Vedna Heywood had already finished nursing school and was working in an operating room when a doctor told her that her unusual first name was a variation on the Hindu word meaning to have knowledge and empathy. The doctor said it fit her perfectly.
PLYMOUTH – Vedna Heywood had already finished nursing school and was working in an operating room when a doctor told her that her unusual first name was a variation on the Hindu word meaning to have knowledge and empathy. The doctor said it fit her perfectly.
In fact, the South Plymouth woman knew her parents had made up the name, but she liked the comparison and has always considered it a compliment.
A trauma nurse in Boston and the mother of a soon-to-be kindergartner, Heywood says she is committed to children and community and looks to be a caring advocate if she wins a seat on the school committee in the Town Election Saturday, May 19.
Heywood is a newcomer to the election process, but not the government. She is running for her first elective office but has been a member of the town’s No Place For Hate Committee for the last six years. She has also been a volunteer for the state Department of Children and Families and the March of Dimes.
Heywood works as a nurse in the trauma, burn and surgical critical care unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and leads a bereavement group in Kingston for families that have lost young children from pregnancy through toddlerhood.
Born in Haiti, Heywood moved to the United States when she was 3. She lived in Connecticut and New Jersey before her family settled in South Florida. She grew up in Coral Springs, adjacent to Parkland, and her family there knew some of the victims of the February school shootings.
She moved to Massachusetts with her husband, a Cambridge native, 10 years ago. They settled in Plymouth nine years ago after a day trip downtown.
Heywood said she looks to bring advocacy, transparency, and partnership to the campaign and the committee.
Heywood said she got into the race because she wanted to advocate for those who are unable to navigate the system and unable to find the best resources for their child. She looks to partner with community leaders and parents throughout town to open communication.
She was concerned after seeing efforts to cut the school budget at the recent Town Meeting and said she would work to improve lines of communication between the district and all sectors of the community.
“There’s a group that feels things are opaque, not clear, and you can’t just dismiss that feeling,” Heywood said in an interview. “You have to address communication in a fashion that people can take in. People just want to know that they are included in the decision.”
Heywood said her connection to Parkland, Florida, her work with gun violence victims in the hospital and her son’s imminent entry into local schools combine to make her a strong advocate for school safety.
Keeping schools safe for children is her main priority, but that includes educating people about gun violence and giving school administrators more support in addressing mental health issues in schools.
She said middle school students seem to be the most at risk students and she would try to partner with the community to ease stress and help children at that age level.
Heywood said that would include showcasing what really works in local schools.
“There are parts of the district that are great and people need to be shown that,” Heywood said. “Own it and be proud.”
Heywood said she will always concentrate on academics, but also looks to educate children that are civic-minded, globally aware and empathetic.
“Growing up I had the opportunity to go to other countries and serve and I think that a lot of time we think of other countries and think of disparities and not their richness,” Heywood said. “So having the ability to serve I feel as though there’s a sympathetic view and an empathetic view. Sympathetic is like, OK, let’s raise money and help these people. Empathy is more like how can we serve you.”