When Justice Kellett’s father told her to dress up for school in early February during her senior year, she thought it was just because it was his birthday.

Behind the scenes, however, plans were coming together to surprise Kellett, a senior at Papillion-LaVista South High School at the time, with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Maverick in the Making Scholarship. The $1,000 annual scholarship, partially funded through generous donations toward the UNO Fund, recognizes high school seniors who have made a difference in their community.

Kellett was a commanding officer in the school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC). She fell in love with the program over the course of her high school career and was planning to participate in ROTC in college with the goal of becoming an officer.

“I wanted to go into Officer Training School (OTS), and I was even looking at West Point,” Kellett said. “I just knew that I wanted to be an officer and so I was applying for everything.”

She eventually shifted her sights toward UNO at the beginning of her senior year. Kellett’s decision was affirmed when she was presented with the Maverick in the Making Scholarship that year.

Kellett was surprised with the Maverick in the Making Scholarship during her fifth-period ROTC class. She remembers her friends, family and even Durango. It was a moment she would never forget, in part because she had just swapped the nice clothes for T-shirt and sweatpants so she could work out.

“Nobody knew that I was going to change, but I think it was rawer because people could see me in my normal clothes,” she said.

The surprise also served as justification for all Kellett’s hard work as a student and leader in her community. That relief was clear to see from the moment she was awarded the scholarship.

“I remember just crying when I saw my parents because I was applying for scholarships left and right without any response,” she said.

The scholarship set her on a course to continue her education at UNO through the ROTC program. Now a sophomore, Kellett is working hard toward her goal of becoming a commissioned officer. Kellett is also majoring in psychology along with a minor in sociology. She hopes to use her education to pursue a career in information operations.

Without the Maverick in the Making Scholarship, Kellett said she would not have continued her ROTC path. Thanks to the support of those who contributed to the scholarship, Kellett is on a path toward success.

“I’m really grateful for this scholarship and I would really like to thank the donors specifically for being such kindhearted people,” she said. “This is the road of life that I want to be on right now, and I wouldn’t be here without people giving out of the goodness of their heart.”

Stories like Justice’s don’t happen without the support of generous donors like you. Make a gift of $25, $50 or $100 today to help fund more scholarship opportunities for future UNO students by clicking the button below. 

UNO Fund

The University of Nebraska at Omaha aims to provide access to exceptional education to all who seek it. Our focus on providing access, opportunity, equality and service is enhanced when you give to  Through the UNO Fund, you can choose to directly support whatever you think is most important, such as student scholarships, faculty recruitment and retention or your college’s academic priorities.

Perseverance and hard work have always been guiding principles for Teja Farley.

Farley, a Syracuse, Nebraska native, has employed these principles at every major turn in her life. Now, she’s reaping the rewards that have come after years of grinding toward her goals.

The UNO Fund student scholarship recipient always worked hard for good grades in the classroom. However, she shined in high school as an active member in a variety of clubs and activities, ranging from volleyball to a four-year stint in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).

“I picked up a lot of my leadership skills in FBLA,” she said. “It’s where I really excelled.”

The club also helped Farley discover her knack for public speaking and creating interpersonal relationships. She used those skills to become a leader within her community, organizing and directing several blood drives within her school.

“I participated and did everything I could to really show off my skills where I could,” she said.

When Farley was applying for scholarships as a senior, she quickly identified the UNO Fund Student Scholarship as one that fit her perfectly. After completing her application for the scholarship in the fall during her senior year in high school, Farley continued to remain active in her clubs and activities.

Her hard work paid off just months after completing her application. Shortly after finishing first in a job interview competition at an FBLA state leadership conference, Farley received a phone call naming her as a recipient of the UNO Fund Student Scholarship.

“All I could think that entire day was: ‘Wow, I really made it,’” she said. “Everything I worked for this entire year has paid off.”

Farley has reaped the successes of her hard work as a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The senior business administration major is chasing her dream of a career in sales and marketing.

She said the school’s courses and environment have provided her with the resources needed to make that dream a reality.

“I think the College of Business Administration really gives you a well-rounded education,” she said. “I’ve taken finance, accounting and marketing courses that are all intertwined, and I think that is something that is helpful in creating a well-rounded business

As Farley nears the end of her college career, she is thankful for the guidance and support she received along the way from donors who supported the UNO Fund. The scholarship, coupled with the continued guidance of her family, put her on the path to a truly impactful experience at UNO.

“This scholarship is everything to me because if I didn’t have it, I would be in a very different place right now, doing very different things,” she said. “The financial burden that this took off was so helpful for me and really gave me the peace of mind to make me a better student.”

Stories like Teja’s don’t happen without the support of generous donors like you. Make a gift of $25, $50 or $100 today to help fund more scholarship opportunities for future UNO students by visiting https://unofund.org/ or clicking the button below. 

UNO Fund

The University of Nebraska at Omaha aims to provide access to exceptional education to all who seek it. Our focus on providing access, opportunity, equality and service is enhanced when you give to  Through the UNO Fund, you can choose to directly support whatever you think is most important, such as student scholarships, faculty recruitment and retention or your college’s academic priorities.

Pete Madsen knows how a dedicated community can make a difference for his students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

With more than $10,000 raised during Wear, Black Give Back for UNO Jazz students and programs, that support is clear to see. Madsen, area coordinator for Jazz Studies at UNO, said the support reflects the program’s involvement in the community.

The funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back will allow UNO Jazz to continue to remain involved in the community. That includes programming such as the Metropolitan Area Youth Jazz Orchestra and the annual Great Plains Jazz Festival.

The support Madsen has seen this year is indicative of the hard work and connection UNO Jazz has with the Omaha community.

“I think we just have such an active and vibrant community,” he said. “We’re out performing in front of thousands of people each year, so it’s great to see that return on investment of the time and effort it takes to get out in the community.”

Most importantly, Madsen said the funds raised for the program will provide opportunities and resources that positively impact its students. He said everybody involved in UNO Jazz is appreciative of the generosity and support shown during Wear Black, Give Back.

“The funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back impact our students in many, many ways,” Madsen said. “There are so many needs within a vibrant jazz program, including travel, getting music and equipment and addressing scholarship needs. It means so much to the students to have these experiences.”

The impact of the funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back can be seen through the smiles on each student’s face. 

This year’s fourth annual 24-hour fundraiser raised a record-setting $761,285 from nearly 5,000 generous donors to support the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Student organizations played an active role in this year’s Wear Black, Give Back. 59 different student groups registered to participate in this year’s fundraiser, collectively raising over $55,000. 

These funds enable student organizations to focus on providing an impactful experience to students. Funds used through Wear Black, Give Back are used by student groups across campus to cover registration fees for new members, reduce travel costs and provide impactful programming. 

Thank you for your support of the University of Nebraska at Omaha during this year’s Wear Black, Give Back! 

You don’t have to look hard to find the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s biggest fans.

The students involved in Maverick Maniacs can be seen sporting their red-and-black bibs and using their contagious energy to create a unique game-day environment for UNO sporting events throughout the year.

Maverick Maniacs president Casey Wells, a multidisciplinary studies major from Omaha, said the club works hard to motivate and energize the UNO community for all its sporting events. In doing so, she said the club has become a team of its own.

“We try to be loud and proud and help spread the positivity to the players,” she said. “Students involved in Maverick Maniacs always have a spirited personality, and it’s not only just for sports and athletics. They’re very positive people to be around.”

Wells said gifts made to the club during Wear Black, Give Back help fuel the Maniacs’ energy. Funds raised during the giving day help the club purchase T-shirts and bibs for students, cover new-member fees and even assist with travel costs for away games.

All of this translates into a unique game-day experience that can be found only at UNO.

“Wear Black, Give Back definitely provides us with more opportunities than we would usually have,” she said. “I’m so thankful for our donors. Not only are they helping our group, but I think they’re also helping UNO in general by helping to provide school spirit and hyping up other events and student organizations on campus.”

That infectious experience drew Wells to the Maniacs as a student. In the beginning, she didn’t see herself as a dedicated Mavericks fan, but her love for the school and its athletics only grew as she became more involved in the Maniacs.

“It’s going to sound cheesy, but Maverick Maniacs kind of gave me a college purpose,” she said.

Before the Maniacs, Wells said her routine was to work, go to school and go home. Getting involved in Maverick Maniacs pushed Wells to become more involved in campus life. Ultimately, Wells said, her experience with Maverick Maniacs has been transformational.

“It made a difference by giving me more confidence in myself,” she said. “When you put yourself around positive people and just create those friendships, you kind of want to become a better person. I feel like I’ve discovered myself as a person since joining the Maniacs.”

Anthony Navarrete Figueroa was a quiet, introverted student when he began his freshman year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

That changed in his sophomore year when he learned about the Association of Latino American Students. He walked into his first meeting of the club not knowing what to expect. However, it took only an introduction to the club for him to realize that he found his home at UNO.

“After walking into ALAS, it didn’t take me long to find people like me who I could relate to,” Navarrette Figueroa said.

The connections Navarrete Figueroa, now a junior studying architectural engineering, created in his first year as a general member of ALAS drove him to seek a leadership position in the club. As the organization’s current president, Navarrete Figueroa has seen firsthand how ALAS is able to cultivate strong relationships among its members.

“It’s crazy how fast people can connect in this organization,” he said. “Even if you don’t see them regularly, members will pick up a conversation during meetings like they were just talking the night before.”

Those opportunities to come together and deepen relationships within the ALAS community are made possible through gifts made to the club during Wear Black, Give Back. Navarrete Figueroa said the money raised during last year’s day of giving played a critical role in providing programming and resources for the club this year.

In addition to funding programming and resources for the club, Navarrete Figueroa said he hopes to use the money raised during this year’s Wear Black, Give Back to provide ALAS with the opportunity to attend the 2024 United States Hispanic Leadership Institute National Conference.

“We really appreciate all of the support from the donors who have invested money into ALAS during Wear Black, Give Back,” Navarrete Figueroa said. “These gifts are going to really help us.”

By making a gift to ALAS during Wear Black, Give Back, Navarrete Figueroa said donors are able to play a direct role in fostering growth for the Latinx community on UNO’s campus. The impact of their gifts can clearly be seen by looking at the students who call ALAS home.

“I see those genuine connections being made in ALAS,” he said. “I see students walking in as strangers and leaving as friends. We all come from similar backgrounds, and we want our students to know that this is an environment that they can feel comfortable in.”

Growing up, Camden Carmichael was always interested in sports you have probably never heard of.

Carmichael, a junior criminology and criminal justice major at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said his father encouraged him to explore things that fell outside the norm. Instead of playing football and basketball in high school, Carmichael tried sports like pole vaulting and fencing.

“I’ve always been kind of interested in the kinds of sports that are really fun and interesting, but they’re not something you get together every Sunday to watch,” he said. “When I moved to college, I realized that I missed those experiences.”

During his sophomore year at UNO, Carmichael stumbled upon the UNO Curling Club during MavFEST, an event geared toward connecting students with organizations and departments throughout campus.

The club was in its first year, and Carmichael was immediately interested in the sport, even though it was the first time he had heard of it.

“There was something in me that said, ‘I just have to see where this goes,’” he said.

Carmichael knew he was hooked on curling from the first time he was able to push the rock down the ice without falling over.

“I truthfully wasn’t expecting to like it nearly as much as I do,” he said. “You might not realize it until you’re doing it, but it’s really an exhilarating sport.”

Carmichael, now the president of the UNO Curling Club, has seen the organization thrive in its second year on campus. The club has nearly doubled in size and competes with other curling clubs throughout Nebraska and the surrounding area.

Last year’s Wear Black, Give Back was a driving force for the club’s success and continued growth. The money raised from last year’s giving day provided the club with the funds to cover registration fees for bonspiels, otherwise known as curling tournaments, and helped cover the cost of travel.

Carmichael said the funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back were critical in helping the curling club succeed in its first year on campus. More importantly, Carmichael said these gifts have opened the door for more students to discover the UNO Curling Club’s growing community.

“I’m really thankful for all of the donations and contributions, because they have helped us share our love for the sport of curling and really open the door for other people to join our community,” he said. “There are so many people in this club that are great and it’s been amazing to grow that using the gifts made during Wear Black, Give Back.”

Empowering Future Educators: Abby Heimann’s Scholarship Story

I hope that someday I’m in a position where I can help future students because I know the impact that it has on students like myself…”

Abby Heimann’s pursuit of a degree in secondary education was achievable because of a scholarship provided by the UNO Alumni Association. 

Heimann grew up in the small town of Wakefield, Nebraska, and graduated from high school in a class of 40 students. When searching for the ideal college to pursue a degree in secondary education, she decided to attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Several facilities were recently updated, safe and secure dormitories provides a unique practicum experience.

Once committed to UNO, the only question left was one many students ask themselves: How do I pay for college? Heimann was concerned about accruing debt while gaining a degree in a field not known for its high earning potential.  

Fortunately, Heimann was awarded the prestigious UNO Alumni Association Scholarship and accepted into the Teacher Scholars Academy. These substantial scholarships, paired with others, have made it possible for Heimann to attend college debt-free.  

Being able to commit her time to schoolwork and practicum hours has provided Heimann with valuable college experience. Throughout her academic journey, she has accumulated 150 hours of practical experience in high school classrooms. 

“To be able to be fully involved in that practicum experience was important for me, and I was able to do that because of the financial support that I received from the donors,” said Heimann. 

Now a junior, Heimann credits her success in the program to the funding she received early on. Beyond financial support, members of the UNO Alumni Association have provided advice that has helped Heimann navigate her college experience.  

Heimann recognizes the impact these organizations have had on her educational journey and aspires to do the same for future students.  

I hope that someday I’m in a position where I can help future students because I know the impact that it has on students like myself,” said Heimann.  

 Consider making a gift today to help create more scholarship opportunities, like the ones that made Heimann’s college experience possible. 

UNO Fund

Alumni Association

A gift to this fund benefits the UNO Alumni Association and the UNO campus by supporting alumni communications, events and scholarships, and enhancing the growth of new, innovative programs.

The Holland Foundation has established a permanently endowed scholarship fund to forever provide financial assistance to students pursuing their education in the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media (CFAM) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The Richard Holland Endowed Scholarship Fund is the largest scholarship fund ever created to support students in the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media. The Holland Foundation made a $250,000 gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation, which was matched by other funds to establish a $500,000 scholarship fund in memory of philanthropist Dick Holland.

“We are beyond grateful for this incredibly generous gift, which will positively impact our college and community for many years to come,” said Michael Hilt, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media. “When given the opportunity, CFAM students do great things. In addition to achieving their academic goals, they develop creativity, ingenuity and communication skills that will enrich their lives and put them on the path to career success.”

Dick Holland was a longtime supporter of UNO. His contributions included a leadership gift to Baxter Arena, where the Holland Ice is named in his honor, and support for a supercomputer in the Holland Computing Center. He graduated from the University of Omaha (now UNO), where he majored in art and was a columnist for The Gateway student newspaper before launching a successful career in advertising in Omaha.

“Support for public education, at all levels, is at the heart of the Holland Foundation’s mission,” said Deb Love, president of the Holland Foundation. “The Richard Holland Endowed Scholarship Fund will continue Dick Holland’s legacy of giving back to his alma mater by supporting future generations of students who major in communications, media, art or music.”

Dick Holland died in 2016 at the age of 95; his wife, Mary, died in 2006 at the age of 82. Dick and Mary Holland’s legacy of philanthropic giving is being carried on by the foundation established in their name.

The Holland Foundation gift supports Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future. The campaign strives to raise $3 billion from 150,000 unique benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. More information is at OnlyinNebraska.org 

About the University of Nebraska Foundation
The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. During the most recent fiscal year, a record 60,571 donors gave $300.6 million to the foundation to aid UNK, UNO, UNL, UNMC and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, and NCTA. The foundation raises more than $7 for every $1 it spends. Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future is its current campaign with a goal to raise $3 billion from 150,000 unique benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. More information is at OnlyinNebraska.org.

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.

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. https://unofund.org