. “More opportunities make for a better individual.”

He has two pieces of advice for new college students, “Find someone to talk to. Find someone you can trust, and don’t quit. It’s going to get hard, but if you work hard, you become a better person.”