Now that the 2018-2019 school year has begun, The Partnership for Educational Excellence is wrapping up its mini-biographies of some (12 percent) of its past scholars who have volunteered their information and reflections on the role of post-secondary education in their lives. The final three bios are a celebration of its three very first scholars. Matt Herman, John Heyen, and Tracy Mathis (in alphabetical order) graduated in 1993. They each received $250 – all that The Partnership could afford – as they set off for college.
Today The Partnership offers $1,000 scholarships, and in 2018 awarded them to 21 Gillespie High School graduates, nearly 30 percent of the graduating class. This education 501(c)3 foundation in Macoupin County CUSD7 has invested nearly $800,000 in district children to date.
Jon Heyen graduated from Gillespie High School in 1993, winning a $250 Partnership for Educational Excellence scholarship. Jon attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science in 1997. He stayed on to complete a Master of Science degree in immunology in 1999.
“In 2013 I also completed the coursework and testing necessary to become a board certified as a toxicologist by the American Board of Toxicology, and am now a Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology,” he says.
Currently, Jon works for Pfizer in La Jolla, California, as a Senior Principal Scientist.
Jon’s career began in St. Louis with the Searle Company. There he worked for the Cardiovascular Discovery Group, investigating the role of the immune system in various cardiovascular diseases and the potential for new therapies.
“At the completion of the Pharmacia-Pfizer merger in 2003 [which subsumed Searle], I relocated to La Jolla and joined Global Safety Pharmacology as an in vivo cardiovascular lead,” he says. Jon’s roles have included investigating the potential effects of novel therapies on the cardiovascular system; acting as drug safety team leader for multiple projects; and leading the cardiovascular imaging group within Safety Pharmacology.
Today Jon works in the Global Portfolio Group of Pfizer as a drug safety team leader for multiple projects focusing on immune-oncology.
Away from work, Jon spends time surfing San Diego-area beaches and playing basketball. He also plays the guitar, reads, hikes, and travels nationally and internationally. His immediate plans include trips to Alaska and several national parks.
Regarding the importance of post-secondary education in his life, Jon says: “I think like most people who are fortunate enough to attend college, I am extremely grateful and appreciative of the experience. It was my first exposure to several cultures and a great source of diversity that I would not have experienced otherwise. I loved my time in Champaign so much that I stayed almost two extra years for my master’s degree! It is a cliche, but college truly is a wonderfully unique experience for everyone and a time to discover and challenge yourself. It is a time to find yourself and experience the richness of the world. It is also a time to make lifelong friends. In fact, I was just visited by one of my roommates!”
As to the role of his modest Partnership scholarship, Jon concludes: “It was very helpful. It supported me and my family by helping to reduce the financial burden associated with college. My parents had two children in college when I started. Every dollar counts, and it was a blessing.”
Jon is the son of Larry and Sharon Heyen of Dorchester, Illinois.
For information or to donate: www.thepartnership7.org or The Partnership, P.O. Box 125, Gillespie IL 62033.