Nursing professor receives UCLA’s highest honor for teaching

UCLA School of Nursing Professor MarySue Heilemann, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been honored with a 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest recognition available to UCLA faculty members for teaching. 

“I authentically believe that learning is a lot of fun for human beings,” Heilemann said. “Every year, I go through the syllabus with the students at the end of the year and make changes and tweaks so that the next time I teach it, it’s improved.”

“Dr. Heilemann’s commitment to educating the next generation of nurses is truly commendable,” said Lin Zhan, Dean and Professor in the UCLA School of Nursing. “Her contributions to nursing science and education have impacted people across California and around the world. We are very proud of her and so thrilled that she has received this distinguished teaching award.” 

As a researcher, Heilemann has pioneered the use of transmedia in mental health interventions, a technique which uses storytelling over multiple digital platforms. Her work is currently focused on using transmedia to help Latinas struggling with anxiety and depression. Recently, she and her work were featured on the How to Talk to Mami & Papi About Anything Podcast

Heilemann was part of the 2020 cohort of Distinguished Teaching Award recipients. She also received a citation for Distinction in Teaching at the Graduate Level. The annual Andrea L. Rich Night to Honor Teaching award ceremony, which is sponsored by the UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Teaching and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, honors recipients who have gone above and beyond in teaching their students. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 ceremony could not be held. 

Distinguished Teaching Award winners are chosen based on a range of criteria:

  • Impact on students, specifically playing a key role in students’ success, offering advice and guidance on career plans, or serving as a significant influence in students’ lives
  • Efforts to create a learning environment in which diverse students can succeed
  • Using innovative teaching methods and/or curriculum
  • Involvement in community outreach activities
  • Teaching ratings

The awards were given out in three categories: distinguished senate faculty, distinguished lecturer and distinguished teaching assistant.

Distinguished senate faculty recipients: 

Distinguished lecturer recipients: 

  • John Branstetter | Lecturer in the political science department at the UCLA College
  • Margaret Davis | Lecturer for UCLA Writing Programs
  • Cindy Kratzer | Lecturer in the department of education at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies

Distinguished teaching assistant recipients: 

The School of Nursing will be celebrating Heilemann’s Distinguished Teaching Award at the School of Nursing Celebration of Excellence on Monday, Oct. 17 at the Luskin Conference Center. 

Along with this teaching honor from 2020, Heilemann was also named the 2022 Helen Nahm Research Lecture Award recipient and presented the 41st Helen Nahm Research Lecture at UC San Francisco earlier this year.