Get to Know Blackhawk’s Heather Varez, Accounting Instructor
November 29, 2023
Welcome to our “Get to Know Blackhawk” series, which uses a Q&A format to showcase the diverse and talented individuals within the college community.
What is your name and where did you grow up?
My name is Heather Varez, but I plan to change it to Heather Skyesong. I don’t want to disturb the semester so it may be a slow transition.
What is your role at Blackhawk Technical College?
I am one of two Accounting instructors.
What was your journey to this role? Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I received my Bachelor of Business Administration in 2010 at Idaho State University. It was a really bad year to graduate, so we looked around to see that Minnesota had the lowest unemployment rate and moved – me, my mother, my husband, and four kids from ages 3-16. We lived there for six years where I worked as a legislative auditor. We then moved to Washington where I did basically the same job as a state auditor (auditing state agencies). It was a big leap to come here to teach, but I am so happy I made it. I feel like I am making much more of a difference!
Is there something that drew you to this career?
I want to help people realize they can do it! They can put in the work and make their lives better, no matter what age, gender, or any other label people put on us.
What skills do you possess that you believe will help you in this position?
Compassion and empathy. Sure, I have the technical knowledge of accounting standards but without understanding, I would lack the will to explain something as many times and in ways as it takes to get that “ah-ha” moment.
What is something Blackhawk offers that you feel other colleges do not?
A finger on the pulse of what the work world needs, which will help students rise up. An awesome staff doesn’t hurt either.
What is your life like outside of work? Family? Community involvement? Adorable pets?
I was a foster parent and our last foster child turns 18 in October. I have a beautiful, very weird cat, and my partner has a cute little gremlin-Pomeranian terrior(ist). I am also into gaming.
Tell us something about yourself you think people would be surprised to know.
I gave birth to my middle son on top of an active volcano. No, seriously. I had him at home on top of Kiluea volcano on the Big Island.
Who is your biggest influence?
There are so many people who have influenced me, but when it comes to teaching, my biggest influence was Iva Goldman, my Communications teacher at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. She became a professor when sexism was at its height and fought for equality. When I knew her, she was a mentor to all sorts, especially mothers struggling through school.
If you could pick any foreign country to travel to, which one would you pick?
My partner and I are talking about retiring to Ireland one day. I have been there and to Japan (I am a weeboo). I love history so there are so many places I would love to visit. Too bad some of them aren’t that safe right now.
What is your favorite movie?
There’s no way I could pick.
What is your favorite video game?
Some of my favorite games are “Nier Replicant” – one of the few I have platinum (it took so long to breed that flower) and “Final Fantasy” (especially XIV). Heather is pictured above with Best Boi Emil from “Nier Replicant” and Mandragora from “Final Fantasy.”
What is your favorite pizza topping?
Capers when paired with pepperoni and blue cheese.
If you could have dinner with anybody, alive or dead, who would you choose?
Oh man, that is a hard one, but I’d say Jesus. I figure a lot of what he was and taught has been altered (like a game of telephone) over the last 2 millennia, and I am curious what his truth was.
If you could have any superpower, which one would you pick?
Well, flying would be great, but teleportation would be so efficient.
Who is your favorite Muppet?
What would be your dream car to own?
It used to be a 68 Camaro, but as I get older, I like comfort so like a Lincoln or a Cadillac.
What’s one thing on your bucket list?
To travel all over.
What game show would you most want to participate in? Do you think you could win?
“Jeopardy,” I like trivia. I probably wouldn’t win.