In the twenty-first century, it’s easy to say that you go to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and not really think too much about it. However, it wasn’t always so easy to say that you had graduated from UNO, especially for a woman in the 1960s. One of the two biggest stereotypes back in the 1960s was that women should finish high school, get married, have children, and run a household. The other one was that if a woman went to college, she should study to be a teacher or nurse, aspiring ultimately to earn her MRS degree.
Mary Alice Hurlbert didn’t buy into either of those gendered stereotypes. When she enrolled in UNO (formerly Omaha U) in fall of 1960, Mary Alice decided to pursue a Biology major: “It was always something that was interesting to me” (Interview). When she didn’t excel in Biology classes, she reasoned that she would maybe make a better teacher. However, she argued that gender had nothing to do with it. Mary Alice had always loved and desired to help and educate children, so it seemed like the perfect career.
Mary Alice was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and came from an educated family. Her father was a civil engineer and her mother was a nurse. She was the younger of two girls. When Mary Alice graduated from high school, she initially wanted to go away to school in Missouri. After thinking about it for a while, she chose to stay in Nebraska and attend UNO, a commuter non-traditional school. “I went mostly for my parents to UNO; they wanted me to stay in town” (Interview).
Mary Alice lived with her parents while she went to UNO, but that didn’t mean she didn’t participate in other activities outside of classes. She was an active member of Sigma Kappa. “I loved doing everything that had to do with the sorority” (Interview). One of Mary Alice’s best memories of being in the sorority was