Scholarship gives hope, support to UNK students in crisis
Completing college is challenging enough for a young person, but dropping out may seem to be the only solution to students who experience a serious personal crisis.
To encourage and support students in these situations at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, an alumnus has established a scholarship through his estate to help students when perhaps it’s needed most.
The gift from the estate of Milton E. Steinkruger to the University of Nebraska Foundation establishes a permanently endowed scholarship fund that will enable university officials to respond to the needs of students who experience a significant hardship, such as a personal emergency or family crisis, and as a result are at risk of leaving the university. Annual income from the endowment will provide approximately $13,000 a year to the university to help students.
Milton’s wife, Ilene Steinkruger, said the scholarship is a fitting tribute to her husband, who was a caring man eager to encourage and support others who were willing to work hard. She graduated from UNK in 1961 and devoted her career to teaching. In addition to part-time jobs and student loans, she said she was fortunate to receive a scholarship which allowed her to remain in college.
“I understand from experience how some overwhelming circumstances and emergencies can prevent some deserving students from continuing college and reaching their goals unless they receive financial help,” Steinkruger said. “If the scholarship helps prevent a student from dropping out it will be a successful instrument.”
Mary Sommers, director of financial aid at UNK, said the generous gift will help many students over the years.
“If a student is trying to make a decision about staying enrolled and money is a factor, to be able to tell them we have this to help you, it can literally change the decision a student would make,” Sommers said. “We can use this scholarship to allow students facing hardships to stay in school and graduate.”
The gift of this scholarship also supports the University of Nebraska’s current fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities. One of the campaign’s priorities is to increase support for student scholarships on the UNK campus.
Milton Steinkruger grew up in Franklin County, Neb., and attended a semester at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on a football scholarship before going to the Nebraska State Teachers College, now UNK, in 1958, where he met Ilene Albrecht Steinkruger. He worked at various part-time jobs to help meet college and living expenses before completing the Gupton-Jones School of Mortuary Science in Dallas, Texas. He died on Dec. 10, 2009, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that has connected the dreams and passions of donors to the mission of the university for the past 75 years. In 2010, donors designated more than $136 million in gifts to scholarships, academic programs, medical research and other priorities at the university. The foundation’s current $1.2 billion fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, concludes in 2014.