Retired missionary nurse to receive honorary award at Northwestern College’s commencement

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ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Northwestern College will award an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to a missionary nurse who served more than 30 years in Africa.

The recipient, Arlene Schuiteman of Sioux Center, will receive her award during Northwestern College’s graduation ceremony that will be held on July 18, starting at 8 a.m. in De Valois Stadium.

Schuiteman earned a nursing degree and served in South Sudan from 1955 to 1963, when she was expelled from the country at the start of a civil war, after spending eight years as an Iowa country school teacher.

Schuiteman returned to the United States and earned a bachelor’s degree in public health nursing from the University of Iowa.

She then traveled to Ethiopia, where she helped open a nursing school and taught wound care and other medical skills for more than 10 years.

Schuiteman finished her missionary service in Zambia in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Arlene is exemplary in her service to the church as well as humankind in general. Her goal in life has been to honor God and celebrate his work in the world. She followed God’s call to obedience even in the face of great personal sacrifice,” Jeff Barker, a recently retired Northwestern theatre professor who wrote two books and several plays based on Schuiteman’s daily journals.

Barker said Schuiteman served patients creatively, improvising ways to provide treatments in environments that often had serious limitations.

Over the years, Schuiteman advanced from nurse to clinic leader, nurse educator, and eventually, a national medical leader in Zambia.

“When she wasn’t in front of a class, working at the clinic, or assisting in surgery, she might be found folding hospital laundry. There was never a task that was beneath her. At the same time, she was known to be calculating how to recognize and reinvent so a task might be made safer and more efficient,” Barker added.

Northwestern students have performed Baker’s plays about Schuiteman throughout North America and in Ethiopia and Japan.

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