2015 Tillman Scholar

Heather Barnett

Military Spouse
Alliant International University
Ph.D., Education

“Ensuring that my son receives the best education possible to fit his specific needs is my top priority.”

Following the death of her husband in May 2014 while serving as a Lieutenant Commander, Heather is a mother of two young children in addition to serving as a school counselor, conducting individual and group counseling for students that addressed issues pertaining to adjustment, ADHD, parental separation and divorce, and the death of a parent.

In 2009, their two-year-old son was diagnosed with Autism, leaving Heather and her husband to face an endless procession of speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and applied behavioral analysis. With her and her husband always working as a team, their purpose in life was the same, to serve those in need and support each other.

Now as a single parent, Heather’s ultimate goal is to honor her husband’s service to his country and their children by pursuing a career in developing and improving upon programs that support and encourage the educational success for students with moderate to severe Autism in community colleges and universities. With a specific research interest in understanding the predictors of higher learning success among young adults with moderate-severe Autism, Heather is interested in designing programs equipped with proper supports, accommodations and trained personnel that will enable those who require more assistance to complete one, two or four year degree programs and find suitable employment that fits their skillset.

Ensuring that her son receives the best education possible to fit his specific needs is Heather’s top priority. The challenges faced in ensuring he has an appropriate education have informed her understanding of programs geared toward Autistic children and young adults and is only natural that she extend this interest and knowledge to her professional life, both in effort to fulfill her personal interest and passion, and to ensure that her son continues to receive the resources he needs to succeed.