by jamesc 12/13/2013 10:59:30 AM --
O’NEILL – The $2.8 million capital campaign to construct a new Northeast Community College extended campus in O’Neill has generated several large financial contributions. However, a gift from an elderly, local resident demonstrates that individual contributions are just as important to the success of the drive.
Gene Meyers recently sent a personal check to Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast. Meyers said his gift is based on his personal experience of attending college. He looks back fondly on a time over 50 years ago that, he said, made a tremendous difference in his life. “I was never able to finish high school and I worked different jobs as a young man growing up. Finally, I decided I was going to try to find a way to go to college.”
Meyers, 89, was born south of Ainsworth in ranch country. He started working in a dry cleaning business in high school. It was from that job he was able to acquire enough training to open his own dry cleaning business in Mullen. “Eventually, I sold it and through the years I had several different businesses, but deep inside I always felt inferior. I had friends in business with degrees and I secretly knew I could have done better if I had, at least, finished high school. No one knew I hadn’t.”
In 1960 at the age of 36, Meyers decided he was going to do what it would take to go to college. “After I contacted the state, I took a two-day test. That test allowed me to enter Norfolk Junior College, as it was called then.”
While Meyers attended classes at Norfolk Junior College, he purchased a dry cleaning business in Stanton and drove back and forth to Norfolk for a year. “I studied hard and proved to myself it was something I could do. I no longer had to feel I was less of a person.”
Meyers said he only attended college that one year, but the experience left a huge impression on his life. “I had more confidence in myself and more self-esteem. I feel I have had a successful life, both personally and professionally, and I know my experience at Norfolk Junior College made much of that possible.”
In the letter to Dr. Chipps, Meyers enclosed a $1,000 check to help with the O’Neill Extended Campus Campaign. “I am very happy the campus here in O’Neill will become a reality and I want to be a small part of it.”
“It is not small, it is huge,” Dr. Chipps said of Meyers’ gift. “I cannot thank Mr. Meyers enough for his generosity. I was genuinely touched when I read his letter and heard his story about how attending just one-year of college impacted his life. His heartfelt gift truly speaks volumes as to how important this new extended campus is to North Central Nebraska.”
“I would encourage residents to consider contributing to this project like Mr. Meyers. This new extended campus will help improve lives across North Central Nebraska for generations to come,” Dr. Chipps said. “It will help address critical workforce shortages, attract and retain business and industry and keep the region vital and strong.”
The new Northeast Community College Extended Campus in O’Neill will replace an existing facility that was constructed in 1938. The one-time elementary school building no longer meets the needs of today’s highly technical learning environments and does not have the space to expand training for businesses and industries.
In addition to more classrooms and lab space, the new extended campus building will feature a separate facility with large overhead doors that will be designed for industrial and agricultural training classes. The Northeast Board of Governors has also purchased a building site on East Highway 275 next to the Farm Credit Services of America building that is capable of supporting future expansion.
Once funds have been secured, construction on the new extended campus will take approximately
12-18 months. At present, the campaign has raised $2.4 million. The original goal was $2.5 million but was increased by $300,000 at the request of area business and industry representatives who said the technical training facility portion of the new extended campus needs to be larger in order to meet their training needs.
To learn more about the Northeast Community College’s O’Neill Extended Campus Campaign, visit the web at northeast.edu/oneill-campaign. For questions or more information, call Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs at Northeast Community College at (402) 844-7056 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.