“My ultimate goal is not to limit myself, but to be able to stand independently on my own, to always be able to provide and to be an example to my kids.”
Tarrah Heighington is well on her way to achieving the ambitions she set out for herself when she first enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration program back in 2017.
Not only did the Oshawa mother of three earn her degree in just two years while also working full time, she did so at the top of her class – and was recently named valedictorian for Yorkville University’s B.C. Campus in recognition of her achievements.
“I was shocked and ecstatic,” she said of hearing the news. “I felt very accomplished, very proud of myself for all the hard work I put in, and I was really excited. I wanted to tell everybody.”
First on her list of people to inform, of course, were her husband and three kids, aged 12, 15 and 18 – all of whom Heighington characterized as her biggest supporters throughout her online studies and all the sleepless nights that came with them.
“I couldn’t have done it without their support. They’re my number one cheerleaders, the three of them and my husband. They’re very proud of me, and they were always really supportive. I think my kids look at me now and think, ‘If mom can do it, I can, too.’”
Originally from Pembroke, Ontario, Heighington moved to Oshawa 19 years ago when her now-ex-husband had to relocate to the area for work. Wanting to be able to stay home with her growing brood at the time, she decided to teach piano in the evenings – something she did for 14 years.
But when her youngest entered into full-day Kindergarten, Heighington seized the opportunity to go back to school – enrolling in a three-year diploma program at a local community college.
“I always loved math in school – it just kind of came naturally to me,” she said of choosing to study Accounting. “I love numbers because numbers don’t lie. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge businessperson, but I do love the accounting part.”
Even before graduating with her Accounting diploma in 2017, Heighington had landed a full-time job at a small business in her area, but she didn’t want to limit herself by stopping her education there. So, she began to research some educational options that offered flexible schedules to accommodate her busy one.
“Yorkville’s online program was the best choice for me because of my job in an accounting department and because I was newly remarried at the time,” she explained.
“Between work and family and trying to balance everything, I knew couldn’t go to classes on campus, because it was just too much. When I saw an ad for Yorkville, I liked what they offered in terms of the schedule and the condensed program, so I made the decision to apply and I got accepted.”
Despite the sleepless nights that accompanied her work-family-study life, Heighington emerged undeterred from her two-year online Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a Specialization in Accounting in 2019.
While the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily derailed her post-graduation plans, she’s now determined to take her education one step even further in pursuit of her Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation.
“Now that that stuff has settled down, I’m going to go for it,” she said. “Getting that CPA designation opens the door completely wide – I could go anywhere.”