Scholarship makes it easier for students suffering hardships
The scholarship was created by Milton Steinkruger will help those at risk of leaving the college get to stay
Posted: Thu, Jun 30, 2011
Milton Steinkruger's 40-year career in the funeral business gave him the opportunity to help those who were grieving or struggling.
"Milton was a caring man throughout his life and eager to encourage and support others," says his wife, Ilene Steinkruger.
While college is challenging enough for a young person, those who experience a family crisis or personal emergency may think the only solution is to drop out.
To encourage and support students in these situations at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Milton, an alumnus, established a scholarship through his estate to help students when perhaps it's needed most.
The permanent endowment will provide annual scholarships valued at $13,000 to help students who experience a significant hardship, and as a result are at risk of leaving the university.
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. 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. He died on Dec. 10, 2009, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ilene says the scholarship is a fitting tribute to her husband, who encouraged and supported those who were willing to work hard.
A 1961 NSTC graduate and teacher, Ilene, too, has witnessed students who are in unfortunate circumstances.
"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," Ilene says. "If the scholarship helps prevent a student from dropping out it will be a successful instrument."
Ilene understands that financial assistance can make a difference. While in college, she held part-time jobs and took out student loans. But she said she was fortunate to receive a scholarship that allowed her to stay in school.
Mary Sommers, director of financial aid at UNK, says 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 says. "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. Helping students through scholarships is a top campaign priority for UNK.