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story.lead_photo.caption The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen CAREER PATH: Heather Harbach, interim dean of students at Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., led Fountain Lake Middle School Cobra Digital Prep Academy students in a virtual career academy session Thursday morning. Harbach, an Arkansas native, explained how education helped her to attain her professional goals.

FOUNTAIN LAKE -- Dover native Heather Harbach led a virtual career assembly for the students of Fountain Lake Middle School Cobra Digital Prep Academy Thursday morning.

The school connected with Harbach on the Edgewood College campus in Madison, Wis., via an internet video call. Harbach showed students her office and a view of the campus. She said a perk of college is the ability to choose class times.

"I tried to find someone to talk with me today, but they are all sleeping," Harbach said. "Some of them are in class, but most of them are sleeping."

Middle school art teacher Chris Schroeder, Harbach's brother, invited her to speak to the entire student body of about 450 students in grades 5-8. Harbach discussed her career in higher education and her academic journey from Dover.

Harbach graduated in 2001 from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and completed her master's degree over the next three years at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. She said she was encouraged to explore opportunities in higher education in Milwaukee.

"I really want you to know I was sitting in your shoes not too long ago in a little town in Arkansas and here I am today in Wisconsin and it is all because of those dreams I had and the support I had around," Harbach said.

Her career took her to Marquette University and Mount Mary University before she joined the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She said a support group around here constantly encouraged her to pursue new opportunities.

"Anything is possible for you," Harbach said. "You can do anything if you put your mind to it. You can do whatever you like to do as long as you are willing to focus on that and then make sure you have a team of people around you that can support you."

Schroeder said he plans to travel to Madison in December when Harbach officially walks in Edgewood's graduation ceremony. She recently completed her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and began as interim dean of students in August.

Harbach said her 10-plus years in education after high school may seem like an extreme time investment for middle school students, but she said it will pay off long-term. She said she now meets the educational requirements for vice president and president positions at American and international colleges and universities.

The job of dean of students includes a variety of roles. She said she sometimes acts as a principal or assistant principal when she meets with students who break rules to determine how to rectify the situations. She also leads classes or presentations as a teacher for students or fellow college personnel.

The role requires her to act as a counselor and speak with students about problems they may have. She said she also works as a career counselor to help students determine their educational and career paths. Harbach said she is occasionally afforded the chance to have fun like a student at events like carnivals and haunted houses around campus.

"Each one of my days can be very different from the day before," Harbach said. "No day is exactly the same. That is why I really like this job, because I can do different things each day and I definitely do not get bored."

Local on 10/06/2017

Print Headline: Ark. native discusses career path

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