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2020 40 Under 40: Rachel Heinz, 34

Director of Bear POWER, Missouri State University

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After her son Hudson was diagnosed with Down syndrome, a heart condition and a gastrointestinal disease at birth, Rachel Heinz quickly learned how to be an advocate. She developed a strong desire to help others like him, and years later she discovered her calling for inclusive higher education.

In 2016, Heinz began volunteering with faculty and staff at Missouri State University to write grants and start crowdfunding campaigns, which resulted in raising over $150,000 to start Bear POWER – Promoting Opportunities for Work, Education and Resilience. The program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities launched in 2019. She wants to see it replicated across the country. “Knowing college is possible can change everything for an individual and their family,” she says.

Heinz is achieving her own education goals by pursuing a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, special education and counseling.

What was your first job? A receptionist at a hair salon.

What is your proudest moment? My wedding day with my husband, Jordan, and the day I became a mom to all three of my kids, Hudson, Harper and Hadley.

What is your best productivity hack? Make lists and cross things off when you are done. Write down your goals and look at them often. Outsource and delegate. Surround yourself with positive people.

What is your favorite hobby? Photography.

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