Jared Oney had to look at least twice at what he was reading — he couldn’t really believe it.
But receiving the Ruth Leverton Scholarship, which covered a large chunk of his non-resident tuition, meant the University of Nebraska–Lincoln became the top choice for pursuing his undergraduate degree — no question.
“That scholarship really set Nebraska apart from the other schools I was looking at,” said Jared, who moved to Nebraska from Aurora, Colorado.
Another surprise? His twin, Jarus, received the same scholarship, allowing the brothers to set off on a new adventure together as first-year students and roommates in a new state.
Both Jared and Jarus are enrolled in the College of Business, applying their love of mathematics toward earning a degree in actuarial science.
“I knew they had a good program here,” Jared said. “But I never expected to get a big scholarship or anything. Getting the scholarship made me feel appreciated as a student, and made me really want to attend this school.”
Scholarships like the Leverton award are supported by financial donors. The scholarships are important in attracting high-caliber students and making Nebraska’s first-class education accessible to students near and far.
Donors have an opportunity to directly help students through the annual Glow Big Red — 24 Hours of Giving event, slated for noon to noon, Feb. 17-18. Donors can choose which scholarship or academic program to support.
For some students, including first-year student Lindsey Sawyer, the scholarships funded via generous donors are life-changing.
Sawyer wasn’t sure how she’d swing the costs of college, and her family wasn’t in a financial position to help. Taking on debt was scary, so Sawyer was considering completing her collegiate career at home in North Platte, as a student at a community college. Then, she got an email and a huge sense of relief.
“I was flabbergasted, and I think my mom cried,” Sawyer said. “I was just really excited once I realized that, yes, it was real.”
The scholarship opened the door to attending a four-year university, which was what Sawyer really wanted.
“Getting scholarships and grants was the only way I was going to be able to pay for college,” Sawyer said. “Receiving the Nebraska Achievement Scholarship was an incredible blessing, and it took a huge burden off my shoulders and my family’s. I get to go to the college I wanted to go to — the college I dreamed of being at.
“I don’t have to stress about all the expenses or being in debt after I graduate. I can focus on doing my absolute best in my courses.”
Now a junior double-majoring in advertising and news broadcasting, Shultz credits the community with helping her learn beyond-the-classroom skills like money management and better mental and physical health habits, along with providing overall support.
Shultz said she hopes donors will continue to give in a big way to help students like her. Through her own experience, and as a student worker with the University of Nebraska Foundation, Shultz knows the impact that donations have on students.
“I’ve really been able to see the good donations can do not only for the university, but for students in general,” Shultz said. “There are so many philanthropic donation funds, such as major-specific scholarships, the Husker Food Pantry, and so many more options.
“Without the financial assistance that my scholarship has offered, I would not have been able to attend the university.”
Oney agreed, and said gifts pay dividends as students go on to shape and serve their communities.
“I would tell the donors that gifts to support scholarships are very appreciated because they really help people in ways that are unimaginable,” Oney said. “To be given a scholarship is an honor and a gift that will never be unappreciated. Scholarships drive people to actually accomplish something, and the world should know.”