I am a 1972 graduate of Auburn University and have great stories of my own, however it is my daughter’s story that I would like to share with you. She, too, is an Auburn alum of 2006 and a lifetime member of the Alumni Association.
My daughter, Mary Heather Williams, came into my world nearly 34 years ago, an extra special gift from God who, due to a very unfortunate early delivery, suffered several injuries and complications. These left her with permanent physical and very slight neurological impairment. Nevertheless, she graduated from Auburn Summa Cum Laude after attending Auburn from the fall of 2003 through December of 2006.
Heather aspired to be a child life specialist, but during her internship at Wolfson’s Children’s hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. she began to realize that the physical nature of this career might be too challenging for someone with physical challenges such as hers. Still, she completed her degree, passed her certifying exam and became a nationally certified Child Life Specialist.
With this under her belt, and the realization that she needed more education, she enrolled in graduate school at Troy University in order to begin preparations to become a counselor.
Upon completion of graduate school she was employed by a private practice in Montgomery, Ala. where she worked for three and a half years as a counselor and therapist to many, many children, adolescents and their families. Here she was also able to complete the necessary requirements needed for her licensed professional counseling, or LPC title.
Realizing the need for a change in employment and perhaps further education, Heather decided to leave Montgomery and return to Auburn where she would be back in the loveliest village – a place she loved dearly and had spent her undergraduate years and many, many tailgating Saturday’s before and after those years.
While completing her four week notice with her former employer and only two weeks in the apartment she had just moved in to in Auburn, the unthinkable happened. On a Sunday evening as she was heading home with her groceries, more life trials besieged our determined, strong willed young daughter of 31 years. As she headed south, a drunk driver was headed north on her side of the road and hit her head on.
After a week in the hospital, two more surgeries on the knee and hip that were injured from birth, and too many hours of rehab and physical therapy to count, our daughter, whom we were told in the very beginning would not likely walk at all, was again mobile. This, however, took two very precious years of her life for which she had to give up her independence, move back home with us, her parents, and essentially put her career on hold.
But God does not let evil win out and He had a plan for Heather. He took everything bad and turned it to good, seemingly in a way to give Heather time to realize that the hometown she grew up in was the place she was needed most. This definitely had not been a part of her plan!
On August 1, 2016, Heather opened the doors and began taking appointments to her own practice in counseling. Just three months shy of her 33rd birthday, she was and is the proud owner of Healing Hearts Professional Counseling in Alexander City, Ala. The business has grown steadily ever since and Heather has begun to make a name for herself as a quality provider of services in the community.
This 1972 Auburn Alumni and proud mama would much rather tell this story of triumph over trials, difficulties, rejections, and hardships my daughter encountered than any story I could tell about myself! She is in my heart and mind, the epitome of the Auburn Creed .