Everything seemed right about Mal Hyman’s decision to attend UCLA: tuition was about $300 a quarter, and having grown up in West Los Angeles, he would be going to school near home.
When Hyman started school at UCLA in 1968, it was in the wake of the political assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. He said after taking a political science lecture his first year with Professor Leonard Freeman, he began confronting questions about the world that he wanted to discuss.
“I thought I could make some contribution, although at first I didn’t know how,” Hyman said.
Hyman focused on community involvement through the Political Science Society at UCLA, and his fraternity Phi Sigma Delta. After graduation, he took a year off of school to work in Northern California on a political campaign and organize environmental conferences.
After this, he traveled across Europe and the Middle East, and it was while walking through Jerusalem that he decided to he was going to be an educator. He taught social studies at the junior high and high school levels, taught for five years in a medium security men’s prison, and later while working in Riverside, he organized justice and civil rights groups into a coalition and learned more about community organizing.
He pursued his Master’s degree in international relations, and deepened his international education through trips abroad to Nicaragua and other locations. Following this, he began teaching in South Carolina. He has been teaching at Coker College for the last 30 years.
Hyman says UCLA provided him with skills to pursue a teaching credential and graduate school after graduation.
“I saw some brilliant and creative teachers at UCLA, and part of me wondered how I could do that,” Hyman said.
He recalls taking a combined class of 15 units relating to the Vietnam War, independent studies which allowed him to further study Vietnamese politics, and studying political assassinations, which lead him to his current career choice to run for Congress. Hyman said running for Congress seems like the next step for him as an educator and community organizer. He said he shares what he learned at UCLA with his students so he can lead by example.
The Bruin connection continues to inspire Hyman throughout his career decisions. He said while pursuing his Ph.D., one of his professors was a political science student who had been three years younger than him while at UCLA. He said they continued to bond over their UCLA experience and still remain great friends and colleagues.
UCLA’s quality as an international campus sparked his interest in international education.
“It created an interest which turned from learning of cultures and politics, to living in the Middle East, and then at that point… I wanted to teach,” Hyman said. “As I got more bold as a teacher, I realized I had to do human rights work and become more of an international citizen the best way I can.”
He has continued to advocate for civic engagement in South Carolina, and has served on the boards of local nonprofits, homeless shelters and co-chairs sustainability awareness events.
Hyman is running as a Democrat for a seat in the 7th Congressional District in South Carolina for the 2018 midterm election. He said running for Congress is giving him an opportunity to raise awareness of issues that aren’t otherwise raised, in topics such as education, healthcare and climate change. His book, Covering High Treason: Media Coverage of the Assassination of President Kennedy,” will be available in 2018.