Mary has been an integral part of the University over the years. Among her greatest accomplishments at UNO, the two facets of her work of which she is most proud, are bringing Project Achieve to the University and getting student housing on campus.
Project Achieve is a student support service aimed at first generation college students. Mary wrote the grant that obtained the funding for this program, and it has been successfully renewed every four years since 1993. Mary reflected, “One of the things I’m really, really proud about is that I was able to write a grant—the first federal grant in this area that was awarded—for Project Achieve. The goal of the project was to support students who didn’t have anyone at home to say, ‘Did you get your application turned in?’ ‘Did you file for financial aid?’—things parents who went to college know to ask. These are students who, if no one took the time, wouldn’t know what to do” (Interview). As quoted in Kris Kohlmeier’s article, “Project Achieve celebrates 10th year,” Mary “proposed funding the program after realizing first-generation students are a large percentage of UNO’s total enrollment. She says this is still true today, which is why the program continues.”
Mary was also successful in bringing housing to UNO’s campus: “The University had talked of it for many, many years, but nothing ever came of it. That was the only piece that UNO didn’t have. They’d been known forever and ever as a community institution. Some saw [housing] as a total negative . . . but it added a new dimension to the university” (Interview). She and some colleagues visited other colleges for inspiration, which led to the creation of University Village at UNO. The addition of campus housing provided “new experiences” and “allowed the University to establish itself as a competitor in the university system.” Mary proudly reflects on the fact that campus housing was really the “thing that changed UNO for the better.”
After 32 years of service to the University, Mary retired in 2003. She is presently employed as a real estate agent for CBSHome in Omaha, but the teacher inside has never retired:
“I see real-estate, or being a realtor, as being a service to the community because everything I do, I see as education. I work with a lot of young home buyers, scared to death, afraid to make wrong decisions. I use that moment to teach about home ownership and what they need to do to be prepared. It’s nice to make money, but I see it as an opportunity to educate the public in a different venue, which now just happens to be houses. I won’t be a millionaire, but it’ll supplement my retirement,” Mary said as she smiled (Interview).