A Heart for Traveling: Carol Ruwe

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by Giovanni Amado-Sanchez, 2017 Public Relations Intern

Students and professionals, young in the workforce, often face great challenges as they step out of their comfort zones. At Barton, professors and staff often search for ways to introduce students to “new” and “different” experiences and opportunities to help prepare them for personal and professional life beyond college. Associate Professor Carol Ruwe has found that introducing students to completely different cultures by traveling abroad is an effective way to help students face unfamiliar situations with confidence and to help them gain new perspectives.

Ruwe began teaching at Barton College (then Atlantic Christian College) in 1986. A full-time Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, she also serves as Director of General Education, Chair of the General Education Committee, Chair of the Student Affairs Committee for the School of Nursing, and is a member of several other committees at Barton. In the classroom, she teaches the nutrition courses required of the Nursing program and recently-created Nutrition minor.

“Growing up on our family farm, it is not surprising that I chose nutrition as a field of study,” she explains. “The pulse of our family was regulated by the family meals that were served with clock-like precision every day. The food was wholesome and healthy, and the laden table was where we learned about values, work ethic, traditions, the meaning of family, and the power of food to bind a family together. In teaching my students, I stress that nutrition is more than the science of food and health. Food defines us. While food certainly impacts health, it also tells the story of who we are and links our past with the present.”

Ruwe thoroughly enjoys teaching and working directly with college students. “They hold great promise for the future, and it is a privilege to share in their learning experience,” she confides. “It is a privilege to share my professional knowledge, skills, and passions with students and, perhaps, even help them to discover their own passions. My hope is that I encourage students to think more deeply and help them to write and speak more effectively as they prepare to be the professionals of the future. I love watching students learn, grow, and succeed!”

As a professor, she considers herself compassionate, supportive, encouraging, engaging, realistic, diplomatic, and a creative problem-solver. These adjectives perfectly portray a professor like Ruwe, who frequently takes her students to foreign countries to expose them to different cultures.

When students have the opportunity to travel to underdeveloped nations, they become much more culturally aware, and their world perspective broadens. This cultural sensitivity is extremely beneficial in the nursing profession. “My students have experienced life lessons in compassion, humility, kindness, and cultural sensitivity that no classroom can ever duplicate,” Ruwe explains. “My hope is that they will hold these experiences close to their heart and treat every person they encounter with dignity and humanity regardless of cultural differences or language barriers.”

Personally, Ruwe’s favorite destinations include the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Outside of Barton, Ruwe shares that her life revolves around her husband, Harris, daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Tommy, and her almost 6-year-old granddaughter, Emilia, whom she considers “the love of their lives.” And, on beautiful summer mornings, Ruwe relishes the opportunity to spend time in her garden.

“I have a passion for daylilies,” she notes. “Through the years, I have collected over 200 different varieties. Every day brings a new and different beautiful bloom! I love flowers and enjoy caring for my many plants that spend the winter in my greenhouse. I even have a lime tree! I enjoy my herb garden and picking fresh herbs to use in my kitchen.”

Additionally, Ruwe loves to cook, and her travels to Italy and Mexico have inspired her best Italian and Mexican dishes. Her home is “ruled” by her two Shetland Sheepdogs and two cats, and her gardens are well-guarded by her outside “guard-cats.”

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