University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Robyn Heiman

Immigration Adviser, Office of International Services

By L. Alexis Young

Robyn HeimanPhoto by Nathan CarterRobyn Heiman

After traveling overseas 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 in peer mentoring programs at Kent State further drove her interest in the field.

Heiman was in Germany working toward a certificate in teaching English as a foreign language when she interviewed via Skype and received a job offer in the Graduate Admission office at USC. Heiman considered going to Istanbul to teach for a year, but instead accepted the job at USC.

“I already 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 she enjoyed working there, Heiman missed one-on-one interaction with international students, so she joined the Office of International Services (OIS).

As an immigration adviser, she advises international students and answers their questions about 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 quite 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,” said Heiman. “This is where I plan on staying; this was the perfect career move for me.”