Director of Graduate Programs is All About Making Real-World Connections

Dr. Heather Dartez has a passion for helping master’s students make their dreams a reality.

Headshot of Dr. Heather Dartez smiling, wearing a blue blazer.

Dr. Heather Dartez is the Director of Graduate Programs and works to help graduate students make the right connections they need to get employed after graduation. She works with students from nearly all of Full Sail University’s master’s degree programs. “It's probably equivalent to a dean at a traditional university,” she explains. “My role is to guide them.”

Heather has been at Full Sail for 14 years, but she hasn’t always been the Director of Graduate Programs. “I've had almost every position in education at Full Sail, with the exception of Lab Specialist,” she laughs. She’s also been honored as Faculty Member of the Year by the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges.

Every time she meets with a student, Heather strives to make their time with her a personalized experience. “The first thing we would do is talk about what your goals are. Then we would talk about who can I connect you to…that you can learn from or that you could just [have a meeting with]… It might lead to a job. But it's really all about understanding who the student is, how to guide them, and how to build connections with outside sources, whether it be industry people or graduates that will help their dream become a reality.”

“I try to put myself in the shoes of the student,” she says. She also likes to keep track of the grads she’s helped along the way. “I live vicariously through their successes.”

While Heather is enthusiastic about all her undertakings, including being a visual artist and completing her doctorate in Business Administration, making connections is one of her favorite jobs.

“[I have a] passion for connecting people and…giving students opportunities to learn and grow through real world, hands-on immersive learning," she says. "What's really cool about Full Sail is that we immerse them in this really cool campus that has every space [needed to recreate] what they would see in the industry.”

In many ways, she helps ensure that graduate students make the most out of their time at Full Sail. “We work on providing an [project-based] atmosphere…where our students can actually work on [industry] projects…so that they can build their resume while they're here. I firmly believe that connectivity and strong relationships are the keys to success. I constantly look for ways to bring others together and maximize their potential by giving them the resources they need to create positive change.“

Her latest endeavor is a monthly livestream called “Taking Flight” where she chats with industry experts and Full Sail grads about their entertainment business and art and design industry experience. “We discuss a wide range of topics, such the importance of continuing education, entertainment industry trends, leadership, art, and more. I am really excited about it because it will allow our students to connect with and learn from others who are established in their careers and currently working in the industry.”

When it comes to her day-to-day as Director of Graduate Programs at Full Sail, Heather wouldn’t have it any other way. “I feel a huge honor to even have the job I have here, because it's just so much fun every day.”