Alumna of the Year and Others Honored
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Alumna of the Year
Kathy Nimmer ’91, author, teacher, and motivational speaker, has been named Alumna of the Year. An English teacher at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana, for 18 years, Nimmer, who is blind, has strived to inspire and educate the public about disabilities.
In 2009, she was named one of nine Distinguished Fellows by the Lilly Endowment. The award was accompanied by a grant to fund Nimmer’s book project, an anthology of true stories about people with disabilities and their service dogs.
After graduating from Trinity with a degree in education, Nimmer, originally of Munster, Indiana, earned a master’s degree in English from Purdue University. She writes and edits the Harrison High School newsletter and in 2007 created the Elena Awards Poetry Contest for elementary and middle school students. Nimmer won the Helen Keller International Memoir Contest in 2006 and the Butler-Cooley Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004.
Read more about Kathy Nimmer…
Honorary alumni awards were given to Ginny Carpenter, vice president for student development; Dr. Mary Lynn Colosimo, associate professor of psychology; and Henry and Grace Kamp, friends of the College.
Carpenter is in her 26th year at Trinity where she began her service in 1984 as a residence director. Under her leadership as vice president for student development, additions to student services have included a counseling center, health center, and academic services. She also had input in developing the three residence halls built during her tenure. Her son Aaron ’09 and her daughter Kate van den Brink ’07 are graduates of Trinity.
Dr. Mary Lynn Colosimo
On faculty since 1988, Professor Colosimo has focused on integrating service learning into her psychology courses. She is an active volunteer and serves on the board at Restoration Ministries in Harvey, Illinois, and has been leading an Interim course for Trinity students there for the past 10 years. She also teaches yoga as embodied prayer for students and seniors enrolled in the SALT program.
Henry and Grace Kamp
The Kamps are long-time friends and supporters of the College. They are members of the Trinity Oaks Society and the President’s Circle, and Henry served on the board of trustees from 1980-1986. In recognition of their involvement with the College and their community, they were presented with the 2007 Trinity Community Service Award. Five of their children and two of their grandchildren have attended Trinity with another planning to attend next year.
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.
“Our experience at Trinity has been so interwoven into the lives of the Carpenter family, I can’t even separate the two,” said Ginny Carpenter, vice president for student development. Over the years, her family has become part of what Carpenter describes as Trinity’s “community.”
Beginning her service at Trinity Christian College in 1984 as a residence director, Carpenter is well-acquainted with residence life: she and her husband Jeff and their three children lived in South Hall until 1991 when she became assistant dean of students. She was an integral part in the planning of additional student housing including Tibstra and West Halls and later Alumni Hall.
Carpenter became dean of students in 1996, the subsequent change from dean to vice-president reflecting the growth of the office and its responsibilities. Carpenter considers “transformation” to be the theme of her years here, not just in campus structures but also in expanded opportunities for service for and to students. “It is good to have been at a place for so long; God’s faithfulness is evident in so many ways,” she said.
She said she is humbled to see that faithfulness in the generations, in alumni who return to campus “all grown up with experiences that have molded and shaped their lives.” Many she once served as a residence director are now enrolling their children in Trinity.
A return to campus included two of the Carpenters’ children. Kate van den Brink graduated in 2007, and Aaron graduated in 2009; both are employed by Elim Christian Services. Son Nathan is working on his doctorate at Michigan Tech.
Before moving to the psychology department, Dr. Mary Lynn Colosimo, associate professor of psychology, taught courses in Trinity’s education department and was the director of the SEARCH program for “gifted” elementary school students.
Throughout her more than 20 years at the College, Colosimo has integrated her passion for serving with her teaching.
She—and her husband Ronnie—have helped to forge a deep partnership between the Harvey-based Restoration Ministries and the College that has provided years of service learning opportunities to Trinity students. Colosimo has also led an Interim experience for students at the ministry’s Harvey and Tabitha houses for men and women for the past 10 years.
Her interest in the connection between psychology and yoga and her research interests in the Harvard studies about mind-body medicine has also been integrated into her work at Trinity. She began teaching yoga to students two years ago and leads a “Yoga as Embodied Prayer” class for seniors enrolled in SALT (Seasoned Adults Learning at Trinity).
But beyond the heart for service and the dedication to sharing the benefits of yoga, Colosimo feels most called to nurture the relationships she has formed over the years with colleagues and students. Her relationships with students often extend beyond the classroom. “I’ve watched students begin and continue in their development here,” she said. “I’ve been able to build life-long relationships with many former students. These relationships have been life changing.”
The Trinity Family
“Family” is a word that is often used to describe the feeling of community at Trinity Christian College. It has been even more literal for the members of the Kamp family.
Henry and Grace Kamp are long-time supporters of the College and have had many children and grandchildren, as well as in-laws, attend, including: son Lambert ’81 (Lori ’87); son Bob ex ’82; daughter Judy VanderWall ’85; daughter Brenda Harms ’88 (Dennis ’89); and daughter Mary Vos ’92 (Robert ’88). This fall, three of their grandchildren will have enrolled.
“We are thankful for Trinity because our kids received a good, Christian education with a Reformed foundation,” said Henry.
Henry served on the Board of Trustees from 1980-1986 and was involved with the building of the Jennie Huizenga Memorial Library and some of the dorms. The couple has attended hundreds of athletics events as well as years of annual TAC golf outings and Jubilation! celebrations.
Henry and Grace received the Trinity Community Service Award in 2007.
Their reaction to receiving the Honorary Alumni Award is surprise. And their default is to immediately give glory to God. “We just thank God for his blessings,” said Grace, with Henry adding, “It’s all about God, not about us. We always try to support all of the kingdom activities.”