This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Emily Heckman with her biological son, 9-year-old Eamon (Photo © Stockton Photo, Inc.)

Emily Heckman Takes a Time Out

After more than 20 years in the publishing business, 49-year-old Emily Heckman '86 is taking a time-out. But this is no ordinary mid-career sabbatical.

Heckman is the 2011 recipient of the Office of Alumae/i Affairs and Development’s Time-Out Grant, now more than 20 years running. The annual award—currently $45,000, funded by an anonymous alumna donor—allows a Vassar alum to spend a year pursuing an ambition different from anything he or she has done before … a career change, maybe, or a personal interest. Applicants must be at least 40 years old and the funds must be crucial to the success of the endeavor.

Santa Barbara, California-based Heckman—a freelance writer and book editor who previously served as an editor at Simon and Schuster, Bantam, and Macmillan—is setting out to film a documentary titled “With Open Arms: Open Adoption in America.” Inspired by friends’ experiences on both sides of the adoption process, Heckman will interview experts and follow families to show how the love surrounding an adopted child helps individuals transcend traditional social boundaries.

For example, Heckman cites one family in which the child’s biological grandparents are born-again Christians; to support their grandchild, who was adopted into a Jewish family, they attend Passover. “It’s very leap-of-faith as a way of life,” says Heckman. “To give your child to someone else to raise is an inexplicably giant expression of love, one that I want to understand more.”

Though Heckman will never be able to thank the Time-Out Grant’s anonymous donor directly, such gratitude will come implicitly through the outcome of her work. “You can still be creative after 40,” she says, her eyes beginning to water. “I’m just blown away by this philanthropy and the love for learning and knowledge and new things. It is so Vassar.” –Seth Warner '14

Read about other recipients of the Time-Out Grant:

Emily Jenkins Hindman ’58

Roberta Price ’68

Emilie Regnier ’77

Petero Sabune '77

Jane Kramer ’78

And learn more about the Time-Out Grant, including how to apply.


Back Issues