Michelle Heiny: Working (and Walking) for UNC
March 7, 2022
A UNC alumna, current employee and longtime community member, Michelle Heiny ‘93 and her family are an example of what it means to love the UNC community and consistently work to give back to it.
Michelle’s journey at UNC began when she enrolled as a freshman.
“I wanted to be an elementary teacher and, thankfully, UNC gets their teaching students out into the classroom early, which confirmed that that was not for me,” Michelle says.
She graduated in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in Human Rehabilitative Services with a Criminal Justice track.
“I loved this school when I went here. I always remember it being small enough to where I felt like I was part of something, but big enough to where I could get lost if I wanted,” Michelle says. “I think the community is just the best.”
Attending UNC as a student was just the beginning of her connection to the university. Michelle met her husband, Greg Heiny ‘94, at UNC. His father, Robert Heiny, was a longtime faculty and community member.
“Bob taught statistics here for 48 years and he was very involved in athletics. He was the faculty athletics representative. Bob was blue and gold through-and-through,” Michelle says.
After his wife’s passing, Bob established the Linnea Erikson Heiny Scholarship endowment in her name, Michelle explains. The scholarship supports high-achieving Mathematics juniors and seniors who plan to teach math at the secondary level. Linnea was a high school math teacher for two years before teaching entry-level math courses at UNC for 17 years. The thank you letters students write to the family continue to hold meaning and show the impact of scholarship support.
“We would read those letters and it was just so heartwarming to know that what Bob started really did help students,” Michelle says. “It’s just incredible, the stories that they tell, how they found themselves short of money and then were awarded this scholarship, and it helped them continue their education.”
When Bob passed away in 2016, Greg and his siblings and their families established the Robert L. Heiny Student-Athlete Scholarship endowment to support high-achieving student-athletes, with a preference for students majoring in Mathematics and who showcase leadership qualities.
Over the years, Michelle maintained her connection to the campus community, attending athletic events and music and theatre performances.
“I was constantly going to basketball, football, volleyball and soccer games. Our kids were raised on the UNC campus,” she says.
In 2008, Michelle joined UNC as a staff member, working as a graduation advisor, helping make sure students were on track to graduate. She’s now the associate registrar.
“I help to oversee the operations of the office and I’m also the NCAA athletic academic certifying officer, so it’s kind of full-circle with Bob and the work that he did. His role would have served on the committee that I’m on, so it’s just kind of fun to continue what he had already started with the athletic committee,” Michelle explains.
“Working here was something that I could do to give back to UNC, a place that gave me so much joy. I could be the person to help students on their journey,” Michelle says.
Michelle also gives back to the UNC community by captaining a team for the Women’s Walk every year. Scheduled for Saturday, April 9, this is the 14th year for the event. Last year’s event raised more than $22,000 in support of UNC’s female student-athletes.
“Bob and I started the team in 2011. Our team is the ‘Bear-Heinys.’ Of course, it’s a play on our last name. My husband was a college basketball player here at UNC and with Bob’s involvement in athletics, with me having two daughters who just adored going to all those games, it was so important for us to do a Women’s Walk team,” Michelle explains.
“It’s such a fun event,” Michelle says. “The athletes line the walk. You high-five and talk to them, and get to experience almost like ‘running in the arena.’ After Bob passed away, I thought it was so important to continue, because the money that we raise as our team is instrumental in helping women’s athletics.”
Michelle’s journey at UNC continues as she pursues her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and plans on graduating in fall 2023.
- written by Alani Casiano, a junior English major at UNC
With deep appreciation for the dedicated employees – like Michelle Heiny -- at UNC, the university celebrated Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week last week, and will cap off the month of March recognizing University Staff at the 50th annual Staff Recognition Luncheon on March 23. You can help recognize the success and service of UNC staff when you nominate your colleagues for CSC or PASC Staff Member of the Year. Nominations will be accepted through March 11.
Regisration is open for Women’s Walk 2022! Join us as we support UNC’s female student-athletes.