As a student in the Sign Language Interpreting program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Reagan Folda understands the importance of a clear and simple message. She wants UNO alumni to clearly understand this: Their gifts to the UNO Fund scholarship have changed her life.

“I am extremely grateful that I got this scholarship,” she said. “It brought me a lot of relief when I needed it during stressful times.”

Reagan is one of eight promising students who this fall was awarded a UNO Fund scholarship, receiving financial assistance thanks to the generosity of alumni and others who have contributed to the UNO Fund.

While UNO offers many scholarships, the UNO Fund for Student Scholarships is the only one that sees hundreds of alumni and supporters come together and make gifts — last year gifts ranged from $5 to $15,000 — to give directly back to students. Thanks to UNO Fund donors, UNO was able to offer Reagan a renewable scholarship to cover much of her tuition through her expected graduation in December 2024.

Reagan grew up in Schuyler, Nebraska, and after graduating from high school in 2019 she attended Central Community College as a student-athlete, playing soccer. However, after a year there, she felt drawn to a bigger city environment and started looking at transfer options. She transferred to Metropolitan Community College (MCC), where she majored in liberal arts.

While at MCC, Reagan took an ASL class and fell in love with the language. After a year at MCC, Reagan earned her associate degree. She then transferred to UNO to become a speech pathologist; however, she decided to change her major to become a sign language interpreter.

“I love learning about the Deaf community and American Sign Language,” Reagan said. “I think everyone should learn more about Deaf culture and ASL.”

Reagan has been impressed with the classes, people and campus at UNO, and she said she has found it a good fit for all the experiences she was hoping to receive from her college education.

“The campus is really nice,” Reagan said. “You feel very at home here, and the people are so awesome. I wanted a bigger city to live in, but it’s also just an hour from my hometown.”

Reagan also said she would enjoy working in the educational setting assisting children who are Deaf and hard of hearing. She hopes to pursue a career as an educational interpreter.

“I am considering getting my master’s in Deaf education,” Reagan added. “Right now, I am leaning toward becoming an educational interpreter, but there are many opportunities for me to think about.”

Reagan said she felt immediate relief this fall when she learned she would be receiving the UNO Fund scholarship.

“Transferring from Metro, it’s a price change, so I was nervous about that, but the scholarship really was a relief,” she said. “I was really grateful. I was nervous about taking out too much of a FAFSA loan, so I didn’t have to take out as much because I have the scholarship. And the scholarship is renewable, so that was really nice, too.”

In addition to taking classes at UNO, Reagan works as a nanny to help pay her living expenses and tuition. She said the UNO Fund scholarship has helped to ease some of those financial burdens. It also allowed her to find the right major without having to worry about adding additional semesters and incurring an even greater tuition bill.

“I get to focus more on my schoolwork,” she said. “I have a nanny job where I only work two days a week, which is nice. If I did not have this scholarship, I would probably have to find a second job, so it has been wonderful.”

In addition to expressing her gratitude, Reagan encouraged UNO alumni to consider giving back to this scholarship in an amount that makes sense to them. She said she knows firsthand that the gifts are being used to help students who want to make a positive impact in their communities.

“The people who have the UNO Fund scholarship, and anyone who graduates from UNO, they go out and do great things,” she said, “so I think it is a really good thing to donate to the UNO Fund scholarship. I know when I’m an alumnus, I’ll try to do it too for sure, because it helped me, and I want to give back, too.”

You can help bring more students like Reagan to UNO. The more people who give, the more scholarships we can award to students who need and deserve them. Make your gift of $25, $50,$100 or more to the UNO Fund today.

As a full-time social worker, Matthew Beckmann works every day to assist those who most need support. In the course of working on behalf of these individuals, he also navigates a social safety-net system that is incredibly complex and has what he sees as significant flaws.

Matthew wants to change that and currently is taking the first steps to do so by pursuing his bachelor’s degree through the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with emphases in social work, business administration, and psychology.

“I feel like, as a social worker at this level, I can’t make changes.” he said, “So in a perfect world, I’ll keep on going through — I’m planning on getting my master’s degree — so hopefully I can actually make some of the changes I would like to see.”

Matthew’s ambitions are matched by his determination. Both he and his wife, a registered nurse, work full-time in North Platte, Nebraska. The couple have two sons, one 4 years old and one 5 months. To support his family as well as make a difference in his field, Matthew wanted to continue his education. But unfortunately, he found few options close to home that would let him pursue his chosen field.

Initially, Matthew looked at a nearby community college but found the experience discouraging. He decided to explore distance education options. After researching the offerings at most of the major universities in Nebraska, he decided to enroll in UNO’s online multidisciplinary studies program in the fall of 2021.

“I talked with the advisers at UNO quite a bit before I made my decision, and they definitely were amazing through the entire process and kind of told me what I could expect,” Matthew said. “Honestly, this last year and a half that I’ve completed the program with UNO, they’ve been there basically every step of the way. It has been great.”

Shortly after enrolling and starting classes at UNO, Matthew learned he would be one of the recipients of the UNO Fund scholarship, which provides financial assistance thanks to the generosity of alumni and others who donated to the UNO Fund.

While UNO has many scholarships, the UNO Fund for Student Scholarships are the only ones that see hundreds of alumni and supporters come together and make gifts — last year gifts ranged from $5 to $15,000 — to give directly back to students. Thanks to UNO Fund donors, UNO was able to offer Matthew a renewable scholarship to cover much of his tuition through his expected graduation in May 2023.

“When I received the message that I was going to get a scholarship, it definitely made my wife and me very happy,” Matthew said. “With two kids, we’re both working full-time jobs. But it’s definitely been difficult to work extra or really do anything extra because we’re so tight to the wall with our budgets right now. Getting the extra money just to be able to take a breath and actually pay off some different things because of the scholarship has definitely made a massive difference in our quality of life. I’m able to focus more on school because I’m not trying to work 40 hours a week plus more overtime so I can cover the different expenses.”

Matthew has been able to continue working and taking distance classes and is now on track to graduate with his bachelor’s degree from UNO. After that, he hopes to pursue his master’s degree in social work, which is also offered by UNO as an online program.

Matthew said the UNO Fund scholarship helped propel him toward the finish line, and he wished to express his gratitude to every donor to the fund, no matter the size of their gift.

“My wife and I are both so incredibly thankful for this opportunity,” Matthew said. “The donors that are contributing are providing an avenue for people that are not financially able to go through UNO, and I feel like the benefits that you provide are just so incredible. To be able to give that opportunity to prospective students is just an absolute gift. We couldn’t imagine trying to do it without the scholarship. We are so incredibly, incredibly grateful.”

You can help bring more students like Matthew to UNO. The more people who give, the more scholarships we can award to students who need and deserve them. Make your gift of $25, $50, $100, or more to the UNO Fund today.

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation of Chicago is making a major gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create four endowed student scholarship funds and to expand and permanently endow 14 existing scholarship funds. The scholarships will benefit students across the University of Nebraska system who meet the criteria of each.

This article originally appeared on Nebraska Today.

To contribute to any of these Universities and specifically CoJMC at UNL, see the links below:

An additional gift of $755,000 from the Meier Foundation will support the construction of a new television studio and newsroom at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. It replaces an existing studio and will include a newsroom, television control area and three separate news sets. It will incorporate cutting-edge technology that supports live broadcasts or one-person productions.

A 1941 Husker alumnus, the late Donald “Don” Meier used estate planning to direct assets from his charitable foundation to provide significant support for the University of Nebraska. During their lives, Meier and his late wife, Lorena, gave regularly to the university and established 14 student scholarship funds, the first one being created in 1999.

“The generous support from Donald and Lorena Meier — during their lives and through planned giving — will help make the university even more accessible and affordable for thousands of students,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “Support for a new, state-of-the-art TV studio and newsroom will also offer a truly professional experience for journalism students.

“The philanthropic mark made by Don and Lorena on our students and the entire University of Nebraska system will continue for generations.”

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed to transfer assets to the University of Nebraska Foundation over the next several years to fulfill the Meiers’ wishes of helping young people achieve their educational goals.

“Don and Lorena Meier cared deeply about Don’s alma mater and assisting students in achieving their own career success and enjoyment,” said David Shoub, president of the Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation. “Over the next 25 years, the foundation plans to provide an estimated $10 million in support of student scholarships to fulfill the charitable wishes of Don and Lorena. We’re pleased to be carrying forth their aspirations in making a University of Nebraska education possible for more promising students for generations to come.”

Don and Lorena Meier had distinguished media careers that included the production of award-winning national network television shows, the most popular and long running being Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” and “Zoo Parade.”

“Wild Kingdom” was an Emmy-winning wildlife documentary program starring Marlin Perkins that aired from 1963 to 1971 on NBC, after which it entered syndication. Episodes of the program air on RFD-TV, with new and updated content across many of its digital properties.

Meier also produced “Zoo Parade,” a 1950s NBC program featuring animals from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Prior to producing these programs, Meier served as an NBC producer for several local programs and events, including television broadcasts of Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball games.

Don Meier’s interest in supporting student scholarships was influenced by his own experience at the University of Nebraska. During his lifetime, he considered different ways to support the university but was especially drawn to opportunities for scholarships or other projects that directly benefit students.

“I had no other dream than to go to the University of Nebraska,” he told the university in 2008 in announcing his plans for significant support of student scholarships.

Don Meier’s dream did not come easy. He worked off and on during college, sometimes taking up to a year off to work or to return home to Oshkosh, Nebraska, where he had a job as a high school librarian. He completed his college education in six years.

“I remember my own struggles to complete my college education,” he once said. “In those days, back in the 1930s, they didn’t have a lot of scholarships. I just remember how tough it was for me to make it. It became apparent to me as I pursued my own career that the main thing is not only the support, but it’s important to get kids into college, and I agree with my wife who says that all students should seek to expand their potential by seeking full development of their talent.”

Lorena Meier died June 22, 2018, at age 100, and Don Meier died July 13, 2019, at age 104.

The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed over several years to support new and existing scholarship funds that were established by Don and Lorena Meier. Students enrolled in the following colleges and areas of the University of Nebraska who meet certain scholarship criteria are eligible:

University of Nebraska–Lincoln:

University of Nebraska at Kearney:

Any University of Nebraska campus:


More than 40 businesses and non-profits joined representatives from UNO, Omaha, and the State of Nebraska to launch a new program granting unprecedented access to paid internship opportunities for our students.

This story originally appeared on UNO News.

A new partnership between the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and employers across the greater Omaha area will provide UNO students with unprecedented access to paid internship opportunities.

UNO Career Connect is a new collaborative program pairing UNO with area companies and organizations to guarantee paid internship positions for many UNO students. This mutually beneficial program provides Mavericks with a direct path from college to career experience while also ensuring that area employers are able to hire the interns they need to support operations.

UNO Chancellor Joanne Li, Ph.D., CFA announced the new program at a news conference held Monday at UNO’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center. Nearly 50 employers have pledged to join the partnership, guaranteeing students internship positions with Fortune 500 companies, small and large businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Participating employers include Union Pacific, Mutual of Omaha, Heartland Family Service, Dundee Bank, CQuence Health Group, and dozens of others.

“Employers must be quick to adapt to their shifting workforce needs to stay competitive. As Nebraska’s urban institution, UNO moves quickly, too, adapting our curriculum and our partnerships to meet ever-evolving needs for both employers and our students. UNO Career Connect is a monumental step toward that goal, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared to be not only successful employees, but leaders in their organizations and in our communities. Guaranteeing access to paid internships ensures our students can grow personally and professionally while also being able to support themselves and their families,” Chancellor Li said.

Li was joined by representatives from the Mayor’s Office of the City of Omaha, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and the Governor’s Office of the State of Nebraska at a news conference Monday to announce the new program.

“UNO Career Connect looks to be another winning move by the university to train the next generation workforce and keep them here in the Omaha area, filling jobs and supporting businesses in our community,” David Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber said. “Today’s announcement connecting students to paid internship opportunities is the next step toward strengthening a thriving business community here in the Omaha area. Internships open doors to opportunities for students, provide organizations with top talent and fresh ideas, and more often than you might realize, lead directly from internship to full-time career.”

Who’s Involved

To take part in UNO Career Connect, employers must pledge at least one paid internship position for a UNO student in their organization. The internship program can apply to students in any field of study at UNO; however, in alignment with the state of Nebraska’s workforce needs, the university is particularly focused on filling internship positions with area employers in fields designated by the state as high demand, high skill, and high wage occupations. These often include positions in industries reliant on STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Information for Students

Students looking for additional information on internship opportunities through UNO Career Connect can find information on Handshake. This platform, provided by UNO’s Academic and Career Development Center, enables UNO students and alumni to find internship and job postings. Students seeking internship opportunities should use the “Internship” filter in the job search section to see all available positions.

UNO will continue to expand its network of employer partners as part of UNO Career Connect. Interested companies and organizations who can pledge to provide paid internships for UNO students, regardless of the number of positions available, should visit for more information.

What Others Are Saying

Anthony Goins, Director, Nebraska Department of Economic Development

“Internship opportunities, and specifically paid internship opportunities, set the stage for graduates to succeed after college. That, in turn, sets the stage for growing Nebraska. That makes this program essential, and deserving of our recognition, support and appreciation. I want to commend UNO, Chancellor Li, and everyone involved for committing to the students here at UNO, and for answering the call to help build Nebraska’s workforce for the future.”

Mike Cassling, President and CEO, CQuence Health Group

“Professional experience in information technology and computer science can be the boost they need to launch their career. Most importantly, paid internships mitigate potential financial burdens in the process. For all these reasons and more, we are big believers in paid internships at CQuence Health Group and proud to be part of the UNO Career Connect program.”

Tom Warren, Chief of Staff for Mayor Jean Stothert, City of Omaha

“Developing, recruiting, and retaining a talented workforce here in the city, particularly as students wrap up their undergraduate degree programs, is a big piece of the puzzle. I have the great honor of joining you today not only to share with you how excited Mayor Stothert is about UNO Career Connect, but also to take action. I’m proud to share that the City of Omaha will be joining UNO Career Connect as one of its employer partners.”

Mike Cassling, President and CEO, CQuence Health Group

“Professional experience in information technology and computer science can be the boost they need to launch their career. Most importantly, paid internships mitigate potential financial burdens in the process. For all these reasons and more, we are big believers in paid internships at CQuence Health Group and proud to be part of the UNO Career Connect program.”

This post originally appears on the UNO website.

UNO faculty, staff, and students are playing a key role in ensuring a future where the aviation and aeronautics industries are more diverse, representative, and receptive.

Becky Lutte of The Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, Monday, August 20, 2018.

The saying goes that the sky is the limit, but in the aviation and aerospace industries, the trajectory of careers for women has remained largely grounded. Becky Lutte, Ph.D., associate professor at UNO’s Aviation Institute, like the many women currently in these fields, has been working to make aviation a more inclusive field for across gender lines and for other underrepresented communities.

Lutte is one of the statistically small number of women who make up just 20% of the aviation workforce. Across the industry, women only make up 2.6% of maintenance technicians, 4.6% of air transport pilots, 11.6% of aerospace engineers, and 15.6% of aviation higher education faculty according to a recent report produced by Lutte.

“There’s absolutely no doubt based on multiple studies that bias, discrimination and harassment is still a deterrent is still a deterrent to our recruitment, retention, and advancement of women,” Lutte said.

Those trends don’t just impact veterans of the industry, they have heavy influences on the next generation as well.

“Lack of representation is a strong invisible barrier. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to see other women in aviation in our area, and it can feel isolating,” UNO aviation student Gwendoline Dunlop, president of UNO’s Women in Aviation chapter, said. “I often feel like I’m somehow representing all women when I am the only one in the class.”

Lutte said one of the several obstacles preventing women from entering and staying in the aviation or aerospace industries is a culture that lacks flexible scheduling and family-friendly policies that disproportionately affect women. Other hurdles include outright discrimination.

In response, she has dedicated herself to researching the recruitment and retention of women in aviation and serves as an advocate for greater representation in the field.

“It’s been my great honor to be able to help bring light some of this data, because as we say, ‘what gets measured gets done,’ and you can’t fix what you don’t see,” Lutte said. “If we’re not measuring it and putting that information out there, we’re not going to be able to move the needle on those numbers, and we know we need to change culture.”

Beyond research, Lutte is continuing her work as an advocate. Since 2020, Lutte has served on the Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB), which presented recommendations and strategies to encourage women to enter the aviation field to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Congress.

At UNO, Lutte has been an advocate for expanding diversity – ensuring that more students with diverse backgrounds can feel confident in pursuing an education in aviation.

“We’re trying to help create communities of support for underrepresented groups in aviation and continue to support our students to find that place where you’re not the ‘only’,” Lutte said. “UNO has been fantastic about providing support.”

This includes encouraging groups like UNO’s Women in Aviation chapter, as well as the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, so that students of different backgrounds can have communities to support them.

“These organizations do so much for us. It helps bring together the few women in the program and make stronger connections,” Dunlop said. “Women in Aviation is open to people of all genders, so the men who join us help bridge the social gap.”

Among the support provided to students by UNO’s Women in Aviation chapter includes support for attendance at the Women in Aviation International conference, which allows for networking with professionals, as well as identifying opportunities to apply for national scholarships.

“Belonging to an organization like this as a student gives a very good head start to a career in aviation,” Dunlop said.

To continue reaching out to women and other minorities in the field, the Women in Aviation chapter also hosts an annual Girls in Aviation Day, specifically aimed at girls in middle and elementary school.

University of Nebraska Omaha aviation student Gwendoline Dunlop poses for a portrait at the Council Bluffs Airport in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Thursday, March 25, 2022.

“Numerous outreach programs have been implemented to try to reach females earlier,” said Michaela Lucas, associate director of the NASA Nebraska Space Grant, which supports engagement in research, education, and public service programs related to aeronautics, space sciences, and technology across the state. “This event takes place through Women in Aviation Chapters all over the country and the world to introduce girls to the exciting careers aviation has to offer.”

On top of initiatives to diversify the field and support underrepresented communities, it is also important for those who make up the majority of the aviation industry to be allies to underrepresented groups.

“When you have strong support and strong male allies and mentors, which I certainly have, that is also really helpful for the overall culture and creates just a better environment,” Lutte said.

The work for more equity and inclusion for women and other groups in the aviation field is far from over. However, with people who are committed to understanding and overcoming representation on all fronts, the aviation industry can become more equitable and inclusive to everyone who wishes to participate.

“I have such a passion for this field, and women in aviation face certain barriers to entry in this field, even in terms of retention and advancement,” Lutte said. “So, for me to have any kind of voice in that conversation to help not only identify those barriers but make recommendations to address those barriers is incredibly rewarding.”

Want to support the Aviation Institute at UNO? Then consider making a gift to the College of Public Affairs and Community Service!

University of Nebraska Omaha aviation student Gwendoline Dunlop poses for a portrait at the Council Bluffs Airport in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Thursday, March 25, 2022.

This article originally appeared on CBA’s News Center 

When UNO CBA alumna Alissa McMahon launched her boutique clothing business with fellow students Kat Slump and Keegan Mahoney in 2017, it was originally a side hustle while the trio completed school. After Slump and Mahoney graduated on to other adventures, McMahon knew she wanted to hang on to their business, called Mauve, and take it to new heights.

McMahon relaunched Mauve in 2019 with an emphasis on instilling confidence in women through their experience and options at the boutique. Using techniques learned from marketing and management classes at CBA – she says she recalls techniques from her marketing coursework almost daily – McMahon built Mauve’s online presence and garnered a solid customer following. Now, just a year and a half after the relaunch, Mauve has opened a showroom – pulling off the feat of sustaining a physical location even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To take Mauve to its newest levels of success, McMahon has continued her entrepreneurial education. She learns from other entrepreneurs and participates in online classes whenever possible. Above all, she views all of her entrepreneurial experience as valuable, leveraging insights from the first years of her business into strategies for the future. This hands-on technique is something she recommends to all young entrepreneurs.

“I would tell any young entrepreneur to just go for it! No one is ever 100% ready and you’ll never have all the knowledge, as you learn so much just from the first-hand experience,” said McMahon. “Find a mentor who is also in the entrepreneurial space, learn as much as you can about that part of business, and just go for it!”

This attitude has paid off for McMahon, who adapted her business model to the pandemic and used it to Mauve’s advantage. The business now enjoys both a thriving online presence and loyal in-person customers, who have enjoyed the showroom since its opening in November 2020. McMahon has every intention of keeping up the momentum.

“My goals for Mauve are to continue our online growth, as well as opening another store!” said McMahon. “We have seen so much growth through our Instagram, so that is how we plan to achieve expansion. We also plan to continue collaborating with other businesses to always be spreading the word!”

Do you want to support students like Alissa? Then head on over to the College of Business Administration page to learn more!

You can explore Mauve’s continued growth on their Instagram at @heymauve or at Visit their showroom at 11430 Davenport Street in Omaha.


A Little Hard Work and Determination Can Make a Big Difference

Joel Gehringer

“…And I was like, ok, life is short, and if I want to do something, I have to do it.”

Anna Wesch is on a mission to prove to her three children that, with a little hard work and determination, everyone can make a difference.

“I am a married mom of three, so obviously not a traditional student. This is my first college experience,” she said in a recent interview via videoconference. “My son is 24, and my daughters are 20 and 16. The older one has not gone to college yet, but I keep telling him, if I can do it, you can do it. This can be done. It can be difficult, but it’s a great experience, and I really appreciate it.”

As Anna works to set an example for all who dream of achieving their bachelor’s degree, hundreds of donors to the UNO Fund for Student Scholarships are setting an example, too. Their generosity allowed the University of Nebraska at Omaha to award Anna a scholarship this fall. She is one of 2020’s seven recipients of the scholarship, receiving financial assistance thanks to hundreds of generous alumni and supporters of the university.

“When I got the email that I received the scholarship, I was reading it and I was telling my husband, ‘do you think it’s real?’” she said. “I barely made it through high school, so to get something like that and be acknowledged for something like that, I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is real!’ So when I realized it was, I was super excited.”

While there are many scholarships at UNO, the UNO Fund for Student Scholarships is the only one that sees hundreds of alumni and supporters come together to make gifts — last year as low as $5 and as high as $5,000 — to give directly back to students. Thanks to UNO Fund donors, UNO was able to offer Anna a renewable scholarship to cover much of her tuition through her expected graduation in the fall of 2021.

Anna’s path toward that impending graduation date has been an unconventional one, but one paved with determination and grit. An Omaha native, Anna’s education journey started when got a job in the health office of an elementary school, going back to work once her youngest was able to go to preschool.

“I ended up really enjoying some of the kids that would come visit the health office that were from the special education room, so I asked to be moved,” she said. “I was a special education paraprofessional for about six or seven years. I did that while the kids were young, and then when my son was a little bit older and could help me with my younger daughters, I went and got a full-time job. I did that for a couple years, but I really missed the kids and the school community.”

Anna also felt that she could make an even greater impact on the lives of young students with special needs if she had her four-year degree.

“I kind of always thought about going to college, but I never was good in school, so I didn’t really know that it was something I could do,” she said. “Then my mother-in-law passed away, and then a year later my dad passed away. And I was like, ok, life is short, and if I want to do something, I have to do it. So I decided I would start taking a class at Metropolitan Community College, and if I made it through that class, maybe I would take another one, and then maybe I would take two classes. So I kind of started out that way, and then I was like ‘ok, now I’m here and I’m doing it, so I’m just going to keep going.’”

Anna pushed forward and made the transfer to UNO last fall. Today, she is working on her bachelor’s degree in education, studying in UNO’s early childhood inclusive program. Despite the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anna said she has found the faculty, staff and students at UNO very helpful in navigating the program.

“The advisors at UNO have just been super awesome and super helpful,” she said. “The teachers have all been really great. I’ve had a really, really great experience.”

She is also grateful for the encouragement and support she’s received from her family.

“My husband has been my biggest supporter,” she said. “I would not have been able to even start on this path without his support.”

Anna also said she’s found inspiration from receiving the UNO Fund scholarship and knowing that donors both large and small have confidence in her and want to help her succeed.

“It’s just so unexpected,” she said. “I’m so very grateful, and it’s so very thoughtful to give something like that for people who are working toward their goal. It definitely helps to make things a little easier and makes it a little more like, ‘OK, I can do this,’ and to know that there’s people that believe I can do it too and make me successful, that’s just really cool.”

Soon Anna will begin her practicum, and she is excited to return to the classroom, as her true passion lies in the impact she can have on her young students.

“There’s a certain energy in an elementary school with kids, and it’s just so much fun, so I cannot wait to be back in a school,” she said. “I was doing some volunteer work, and then the pandemic hit, so I wasn’t able to do that anymore. I’m just ready to be back and helping and making a difference. Even as a para, you’re making a difference — it could be very small, but it’s amazing to be a part of. I’m ready to be doing that again.”

If all goes according to plan, Anna will graduate with her degree in December of 2021. With this degree, she’s be qualified to teach both regular and special education classes from birth to third grade. While she’s still considering which next step might be best for her and her students, her ultimate goal is to become an early childhood intervention specialist.

Anna also clearly recognizes the significance of her achievements and studies. As the first in her family to attend college and achieve a degree — all while raising kids and working part-time — she knows her quest to make an impact on the lives of young children will also make an impact on those who are in her same situation.

“I’d take a class, and I’d be like this is really hard, I don’t think I can do it,” she said, “but if I don’t do it, what kind of example am I setting? So I just keep pushing along.”

Anna thanked all who have given to the UNO Fund scholarship for helping to make her journey possible. She hopes their example, as well has her own journey, inspire others to continue to support this program so more students like her will have the opportunity to achieve their own educational goals and dreams.

“I’m really excited to be here,” she said. “Nobody in my family has gone to college. My parents didn’t go to college, so I’m the first in my family to actually try it out. It’s been kind of a wild ride!”

UNO Fund

You can help bring more students like Anna to UNO. The more people who give, the more scholarships we can award to students who need and deserve them. Make your gift of $25, $50 or $100 to the UNO Fund today.

Meet the students YOU are helping achieve their degrees.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for University of Nebraska at Omaha students who are striving for their degrees. Thanks to the help of generous supporters like you, eight students have been able to continue their studies this year with a scholarship from the UNO Fund. Through the collective power of gifts from you and alumni like you, we have been able to provide access to exceptional education to students who need it the most.

While there are many scholarships at UNO, the UNO Fund for Student Scholarships is the only one that sees hundreds of alumni and community members come together and make gifts – last year as low as $5 and as high as $5,000 – to give directly back to students.

We’d like you to meet some of 2020-21’s UNO Fund scholarship recipients:

Karina Ruiz was just starting to feel confident when the pandemic hit. Having moved to a new country, learned a new language, started her business degree at UNO and secured her own place, the pandemic again threw life into uncertainty. She said receiving the UNO Fund scholarship “was like being able to breathe again.” “It really inspires me to want to give back, too, once I graduate and have the means, because I’ve been there,” she said. “I continue to feel more freedom financially because of what you did, because of you deciding to give. Thank you… you changed my life.”

Anna Wesch, already raising three children and working at the same time, decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree and fulfill her longtime dream of becoming an early childhood educator. The UNO Fund scholarship gave her inspiration to keep going, even when her studies got tough. “It’s just so unexpected,” she said. “I’m so very grateful. It definitely helps to make things a little easier and makes it a little more like, ‘OK, I can do this.’ To know that there’s people that believe I can do it too and make me successful, that’s just really cool.”

Beth Hoyt moved from McCook, Nebraska, to pursue communications studies at UNO. With three in her family attending college, she wanted to make sure her degree was affordable for herself and her parents. She chose UNO partly because it has one of the lowest tuition rates in the region, and the UNO Fund scholarship is helping her to graduate on time. “I’m so grateful I won’t be in debt for a long time afterward,” she said. “Th¬at was a terrifying prospect. But just to have that peace of mind is so incredible and so rare, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.”

Anna Buchannan has experienced a year full of changes — a move from Metropolitan Community College to UNO, a switch in majors, a new job and, of course, adjusting to the new virtual life of a college student in 2020-21. Fortunately for Anna, UNO alumni and donors have made all of the changes — and hitting her goal of graduating on time — just a little bit easier to manage, providing a scholarship to complete her studies. “It was a super big relief,” Anna said, “because it took out a lot of stress of me having to take a loan. I’ve gotten this far in my college career without having to take out a loan. It was amazing. I was so happy!”

Leah Stednitz had been putting her professional skills as a respiratory therapist to use by volunteering with elderly citizens when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and when that work was put on pause, she decided to become a full-time student and enrolled at UNO. She’s pursuing a multidisciplinary studies degree with emphases in health care administration, gerontology and respiratory care. “I would love to take this degree and run a long-term care facility here in the Omaha metro,” she said. “I want to take my knowledge and passion to truly honor and celebrate our senior citizens. I feel that I can bring the younger tech-savvy groove of society and apply it to our long-term care facilities to help them stay socialized and connected with the outside world.”

Sara Pedersen aspires to be both an author and a librarian. She’s pursuing an online education in library sciences from her hometown of Norfolk. Already a contest-winning writer for her mystery and horror tales, Sara’s own story got a surprising twist last fall when she received a UNO Fund scholarship. “I don’t usually win these kinds of things,” she said. “I am lucky sometimes, but not in the stuff that really matters. I have an older sister who is now an art teacher and went to college, and I have a younger brother who is currently in college in Wayne. So that is three children with debt. My parents both have good-paying jobs, but this award helps lighten the load. I am really grateful for these funds, and if you are one of the people who gave, thank you.”

Thanks to UNO Fund donors, UNO was able to offer renewable scholarships to these students to cover much of their tuition through graduation. The more people who give, the more scholarships we can award to students who need and deserve them. Make your gift of $25, $50 or $100 to the UNO Fund today.

For more UNO Fund scholarship recipient profiles, read about the 2019 recipients here.

UNO Fund

You can help bring more students like these to UNO. The more people who give, the more scholarships we can award to students who need and deserve them. Make your gift of $25, $50 or $100 to the UNO Fund today.

UNO Alumni Card Goes All Digital

Joel Gehringer

Starting this month, the UNO Alumni card goes fully digital.

Starting this month, the UNO Alumni card goes fully digital. The UNO Alumni card is issued to all individuals who give a gift of $25 or more to the UNO Fund. It provides access to a number of services on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus, including Criss Library, the ability to purchase a membership to the UNO Wellness Center in H&K, discounted tickets to performances, the bookstore, and more. A full list of card advantages can be found here, though some of these privileges are currently limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The alumni card has been available digitally on the UNO Alumni smartphone app since 2018, supplementing the paper cards issued with donors’ gift receipts. This month, the University of Nebraska Foundation and UNO Alumni Association will discontinue automatically issuing paper cards on the receipts and will direct all UNO Fund donors to access their UNO Alumni card on the UNO Alumni app, available on both the Google and Android app stores.

The UNO alumni card is valid for one year after your gift is made. The app allows for easy tracking of this period and expiration date, as well as easy renewal of your alumni card before its expiration. The digital card cuts down the wait time for issuing cards, and it is also a convenient way to make sure you always have your card handy for use on campus and around town.

For more on the app, including links to download it, visit

Those without access to the UNO Alumni app can email to be issued a paper card. Please allow 1-2 weeks for delivery of the card after request.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) will celebrate its first annual Wear Black, Give Back 24-hour celebration and giving day on Oct. 28-29.

UNO alumni and friends across the country and around the world are encouraged to wear their favorite black Maverick gear and consider giving to scholarships, colleges and programs, student groups and activities, inclusion and wellness, athletics or other areas of choice.

The celebration starts at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and goes through noon on Thursday, Oct. 29. In addition to sharing Maverick pride with #WearBlackGiveBack, contributions may be made at to help any area of UNO. Gifts are accepted now through noon on Oct. 29.

UNO Chancellor Jeffery P. Gold, M.D., said Mavs from across the nation will come together to show their support of the university by wearing their proud UNO colors and by making gifts to support access to exceptional education.

“There’s never been a better time to be a Mav, and we have much to celebrate,” Gold said. “Our incredible, resilient students continue to work hard to achieve their dreams, and our world-class faculty and staff are doing all they can to make it happen safely and effectively. I want to extend my thanks to everyone who gives during Wear Black, Give Back.”

Campus kickoff activities planned Oct. 28

To celebrate the event safely, two physically distanced activities will take place on Oct. 28 at UNO.

UNO employees can drive through one of two Wear Black, Give Back stations on campus to receive a donut in thanks for their service to the university. The first station is from 9-11 a.m. at the West Parking Garage on the Dodge Campus. The second station is from 2-4 p.m. on the Scott Campus in parking lot two.

On the morning of Oct. 28, 10 small, plush Durango mascots will be hidden across the UNO campus, each one with a gift amount attached to it. The UNO students who find the Durango mascots will then get to keep it and also choose which campus cause for Wear Black, Give Back will receive the assigned gift amount.

These hidden gifts, as well as various other challenge gifts planned throughout the celebration, are made possible by individuals and corporate sponsors of the event.

For more information, updates and image downloads go to

Wear Black, Give Back is planned in partnership with UNO, the UNO Alumni Association and the University of Nebraska Foundation.

For questions about the event and to learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact Joel Gehringer at 402-502-4924 or

About the University of Nebraska at Omaha

Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.

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