The Nebraska ties that bind

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Now that Greg Snyder is retired, he spends a lot of time at airports. As a volunteer with Travelers Aid, Greg, who is a Burnett Society member, staffs the information desk at Reagan Washington National to help people find their gates, hail a cab or even get patched up like one unlucky man who fell down an escalator.

“I can do something to help,” Greg said in a recent interview from his D.C. home. “And I meet all kinds of interesting people.”

If Greg is not at the airport, you might find him volunteering at a neighborhood library group or a COVID-19 testing site. He’s a person who likes to keep busy and likes to give back.

“I can always try to have an impact,” he said. “Volunteering at the COVID site, it’s like, I can’t fi x this, but I can do something.”

In fact, Greg considers giving back — especially when it comes to Nebraska, his home state, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, his alma mater — sort of a duty.

“I got a good-quality public school education in Nebraska, and taxpayers helped make that happen,” he said. “I haven’t been a taxpayer in Nebraska for a long time, so I need to start paying that back.”

Raised in Omaha, an alumnus of Benson High School, Greg studied urban studies at UNO. It was an unusual major, which allowed him to plan his schedule and take some off – menu subjects.

“It was fascinating,” he said. “­Those classes expanded my horizons.”

Greg loved his time at UNO. He loved to learn and felt inspired by many of his professors.

“College was the best time in my life,” he said. “You have all the advantages of being an adult but hardly any of the responsibilities. I really loved it.”

Greg received a small scholarship to attend UNO that he has never forgotten. It was about $250 for the year, as he recalls, not enough to make a dent in tuition, but enough to cover his books. However, it wasn’t the amount that was most meaningful.

“It was more like UNO wanted me and thought I could succeed,” he said. “­They noticed me as an individual. It was a loving kind of gesture.”

Greg went on to study law at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and receive his juris doctor degree. From there, he practiced environmental law in Denver. Later, he began a career with the Environmental Protection Agency where he helped clean up toxic waste sites.

Greg feels UNO nurtured his love of learning and set him up for a successful career. In return, Greg made a bequest to support scholarships at the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, where he received his degree.

“I just like to have a tie to UNO,” he said. “It was a very good time in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without that education.”

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