Eric Hertel determined to help others

Former parolee graduates with honors from LCC

Eric HertelThe road to success can include the occasional bump or even obstacle. Eric Hertel, student keynote speaker at the 2013 Lane Community College graduation, knows this well. And he knows that success is something you earn with every step forward.

Hertel, 43, started at Lane in 2010, after deciding he needed to do something different. In a big way.

It was during his time in prison that Hertel elected to participate in a treatment program he credits for laying the foundation for change. While in the program, Hertel applied for and received student loans, making a different direction possible in this life.

Paroled in Lane County, Hertel remembers his first days at Lane and exploring options for a new future. He was drawn to helping people, initially entering physical therapy and later changing to nursing.

But a conviction on his record proved challenging to get internships necessary to move forward in the nursing program.

Hertel said he felt lost and wasn't sure of his next move: until Lane's Helen Garrett, Cindy Lott, and Debbie Ganser provided the encouragement needed to keep moving forward.

"They told me, 'Eric, there are other ways of healing people'," Hertel recalls. "Their suggestions were helpful in my life."

Through these Lane academic advisors, Hertel learned of the Family Human Services program at the University of Oregon and was encouraged to apply.

He did. And he became dual enrolled at Lane and UO winter term 2012.

His steps forward continue to be successful. He's earned a scholarship to cover both undergraduate and graduate studies at UO. He graduated Phi Theta Kappa this spring from Lane with an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree.

And, Hertel currently volunteers as a mentor at Sponsors and at the Whitebird Clinic and is exploring internship opportunities with agencies that partner with the Family Human Services program.

Hertel's future remains bright. And he's ready.

"The only thing that can stop me is me," he said. "There is a level of fear but that's where my faith comes in. That's what carries me."

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Published by Marketing and Public Relations, June 2013