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President's Club scholar perseveres when faced with family tragedy

June 14, 2013

On his first day of college, ASU President’s Club scholar Jason Heckendorn received a phone call that changed his life. He was told his mother had passed away that morning. Although he knew she was suffering from bipolar disorder and taking prescription medication, he was still overwhelmed with disbelief and shock.

Suddenly the simple worries of a typical Arizona State University freshman – like locating classes and meeting new friends – were the last thing on his mind. Heckendorn had two options. He could drop out of school or continue to fight for his dreams and complete his college degree. After much contemplation, he chose the latter. He knew that his mother would have wanted him to succeed. Striving for greatness became his way of honoring her life.

“I have always been a motivated student and my family has been through a lot of tragedy,” says Heckendorn. “But I always put my best foot forward. I almost lost it when my mom died, but then it became a very strong motivation for me.”

Heckendorn is now entering his senior year at ASU. In addition to receiving a scholarship through the ASU Foundation’s President’s Club, he is president of ASU’s Sports Business Association, a marketing intern at Athletes’ Performance, a student in Barrett, The Honors College and a double major in marketing and management in the W. P. Carey School of Business. In the past three years he also interned and worked for AdSport, Navigate Research and the Phoenix Suns in his pursuit to become a sports marketer.

Since Heckendorn spends the majority of his time in school, unpaid internships and running a major student organization, money has been a concern for him. The President’s Club Scholarship will relieve a lot of stress in the fall semester, as he intends to use the award for educational costs. He will be able to focus on school and not allow money to be his primary worry.

While the Presidents Club’s primary focus is transforming education by supporting ASU President Michael M. Crow through intellectual and financial resources, the group recently recommitted to supporting worthy ASU students who embody its ideals of excellence and service.

Heckendorn says he appreciates the support of the President’s Club Scholarship committee and looks forward to meeting other President’s Club members this fall.

Although being a President’s Club scholar and honoring his mother’s legacy are big motivations for Jason, he also has a third significant motivator: his undying love for sports. He had previously been a goal keeper for soccer at his high school, and this past fall at ASU. Many years ago he watched a video about obstacles his idol David Beckham overcame before becoming the international superstar he is today. This video inspired him. Beckham’s words, “impossible is nothing,” still echo in his head.

“‘Impossible is nothing’ symbolizes everything I believe. There is nothing I can’t achieve. Soccer provided me with leadership, teamwork and a competitive drive,” says Heckendorn. “In sports, like in academia, some of the answers are not in front of you. You have to find the answers or create unique solutions.” He adds that these skills are used especially in business, where teamwork and the responsibility to complete tasks individually are both important.

With his late mother and sports fueling his motivation, support from his girlfriend and financial aid from the President’s Club, Heckendorn is destined to continue his great achievements. “I am thankful to have the President’s Club Scholarship, and I will represent the organization proudly and honorably,” he says.