Former cheerleader helps raise money for international students

Marissa Kindelspire

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Alumna, Jackie Hiegert graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from San Fernando Valley State College in 1965, now CSUN. Courtesy of: Jackie Hiegert

When Jackie Hiegert reminisces about her days in college, she does not cringe at the memory of heavy textbooks and homework assignments. Instead, she thinks about orange groves, athletic events and meeting the man who would eventually become her husband.

An Oklahoma native, Hiegert moved with her family to the San Fernando Valley when she was 5 years old. She attended local schools from first grade through college, where she enrolled at San Fernando Valley State College—now known as CSUN.

As a class of 1965 graduate, Hiegert devoted much of her time to extracurricular activities at the university. She was a cheerleader for two years, a member of Camenae, an organization which placed students as hostesses of events on campus, and a member of the Matadoritas, a colorful dance squad where female members would twirl capes and play castanets.

“When I went to school in Northridge, everyone would congregate in the cafeteria to be social,” she said. “If I remember correctly, my husband was there with a group of his friends, and somehow we were brought together.”

While Hiegert’s college years were filled with social events, she also worked on campus as a secretary in both the history department and admissions and records office. She also worked in the addressograph office, where she assisted in mailings sent to Sa Fernando Valley State students.

“At the time I think there were only about 3,000 students on campus,” Hiegert said. “Now there’s many more, and I don’t think that office even exists anymore.”

Hiegert studied in the college of education with hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, she went on to teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for 25 years.

Hiegert taught third grade at Darby Elementary School in Northridge before retiring in 1998, and still keeps active in the education world by substitute teaching first through fifth grade in the Bay Area where she lives with her husband, Bob.

“We moved up north after Bob was hired as the commissioner to the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association),” Hiegert said. “Our daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters also live up here and it’s good to be close.”

Their daughter Lorie Havey and her husband Mike Havey also attended CSUN to obtain their master’s degrees. The university is a connecting tie between the family, Hiegert said.

As a current resident of Brentwood, a town east of San Francisco, Hiegert rarely gets to visit the CSUN campus, but is impressed with the university’s growth.

“When I went to Valley State, many classes were given in bungalows and the student union (USU) didn’t exist,” she said. “It’s wonderful that CSUN has expanded so much (and) has such great resources for its students.”

Hiegert’s involvement with the university is not limited to her days as a student. She remains an active member of the CSUN community through her work with the University Women’s Club, which was originally started to create a sense of community within wives of CSUN faculty.

Hiegert said the club is now open to faculty wives and female faculty on campus and helps raise scholarship money for both the James and Mary Cleary Scholarship for International Students and the Lois and Ralph Prator Scholarship.

“The last I heard, our trust fund had raised about $100,000 that goes to student scholarships,” Hiegert said. “It’s very important to me to be able to give back to the institution that gave so much to me and prepared me for my future.”

Keeping in the vein of contribution, Hiegert and her husband recently made a donation to the Matador statue fund.

“I hope to see the statue when it’s unveiled,” Heigert said. “It will be such a strong representation of CSUN and what it stands for.”

Hiegert’s involvement with the university is something she tries to always maintain, she said.

Even though Hiegert and her husband do not live close enough to be physically present in planning sessions for the annual Founders Day event, they joined the 2010 organizing committee.

They attended their first Founders Day in 2009 and were contacted about three months ago by the committee in regards to helping contact alumni, she said.

“This year’s Founders Day will serve as a homecoming for many,” Hiegert said. “It will be a day of reconnecting with old friends and looking back on the good times we had at Valley State College and seeing what the university has in store for the future.”