Getting to know our new staff — Miriam & Nina

Two new staff joined the Kinesiology team in the Fall of 2014, gracing the department with their enthusiasm and exceptional skills.

image00 Miriam DeRoode, office specialist, joined us last October and is a familiar face to many in Kinesiology. Miriam worked for the department from 1999 to 2002, when she left to take a position in the Center for Regional and Urban Affairs (CURA). “But I always wanted to come back to Kinesiology,” says Miriam. “I felt very appreciated here. I kept in touch with Carol Nielsen and she would keep me updated about job openings.” Last fall, the timing was right when purchasing specialist Christopher Baertlein left the School for new adventures, and Miriam applied for his position.

What has changed in the School over the last 12 years? “I have so much admiration for the way we do things here now,” she says. “I’m impressed with the online systems in place and the steps that have been created to fulfill orders and processes. The organization systems here are excellent.” Miriam contributed to those systems during her previous time in Kinesiology, winning awards in 2002 for Beautiful U Day and the Best Textbook Coordinator of 2002. In 2001, Miriam won the Kinesiology and Leisure Staff Outstanding Service Award.

Miriam, who grew up just a short distance away in Dinkytown, comes from a family of University employees and students. Her mother and sister worked at the U, and many family members have obtained their degrees here. When she’s not processing purchase orders in her office in Cooke 110, she’s fixing up the house in St. Paul she shares with her mother, reading one of the many history books she’s collected, or having coffee with her five sisters. A tailor for 20 years before coming to the U, she appreciates the security and stability of her job and the opportunity to work in a stimulating environment with colleagues who value knowledge and education.

“The people are great in Kinesiology,” says Miriam. “I plan on staying here till I retire. I feel like I’ve come home.”

Nina Wang, Kinesiology’s new coordinator of graduate studies, makes excellent Chinese dumplings. Just ask movement science faculty member, Dr. Michael Wade, who requests that she bring them to every School gathering. Her dumplings are just one of many talents Nina has revealed in her new position, which she started last August.

“I thought this job would be so interesting,” says Nina. “I like working with people and I like exercising, and I’d never worked for a sports-related department before.”

She laughs when she recalls her first day of work at the start of Orientation Week. “I was overwhelmed! I met so many new people, got a chance to see new faces and socialize at the party. It helped that I had already met the students when I got the chance to start working with them.”

Since coming to the U.S. from Beijing, China, in 2007 with her husband Herb Zhu, Nina has worked for two universities. She spent three years at SUNY- Stony Brook, working with nursing students in undergraduate admissions and supporting engineering graduate students in an exchange program at a Taiwan university. When her husband was hired by a medical device company in Michigan, Nina worked for two years in the Office of Student Affairs at the University of Michigan, working with undergraduate transfer students in a partnership program with Shanghai Jiaotong University. Along the way, Nina earned an M.S. in Industrial Economics from China University of Geosciences and an M.S. in Technological Systems Management from Stony Brook University. She and her family moved to Minnesota in November, 2013.

“This is a good university,” Nina says. “I like working with such a diverse group of people. I’m learning lots of different things about policies and procedures, which helps me connect students with the information they need. I want to help them graduate with good experiences.”

She also appreciates Cooke Hall’s proximity to the Recreation and Wellness Center. “I like taking classes at the Rec Center over the lunch hour,” she says. “The department is supportive of this in every way, and I’m very grateful for that.”

In her spare time, Nina keeps busy with her two young children, Jeffrey, age 2, and Zachary, age 5. On weekends the family goes to Zack’s hockey practices and takes advantage of Twin Cities attractions such as the Science Museum, and in August, the State Fair. She and her husband also enjoy attending Timberwolves games. Is there time left over for Nina to make her famous Chinese dumplings? Not much, Nina says, “but I have some favorite Asian restaurants close to the U.”  And she’d be happy to share those with her colleagues.


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