Meet retired IPFW English professor Hermine van Nuis. Her long list of achievements includes teaching for thirty-four years, receiving the Outstanding Teacher Award in 1990, and becoming a George Herbert scholar. Perhaps her greatest achievements have been overcoming a series of hardships and living a life of service.
Born in the Netherlands during the beginning of World War II, Hermine grew up in the midst of war. Her hometown was occupied by Nazi Germany for four years. During that time, her family did what they could to help others, including hiding a Jewish family in their house for more than two years. Determined to rebuild their lives after the war, her family came to the United States in 1952.
Hermine earned a doctorate from the University of Michigan in seventeenth century English literature in 1971. That same year, she began teaching at the newly established IPFW campus, where she helped expand Indiana University’s English department. She taught literature here until her retirement in 2005 as a professor emerita of English.
Tragedy struck again in 2007, when Hermine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was still grieving from her brother’s death (also due to cancer) while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments herself. This led her to her new calling in life: becoming a volunteer for Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.
Hermine volunteers at Cancer Services to this day, introducing people to the agency’s library, giving tours, and doing editorial work for the agency’s newsletter. After all she has been through, she is still living her family’s legacy of helping others. Read more about her incredible journey in this Journal Gazette article.