Alumna of the Year and Others Honored - Kathy Nimmer
Losing her sight but not her vision
Nimmer considers her blindness to be a gift to her teaching career. “I can’t see the students, so I can’t judge them by appearance,” Nimmer explained. She is glad to be unable to see who is dressed in expensive clothes or who has tattoos and piercings. Instead she gets to know students through their voices and personalities. Yet her students learn from observing her:
“Seeing me do my job helps kids realize they can be happy and successful through difficulty,” she said.
Nimmer’s visual impairment began in the 2nd grade when she experienced problems with reading the chalkboard. She was eventually diagnosed with a rare retinal disease. By the time she reached 6th grade, it became necessary to enroll in the Indiana School for the Blind. Every few years her vision deteriorated, and during her freshman year at Trinity, she needed a cane to navigate the campus.
One of Nimmer’s favorite memories of her time at Trinity was a moment with her professor, Dr. Annalee Ward, former professor of communication arts. At the time, Nimmer’s vision had become worse. Recognizing a need in her student, Ward invited Nimmer into the hallway and prayed with her.
“I remember thinking, I am in a place where people will support me no matter what,” said Nimmer. “I want to be a teacher who is real enough to be more than just a figure behind a podium.”
She found more support among other professors and classmates who modeled a life of faith each day. “Trinity showed me how to be a person of faith who could succeed in the world, while using my beliefs to shape my career and personal choices in a way that made a difference.”
TWO PLUS FOUR EQUALS ONE, the book
Nimmer’s book will be the first full-length anthology about people with disabilities and their service dogs. The stories shared in the book include dogs that assist not only the blind, but also the hearing impaired, people with diseases such as MS, and many others.
Elias – a form of Elijah (the Lord is my God) – is Nimmer’s third service dog and has been with her for 2 ½ years. “Elias is a constant reminder to me about guidance, and his whole job is to walk me through darkness,” said Nimmer. “The symbolism is very strong. It is a reminder of God’s presence and that I’m never alone even in darkness.”
Nimmer said this quote from Mother Teresa “summarizes the motivation behind why I do what I do.”
People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies;
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you;
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten;
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.