Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Rosalyn S. Heyman
Former Assistant Superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Dr. Rosalyn S. Heyman began her inspiring life-long journey at Los Angeles City College (LACC) and became the innovative, educational administrator and philanthropist she is today. At LACC, it was sheer luck that brought her to Professor Bellford Cruz’s Economics class. Cruz quickly noticed her potential from grading her essay exams and this encouraged her to apply to UCLA. Continuing her college education after LACC was not part of Dr. Heyman’s plan. Back then, it was not popular for women to go to college.
Dr. Heyman, a high school valedictorian, was completing her AA degree at LACC so that she could get a job to pay for her brother’s medical school education. Cruz believed so much that Heyman was worthy of a space at UCLA that he went out of his way to visit the UCLA Scholarship Committee and advocated on her behalf. Because of his recommendation and effort, together with Rosalyn’s qualifications, Dr. Heyman received a scholarship and graduated with a Master’s in Education.
Being a professional and a woman was very difficult in the 70’s and caused Dr. Heyman to jump many hurdles before reaching her goals. Unlike most of her male counterparts, it took a long time for LAUSD to offer her the position of Principal because men were viewed to be more accountable. When the District finally appointed Dr. Heyman as Principal, it was for Berendo Junior High School, a school populated with financially challenged students and located in a gang-infested area in the heart of mid-city Los Angeles. Berendo, the oldest junior high school in the U.S. was overcrowded and had one of the worst academic and discipline records in Los Angeles. Eighty-five percent of the students attending Berendo had skills below their grade level. While most people would run from such a challenging educational setting, Heyman saw Berendo’s potential as Professor Cruz saw hers. Her leadership brought the school to new heights—she built an environment that encouraged students to attend school regularly and take pride in their progress. One of Ms. Heyman’s proudest moments is receiving the American Educators Medal for improving Berendo Junior High School as Principal, awarded by a jury of Supreme Court Justices.
Dr. Heyman’s career throughout the years is embellished with many accolades and accomplishments but the one thing that she would like to be remembered for is her philanthropic work. She is passionate about organizations that help better education in California. “My legacy will challenge our city’s brightest high school students to aim even higher and pursue leadership opportunities,” Heyman states in an article by The California Community Foundation.
Because of the life-changing education Dr. Heyman received, both in the classroom and as a result of Professor Cruz’s mentorship, Dr. Heyman has included LACC in her estate plans.