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Social work lecturer who helped Bermuda students in US dies

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Doris Marilyn Nicholas with son Trevor Dion Nicholas, centre, as he played the Genie in “Aladdin” in the West End in London, and Robert Nicholas, her husband (Photograph supplied)
Doris Marilyn Nicholas, right, with her cousin, Senate president Joan Dillas-Wright (Photograph supplied)
Doris Marilyn Nicholas, home on holiday in Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

A Bermudian social worker and professor who forged strong links between Bermuda College and West Virginia University has died.

Doris Nicholas was 73.

Dr Nicholas, a strong supporter of Black students at WVU, spent 20 years as a faculty member in the social work department.

Her expertise in cultural diversity and social work was reflected in the division’s student recruitment and over her career she mentored a dozen former Berkeley Institute pupils through a variety of degrees at WVU.

Her family said one Bermudian student said she was “selfless, strong, a visionary, a leader and a pillar for many of us”.

Dr Nicholas, who was raised in Happy Valley, Pembroke, moved to Morgantown, West Virginia, but often returned to the island and promoted WVU at secondary schools.

A Bermuda College tribute said Dr Nicholas was “one of its true champions” who helped broker an agreement for its graduates to continue their studies at WVU.

Dr Nicholas also helped the college develop its introduction to social work course.

She was said to have watched over Bermuda College students who transferred to WVU like a “mother hen” and assisted with scholarship and job applications.

The tribute added: “Whenever Dr Nicholas was in Bermuda, she would visit the college and during her last visit she was discussing other ways that Bermuda College could collaborate with West Virginia University in other disciplines.

“Dr Nicholas was a wonderful person whose main goal was to see Bermudian students thrive.”

She spent 12 years as the Director of Social Services at Ruby Memorial Hospital in West Virginia where she led the development of its medical ethics committee.

Dr Nicholas also worked as the interim director of the physical therapy department, as well as at the human resources department, the outpatient dialysis unit and the hospital’s emergency transportation units serving West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

She attended Northlands and Central primary schools, now Victor Scott, in Pembroke, followed by Howard Academy in Devonshire – an influential high school for Black students.

She finished high school at Ontario Ladies’ College in Canada.

Dr Nicholas got her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work at WVU and returned to Bermuda to work at Teen Services.

She moved to Morgantown and married Robert Nicholas, an entertainer.

The couple raised five children – Allan Bean Jr, Robert Nicholas Jr, Susan Nicholas, Ryan Nicholas, and Trevor Dion Nicholas.

Dr Nicholas got her doctorate in education at WVU’s College of Human Resources and Education and taught graduate and undergraduate students at the university.

Her classes included social work in healthcare.

She also worked as director of recruitment at the School of Social Work in WVU.

Her commitment to diversity continued after retirement, when she advised the faculty on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Her cousin Joan Dillas-Wright, the president of the Senate, told the Upper House on Wednesday that Dr Nicholas developed and taught graduate classes focused on multiculturalism and was “instrumental” in guiding Bermudian students into social work.

Doris Marilyn Nicholas, social worker and university teacher, was born on December 25, 1947. She died on January 8, 2021. She was 73.

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Published January 18, 2021 at 8:27 am (Updated January 18, 2021 at 8:27 am)

Social work lecturer who helped Bermuda students in US dies

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