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

Uncategorized | 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 her the mental and emotional grit required to support and champion for her child with developmental delays through early intervention.

As a first-generation American, the value of hard work and compassion for others was instilled in Sadia at a young age. Formerly a mathematics teacher in a small village in Pakistan, her father was committed to democracy and providing a peaceful future for his family, which brought him to Northern Virginia, where Sadia was born and raised. After 9/11, Sadia felt a strong sense of patriotism and duty; and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force in 2007.

Sadia discovered her zest for education while serving in the military. Early on, she became a certified instructor and evaluator at an Air Force distributed common ground system. 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; and fully realized her enthusiasm for teaching.

As a mother of two young children and spouse to an active-duty Coastguardsman, Sadia’s passion for education has inspired her to pursue a Master of Education in Special Education. This conviction was reinforced when her 17-month-old son was diagnosed with developmental delays. The mental and emotional grit required to support and champion for her child has increased Sadia’s desire to work in the field of early childhood special education in school, home, and community settings. Sadia aspires to advocate for special needs children and their families in order to promote a more inclusive world for all.

Watch Sadia’s complete Make Your Mark Talk below.