Jeroen Nelemans: A letter from a student

Written by on April 14, 2024

By Ryah Klima / Opinion Editor

“You’re going to be a wonderful journalist.”  

That was what Jeroen Nelemans told me after the opening night of “Radium Girls” back in October. I played the role of the ‘sob sister’. He knew that I planned to become a journalist, and he even told me about how he wanted to do journalism at one point too. To this day, that remains to be one of the best compliments I have ever received after a performance. I had only met him a few months prior, at the start of the semester. I was a student in his Intro to Graphic Applications class.  

And in all honesty? Mr. J (as he was called by most of his students) intimidated me. Initially, I was nervous that his class was going to be super hard, because he was such an accomplished artist, and although I had experience with the apps we were going to be using, I had never taken a class. He asked the class if we had any experience in Adobe applications, and I sheepishly raised my hand. He was delighted. Immediately, I realized my first impression of him was all wrong. He was kind, excited to teach, and always ready to help. He always encouraged us to stop by his office if we ever needed anything.  

We had common interests, and I remember one distinct conversation we had over dogs. You see, I work at a dog daycare on the weekends, and somehow, someway, that came up in conversation. He immediately thought that was super cool. After that, he asked me every Monday how all the dogs at my work were over the weekend. He told me all about his Boston terrier, and I, in turn, told him about my French and English bulldogs at home.  

However, by  the end of the semester, I was planning on picking up a minor in Graphic Design just because of how much I enjoyed what he was teaching. He gave me knowledge, and I absorbed it like a sponge. Every single thing he taught me has continued to play a role in my future, because now I can make my own websites, business cards, and logos without having to pay someone else to do them.  

But of course, that isn’t the only thing that Jeroen Nelemans taught me. He taught me that it’s okay to want and try a million or two things in life. He taught me to appreciate all art, no matter the subject. I never fully understood graphic design as an art form until I took Intro to Graphic Apps. Things like logos and website design went over my head as a convenience instead of art. But now, I have a newfound appreciation for all of it.  

Even after finishing his class, this semester most of my breaks between classes were spent in the lounge in front of his office. He would always take a second to talk to me, despite his hectic schedule.  

In January, I lost one of my English bulldogs to old age. Her name was Ember, and I showed Mr. J photos of her a few times. I told him about her passing. He immediately offered his condolences and talked with me for a bit about her. I hope that now, Mr. J got to meet and play with her in the afterlife. 

Above all else, I can only hope that Mr. J is remembered for what he was: an artist, a friend, and most importantly, a teacher. I know I am far from the only student he left a mark on in his life. 


Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Current track