Alumni Success Story: Helen Hartwell ’15

From limited to limitless, DU alum Helen Hartwell ‘15 is an inspiration.  After thinking that she could not “do” college, Helen leveraged her success at Davenport University into a rewarding career. She is now a busy Executive Assistant who enjoys wearing multiple hats. Read on to learn about the life-changing advice Helen wants to share with you to help break through limitations.

Tell us about yourself, Helen!

I am a 2015 graduate of Davenport University, but the road to graduation had some detours. I have an amazing, supportive family, however, I had a lot of struggles growing up.  After high school, I started at Lansing Community College, but dropped out because I got pregnant.  Before I became a student at Davenport, I felt like nothing could bring me out of such a low point in my life.  My daughter was born and became the light of my life. I moved from house to house, trying to provide for her. I remember having a conversation with my father full of frustration about how I thought I was done, and how I thought I would never be able to get ahead.  The piece of advice he gave me changed everything. He said, “Helen, you are the problems to your solutions and the solutions to your problems.” He told me that I was being my own limitation.

After that conversation I asked my cousin for advice about my next steps. She recommended Davenport. Even though I didn’t think I could  “do” college, Davenport showed me the way.  The faculty and staff proved to me that I was capable of achieving great things. Nothing is going to stop me now!

In a nutshell, what do you do?

As an Executive Assistant in the Office of Administrative Services at the State of Michigan, I wear multiple hats. I answer the main phone line, assist with handling current issues, scheduling appointments, work with the strategic policy office, help assist with intergovernmental relations, provide guidance to constituents, and support the governor.  The term “wearing multiple hats” might be an understatement. My job duties can change daily depending on what is happening in the state. This position gives me the opportunity to help people and that is what I absolutely love about it.

What is your favorite memory of your experience at Davenport?

From my first meeting to my last, Davenport made me feel extremely welcome and empowered. One of the most special moments I was able to experience was speaking at the new Lansing Campus ribbon cutting. It was such an honor to be asked to attend the ceremony, let alone share my story with the hundreds of people in the audience.

What motivates you?

My daughter motivates me. I want her to look at me and say, “Mom, you did well. I want to be like you when I grow up.”

What is your dream job?

Any job that allows me to put a smile on someone’s face. I really enjoying helping people. I plan to pursue my law degree next.

What do you do when you are not working?

I spend time with my daughter and family. I have eleven siblings who live all over the country and we try to get together as much as we can. I enjoy reading and running. I am also a member of the Mid-Michigan Alumni Council.


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