Make Your Mark: Cultivating the American Dream Through Early Intervention with Sadia Heil

Blog | 01/06/2022

“I hope to help more families access early intervention as I explore ways providers can be more empathetic and culturally competent.” – Sadia Heil, Make Your Mark talk.

Our Make Your Mark series, powered by the NFL, showcases the global impact of the Tillman Scholars who are writing the story of a better future. In these videos, they share their works of humble leadership and service across both public and private sectors.

In her talk, originally presented at 2021 Tillman Honors, 2020 Tillman Scholar Sadia Heil reflects on the mental and emotional grit required to support and champion for her child through early intervention.

Sadia’s parents emigrated from Pakistan with the resolve for a better life. They instilled in her the values of honesty, hard work, and service to family and community. After 9/11, Sadia witnessed an intense backlash against the Muslim-American community. She felt a strong sense of duty, and joined the U.S. Air Force a few years later.

Sadia discovered her zest for education while serving in the military. Early on, she became an Air Force instructor and evaluator. Later in her career, she led an interagency subject matter expert exchange on counter-violent extremism with the Department of Justice, the U.S. Defense Attache for Sri Lanka, and the Maldivian National Defense Force.

As a mother, an Air Force reservist, and a military spouse, Sadia is enthusiastic about advocacy and education. She holds a master of education in special education, with a focus on autism spectrum disorders. She envisions serving individuals with disabilities—the world’s largest minority—through teaching, advocacy, and helping the most vulnerable communities access the services they deserve.

Watch Sadia’s complete Make Your Mark Talk below.