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Luncheon honors Northeast scholarship recipients and sponsors

Luncheon honors Northeast scholarship recipients and sponsors

NORFOLK, Neb. – Generosity took center stage recently during Northeast Community College’s annual Scholarship Luncheon. Scholarship recipients and the sponsors who help them succeed were honored at the event.
“Over the years, many graduates of Northeast Community College have experienced the generosity of others, first-hand, through the gift of scholarships. Today, we are here to recognize these very special people who assist our students in succeeding with their education,” said Dr. Leah Barrett, president. “We hear the remarkable stories of our students every day. They aspire to attend Northeast, but many times, through no fault of their own, they run into roadblocks in achieving their dreams.”

Barrett said factors such as family and job commitments often prevent students from having the financial resources necessary to attain their degree or degrees to be successful in life. 

“However, people such as you - our donors - make those dreams come true.”

In Fall 2021, 45% of degree seeking students at Northeast Community College were first generation college attendees (neither parent has acquired a bachelor’s degree). Over the years, nearly 65% of Northeast students have been eligible for Pell Grants, which means they have an expected family contribution of $5,711 or less. For 2020-2021, 552 of 990 applications were awarded scholarships in the amount of $470,605 with an average award of $853.
Barrett also emphasized that scholarships aid in retention. 

“We know that 90% of our 2021 graduates live, work and pay taxes in Nebraska after they complete their education,” she said. “Of the graduates who are employed in the state, 58% of them work and live within our 20-county service area. In addition, 99.5% of our graduates were either employed or continuing their education during the past year.”

The audience at the luncheon also heard from students who told stories of how their benefactors’ contributions aided in their education. 
Freshman Bridget Rupprecht, of Clarkson, a pre-professional medicine major and a recipient of a Dr. Jagmohan and Shobhana Desai Family Scholarship, spoke of how she worked through high school and   college to save to attend Northeast, the college of her dreams. She said her donors have aided her to take the first steps on her journey to earn a degree that will allow her to become a doctor of chiropractic care. 

“I believe that attending Northeast was the best place for me to begin this exciting journey,” Rupprecht said. “The teachers here not only have been a huge help in the classroom, but also have encouraged me and given me the confidence to believe that one day I will have the knowledge and the skills to become a great chiropractor.”

The audience also heard from Grace Jensen, of Hartington, who will graduate in May with an Associate Degree in Nursing and Associate of Science degree. As a first-generation college student, she is grateful to receive the Dr. Jagmohan and Shobhana Desai Family and the Donna and John Goossen Nursing Memorial scholarships to assist with tuition and books.

“Success really does start here, but my success would not have been possible without the generous scholarship donors through my years here. Being a first-generation student, my mom highly encouraged me to apply for every scholarship that I could possibly find, because she knew paying for college was going to be difficult,” Jensen said. “I am incredibly grateful for all that I have received and want to thank you for investing in my future. I am truly inspired by your generousness and one day I will give back to students and invest in their futures here at Northeast.” 

Alexis Schnoor, a freshman agribusiness student from Pierce, is a recipient of the David and Frieda Wolf Scholarship. 

“I feel very honored and thankful to have received scholarships through the Northeast Foundation. I would like to personally thank my donors, David and Freda Wolf, and also the Foundation Board for the Inter-High School Scholastic Contest Scholarship,” Schnoor said. “Not only am I thankful, personally, but I am also thankful for all of the other generous donors that help our students here at Northeast Community College earn their way towards success.”

Another speaker, Kaitlyn Pongratz, a sophomore Physical Therapist Assistant program student from of O’Neill, is the recipient of several scholarships which have assisted her in her goals of graduating in August and then becoming employed in a pediatric or outpatient clinic.   

“Scholarships have impacted my education by allowing me to work only as a tutor and not having to continue employment as a CNA (certified nurse assistant) during school,” Pongratz said. “The past scholarships, such as Weller Foundation Scholarships, Marlow Family Memorial Scholarship, and Richard Chaffin Memorial Scholarship, have helped cover some of my cost of living on campus and tuition to relieve financial stress. I would like to say thank you to the scholarship donors for their generosity.”

Pongratz was also recently awarded the prestigious New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship through Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges, and the Coca-Cola Foundation. Over 2,200 students were nominated from more than 1,200 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Workforce Scholar was selected from each state.

Contributions to the Northeast Community College Foundation not only impact individual students, but the greater community at large. Dr. Tracy Kruse, vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the foundation, said Northeast has established the Founder’s Society to celebrate and thank those individuals who share in the College’s dedication to the success of students and the region it serves. 

“Through your scholarships, you are touching our students’ lives and by joining the Founder’s Society, you will make a lasting impact even after you are gone,” Kruse said. “If individuals or families currently have an annual scholarship, for example, they can consider funding an endowed scholarship through their estate. That way they can impact students’ lives forever.”

The Northeast Foundation is governed by a board of directors consisting of community members in Northeast's service area. They represent varied backgrounds, bringing strength and diversification to the Foundation.

Barrett stressed the importance that all contributions to fund scholarships at Northeast are extremely significant. She shared the story of the college receiving a $15 million donation from author and  philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in Dec. 2020. Barrett said the donation, which has been placed in an endowment to support student scholarships and student success initiatives, is aligned with efforts to create pathways for all people in the college’s 20-county service area to earn a certificate or degree. 

“It is allowing us to more effectively engage with underrepresented and underserved students in our communities by providing scholarships for many people who may not otherwise be able to attend,” Barrett said. “To our benefactors, your gifts are changing lives. Whether it is $15 million or $100, all gifts matter. We are humbled by your generosity that will impact generations of students for years to come. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
For more information on contributing to the Northeast Community College Foundation, visit 


                                                                                                   PHOTO CUTLINE 

Dr. Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College, listens to freshman Bridget Rupprecht, of Clarkson, during the College’s annual Scholarship Luncheon in the Lifelong Learning Center recently. Rupprecht, a pre-professional medicine major and a recipient of a Dr. Jagmohan and Shobhana Desai Family Scholarship, was one of four students to share their stories on how the contributions from their benefactors have impacted their education at Northeast.