Heather Began Memorial Education Fund

Heather Began Memorial Education Fund

When Heather Began's grandmother died of cancer, Heather's family began attending her church. Without knowing it at the time, this change placed Heather on her future career path as an elementary teacher. Her grandmother's legacy motivated Heather to volunteer in the church, and she soon realized how much she loved volunteering with children. "My mom always noted that I came home smiling from ear to ear and almost glowing with joy," Heather reminisced in her teaching portfolio. These experiences left Heather full of excitement and a desire for self-improvement.

It is evident from her storytelling that Heather loved working with children, and she loved learning. Heather's teaching portfolio chronicles stories of volunteer experiences in church, community, and school. She participated in countless extracurricular activities in high school and college because of her enthusiasm for learning and serving others. Her passion for education is evident throughout essays of her high school and college experiences. To Heather, a career in education was the perfect way to pursue these two passions.

Heather often expressed that "Life is full of adventures! Be brave and take on challenges." She viewed a career in education as one of those adventures. She regarded each school subject as an opportunity to gain more knowledge and skill to share with her students. She wanted to share her love of learning with kids, inspire them to learn, and act as a positive mentor in the lives of her students. She often expressed that education motivated her to improve herself by applying what she learned about multiple subjects.

Heather declared that her professional mission was "to work as hard as I possibly can, for as long as I can, to make the lives of myself and everyone around me happier. I will bring joy to the world with a positive attitude and an adventurous, try-new-things outlook." She pursued degrees from Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University, then took her passions for learning and teaching children to the classroom.

Heather was a first-grade teacher at Estrella Vista Elementary in Avondale, Arizona, and an active volunteer at Nino Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix. She loved hiking, camping, and tubing. She loved to learn, explore, live life to the fullest and was always awaiting the next adventure.

Unfortunately, Heather's adventurous life was cut short, and she passed away on October 5, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona, as the result of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. She was 25 years old.

Although her adventure is over, Heather's passion for education continues through her parents, Robert and Julie Began, and her sister, Hannah. They established the Heather Began Memorial Education Fund with Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation to provide grants to K-4 educators in Altamont, Illinois, and her former school in Avondale, Arizona. "My dream started as a volunteer in the nursery, and it ends as a teacher, guardian, friend, life-changer, fighter, dream-catcher, and plenty more in the classroom," she reflected in a college essay about her call to teach. Heather was able to fulfill her dream, and now her family will make that dream come true for other young teachers.



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