‘Kids trust me. I think they just know I care about them’

June 11, 2024 About Us

People are the through line in Celina Heyliger’s career

What draws a person to a particular job is not always the job itself. Over the years, Celina Heyliger has followed a zigzagging pathway that suits her evolving interests, skillsets, and circumstances. As she looks back on her journey, though, she can see a clear through line.  

“I’ve done a lot of different things, but always involving people,” said Celina, North Country pathways and funding specialist at Granite Edvance. “I really love to talk to people and connect with them.”  

Growing up in Rochester, NY, Celina attended a small parochial school until 8th grade and loved the quiet, scholarly aspect of it – diagramming sentences, conjugating Latin verbs, learning Roman numerals, etc. While she was in middle school, her family moved to Connecticut, and she had to adapt to public school. But it wasn’t until college that she really started identifying her passions.  

The first of them: New Hampshire. From practically the moment she set foot on the University of New Hampshire campus, Celina knew she was going to stick around. “I loved New Hampshire. I never wanted to leave,” she said.  

After graduating with a degree in resource economics (changing her major from mechanical engineering when she realized she was not a fan of physics), Celina organized her life around travel. When she touched down in her adopted home state after a trip, she was always able to find work. “I think because I know how to talk to people and communicate,” she said.  

After working a series of jobs at environmental engineering and computer and software companies, Celina put down roots and had a family. In search of a schedule that accommodated her young family, she parlayed her people skills into a job working one-on-one with a special needs child.  

“I’d always loved kids, but I just didn’t know if it would be a good fit, so I said, ‘let’s give it a week,’ ” Celina recalled. “After a week, I was in love with that kind of job.”  

For the next several years, Celina worked as a one-on-one paraeducator, usually with special needs students and often with the hardest cases.  She also got her bus driving certification so she could drive students to their off-site programs – and build stronger connections.  

“I’d say, ‘let’s have a van talk,’ ” Celina said. “Kids trust me. I think they just know I care about them.” 

About 16 years ago, Celina moved with her family to NH’s North Country and quickly fell in love again. Now, she’s devoted to helping young people in the region find and follow their own passions.  

Her job at Granite Edvance brings together the skills, interests, and values she’s developed over the years. “I don’t even quite know how I got where I am,” Celina said. “But I know it’s a perfect fit.”  

We’re sharing our own stories to inform students about possible career pathways. Stay tuned for more, and don’t forget to follow us on FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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