Having accrued a career spanning three decades, Nellie L. Derise, PhD, retired from her post as a home economics professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1994. Before affiliating in the aforementioned position, she worked at the university as an associate professor from 1973 to 1981. Previously, she excelled as an assistant professor at Iowa State University of Science and Technology and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette between 1964 and 1970. She initially embarked on her professional journey at the University of Alabama in 1962, where she found success as a graduate assistant. Additionally, Dr. Derise served as the chairman of the Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition from 1977 to 1978.
Dr. Derise always liked to learn new things. She was very curious, and always thought learning was exciting. She grew up in a rural area and attended a small country school. When she went to high school, the school would encourage the girls to go into home economics. However, Dr. Derise enjoyed science, so she took chemistry and physics. She eventually decided on home economics, but not in education.
Prior to her formal career, Dr. Derise initially pursued study at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, earning a Bachelor of Science in 1962. She completed further coursework at the University of Alabama, where she obtained a Master of Science in 1964. Her academic endeavors concluded at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech, from which she graduated with a PhD in 1973.
An active contributor to professional journals, Dr. Derise was honored as the AARP Citizen of the Month in April 1999. She was also awarded the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award in 2015 by the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the U.S.A. presented Dr. Derise with a Certificate of Merit for Service to the Community in 2008. Notably, she was selected for inclusion in the first edition of Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, the third edition of Who’s Who in American Education, and several editions of Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest.
An asset to her field, Dr. Derise is a valuable member of the American Home Economics Association, the American Dietetic Association, the U.S. Metric Association, and the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior. She contributed to the Louisiana Home Economics Association on the board of directors from 1973 to 1975, and as a member of the board of directors for the Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition from 1982 to 1986. Adjacent to her career, Dr. Derise’s avocations include such pastimes as watercolor painting, sewing and line dancing.
Dr. Derise’s father did not have the opportunity as a child to really get the education he would have liked. He had to quit school because his parents had difficult problems, but he kept reading, learning and teaching himself. As Dr. Derise was growing up, he always pushed education and would say “You can’t learn enough in this world today; you need that knowledge to go forward.” He was the one who really inspired her to keep trying, no matter what. She is proud of all her accomplishments and is very thankful for her opportunities.
Dr. Derise is a very simple person and just wants to be remembered as a loving, caring person, as well as someone who would always be willing to go forth and help someone in need. As for her legacy, she really wants to be open to everyone and make herself available to these people if they need her help in any way.