“Choosing to go to school has made a huge difference in my life."
ROSEBURG, Oregon – If there is anyone who understands how to create a road to success, it is definitely Heather Neavoll. From her desk at the Oregon Department of Transportation in Roseburg, road creation is her business. The Umpqua Community College (UCC) graduate spends her days working as a senior drafter. It’s a far distance from where she started in high school doing roadside litter patrol.
“I always liked being outdoors and active,” she said. “So I just kind of picked something and went with it. I started taking Engineering classes in high school as a dual-credit student. I also spent many, many summers on the highway.”
Heather graduated from Roseburg High School in 2010. She became a first-generation college student when she started at UCC. Each school year she spent as a student, she spent every summer out on the road. She worked in construction during college, and also had the opportunity to go out on projects as an inspector. She ultimately chose UCC because she considers herself to be very frugal.
“I decided to invest in a two-year school as opposed to a four-year school because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something if I didn’t know if I wanted to do it,” she said.
Heather was hired at ODOT in 2015. She has done surveying, inspecting, and now drafting in her position. School backed up her in-the-field experience, and she enjoyed the hands-on learning opportunities she received.
“It’s a tough task at first,” she said. “But if you stick with it, it can be very rewarding.”
Her advice to students: Ask questions, get help when you need it, and push through.
“Choosing to go to school has made a huge difference in my life,” she said. “If I hadn’t gone to school, my living situation would be totally different. I’ve been able to buy a house and be somewhat financially secure.”
During her time at UCC, Heather also left a permanent mark on the College’s history. She had a hand in helping to build the Bonnie J. Ford Health, Nursing and Science Center. She did drafting on the project, and also had the opportunity to mentor people coming in as temporary construction workers.
“It was such a blessing to be able to go to UCC,” she said. “Not only did I leave there with without debt, I’ve been able to use my education to work my way through the stepping stones.”
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
Clay Baumgartner, PE - Contact
Chair, Associate Professor, Engineering/Surveying & CIS