By CARLEY D. THORNELL
Forget Wonder Woman — the real on-screen dynamo is Boston 25 News star Heather Hegedus.
The 1996 Lynnfield High graduate’s resume with an honors degree from Georgetown and master’s from Columbia speaks volumes, but her actions speak louder. The mom to 1-year-old Brooks gets up at 3 a.m. not to pull diaper duty but to leave for what is often a 12-hour workday as a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter for the Fox news station. So how does she keep it all together?
Keeping in touch with her high school friends helps.
“It’s been so much fun connecting and reconnecting with people from my class, with social media, especially. We have a really tight group since there were just 86 of us, and a lot of us had babies later — one of the reasons our reunion is a bit overdue!” she said.
Back then, among other activities, Hegedus was on the student council, was a debate team champion, Miss Teen-Age America finalist, cheerleader and dancer for 17 years at LaPierre Dance Studio in Reading. Today, she says she’d advise her teenage overachiever self to keep it all in perspective.
“I would tell her to relax and it will all fall into place. It’s important to look for balance in life. Even before I had a baby I knew there were other things besides my career, although it’s easy to define yourself that way. Being a reporter is not entirely who I am, it’s important to be a good mom, daughter, friend, wife.”
That means that, yes, it’s OK for the real Wonder Women out there to eat chocolate cake for breakfast the morning of their husband’s birthday (for Hegedus, news cameraman Tom McNamee); and that relationships are the real key to happiness.
After emceeing the annual Buddy Walk at Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield — where Hegedus spent every July Fourth competing in the bike-decorating contest for kids — she has served on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She also takes a bit of her work home with her willingly, she says, by keeping in touch with the families that share their personal stories with the world at large, such as 6-year-old Devin Suau’s, who are raising awareness for his rare form of cancer; and Kate and Scott Middlemiss, who had two sons with cardiomyopathy.
“The part of my job that I enjoy the most is the connections I make with people,” said Hegedus. “I’m really fortunate to meet with people who have let me into their personal lives. My heart goes out to all of them … obviously these are the hardest stories to do in my job, but I try to stay in touch because I don’t just want to be one interview in someone’s life,” she said.
As far as staying in touch with her roots, Hegedus said that despite living in several places — including New York City, and a year overseas at the London School of Economics — she’d love to move back to Lynnfield someday if it were closer to the news station’s Dedham headquarters. (“It would be so much fun to have my son in the same nursery school and elementary school as me!”) Meanwhile, she’s psyched to visit her parents, Beverly and Jordan, and check out all that’s transformed in her old town, including opportunities to socialize and fun outdoor activities for kids like ice skating at MarketStreet. Count anchor stores like Lululemon and Athleta among her favorites these days, too.
“My closet used to be filled with heels, now it’s filled with sneakers,” she said of life post-baby. “Plus if I wear workout clothes, then I’m more likely to work out!”
Time off now includes hiking with her husband, baby and 7-year-old goldendoodle; just don’t expect her to be wearing makeup meant for high-definition TV, since her skin’s not the only thing that needs some breathing room.
After 17 years in the news business, Hegedus, who recently won a New England Emmy award with her WFXT teammates for a “Hooked on Heroin” report, says she’s seen a real shift.
“The cycle and deadlines have changed so much because of social media and phones that it’s so much shorter — journalists now have a greater responsibility and we have to be more vigilant to keep the facts straight to report things with pressure to turn things around faster,” she said. “Plus we also have to make sure it’s appealing on social media — when I was growing up it was ‘appointment television’ and you’d just turn it on at 6 o’clock.”
However, there is another side to the coin — that same social media that keeps her in touch with former Lynnfield High classmates “makes it easier to spread the word about all of the positive work we’re reporting out there in the field,” said Hegedus.
“Every day we’re out there becoming experts in new subject matter, so it’s always a learning experience for us—and viewers.”