November 29, 2017

SVSU’s Heileman receives national award for empowering student health educators

A national organization dedicated to promoting healthy and safe college campuses has honored Cortney Heileman of Saginaw Valley State University for her commitment to empower SVSU students to help their peers make healthy decisions.

Heileman, program coordinator and assistant director of Student Wellness Programs, received the 2017 Outstanding Advisor Award from the BACCHUS Initiatives of NASPA at the organization’s national assembly in Denver Nov. 18. She leads a team of 27 peer health educators at SVSU, students who are trained to educate their peers on a variety of topics including alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; sexual responsibility; environmental sustainability; and sexual assault prevention.

SVSU student Jenna Smith, a nursing major from Mayville and a current peer health educator, nominated Heileman for the honor.

“Cortney does a lot to empower all of us,” Smith said. “She leaves notes of encouragement and praise around our office for all of us. She is always willing to help when we need it whether it be in our personal or academic worlds, or with an event we're doing on campus for our students. Every day any of us are around Cortney is a day she makes all of us want to be the best versions of ourselves.”

Another SVSU student, Charles Ferens, a psychology major from Saginaw and a peer health educator, was invited to present a program at the national assembly.  His presentation, “My [Green] Campus,” highlighted a multitude of ways that peer health educators from around the nation can take steps to create environmentally-friendly initiatives on their respective campuses. Ferens focused on the implementation and impact of employing recycling bins in classrooms within academic halls.

Smith said her experience working with Heileman will benefit her in her career.

“She has challenged me because she knew I was capable, even though at the time I was worried I would end up letting her down. Cortney is always there to provide different possibilities and approaches for how to go about things whether it be conflict resolution, improvising, or problem solving. She has inspired me to make a difference on SVSU's campus and in the world each and every day whether it be big or small.” 

A 2011 graduate of SVSU, Heileman has overseen the Peer Health Education program since her return to campus in 2015.

NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. It serves a full range of professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success in concert with the mission of our colleges and universities. Established in 1918 and founded in 1919, NASPA is comprised of over 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and eight U.S. Territories.