UNK-Sonya and Joseph Landholm know first-hand the challenges facing many non-traditional students–students considered to be older than the majority in college–especially when their commitments to family, work and the community make returning to school seem impossible.

While in her early 30s, Sonya Landholm commuted from her home in Lexington, Neb., to complete a bachelor’s degree in science at UNK in 1977. All the while, she kept the pace with her active family, including her children, Kathy, Kent and Mick, and husband Joseph, a veterinarian.

With her undergraduate training in sociology and psychology complete, she served at the Nebraska Department of Social Services in Child Protective Services for over a year. Then she returned to UNK again, this time for a master’s degree in counseling. She counseled students at Saint Ann’s Catholic High School in Lexington and established a private practice, to which she later devoted all her time.

Understanding the challenges that often face non-traditional students motivated the Landholms to create the Sonya M. and Joseph E. Landholm Scholarship Fund at UNK. Their gift of $50,000 to the University of Nebraska Foundation is an endowment to provide one or more annual scholarships for non-traditional students with financial need.

“It’s something very personal to me, and I hope it provides non-traditional students some encouragement,” said Sonya Landholm. “For many of them, it is not easy to return to school, especially when you have developed many responsibilities along the way. For example, some may have families and must work hard to support them.”

James Roark, UNK senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, thanked the Landholms and said the University benefits from non-traditional students. “The Landholms’ gift will allow UNK to provide proper recognition to the contributions of non-traditional students,” he said. “The wisdom through experience that non-traditional students bring to our classrooms provides stimulation for faculty and students, and our academic environment is elevated by their presence.”

The Landholms lived in Lexington over 30 years. After retiring, they moved to Lincoln and lived there for seven years until moving to Sedona, Ariz., their home now for two years.