Michaela Gagne Hetzler is a resident of Fall River, Massachusetts. She received her B.F.A. in Art with a minor in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She went on to complete her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy from Lesley University.

 

Michaela was crowned Miss Massachusetts in June of 2006 and went on to compete for the title of Miss America 2007. This title furthered her continuing work of a platform issue she entitled Heart Health: Listen, Learn, and Live, which was a reaction to having been diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition and having undergone surgery for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator at the age of 17. She is currently a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign, and she is a frequent speaker/lobbyist on Capitol Hill, as well as a requested speaker across the United States and Canada.

 

Michaela is a national spokesperson for the SADS (Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes) Foundation, as well as Parent Heart Watch, a group of parents making great strides in legislative and national awareness in memory of the children they have lost to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Michaela also served as an international spokesperson for Heartbeat International, an organization that provides surgery and the means for pacemakers, defibrillators, and other devices to be implanted in some of the one million people who are dying every year without these procedures. In addition, Michaela campaigns on local and national levels to make Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) mandatory in our schools and raise the need for heart screenings.

 

Michaela is a member of the New England chapter of the National Speakers Association, as well as the American Art Therapy Association. She is the recipient of many honors, including being featured on CNN, Inside Edition, Fox News and in USA Today, along with various other local and national publications. She has written articles for Newsweek and EPLab Digest, and in 2008 she received the Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award Recipient. She has been given various advocate awards from the American Heart Association, including being named Massachusetts’ top volunteer.  

 

Despite her heart condition, LongQT Syndrome, Michaela is an accomplished athlete, competing regularly in soccer and basketball, and is a MIAA certified high school track and field coach. Additionally, she is a certified CPR/AED trainer. Michaela works as an adjustment counselor in the Fall River Schools, as well as being the Peaceful Coalition’s Community Coordinator, a group focusing on gang prevention and intervention.  She is formerly an art teacher at St. Vincent’s Home, a residential/educational facility for children in need. Her volunteer work ranges from traveling to Africa to set up a medical clinic in the Bukoba region of Tanzania, to being a bunk counselor at camps for children with heart conditions. She is also an artist, regularly involved in using various mediums, and a singer who loves jazz and rock n’ roll.

 

 

“At 17 years old, my life was squarely put in perspective when I was told I could have died during the first unprotected years of my life. I turned my obstacles into opportunities, and my work is done in the memory of those who were not given that second chance.”

Share