Donors’ goal: Get students through college

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Coming to Lincoln for college was traumatic at first for Jim Rasmussen. “Oh, man,” I thought. “What a big city.”

Coming to Lincoln for college was traumatic at first for Jim Rasmussen.

“Oh, man,” I thought. “What a big city.”

From a conversation with Jim:

It was 1964. I roomed with a friend from Dannebrog, which was the same size of my hometown Elba – about 200 people. I don’t think we went anywhere for the first two weeks.

My folks were farmers. They struggled to make a living on ground that wasn’t very good. They didn’t want me to struggle. My dad always told me, “You’re going to college.”

Back in those days you listened to your dad, and so I went to college – to Kearney for two years and then to Lincoln for the last three. My folks helped when they could. But I didn’t like to take too much from them so I’d go home on weekends to work. I’d make enough money – a dollar an hour working for a farmer – to make it through the next week or two.

I’d work all summer long and was able to pay for my tuition, books and most of my rent.

Faye and I married in 1967. She became a nurse and worked in pediatrics and the newborn nursery. I think she fell in love with every baby. I graduated from Lincoln with a degree in civil engineering in 1967. I got a job with Boeing in Wichita, but got laid off. That opened the door for me to go to work for Peter Kiewit in Omaha, which was a job I was grateful to have.

That job took us to some very interesting places. We lived in Saint John in New Brunswick; Montreal and James Bay in Quebec; and Edmonton, in Alberta. This was when our children Julie and Robert were young. They both were bilingual, having learned French. I made up my mind that after my “traumatic” experience of transferring to UNL that our kids were not going to live in just one spot their whole lives. This job gave us that opportunity. We eventually moved back to Omaha.

After 25 years with Peter Kiewit I retired and we moved to Ravenna. I went into farming. I grow beans and corn. It’s an interesting challenge to see what you can raise each year.

I don’t know if we have a philosophy for giving back. We just want to help get students through college and to see them succeed and make their mark in the world. We want to help kids in the nursing fields get advanced degrees so we can have more nursing teachers – there’s such a need there. We give scholarships to kids in engineering and construction management. We want our scholarships to go to the kids in rural areas to allow them opportunities to attend college if they so desire.

We feel grateful for the doors that education opened up for us. We just want to help other people that way, to allow them to benefit from the opportunities that may be available to reach the goals that they wish to achieve.

Student support is one of the top priorities of the campaign. If you also would like to help students from rural areas – or any students – achieve a college degree, please consider giving online or contact the foundation, 800-432-3216.

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