NUTLEY, NJ — A new student center at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine honors the late Dr. Derrick Nelson of Plainfield, who was the Westfield High School Principal.
Officials at the Seton Hall University facility located in Nutley and Clifton unveiled the Dr. Derrick E. Nelson Student Life Services Center on Thursday, honoring the late high school principal who died following a bone marrow donation to a boy in France.
“It is so befitting that we are naming this space after Dr. Nelson — a man who truly personified the characteristics we hope to instill in the next generation of caregivers,” said Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University in a news release.
“May his example of selflessness, compassion and generosity be an inspiration to all the young women and men who grace these halls. And may his legacy of service live on forever in our hearts and minds.”
The Dr. Derrick E. Nelson Student Life Services at the Hackensack School of Medicine memorializes Dr. Nelson’s life of service to his country and community, school officials said. It is the social, emotional and spiritual center for student life, Stanton said. The location, which now bears Dr. Nelson’s name, offers students and faculty a place to socialize, relax and interact, she said.
Dr. Nelson, of Plainfield, served as a lifelong educator and school administrator. He earned a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision degree from St. Peter’s College and his Doctorate in Education Administration from Seton Hall University.
He began his career in education as an elementary school teacher, moved into school administration and most recently served as the beloved principal of Westfield High School.
“It’s a great honor for Dr. Nelson and his family,” said David A. Mazie, attorney for Dr. Nelson’s family. “It’s a real recognition of who he was and what he did for others.”
Dr. Nelson joined the Westfield Public School District in 2010 and served as the Assistant Principal of Roosevelt Intermediate School for two years. The school board named Nelson Westfield High School Principal in 2017 after he had served as acting principal for a year.
In addition to his service in education, Dr. Nelson served his country for over 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserves. Throughout his distinguished military career, Dr. Nelson served as the Chemical Operations Specialist for the 411th Chemical Company, New Jersey.
In 2013, he was deployed to Kuwait for a year as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Specialist. The Westfield Board of Education nominated Dr. Nelson nominated for a Soldier’s Medal earlier this year.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh