MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

December 21, 2013

Million-dollar gift is changing lives


In November of 2011, Mayville State received a gift of $1,000,000. Designated for the purpose of providing student scholarships, the gift is the largest single monetary charitable contribution ever received by Mayville State University. The donor of the gift has chosen to remain anonymous.

The million-dollar donation was used to establish the Nelson Family Endowed Scholarship Fund. Each year, a percentage of the endowed fund is used to provide scholarships that help non-traditional students achieve their goals. The first scholarship allotment of more than $40,000 was awarded to students last academic year. The scholarship is geared especially toward those individuals who may be changing their paths in life or those pursuing changes in careers. A special emphasis of the scholarship is to promote the concept of volunteerism, leadership development, and out-of-classroom experiences for the scholarship recipients.

Recipients of the 2013-2014 scholarships are Jacob Allam, Renton, Wash.; Jeffrey Jones, Langdon, N.D.; Tina Nygard, Edinburg, N.D.; Tania Olson, Page, N.D.; Adam Petkau, Morden, Manitoba; Angelina Rieli, Brazil; Jeffrey Ringstad, Cooperstown, N.D.; and Sara Taylor, Thompson, N.D.

Sara Taylor is just finishing up the requirements for her Bachelor of Science degree in early education. She is a current employee at Mayville State University Child Development Programs, and has always been interested in continuing her education. Sara earned an associate of arts degree in early childhood from Mayville State in 2001.

Sara was born and raised on a farm outside of Buxton, N.D. She now lives in Thompson, N.D. with her husband and their five children. Balancing life as a student, preschool teacher, mom, and foster parent has been a challenge, but she says “it’s not impossible!” It was her goal to earn a four-year teaching degree so that she could continue to improve herself, and she says that her responsibilities as a wife, mother, and employee pushed her to work harder.

Taylor says that going to college has allowed her as a mom and foster parent to show her children and others what is possible for them. “I’ve tried my hardest to make sure that my time with my children wouldn’t suffer, so homework was frequently done late at night or beside my children while they worked on their homework.”

Sara didn’t succeed on her own though. She had a great cheering squad and support group filled with friends, co-workers, and family. She credits her husband, Doug, as a great source of strength and encouragement. On occasion, when Sara was ready to throw in the towel, Doug reminded her of her goal and cheered her on. He happily helped with daily life at home while Sara was attending night classes.

Taylor was speechless when she learned last spring that she had been awarded the Nelson Family Scholarship. It paved the way for her graduating this semester. “I have never wanted my education to take away from the needs of our family,” she said. “This scholarship (and others) gave me peace of mind so that I wasn’t distracted from my education due to financial stress.”

Sara didn’t ever think she’d go back to school after earning her associate’s degree. It sounded crazy to her, and when she stepped back on campus in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree, she thought she might have looked crazy, but with a little emotional and financial support, she has achieved her goal.

“The Nelson Family Endowment Scholarship encourages students like me to step out and move on. I will always look at my time at Mayville State University with great appreciation for what I was given by each individual I encountered. I have received a quality education, and the staff, advisors, professors, and fellow students have always made me feel welcome and important.”

The Nelson Family Endowed Scholarship is intended for non-traditional aged students, 25 years of age and older. The recipients must be full time, degree seeking students who are pursuing courses in residence at the Mayville State campus. Eligible students must demonstrate a need for funds as evidenced by information submitted through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The scholarship may be awarded to those in pursuit of associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. Preference is given to females, but both males and females are considered. The scholarship is renewable to students who maintain a 2.0 grade point average or greater. With each term, there is an expectation of improvement.

During this season of gift-giving, it seems that we all are in search of the perfect gift. It seems that Mayville State’s historic million-dollar gift has made that mark. Through the donor’s generosity, lives are being changed for the better.  

To find out how you could change lives through your gift to Mayville State University, contact Director of Development John J. Klocke at 701-788-4787 or North Dakota residents can make their gifts to a permanent endowment and qualify for a 40% North Dakota tax credit, as well as a federal tax deduction on gifts of $5,000 or more. All donors can make tax-free distributions from IRAs for this type of gift. This is the last year that a donor can make a tax-free charitable gift from an IRA (up to $100,000 for anyone 70 ½ years old or more). In addition, “The Matching Fund for Enhanced Academics,” an amazing new program created by the 63rd North Dakota Legislative Assembly will provide a 50% match for each and every dollar donated to endowments and non-athletic scholarships through the Mayville State University Foundation between July 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014. Every dollar given, up to $1,333,333, will receive a 50% match, creating the potential for $2,000,000 in new endowment funding. Contributors can also make a pledge of up to seven years and have the entire pledge amount matched. Contact Klocke to learn more.