Jump over the site's primary content.

July 2014 Alumni Spotlight: Nick Vaughan Alumni Spotlight RSS Feed

Name: Nick Vaughan

Class: Heartland Class of 2003

Degree: Associate of Science in Business Marketing

Interviewer: Bridget Anders

Download Audio for the Interview with Nick Vaughan (MP3 Format, 5.6 MB)

 *Note: You must download and install an MP3 player (e.g. Windows Media Player) in order to listen to the audio interview.

Nick: My name is Nick Vaughan. I am a business marketing major. I graduated from here in 2003.

Bridget: You were a barber for most of your life, what made you decide to go to Heartland?

Nick: At first I went to ICC right out of high school, because there was no Heartland. I graduated from high school in 1974. And I decided to go back to college and get my degree, because the place I cut hair for 30 years went out of business. So I thought I would be without a degree and it didn’t matter, but I thought, well, I better get my degree just as a backup. And it was something I always wanted to do. So I had been out of school for 27 years, and I decided to go back and get my degree.

Bridget: Do you have a favorite experience from Heartland?

Nick: I am not exactly sure what the National Honors Society was Phi Theta Kappa, and I was allowed to get in that. And it was a real honor, because when I dropped out of ISU and quit ISU my grade point average was terrible. And when I went back I had 19 classes to take. And I still remember the first math class I took here. I was so nervous I could hardly right my name on the paper, on the test, I do remember that. And I ended up getting an A in that, because I had to take calculus, business calculus, over, because I got a D in it many years ago. And my advisor here told me there was no way I was going to pass calculus. I hadn’t had math in 25 years, so I had to take intermediate algebra to get into calculus. And both those classes I got a B in calc but an A in intermediate algebra, so that was probably then I knew I could do it. That’s when I knew I could get good grades, because I never had been a good student before I started here. And I used the tutoring center here, and that is how I met Kim Kelly, so that worked out well for me. But joining that honors society or being allowed to get into it was probably my highlight of coming to Heartland.

Bridget: So then you went to ISU after Heartland?

Nick: Yes.

Bridget: What made you choose that path?

Nick: Well, a long time ago when I went to junior college right out of high school I wasn’t a very good student in high school either. I went to junior college at ICC. Went two years there, but didn’t get my associate’s degree which was a mistake, also. So when I wanted to go back to school I had to take seven classes at Heartland, and then transfer to ISU to finish up my bachelor’s degree in business at ISU. And that was my goal to get a bachelor’s degree. So I took 7 classes at Heartland, and then I went to ISU with maybe 11 or 12 classes at ISU in the college of business at ISU which was brand new at that time.

Bridget: Once you got your degree, how did that make you feel?

Nick: Other than getting married and having my children it was the happiest day of my life.

Bridget: How is that helping you now?

Nick: It gave me the confidence. I didn’t want to do anything career wise. I cut hair for 32 years. So that was the path I was going to continue to take, but I had no computer skills, business skills to point, but no technical skills. And it gave me the confidence to open up my own hair business and go from there. Which turned out to be a blessing because the business I used to work at went out of business and locked the doors soon after I graduated. And I graduated in December of ’08, and I opened up my own business in July of 2009. So I wrote my business plan, which I had to do through my business classes at ISU, but I didn’t write a business plan for my hair business. I wrote it on a business plan actually for Potbelly’s, and that gave me a model to write my own business plan for my hair salon. Which was once I implemented that right before I opened my own shop it was seamless. It was right on. I hit the nail right on the head with my business plan.

Bridget: That is good. What is your business called?

Nick: Nick's Clips

Bridget: Can you tell me where that is?

Nick: Yes, it is at 202 S. Eldorado in Bloomington, and I have been open for five years now. It’s going well.

Bridget: Well, good. 

Nick: It is going exactly how I envisioned it to go. I have no complaints at all. I am happy. And when I went back to college my daughters were in 6th grade and 4th grade. And my wife works at Illinois State, and they helped me, backed me, they you know. That was, you have to surround yourself with good people, and it started with my family. So you have to surround yourself with good people.

Bridget: Do you have any advice that you would give to other non-traditional students?

Nick: I tell people don’t ever quit. I mean, when I was younger I thought, well, I’ll quit and go back. And my dad told me "Nick, don’t quit you won’t go back." Dad I will get my degree. I will get my degree. And that was one of my regrets, too, because my dad died before I actually went back to college. So I tell people don’t ever quit no matter how hard it gets or how dark the path is. Don’t give up, because you can do it. And the old saying, if I can do it anyone can do it. That is the truth. And that’s surround yourself with good people and a support system. And I got that through the tutoring center here at Heartland. Because I had Mondays off at work, I always have Mondays off from my hair business, and I found a tutor that I could use down at the tutoring centering here at Heartland. So I had a 9 O’clock appointment every Monday. So I’d drop my kids off at school and show up at Heartland about 8 O’clock on Monday mornings and get everything ready to meet with my tutor at 9 O’ clock. So it was perfect. 

Bridget: Is there anything else I should have asked you that you would like to talk about?

Nick: It never gets easy. People said I could never do it. You know, this isn’t a good time. There is never a good time. My kids were in 4th and 6th grade when I went back and my wife. People say I am too old, that I was 52 when I graduated. And that was what the people told me. The head of admissions at Illinois State, Steve Adams, he set me up with the dean of students here. And at the time his name was Fred Peterson, and they both told me that, Nick, you are going to be 52 with a degree or 52 without a college degree. So it is up to you if you want to do it. We will show you how to do it. And we mapped out a plan to do it, and I stuck to it. And I got my degree. And it is never too late, but the younger you do it probably the easier it is and the more beneficial it is.