Redlands nursing educator Cherie Miller brings wealth of experience to role
by Traci Chapman, Staff Writer
No one could ever describe Cherie Dyer’s life – or career – as boring. It’s a life of service, dedication and achievement, 47 years that those who know her say has inspired them.
They are people like Reletta Kemp, who talked about Dyer’s approach to nursing – her talent and skill with her patients, the depth and enthusiasm shown in her teaching.
The woman whose nursing and teaching career engendered these remarks has never been afraid to make a change, traveling far away from – and returning to – her Oklahoma roots more than once. After obtaining her associate of applied science in nursing degree from Oklahoma City Community College, Dyer attended University of South Florida. There, in Tampa, the U.S. Grant High School graduate earned her bachelor of science degree, before returning to Oklahoma to complete her master’s degree at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
After college, Dyer worked in arguably the most difficult of locations, serving as a United States Air Force Guard and Reserve medic and flight nurse. That position took the Oklahoma woman more than 7,000 miles from her home – serving in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Dyer treated many tramatic injuries in the sands and skies of Saudi Arabia.
But, it was an attack in the most unlikely of places that might have struck the deepest chord, a day when Dyer would give of herself in the wake of an unspeakable act – when Timothy McVeigh parked a truck full of explosives outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. The April 19, 1995 act would kill 168 people and injure hundreds more.
Dyer was there, working as part of the disaster relief team, a group assigned to the aftermath of what remains the largest act of domestic terrorism the United States has ever known.
While such assignments might be a striking part of her resume, Dyer said her love of nursing has been consistent, no matter the circumstance. Dyer began her nursing career in the intensive care and outpatient surgery units of Deaconess Hospital; she worked in St. Anthony Hospital’s operating room and as a pro re nata – PRN – nurse in cardiac catheterization at OU Medical; she helped children who had been abused and those with behavioral problems while working at Highpointe Mental Health Facility and Integris Mental Health facility
Dyer then took her nursing knowledge and turned to teaching. She received her Certified Nursing Educator Certificate in 2008; her teaching positions over the years included Rose State College and more than five years at University of Central Oklahoma.
“I then moved to the Houston area and worked at San Jacinto College in Houston for five years,” she said.
Along the way, Dyer received her share of honors – achievements like her listings in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and America’s Business Women and designation as an ambassador of National League of Nursing. While those were certainly important, it’s the people she met along the way that mattered most, Dyer said.
“Nursing gave me the opportunity of job security, but it also offers a vast amount of opportunities and genres to work in,” she said. “I have met some incredible people, extremely brave individuals, as well as those who have given me encouragement and support throughout my journey as a nurse and educator.”
Just recently, Dyer made yet another change, this time taking the journey home and returning to the Oklahoma City area, where she accepted a position as a Redlands Community College professor of nursing.
The job was appealing to Dyer because of a philosophy and feeling at the school that made the program special, she said.
“I was attracted to Redlands due to the size of the college, all of those who work at this college – it’s like one big family,” Dyer said. “People matter and, most importantly, the students are made a top priority.”
Dyer’s current position is as a second-year educator in complex issues. It’s an area she knows and enjoys, she said.
“I have taught simulation labs, health assessment, pediatrics, fundamental nursing, leadership in nursing, community health, gerontology and mental health nursing, along with the clinicals for those courses,” she said.
Whether it’s at Redlands or somewhere else in her long career, there is something – someone – who surpasses all the rest, the most personal of her relationships that best define her, she said.
“I adopted a son from Guatemala almost 12 years ago, and people always tell me how I saved his life but, in reality, he is the one who saved me,” Dyer said. “The best title I have earned is that of mom to this young man.”