Former Associate Dean's Legacy Lives on in Endowed Scholarship
Donna Domanke-Nuytten had been teaching at Macomb for 20 years when Dr. Larry Zimmerman came on board as her associate dean. He made such an impression on the veteran educator that she has committed herself to endowing a scholarship in his memory.
Dr. Zimmerman died in 2016 from multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer. He had served as Macomb's associate dean of Health Science and Technology since 2008 and also taught part-time in the humanities area. But what Donna remembers most is how he could light up a room.
"Dr. Zimmerman was an amazing associate dean, professor and colleague. He was faculty- and student-focused," says Donna. "He was a very generous person and always had a smile on his face."
After teaching medical terminology at Macomb for several years, Donna became the second full-time faculty member in its medical assistant program when it debuted in 2006. She found a champion for the program in Dr. Zimmerman, which is reflected in the scholarship launched by friends and colleagues. One $500 scholarship is awarded annually in his memory to a student in Macomb's Medical Assistant program who has demonstrated financial need.
Donna's own history at Macomb began as a student in its former medical secretary program. Discovering early on that she would rather work with patients than paperwork, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Oakland University. She brings 25 years of health care experience to her roles as professor and faculty advisor to Macomb's Student Organization of Medical Assistants (SOMA).
"Being dually credentialed as both a registered nurse and a registered medical assistant is a good fit with the medical assistant program," says Donna, who also earned a master's degree in Information Management and Communications from Walsh to better adapt to health care's conversion to electronic record keeping. "At the hospital that I worked at, I coordinated the laboratory, pharmacy, operating room and off-site medical office systems implementations."
For the past four years, Donna has spent many hours of her own time working with colleagues and students to elevate the Dr. Larry Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship to an endowed status, guaranteeing awards are made using the interest earned while preserving the principal in perpetuity. There have been bowling and roller skating fundraisers, Macomb Nights at local restaurants, alumni dinner sponsorships from local health care organizations and universities and pro bono faculty work in exchange for donations.
"It has been our privilege to continue Dr. Zimmerman's legacy of passion, dedication and giving," relates Donna. "Through generous donations, over $15,000 has been raised allowing us to reach the endowment level."
And similar to the smile of her former associate dean is that moment when she knows that a student understands the coursework.
"Nothing is more rewarding," she says, "than seeing that light bulb go on."