Healing and Helping Through Art Therapy: Candice Heishman
Candice Heishman ’17 is one of the many veterans who chose Lebanon Valley College to continue their education after serving in the military, though few have the longstanding connection to the College that she does.
Having grown up in the area, Heishman considered LVC in high school before joining the Army National Guard. Between deployments she attended Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), where she received her associate degree. With sufficient funding remaining in her G.I. Bill, Heishman began researching colleges and universities in the surrounding area to pursue a master’s degree in art therapy.
“The only school that offered the subjects I was seeking was Lebanon Valley College, and my dream of attending LVC became real the day the acceptance letter arrived at my home,” recalls Heishman.
Given her experiences over the course of three separate deployments and personal experiences with the therapeutic abilities of art, Heishman became interested in assisting other veterans through the usage of art and painting.
“Five months after I began to paint again, I was asked to help an autistic man through art, which combined with my personal experiences, helped me to decide what I wanted to be,” she explains. “I know that art heals, which will help me heal others around me.”
Her background as a veteran and non-traditional student allowed for a smooth transition from the working world to college student. While understanding this new identity took time, Heishman found herself in possession of a unique skill set and better able to communicate with others.
“As a veteran, I have knowledge that most people use their phones to find and can only play in games or see in movies, which helps me to stand out [in the classroom],” elaborates Heishman.
As a self-titled “emotional painter,” her works are deeply personal and draw inspiration from artists such as Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollack, Freida Kahlo, Kwang Ho Shin, and Carl Beazley.
“I paint with my emotions, and every emotion that I have felt can be seen through my art. Feeling these emotions helps me to heal and better understand myself,” reveals Heishman.
While some students may cite their non-traditional status as a hindrance to their college experience, Heishman uses her time away from the College to her advantage: “I am glad to be a non-traditional student because I am part of the life at LVC, but I am also able to leave and ground myself for another day of classes.”
When not hard at work on her next painting or written work, Heishman serves as a leader in several on-campus organizations, such as LVC's Visioneers and the student-led Mindfulness Group, and is helping to plan the upcoming spring break service trip sponsored by the Office of Spiritual Life.
For Heishman, these groups provide her with as much of a benefit as her formal academic experiences: “My favorite aspect of life at LVC is communicating with young minds that will become amazing adults. The students on campus inspire me to continue learning.”