Nancy Nieman “A coral reef, close up, is something that not even Walt Disney could have imagined.”

Nancy Nieman taught for 13 years at Beloit College in Wisconsin, a school not exactly associated with waving palms and tropical breezes. It was there, however, that Nancy discovered scuba.

“I was always a swimmer,” says Nancy, “and one winter I decided to take a scuba course at the local YMCA. My instructors told me to be cautious about flooding my mask,” she remembers. “There was some danger that we might freeze our eyes.”

Nancy has travelled to Papua New Guinea, the Red Sea and Brazil. Along the way, she has won numerous awards for her accomplished underwater photography.

A friendship that sprang up between Nancy and her American Field Service foreign exchange “sister” when Nancy was in high school resulted in letters and eventual trips to Spain. The ultimate outcome of this friendship was a Ph.D. for Nancy Nieman from the University of Madrid and many years spent teaching and traveling in Spain.

Nancy demands independence from her students. “I do expect the very best they have,” she says. “But it’s important to remember the praise as well. Still, students have to be largely on their own. After all, when they go to Mexico, I won’t be standing there holding up a big sign that flashes, ‘¿Dónde esta la ___?”’

​Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.