After years of traveling abroad to volunteer and teach in Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy and Uganda, Robyn Heiman discovered her passion for international student services.
“I traveled a lot during undergrad and grad school, so that’s what got me into the field,” explained Heiman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in middle childhood education and a master’s in education from Kent State University in Ohio.
Working as a graduate assistant in immigration advising and peer mentoring programs at Kent State further drove Heiman’s interest in the field.
A few years back, Heiman was in Germany working toward a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate, when she interviewed via Skype and received a job offer from the USC Graduate Admission office. Heiman had two choices — she could go to Istanbul to teach for a year or take the job at USC. She opted for the latter.
“I al1eady knew what a great school USC was,” she said. “I knew its reputation, and I knew what I could learn here. That’s why I decided to come, never having actually set foot on campus.”
She worked for two years in Graduate Admission processing paperwork and doing credential evaluations for international students admitted to the university. Although Heiman enjoyed the work, she missed interacting with international students on a personal level, so she joined the Office of International Services (OIS).
As an immigration adviser with the OIS, Heiman now advises international students on everything from work authorizations, immigration and maintaining full-time enrollment.
“I’m really looking forward to helping students,” Heiman said. “Although I didn’t go the actual teaching route, I still have that education and nurturing inside me.”
In addition to advising students, Heiman is one of 10 designated school officials on campus authorized to work in the U.S. government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). As a result, she spends a lot of time doing data reporting and registering students in SEVIS. Recently, she participated in a peer meeting of designated school officials to talk about common issues, regulations and immigration policies.
“My dream was to be in an international office,” Heiman said. “This is where I plan on staying; this was the perfect career move for me.”