Alumna and longtime alumni association supporter gives scholarship to help UNK students
Jean Nama wants students to be contributing members of society.
University of Nebraska at Kearney alumna and retired teacher Jean Nama has given a scholarship to support students who wish to further their education in Nebraska and position themselves to be educated citizens.
“I want to help some youngsters from Nebraska who have good grades and goals but need some extra help to further their education and become a contributing member of society,” said Nama, who helped found the Southern California UNK Alumni Association in the early 1970s.
Named in honor of her father, she established the Frank Nama Family Scholarship Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation as a permanent endowment to provide annual awards to undergraduate students at UNK. Recipients, who may study any major, must be a graduate of a Nebraska high school and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2.
Scholarships will be awarded by the UNK scholarship committee and the office of financial aid. Although the amount of the gift is undisclosed, the interest income from the endowment is estimated to provide an annual scholarship valued at approximately $4,500 or multiple scholarships of lesser amounts.
The gift 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.
“The university is incredibly thankful for Jean Nama’s gift and her desire to support many future generations of students who want to better themselves with an education at UNK,” said Charles Bicak, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “It’s alumni like Jean, who continue to give back in such meaningful ways, who help make the dream of obtaining a degree possible.”
Nama has fond memories of her time at UNK and has been dedicated to promoting the interests of UNK and education. Committed to helping students have the same opportunities, she contributes annually to the Southern California UNK Alumni Association scholarship fund.
“I enjoyed my college days, and, as the notes in my yearbook will support, I had many friends and good times,” Nama said. “Being active in the Southern California UNK Alumni Association keeps me in touch with some college friends.”
Nama and her twin sister, June Nama Murty, who also graduated from UNK, helped establish the Southern California UNK Alumni Association and served together as the group’s first co-presidents. They provided stable leadership to the organization by serving on its board of directors for more than 20 years.
Jean Nama said her allegiance to UNK and her family’s Nebraska roots are the reasons she chose to create the scholarship fund. A Lebanon descendent, their father attended UNK when it was then the Kearney Normal School and is where he learned English. Their mother, Mary Jacobs Nama, also attended Kearney Normal and studied elementary education.
The Nama family settled in Shelton, Neb., and for many years operated the Shelton Cash Store, which was located on the town’s main street just north of Highway 30 and south of the Wood River. Jean Nama said she and her two sisters helped their parents with the store, which sold everything from groceries to clothes and yard goods.
“We grew up in the family store and developed great work ethic,” said Jean Nama, who now lives in Cypress, Calif. “I am very proud of my heritage and family and what we have accomplished.”
Their mother passed away when Jean and June Nama were eight years old, but their father made sure the girls went to college. “One of his goals was that his girls get an education,” Jean Nama said. “None of us had the opportunity to receive scholarships, so we all worked at waitressing mostly and helped each other.”
Jean and June Nama followed in their parents’ footsteps and received their bachelor’s degrees in teaching from what was then Nebraska State Teachers College in Kearney. Their older sister, Betty Nama Elias, went on to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln to earn a law degree and became a lawyer and eventually a judge in Orange County, Calif.
While teaching, Jean and June Nama also received their master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. After moving to California and teaching for 25 years, Jean Nama retired in 1983 and became a member of the California Retired Teachers Association. June Nama Murty taught for 39 years and retired in 1986 in California.
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.