Meet our Team – Heidi Doxey
This is the 11th in the series of interviews with people working to increase the attainment rate in Arizona.
Continuing with this feature, and throughout the rest of this year, we’ll be taking a closer look at the College Success Arizona team, the people that make all that we do happen.
This month’s subject is Heidi Doxey, a Coordinator for the Arizona College Access Network (AzCAN).
What is your role at College Success Arizona?
I am a coordinator for the Arizona College Access Network (AzCAN), which is part of College Success Arizona. Specifically, I work on the College Knowing and Going Campaign, focusing on the central Arizona region (Maricopa, Florence, Globe, and Yuma). I work with high schools and districts to support and expand their efforts on ACT prep and testing, ECAP, college applications, and FAFSA completion.
How did you come to be associated with College Success Arizona?
I’ve worked in college access for many years, both in Arizona and Utah, and the College Knowing and Going campaign fits with the pieces I am most passionate about: creating a sustainable, supported college-going culture within a high school and community.
What is the best thing about your job?
I am passionate about helping students and families better understand the value of a postsecondary education, and to figure out how to afford it. I strive for programmatic change at the high school and middle school level so the school itself facilitates those steps, with support and resources from the community.
Why do you feel increasing Arizona’s College Attainment Rate is so important?
I’m fairly new to Arizona, but the data I’ve seen is clear that without a more educated workforce our economic growth will be slowed. All of that is a kind of impersonal way of saying that if our students and young people are not pursuing a postsecondary degree or certificate, they may struggle to support their families and take advantage of opportunities that would be available to them with a degree, or certificate.
What is your vision for the Arizona of the future?
Of course I want a more educated population and a more competitive workforce, but even more than that, I want Arizona’s communities and families to place a higher value on a postsecondary education. I want students to see a clear path to a degree or credential that will lead to strong job opportunities and a living wage. I don’t particularly care if the student chooses a tech school, a 2-year college, or 4-year university training, or if they choose a military pathway. My biggest hope is that our students will be able to determine the postsecondary opportunity here in Arizona that fits their hopes and dreams, whatever they may be.
If you had a message for a student just beginning their college career, what would that be?
Get involved, find an interesting group or organization on campus to connect with and spend time embedding yourself in the college culture. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, meet with your academic advisor, see if you can get a mentor through your department, ask questions, check in with the financial aid office every year to make sure you’re keeping up with the requirements for any aid or scholarship dollars. The staff and faculty at your campus want you to succeed and there are many resources that are under-utilized—just ask!
Basic stats (hometown, family, etc.):
I grew up in a very small town in the mountains a little way outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. I graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Economics, and I ended up falling into college access work kind of by accident, and spent 6 years at the Utah System of Higher Education / The Utah State Board of Regents in their College Access department, managing state-wide programs to further college and career readiness in partner high schools. My husband and I moved to Arizona a couple years ago to be closer to his family, and after a short stint working for state government here, I landed at the Arizona College Access Network and College Success Arizona.
What was your First or most interesting job?
My first job was delivering afternoon newspapers on my bike, I think I was 11 or 12, and I remember reading the A section every day, fascinated by all the stories and news and information that was well in advance of the vast stores of information we have at our fingertips now. I distinctly remember following the Oklahoma City bombing and the OJ Simpson trial, and looking up—and understanding—the tables for horse racing.
For a while I was a full time in-home caretaker for a deaf, autistic, diabetic man; I learned how to communicate in American Sign Language and a lot about his particular health issues and needs.
What is your career history?
Through college I worked in print media advertising, however when the recession hit the first cut was often to a marketing and advertising budget, and after a few months I left the industry. I bounced around for a while before landing at the Utah System of Higher Education, where I cut my teeth in state government, college access, and program management before transferring to state government in Arizona, and then into the non-profit world.
What are your hobbies/favorite pastime?
I love to read, mostly non-fiction and biographies. I get all geeked out about a topic and will read a dozen books about it before moving on to something else. (Previous topics of geekery include: The rise and fall of the Romanov dynasty, the last 100 years of history in North Korea, explorers of the 20th century (Arctic, Antarctic, dense jungles), the psychology of elephants, Charles Darwin and the history of evolutionary science, volcanoes, Joan of Arc…whatever. I also really love hiking, especially in granite, snow-capped Rocky Mountains where it’s always a wee bit cooler than it is here in Phoenix, and for the last few years have been trying to grow vegetables in my backyard, something much trickier in the summer, for sure.
What is your Favorite TV show?
I have watched and loved all seasons of NCIS (Gibbs 4eva!), and I really enjoy Once Upon a Time, although I maintain that Season 5 truly jumped the shark with all that underworld business and it hasn’t quite recovered.
What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?
What is your Culinary specialty?
I make a really delicious strawberry ice cream, and I like pretending I’m some kind of chef spending a lot of time messing about in the kitchen. My teenage stepdaughter recently told me that after the zombie apocalypse I’d probably be coming up with gourmet forest meals while everyone else chewed on sticks and uncooked ramen noodles. I don’t know if I will ever again receive such praise for my kitchen skills.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I plead the fifth!?
Ok, it’s probably my daily dose of Diet Dr. Pepper, with fresh squeezed lime. I know diet soda will probably lead to my early demise, or will make all my teeth fall out, or something, but truly, there are so many worse vices, this one seems pretty tame compared to compulsive high-stakes gambling, or, I don’t know, competitive bull riding.
Do you have a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (or other!) social media account?
Not one that I’m willing to share publicly, no.
What’s the band you’d listen to for the rest of your life?
I grew up with a piano teacher mother and a piano competition-founding father; I could listen to classical music forever and not get sick of it.
Also, I would 100% allow Lin Manuel Miranda dictate my music choices for the rest of forever.
What is your proudest moment?
I used to be a runner, and after a pretty nasty car accident a number of years ago I spent a very long time trying to get back to my previous athletic ability. It was hard and painful, and frustrating, and I’m forever grateful to a team of physical therapists that helped me learn how to run again. A few years after the accident, I was able to start running marathons again, and standing on top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park was one of the most glorious ‘I did it’ moments of my life. That was the first big mountain that I had climbed after my accident and it was an awesome feeling.
“When I’m not working you’ll find me?
Planning some kind of adventure, near or far (preferably far); or curled up with a book; or trying to teach myself how to paint (oil paint and canvasses, not rollers and walls).
What would you want your superpower to be?
I would like to just be Wonder Woman, please, and thank you, complete with shield to protect the defenseless, a sword of justice and lasso of truth. And those boots.
What’s your favorite movie?
Well, the greatest movie of all time is, obviously, “The Sting” winner of a number of Oscars in 1973, starring a very young Robert Redford and Paul Newman as 1930’s Chicago con men.
Name a game show you would win?
I think I’d be pretty good at a trivia show, I read a lot and have this weirdly large mental reservoir of random facts.