Irma Eischen GahanIrma Eischen Gahan was born in Jersey City to immigrant parents from Germany. She explained that they came to America seeking opportunities for work, happiness and a secure life knowing that education was important for one’s survival, growth and advancement in the 1930s.

Irma’s first language is German, and she started learning English in kindergarten. She felt that her schoolteachers were tolerant, caring, understanding and encouraging—strengths she eventually displayed throughout her own career as a teacher.

Irma attended New Jersey City University (then known as Jersey City State College), where she was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education.

While there, she and one of her high school friends met three other girls with whom they formed lifelong friendships. “We developed a strong bond based on respect for each other, for one’s religious beliefs and for our desire to attain a college degree to become educators,” Irma said.

After graduating from NJCU, she went on to teach in several different elementary schools and also received her master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1982. Irma led a successful career as a schoolteacher, earning such awards as the New Jersey Governors Award for Excellence in Instruction and the Teacher of the Year Award for south New Jersey.

Now that she’s retired, Irma hopes to extend her passion for the profession by helping aspiring teachers at NJCU.

Irma recently established a gift in her will for the University to benefit “a deserving undergraduate needing and deserving financial assistance while pursuing a degree in education.”

Eighty-two percent of students at the University rely on some form of financial assistance to cover their expenses. Gifts like that of Irma’s give students the ability to turn their dreams of receiving a quality education into reality.

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