Dr. Melinda Hermanns knew from a young age that she wanted to work in the medical field.
She was surprised to learn she would be recognized with the 2012 President’s Volunteer Service Award — not for the time she spends in the classroom but for the hours she has volunteered serving as the vice president of the East Texas Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association.
Dr. Hermanns grew up in Tyler and graduated with an associate degree from Tyler Junior College, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science and nursing from UT Tyler and earned a doctorate from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She worked in various areas and liked psychiatric and mental health services the best, she said, adding that she is board certified in the specialty.
After a family member was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001, Dr. Hermanns said it became her focus in her doctorate program. When doing her dissertation on the subject, she found that an East Texas chapter was being formed. She has been involved since its inception in 2007.
She assists with fundraising activities to raise money for taxi vouchers as well as medication and dental assistance for East Texans with Parkinson’s disease. Since 2007, the organization has assisted more than 30 families. Dr. Hermanns said the organization covers a wide area and has not been able to grant much assistance to patients this year because of low funding. They will hold their annual Walk-A-Thon in April, which is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, at Rose Rudman.
Dr. Hermanns was appointed to serve on the Parkinson’s Disease Advisory Council for the national Parkinson’s Disease Foundation from 2006-11. She also founded the Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease Care Partner support group in Tyler.
Dr. Hermanns and her husband of 11 years, Hans, have two sons, Matthew, 9, and Joshua, 8. She said her husband and children also volunteer with the organization. The family has dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their elves for the last five years for the local group’s Christmas party.
Dr. Hermanns has been recognized for excellence in online and innovative teaching, as well as her research on Parkinson’s disease. She received the 2010 UT Tyler Distinguished Young Alumni Award and the 2004 Alpha Chi Honor Society-Texas Xi Chapter’s Outstanding Faculty Award. She is a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society in Nursing and the Southern Nurses Research Society.
Dr. Hermanns said she acknowledges and thanks all of the board members of the East Texas Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association. She said they work as a team and are all committed to the cause — “to ease the burden and to find the cure” for Parkinson’s disease.
The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation was established in 2003 to recognize contributions volunteers make to communities and encourage more people to serve. The council created the President’s Volunteer Service Award program to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. The program continues as an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
To learn more about the local organization, call 903-596-3618; 866-491-2732; or visit www.etapda.org.
If you know of a professional woman or business service in Tyler you think should be highlighted here, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-596-6289.