There's something so soothing about the first episode of a new season of The Bachelor or Bachelorette. The contestants have pulled up in a fleet of limos and delivered their delightfully ridiculous, prop-assisted introductions; the titular bachelor or bachelorette is bright-eyed and optimistic about their chances of finding true love on a stunt-based reality show broadcast to millions of homes across the country; and all the twists, turns, and assorted drama promised (if not also actively stirred up) by host Chris Harrison have yet to ensue. It's also the night that the show's star hands out his or her first batch of roses, including the coveted first impression rose.
Matt James' season of The Bachelor debuts on Jan. 4, and we already know quite a bit about everything that went down between James and the dozens of women battling for his heart while the show filmed last fall at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania. Among this intel (available here, if you're into spoilers) is the recipient of James' first impression rose: Abigail Heringer, a 25-year-old financial manager. Here's everything you need to know about the lucky lady.
She's a lifelong Oregonian.
Heringer grew up in Salem, Oregon, graduated from South Salem High School, attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, and has since settled in Portland with her older sister Rachel, according to an October feature in the Salem Statesman Journal. As a student at South Salem, Heringer was an avid golfer and a studious high schooler, reportedly graduating with a near-perfect GPA. She studied finance at Linfield, and is now a client financial analyst at Beaverton, Oregon-based marketing firm Opus Agency.
According to her official ABC bio, Heringer spends much of her time exploring the gorgeous landscapes of the Pacific Northwest—including the local microbrewing scene. For photographic evidence of this love of the great outdoors, look no further than her Instagram account, which is filled with breathtaking shots of the region's lakes and mountains.
She battled adversity at a young age.
Heringer wears cochlear implants after she and her sister were both born with congenital hearing loss. She and Rachel each underwent successful cochlear implantation surgery at the age of two.
Heringer not only mentioned the experience in her application to be on The Bachelor, but also speaks openly about it on the show—a decision that came as a surprise to her own family. "I was surprised she was willing to share her story about her hearing loss. It's something she usually doesn't talk much about," her mother, Suzie Heringer, told the Statesman Journal. However, Suzie added, "With her disability, if that can impact one other person, it's worth sharing the story."
Her family is supportive of her Bachelor experience—up to a certain point.
Though Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants' behavior can range from cringeworthy to downright embarrassing—and all of it broadcast on national television, no less—Heringer's mother told the local newspaper that their family is looking forward to watching her dalliances with James play out onscreen.
For one thing, Suzie noted to the Statesman Journal, with all of the precautions the production team has taken to ensure the entire experience is as safe as possible, "in the age of COVID, it's a safe way to date." For another, she added, "She's always made us proud, and she's got a really good head on her shoulders, so I'm not worried about anything. Hopefully, she'll have fun."
Still, that support only goes so far. Before Heringer set out for the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, her mom offered her a valuable piece of advice to help her avoid any of the aforementioned humiliating behavior: "I jokingly told her to remember her grandparents will be watching. I know that will stick with her," Suzie said.
And, cringey or not, Heringer's mother admitted that she's not sure just how genuine of a connection can be made on a reality show, musing that, "To be honest, I don't think this is a great way to meet your forever person." Here's hoping the first impression rose will capture more than one Heringer family member's heart.