At age twenty Hefferlin was the only American during the Soviet Period to study at the Russian Academy of Fine Art (the Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture) in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). She also studied at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga under Alan White, and at Otis Parsons Art Institute, Los Angeles. The Hunter Museum of American Art presented a solo show entitled Farm Dreams of Hefferlin work in 2001. The Robert M. MacNamara Foundation (Westport Island, ME) selected Hefferlin as an Artist in Residence for six weeks in 2003. In 2006 the City of Chattanooga selected Hefferlin in a Tennessee state-wide competition to paint the official commemorative mural, Waterfront Celebration. Hefferlin won the Salmagundi Award of Excellence at the National Pastel Society of America's juried NYC exhibition in 2007. Recently Hefferlin completed a commission for three 12 foot x 9 foot murals for a large Tennessee protestant congregation, and opened Melissa Hefferlin, a mid-career retrospective of over 40 paintings at SAU’s McKee Library. Her paintings are held in over 40 private and institutional collections in the United States and abroad, including the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Museum Fund at the Russian Academy of Fine Art, Unum Insurance Headquarters, Memorial Hospital and Seimens. Galleries include Miller Gallery, Cincinnati, K.Art.Ina Gallery, Almaty, and Gallery 1401, Tennessee.