The lives of Nancy Brule
As a student, it is sometimes hard to remember that our professors have a life outside of grading papers and answering our emails. Nancy Brule, professor at Bethel and head of the Communications department has a particularly interesting alternative to being a professor at home.
Brule, who likes to wear makeup only occasionally, dressed in a casual t-shirt and jeans as I interviewed her last Wednesday. Sitting in her tiny office full of books, movies, and papers, Brule talked about how she balances life at Bethel with her husband as well as running a hobby farm.
Brule joked that she has a bunch of kids, but they’re not grandchildren. What she meant by this is that her farm consists of a plethora of goats and four horses. Brule says that her favorite part of living on a farm is sitting on the deck in the quiet country watching the animals roam around and “play” with each other. “We let our goats run free, so they have the whole range of the farm. We sit and watch them, we really just like to sit and relax and watch the animals.”
Brule loves to tell stories about the farm to students. One student, Anna Anderson, explained how she got a goat named after her. “Nancy was calling role in Methods of Communication Research and when she got to my name she said, ‘Anna Anderson, that’s a good name…I think I’ll name my next goat that.’ So I said, ‘Do it.’ For the next 14 months I reminded her to name her next goat Anna and she did, which I think is pretty great.” Brule is also very candid about her personal life.
After things didn’t work out with her high school sweetheart, Brule met the love of her life many years later. “I met Artie Terry when I was a professor at Wheaton College many many years ago. I taught there for three years, he taught there for eleven. And then when I left there to come here [Bethel], there was an opening for a media production person and I knew he wasn’t very happy there so I told him to apply here and he did. A couple years later we ended up getting married in Vegas.” Brule opted to keep her maiden name. She and Artie now work in the Communications department together.
When asked how she and Artie balance the farm life and their Bethel life, she chuckled a little. “I don’t think balancing really happens,” she said, “I would say that whatever is more urgent at that moment we take care of.” Besides that, Brule says that since she and Artie usually at Bethel on alternating days, whoever stays home takes care of the chores for that day. Chores include feeding the goats, brushing the horses, and maintaining the tractor that they own. “Neither of us really likes that, because we’re so used to working on the same days, but this way somebody is home with the animals.”
Brule grew up in northern Minnesota right next to the Canadian border, right in “the middle of nowhere.” I asked her how she got interested in being a Communications professor after living in a small farm town for her whole life. “It’s actually pretty interesting,” Brule said, “I participated in the speech team in high school and I won a number of awards and competed in some national competitions and won a number of those, and I was always drawn towards speech. I wanted to study broadcast journalism and eventually become a news anchor. But then Mankato didn’t offer that degree and I ended up in relational Comm., which is perfect.”
However, Brule has accomplished a lot since becoming a professor at Bethel. After taking 48 credits worth of Bible classes and being ordained by the Assemblies of God church, she was able to be a pastor for several years. Brule then went on to get her Ph.D. in Communication studies at the University of Nebraska. After working at Wheaton for several years and coming to Bethel, Brule bought the farm out of her own bank account, which is her proudest accomplishment.
Brule has three children, two boys and a girl, who are now in their thirties. When asked if she is expecting grandchildren she chuckled and said, “Unfortunately no, because Jessica has decided to not have kids and my sons don’t even have girlfriends, but it’s okay.”
Throughout the interview and the classes that I have taken from Brule, I have learned that she is truly an open book. From her divorce, to her son that overcame a drug problem, to her daughter who has decided she doesn’t want kids, she says she has nothing to hide. “In order to teach these principles about relationships effectively, I need to be able to tell real stories and apply these interpersonal theories,” she said.
When asked what her hopes and dreams for the future were, Brule said that she doesn’t need much. She would like to retire when the appropriate time comes, be able to devote time to her farm, and support herself and Artie through eggs, milk, and chickens. Another dream of hers is to have grandchildren, but also has peace if that does not happen. Brule says that if she could spend the rest of her days somewhere, she would move back up to northern Minnesota and bring her farm with her. “It really is God’s country up there.”