At 22 years old, Sierra Fields has found the secret recipe for success and it only takes three ingredients. The first is to work hard. The second is to find great mentors. The third ingredient is to keep your family close and lean on them when you need it.
Nothing has come easy for Sierra. At nine years old, she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Then, at ages 18 and 22 autism and common variable immunodeficiency were added to the list respectively. Though these diagnoses existed, they have not defined her. In fact, one may argue it has made her more determined to succeed.
Sierra’s family has been a constant support in her life. Her mom, Billie Fields-Baer, said there have been many challenges with Sierra’s health, but through it, all Sierra stays positive. It’s apparent that her family is a true team and they are cheering her on all the way.
“She wants to lead a normal, young adult life, but having to do weekly plasma infusions, struggling with constant illnesses, along with the struggles of social anxiety make it difficult,” Fields-Baer said. “Despite the challenges, Sierra works hard and powers through. That’s what we love about her.”
Sierra found comfort (and a mentor) who was the high school principal at Harding when Sierra was attending. Fields-Baer said she was in a “very dark place” when she found light in the form of an educator at her school. That educational angel was Carol Bebout.
Sierra said that Momma Bebout, as she refers to her, changed her life and was “the difference between life and death.” She added, “I was having a very difficult time and Momma Bebout took the time to listen, guide, and encourage me to never give up. She made me believe in myself when I felt like I couldn’t achieve anything.”
When asked about being Sierra’s “angel”, Bebout said, “I don’t deserve the credit – Sierra does! She is a special girl and I am so happy to have her in my life.” Bebout’s affection for Sierra is apparent adding that she has a sweet way about her and a little shyness. Once she felt comfortable, she showed her true, fun-loving personality. She is quick with a smile and laugh and always brightens Bebout’s day when she sees her.
Sierra had found a friend, a confidant, and a mentor in Carol. Through her first couple of years of high school, they formed a special bond. Carol, always encouraging, gave Sierra the confidence she needed to do anything she puts her mind too. Sierra, with her sweet smile and infectious personality, always made Carol smile and brightened her day.
Bebout retired from Harding High School but continued her career at Tri-Rivers and maintains the principal role there. Sierra had interest in animals and was considering Tri-Rivers for the Veterinary Science program. Knowing Bebout would be there was helpful in making her decision to try it.
Bebout recalls, “In some ways, Sierra was afraid to come because she enjoyed the comfort of Harding. She decided to attend both Harding and Tri-Rivers doing her academics at Harding and her lab at Tri-Rivers. We saw each other almost every day. Sometimes we waved and other times we talked about things.”
Sierra said that she was excited to attend Tri-Rivers because of the program where she would learn to work with animals and because she would be able to see “momma” each day.
Sierra successfully graduated high school with the love and support of many. Her hard work, dedication, and determination fueled her desire to succeed. Those traits have continued as she has entered the world of college life.
“She is attending classes online through Penn Foster. She tried an on-campus experience, but conventional college was difficult due to illnesses and absenteeism,” Fields-Baer said.
She is doing great now and is working towards an associate’s degree in Veterinary Technology. Her goal is to one day assist her brother, Dr. Tyler Fields, who is a Veterinarian in the Findlay area because as we have learned, family is part of the recipe.
As Sierra works through her classes, she is also working in the field with Dr. Stephanie Porter at Marion Animal Hospital. Dr. Porter is assisting her in completing her necessary clinical work for college. Sierra considers her a great supporter and mentor as well.
“Without Dr. Porter’s help, I wouldn’t have made it this far in college. She believes in me and gives me endless guidance and help with my homework when I need it,” Sierra said.
Fields-Baer said that Dr. Porter has been patient and understanding. She is in-tune with Sierra’s learning needs and is sensitive to her disabilities. “She’s been extremely accommodating and kind. She does not judge and she always sees Sierra’s potential.”
“I met Sierra through her older brother, Tyler. She shadowed us at Marion Animal Hospital through the Tri-Rivers Vet Tech program,” Porter said.
It is apparent that Porter definitely is focused on Sierra’s strengths and sees them quite clearly. “Sierra is persistent and dedicated to whatever she sets her mind to. She is very creative, thoughtful, considerate and caring too. She will make a great Vet Tech and I’m honored to be assisting her with that goal.”
Seems simple. Only three ingredients for success and Sierra have the perfect mix of all of them. Her disabilities sometimes shake her confidence, but having the right mix of support helps her know she can do anything.
Sierra has recently begun to receive services from the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The organization hopes that Sierra will allow them to be the fourth ingredient in her recipe for success by linking her with resources and providing support.