2018 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

James A. Heggie

James Heggie PortraitSumner High School, 1968

Other Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools attended: Stowe Elementary School and Northeast Junior High School

The best advice James Heggie would give to today’s students, “Understand there are no limits, go as high and as far as you can, overcoming obstacles, and along the way helping others whenever you can.” That’s how he has lived his life, accomplishing major strides along the way by setting goals, staying focused, being humble and respecting others.

Heggie retired in 2013 as the director for Education and Community Relations in the area of Health Disparities for the MD Andersen Cancer Center at the University of Texas. Through this position, he worked to link researchers with high school and college interns to conduct valuable work in health disparities. He participated in similar work for Texas Medical Center impacting health disparities in areas such as access to medical treatment across the country.

“This has been some of my most rewarding work – helping students gain valuable experience working with researchers to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Heggie.

You can find evidence of his perseverance throughout his life as far back as his school days growing up in the northeast area of  Kansas City, Kansas, well into his college years, and today.  He graduated in the top 10 percent of his class and was an active student leader in the classroom, in football and track. These are just a few of his stellar accomplishments during school:

  • Three-time track and field state champion – Class AA in 1968
  • President, Marching and Concert Band (first chair clarinet and second chair orchestra) in 1968
  • Big 8 Conference Champion and Two-time Track All-American in 1971 and 1972
  • First African-American, four-year letter winner in track and field at Kansas State University from 1968 -1972
  • First African-American assistant track and field coach at Kansas State University in 1975, while earning his master’s degree at the university

About 40 years ago, he used his sports skills and business knowledge to implement the University of Houston-Downtown’s intramural sports program, which remains in existence today. Additionally, he helped establish a summer institute for talented high school juniors to earn advanced college credit at the University of Houston-Downtown in 1985.

Heggie has many notable accomplishments. He was education chair of the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce, where he helped to raise $100,000 for college scholarships; appointed by a former Houston mayor to serve as chair of the city’s Affirmative Action Advisory Commission and selected as a loaned executive for three months by the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast to assist with the State Employees Charitable Campaign. 

He has also received several honors that include being named to Who’s Who of Professional Management; International Who’s Who Among Successful African Americans; Who’s Who of International Management; Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals and Who’s Who Among International Executives and Professionals.

He was selected by the Kansas State High School Activities Association for induction into the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. He was honored with a plaque by former Houston Mayor White and the City Council proclaiming May 18, 2005 as “James A. Heggie Day, as volunteer president of the Houston Westbury High School Track & Field Booster Club that raised $10,000 for boys and girls travel, food and equipment.

Heggie has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, and a master’s degree in higher education guidance and counseling from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

He is married to Alpha Heggie, a certified public accountant, and they are the proud parents of Jordan Alexandra Heggie, a former track hurdles champion at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.