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‘You have to give back’

IU Northwest emeritus professor Mark Reshkin dedicates scholarship to honor his late wife, assisting women following her career path

Friday Sep 20, 2013


Mark Reshkin was working on his Ph.D. in geomorphology at Indiana University Bloomington in 1961 when he met Bettimae Wilson, a fellow graduate student pursuing a degree in educational psychology.

In a matter of weeks, the two were engaged to be married.

“She had me picked out,” the 80-year-old Reshkin said, with a humble smile. It was a secret he had stumbled across just recently when flipping through his late wife’s diaries.

Reshkin, Indiana University Northwest emeritus professor of geosciences and public and environmental affairs, returned recently to the Northwest campus to reminisce about his long career, his wife’s career, the life they built together, and the scholarship he recently established in Bettimae’s name. Altogether, the Reshkins gave 33 years to IU Northwest.

Celebrating Bettimae

Bettimae Reshkin served as an adjunct professor for IU Northwest from 1986 to 1993, teaching introductory and abnormal psychology. During most of her later professional career, she served in various positions in the mental health field, most recently as an admissions coordinator for The Methodist Hospital Northlake Campus child and adolescent psychiatric unit.

In 2008, after 46 years of marriage, Reshkin lost Bettimae after a brave battle with cancer. Years later, when talking to a friend and former student about how he’d been handling things after his loss, his friend posed a question.

“How are you going to celebrate Bettimae?” she asked Reshkin.

Those words stuck with him and Reshkin soon decided that celebrating Bettimae was exactly what he needed to do next. What better way to look back on a life built on education and celebrate his dear wife, also an educator, with a scholarship earmarked for a woman who wanted to follow the same career path?

In short, he wanted to help a student just like Bettimae.

“Bettimae enjoyed working with both students and faculty at IU Northwest and cherished the opportunity to share her professional experiences in the field of mental health,” Reshkin said. “The scholarship is a way of recognizing women who want to carry on what she was doing.”

A student to be proud of

Jessica Cuadra, of Munster, is one of the recent recipients of the Bettimae Reshkin Memorial Scholarship, created in 2012-13 to honor Bettimae’s dedication to education, and to encourage others to work in the field of clinical psychology.

Cuadra earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2013 and is now pursuing her master’s degree at IU Northwest. She is concentrating on mental health counseling with a focus on substance abuse.

Cuadra said that in the broad discipline of psychology, scholarships can be hard to come by, mainly because there is such a large pool of psychology students competing for them. However, the Bettimae Reshkin Memorial Scholarship is reserved specifically for a woman pursuing clinical psychology.

Much like Bettimae did, Cuadra wants to make counseling her career, specifically in the field of disruptive behavior disorders.

She said being awarded the scholarship was not only an honor, but a huge relief, easing the financial burden of funding her entire education herself.

“I appreciate all the scholarships I’ve received,” Cuadra said. “It is a big chunk that I don’t have to worry about paying back. Financially helping someone that doesn’t necessarily have the funds to do so, can make a big impact. It has for me.”

A respected environmental authority

Fifty years of involvement make Reshkin, arguably, the most knowledgeable person on the environment in Northwest Indiana. A respected scientist, teacher, administrator and public servant, Reshkin is perhaps best known for his ability to be a staunch environmentalist while still maintaining great respect from industry leaders. Throughout his career, he had worked on pollution control and mercury reduction with all five steel companies.

Reshkin is proud to be lending a hand to students who are enduring challenges much like the ones typical of his own undergraduate college of Rutgers University in Newark, and that of the countless students he taught over his career.

“They are going to school as much as they can,” he said, “and we have a place for them. Don’t tell me they have to be done in four years.”

Colleagues would call him humble, yet famous in the eyes of his students. Perhaps because teaching was something he wholeheartedly loved.

“Even if you are giving a lecture for the 40th time, if you don’t show enthusiasm, why would any student?” he asked.

In addition to his reputation as an enthusiastic teacher, Reshkin is known for his involvement in establishing of the National Lakeshore and the Dunes Learning Center and for his service on many boards. Showing few signs of slowing down, Reshkin is currently working on a book about the environment of Northwest Indiana. Most recently, he just learned he is being honored as the

“Most Influential in Environment” in the upcoming fall issue of Retirement Living magazine.

Giving back

Admiring the weathered photos in his wallet, the one of Bettimae as a beautiful young girl next to the portrait of a happy, elderly couple, Reshkin can’t think of a more fitting way to give back.

“Education is what I know,” Reshkin said. “You have to give back. And if you can find a way to celebrate your loved one, what beats that?

“The scholarship is a way of getting people to carry on what Bettimae was doing. She was a fantastic listener,” Reshkin said.

The Reshkins settled in Bettimae’s hometown of Valparaiso. They have two children, Karen Marie and William Charles. They have seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and two more on the way

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