Academic, Athletic Achievements Lead Clymer Senior To Gannon University

CLYMER – If high school is any indication, Thomas Heiser’s name may some day become synonymous with the word “involvement.”

As valedictorian, not only is Tom dedicated to his academic studies, but he has invested much time and energy to projects both in and outside of his school district.

Although he is a well-rounded student in all subjects, the majority of Tom’s academic interests lie within the annals of history. According to Tom, much of his fascination within the subject resides in the effects that historical events have had on the modern world.

“(Studying history) is easy because it’s interesting,” he said. “It’s cool to see how things have changed over the years. Like in my Civil War class, it’s cool to try to understand how it happened and how people thought to make those things happen.”

While his passion for history is reflected by his grades, Tom’s college and career aspirations lie elsewhere. Tom has applied and been accepted into Gannon University’s physician assistant program on an academic scholarship, which will cover a large portion of his academic costs. Tom said that his decision to pursue this field was made based on a personal experience.

“I messed up my ACL in my knee, and I went through physical therapy,” he said. “Then I thought that the medical field was kind of cool. And plus, (physician assistants) get paid pretty well – so why not be a PA?”



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The PA program at Gannon is a five-year minimum program, which includes a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in PA, but Tom has been able to expedite this process based on his academic initiative. When he graduates in the summer, he will have accrued 12 college credits from four Advanced Placement courses, including: English 1510 and 1530, English composition 1 and 2, problem solving and statistics. He is also enrolled in Civil War and pre-anatomy courses, which he enjoys.

Tom also boasts an extensive list of extracurriculars. His involvement with sports includes varsity football, basketball and baseball. His football career has earned him recognitions such as the area all-star award and scholar athlete award, for which he was nominated by his coach. He plans to continue his football career at Gannon.

He has also participated in a variety of clubs and organizations, including: student council; National Honor Society; Fellowship of Christian Athletes, in which he has served as president; and he has volunteered in the Big Buddy program. Outside of school, Tom has gone on mission trips with his church’s youth group, works on his grandfather’s farm and works with a landscaping company in Clymer.

According to Barbara Dunning, Tom’s guidance counselor, Tom was recommended for this feature because of his academic and extracurricular achievements.

“He’s very involved in everything, and he’s very responsible, so that’s why he was the first person that came to mind,” said Dunning. “It’s not just his academics, although he is first in his class and has a 96 GPA, but he is involved in a lot of activities. One of the big ones, in my eyes, is that he volunteers as a Big Buddy – and he’s done this throughout high school. This year, he and another student are going into a fourth-grade class and helping with some kids in there, and it’s been going really well. So he’s worked with kids throughout high school, which is one of the great things about Tom.”

To nominate a student for Standing Out In The Crowd, contact Gavin Paterniti at 487-1111, ext. 243, or email