Hilde Heitness “I am just so happy that I came to SMC. I totally feel like there’s a whole new world opening up for me.”

She camps out in rugged country, competes in fencing, and goes on deep-sea fishing trips to Mexico. She plays the violin at a level that has her thinking about applying to Juilliard. She grew up in Norway and doesn't speak English very well. No, Hilde Heitnes speaks English perfectly. What in the world could ever come between this accomplished woman and success? The answer is: herself.

“I was going to school in Norway and I had to struggle so much. I didn’t know what was going on. I was stressing out, getting bad grades, and feeling that I was a stupid person who couldn’t understand anything. I was in such despair that I started to travel and came over here as an au pair. But eventually,” she recalls, “I thought that I couldn’t be stupid because I got so many things right. So I went to the Center for Students with Disabilities to get tested. They tested me, figured out what the problem was, and that was that,” says Hilde with a delighted laugh.

“My counselor in the office, Sheila, is such a wonderful person. She always welcomes me and encourages me to talk about any kinds of problems I have. Everyone in that office has helped me,” she continues. “And though it’s always going to be a struggle for me, it's all easier now because I can put my finger on the problem.” It’s Hilde's hope to one day help others in her situation. “I’d like to work with kids because—if you help them early enough—you can stop them from becoming frightened and frustrated adults.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.