Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University has memorialized the life and service of former Westfield High School principal Derrick Nelson.
The medical school unveiled the Dr. Derrick E. Nelson Student Life Services during a dedication ceremony Thursday. Nelson died April 8 after donating bone marrow in an effort to save the life of a 14-year-old boy in France he didn’t know.
“We are proud to honor Dr. Nelson’s life of selfless giving and education,” said Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. “Dr. Nelson leaves behind a remarkable legacy as an educator and veteran. He is a beloved member of the Seton Hall family and we are deeply honored to memorialize his name at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.
“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. 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 family is beyond honored that the student life center at the medical school is named after Derrick,” said David A. Mazie, attorney for the Nelson family. “The naming of such an important area in the medical school is testament of who Derrick was, the life he lived and what he stood for.”
The building named in his honor is the social, emotional and spiritual center for student life, offering students and faculty a place to socialize, relax and interact, Mazie said.
Nelson 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. He began his career in education as an elementary school teacher and moved into administration, most recently serving as principal of Westfield High School.
In addition, Nelson served his country for more than 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserves as a 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.