Welcome to The Gift of Gab!

Hello there! My name is Heather Hayes, and I am a Media & Communication Arts graduate student and adjunct instructor at Pace University. When I’m not busy completing course work for my graduate classes, I’m teaching Public Speaking to undergraduate students. Based on my passion and dedication towards my own and others’ education, most people who know me well would be surprised to learn that my journey to where I am today was not straightforward in the slightest.

“Ruban-fibromyalgie-violet” by Variation44 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

When I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, I fell very ill. Over the years, I’ve accumulated diagnoses of Fibromyalgia/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and several lumbar spine conditions including Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis. My chronic illnesses forced me to transfer from my parochial high school which required a lengthy commute to attend, to the public school in my hometown, just minutes from my family home. I joined the drama club in an effort to make friends; after all, I was the “new kid.” Performing in Our Town, Oklahoma!, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Beauty and the Beast boosted my confidence tremendously, yet at the time, I didn’t understand how valuable those experiences would be, or how they would shape my career today.

Heather Hayes as Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast.”

As college application season approached, I dreamt of attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to pursue a degree in Fashion Design, however, I knew my deteriorating health was not on my side, and the demands of such a strenuous program would take too much of a toll on my body. My mother, a Pace University professor of 35 years, convinced me to attend Pace (tuition remission, am I right?). I applied, was accepted, and decided to pursue a degree in Entrepreneurship, despite no interest in business or math. To say I was lost would be an understatement. To make matters worse, my father passed away unexpectedly a week after I graduated high school. I matriculated that Fall of 2012, managed to complete one semester amidst grieving my father’s death, and then took a gap year. It was the best decision I could have made for myself and my future. They say time heals all wounds, and boy is that true. I gained clarity during that downtime, and re-registered at Pace for the Spring 2014 semester with a clear focus; I was going to major in Communications.

As a Communications student, I took several PR courses, where I delivered interviews and press conferences during simulations. Stepping in front of my classmates wasn’t much different than stepping on stage in front of an auditorium full of strangers. I found myself using my theatre training to my advantage, emphasizing vocal variety, eye contact, and articulation during my deliveries. If I had never fallen ill, I would have never transferred high schools or joined the drama club. Without those experiences, I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now, at 24 years old, I’ve earned a B.A. in Communications, and I’m months away from earning my Master’s degree while teaching for the first time. As a new educator, I am thrilled to share my public speaking knowledge on this blog, and I hope you join me as you pursue your own journey of becoming a better public speaker!



“Ruban-fibromyalgie-violet” by Variation44 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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