On Friday June, 6th, 2014, the Haas Center for Public Service honored Catherine (Cathy) Heaney as the 2014 recipient of the Mariam Aaron Roland Prize. This prize was established in 2001 by Mariam Roland (’51) as a way to recognize exemplary faculty who go above and beyond expected academic duties by involving students in community-engaged learning and innovation.
For the past ten years, Cathy Heaney, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Psychology and of Medicine, has integrated academic scholarship together with community engagement in her dedication to student learning and sustainable community change. Her work and practice has stimulated and encouraged a shift in teaching and learning through building and bridging sustainable community partnerships along with supporting hundreds of students to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world, community-based public health settings.
Cathy’s work is focused on better understanding health disparities in vulnerable and lower income populations. The work she does introduces students to the complex nature of human behavior and diverse perspectives of community health. The core of it is to partner with people in the community who are on the front lines doing this work. In that light, community partners become role models for students in stimulating creative thinking and solving real problems.
Additionally, Cathy’s work with students and communities will continue next winter and spring quarters with a two-quarter sequenced course she teaches every other year called Community Health Assessment and Planning. The focus of this course is to teach students to understand, assess and address issues of chronic disease with a community partner, in this case, the San Mateo County Health System. She organizes mentoring groups for students to be paired with professionals in the field to assess a public health issue specific to chronic disease, and propose a plan for solving these issues. In 2015, Cathy will be collaborating with CTL’s Community-Engaged Learning program.
Public service is at the core of Stanford’s mission; it is embedded deeply within the DNA of our university. Cathy’s dedication to enhancing the student experience has inspired students and faculty, and could be a model for ways of learning that work.