Her father made sure she went to college, now she does the same for others
The Nama sisters created a scholarship fund in honor of their father.
After the Nama sisters’ mother passed away when they were children, their father, Frank, made sure his daughters would go on to college.
“One of his goals was that his girls get an education,” said Jean Nama, one of his daughters.
Frank’s work ethic and his belief in the power of education were instilled in his daughters at a young age.
Now a University of Nebraska at Kearney alumna and retired teacher, Jean Nama wants young people to position themselves to be educated citizens. She has given a scholarship to support students who wish to further their education in Nebraska.
She created the Frank Nama Family Scholarship Fund in honor of her father. The permanent endowment will provide an annual scholarship valued at $4,500 or multiple scholarships of lesser amounts.
“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,” Jean said.
Recipients must be a graduate of a Nebraska high school and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2.
Jean said her allegiance to UNK and her family’s Nebraska roots are the reasons she chose to create the scholarship fund.
Frank Nama, of Lebanese descent, attended UNK when it was then the Kearney Normal School. This is where he learned English. His wife, Mary Jacobs Nama, also attended Kearney Normal and studied elementary education.
The Nama family lived in Shelton, Neb., and for many years operated the Shelton Cash Store. It was located on the town’s main street just north of Highway 30 and south of the Wood River. The sisters helped their parents with the store. They sold everything from groceries to clothes and yard goods.
“We grew up in the family store and developed a 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.”
Jean and her twin sister, June Nama Murty, followed in their parents’ footsteps. They each received a bachelor’s degree 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.
“None of us had the opportunity to receive scholarships, so we all worked at waitressing mostly and helped each other,” Jean said.
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.”
Jean and June share fond memories of their time at UNK. They are devoted to promoting the interests of UNK and education and contribute 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,” Jean said. “Being active in the Southern California UNK Alumni Association keeps me in touch with some college friends.”
Jean and June helped establish the Southern California UNK Alumni Association in the early 1970s. They served together as the group’s first co-presidents. Jean and June provided stable leadership to the organization by serving on its board of directors for more than 20 years.
While teaching, Jean and June also received their master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. After moving to California and teaching for 25 years, Jean retired in 1983 and became a member of the California Retired Teachers Association. June taught for 39 years and retired in 1986 in California.
Support for students through scholarships is a top campaign priority for UNK. If you’d like to help UNK students this way, contact Lucas Dart at 308-698-5272.