Heffern carries on K-State legacies

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May 3, 2013 - 12:00 AM

For the past four years someone from the Heffern family has been valedictorian at Iola High School. Eric Heffern, a senior at IHS, will make it a five-year run. Quite the family record.
Both of Eric’s older brothers achieved this top academic honor as did two cousins; his father did as well, many years ago. “There was definitely pressure for me. I didn’t want to be the only one in the family not to make valedictorian,” Eric said. “A couple weeks ago I knew I was going to make it and that felt good.”
The youngest in his family, Eric received some good advice about how to approach high school. “My brothers told me to relax,” he said. “I tried. It was comforting to hear it from them and to know that if they did it, then I could too.”
Eric always did well in school and was part of the National Honor Society. In addition to academics, Eric was also an accomplished athlete for the Mustangs. He was a linebacker and wide receiver on the football team, played baseball, and basketball when he was a freshman. “It’s pretty much school and sports all the time for me,” he said, adding he plays American Legion baseball in the summer.
When asked what he enjoyed most during the past four years of high school, Eric quickly responded, “Friday night football games.”
Eric will attend Kansas State University in the fall, following his brothers (Jacob and Kyle), his dad and mom (who met at K-State) and grandfather. It wasn’t a difficult choice, he said, “I only applied to K-State.”
Eric plans to study construction science in the engineering department but is a bit anxious because he’s heard that department is particularly tough. His dad, Larry, works as an engineer at Monarch Cement Comany in Humbolt, so he is familiar with some of the work.
“I have always been interested in building and architecture,” he said. His brothers, however, have chosen different tracks: Jacob will graduate with a degree in mass communications, and Kyle is studying hotel and restaurant management. His mom is a substitute teacher at IHS. “She’s kept track of me pretty well,” he said of seeing his mother in school most days.
He has also visited his brothers many times at K-State and feels prepared for the next four years.
“It’s a fun atmosphere and my brothers say it’s the friendliest university they have visited… but they also tell me to stay focused and to keep up on the work,” he said, noting the difference in their advice from high school to college. “In college, it’s easy to get into lazy habits, they say.”
Eric is looking forward to being independent and living on his own next year at K-State, saying “I am anxious and a bit sad to leave (high school), but I’m excited and ready for the change.”
Last Wednesday, at the awards ceremony, Eric was awarded the Hal Wray Scholarship of $250 to honor his achievements. He also received the First in Class Guarantee at K-State, which is a scholarship assistance of $2,000 to $4,000 given to all students ranked No. 1 in their high school class with a high enough SAT/ACT score. In years past, Eric was also recognized at this awards ceremony as an outstanding undergraduate achiever.
His advice to younger students approaching high school would be the same as his brothers gave to him: “Relax, it’s not that bad.”
Wednesday is his last day of high school, with graduation set for May 12. Although it will be “good-bye” to Iola for the time being, Eric, like his family, is glad to be staying in Kansas for college and hopes to come back to the area for work upon graduation.

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