One thing leads to another

Heather Gustafson finds job close to hometown


Photo by Melanie Alyea

Heather Gustafson comes back to Northeast Nebraska for work.

Melanie Alyea, Staff Writer

Born and raised in Wakefield, Heather Gustafson has fulfilled her dreams of traveling the world.

Now, with the help of the U.S. Army, Gustafson has returned to Nebraska to help the students of Wayne with their academics.

After high school, Gustafson joined the military, and half a decade later, she had toured all around the world until her contract was complete.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I thought traveling the world would be a good time while I figured it out,” Gustafson said.

She decided to retire while she was on her last assignment in the Middle East, since her daughter had just turned six months old.

When Gustafson returned to the United States, she sought out an education.

After attaining a bachelor’s degree in business and working a couple of years in Fayetteville, N.C., Gustafson and her husband decided it was a good time for him to pursue his ambitions.

The family picked up everything and moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where her husband took a position teaching at the International Medical University.

The Gustafsons moved back to the United States in late 2013 after returning on a holiday.

“What started out as a visit with my family over the holiday turned into a job at Wayne State College and a move back to the United States,” Gustafson said.

Gustafson is an academic credential technician whose primary job is to evaluate coursework completed at other institutions for equivalents at WSC.

This job is no easy task. First, the institution has to be considered—are they accredited and by what body, is it a 2 or 4-year institution?—as well as the coursework—is it in semester or quarter hours, does the course description equate, is it the same level? From these considerations, Gustafson then makes a recommendation to the department chair, where a final determination is made.

The final decisions are loaded into TES (Transfer Evaluation System) and posted to the WSC website Transfer Guide.

When she is not working, Gustafson enjoys being able to follow one of her passions: acting. She participates in plays at Wakefield’s Little Red Hen Theatre, which is currently working on a Christmas comedy. Along with acting, Gustafson also enjoys singing, doing voice-over work and reading.

“Many people will say that reading is one of their hobbies. I am the same, but I also love reading to kids,” Gustafson said.

Another exciting project that Gustafson is currently working on is the Parchment Project. With this program, students will be able to order eTranscripts through their Wildcats Online. This will make transcript delivery to potential employers and other schools almost immediate compared to the current “snail-mail only” option.

There will be a fee for the service, but the academic center will still offer transcripts via the transcript request form at no charge to students.

“More and more employers and graduate schools are accepting eTranscripts, so we see this is an additional service and convenience to our students and alumni.

“The bottom line is that I like solving an issue. It doesn’t matter if it is a question from a student, a co-worker staff/faculty member or if it is the challenge of a new product/technology/software,” Gustafson said.