“For me, Shenandoah is about more than just attending classes and performing school work,” said Joseph Heary ’85, ’88. “Shenandoah provides students with opportunities to grow in mind, body and spirit. With a combined focus on education and service to others, Shenandoah offers students a unique educational experience to discover and grow.”
Heary chose Shenandoah because of its size, location and the interactions he experienced when he auditioned at Shenandoah Conservatory. He enjoyed the countless hours spent with his classmates in and out of the classroom. Heary looked forward to returning to campus each fall with the excitement of learning new things and seeing the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. He has fond memories of performing at local churches, museums and community centers during the holidays.
After graduation, Heary enlisted in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Band of New England serving during the Gulf War as an instrumentalist. In this position, he arranged music and performed with the Big Band, Concert Band and Rock Band. Following his tenure with the USAF, Heary began his career in the technology industry as a computer operator for Rite Aid Corporation and Capital Blue Cross where he performed system administration and programming for the companies. He then moved to New York City to develop information technology solutions for financial and asset management services firms until 2015. In 2015, Heary founded Ivyhill Technologies. The company has grown significantly since its founding, now employing 41 people across nine states.
One of the most rewarding parts of Heary’s career is being able to serve in the USAF. “I was able to apply the skills I had learned during my time at Shenandoah, but also because I was able to work with exceptional musicians who taught me new and unique perspectives about life,” said Heary.
Although he had to retire from the USAF because of his health, he found a new calling in the technology industry that offered him creative and rewarding opportunities that he has continued to enjoy for almost 30 years. “I took my first position with a high-tech firm, where I was given the opportunity to learn and succeed in a growing industry where I found a new calling,” said Heary. “Throughout my career I had taken every opportunity to grow and learn by volunteering to take on any problems that needed attention. This provided a significant opportunity for growth personally and professionally.”
The support and guidance Heary received during his time at Shenandoah has shaped him into the person he is today. The university provided him with a culture of caring and an environment in which his education gave him an opportunity for exploration and growth in the classroom and among peers.
“I’ve enjoyed success in my career and my life in part due to my time at SU and the relationships I’ve formed during that time,” said Heary. “I believe education is the most important factor in our success as individuals, as a nation, and as a people.”
With all the fond memories he has of the university, Heary wants to contribute his time and effort into the continued success of his alma mater. He also wants to be able to provide support to individuals trying to better themselves and the world around them.