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Learn to Dream celebrates 10-year anniversary

Jack Huck
Dr. Jack Huck
Connie Duncan

When Connie Duncan retired from Lincoln Public Schools as a special education teacher, she didn’t waste much time before diving head first into her next role as a success coach for the Learn to Dream Scholarship program at Southeast Community College.

“I just said to my husband how we needed something for LPS students, when the newspaper had an article about the Learn to Dream program,” she recalled.

Duncan contacted administrators at LPS and expressed her willingness to be involved in the newly created scholarship. Not long afterward, she was the only employee in Learn to Dream in 2007. During the next three years, she spent time with counselors at Lincoln high schools, getting names and recruiting students. Once they came to SCC, she helped them adjust to their new role as a college student.

She remembers one time setting up a booth at Lincoln Southeast High School, and a mother had tears in her eyes when she found out about the Learn to Dream Scholarship because she never thought it was possible for her son to go to college.

“The most rewarding part for me was seeing the students and how the LTD program changed the whole life trajectory for these kids,” Duncan said.

When Duncan became a member of the Lincoln Board of Education, she left SCC and her duties with the scholarship to focus her energies on her new role. However, she never stopped thinking of the program and the students she helped along the way.

“I miss the students. I miss helping them solve life’s problems,” she reflected.

Former SCC President Dr. Jack Huck was instrumental in establishing the scholarship, along with Union Bank & Trust and Nelnet. They wanted to make it possible for high school students who did not have the financial means to attend college, or never thought it was possible to enroll at SCC and start the higher education process.

“Leaders of Union Bank and Nelnet said they would be interested in establishing a support system that would have a significant impact on students,” Huck recalled. “They wanted all high school graduates in Lincoln to have the opportunity to attend college at SCC.”

During the first year of Learn to Dream, 212 students were awarded scholarships. Now, the number easily doubles that, with a high of 573 students during the 2015-2016 year.

“As we track the success of these students, it’s amazing to me how committed and focused they are,” he said. “They are succeeding at higher levels at our institution.”

Huck said there are many highlights in his 39-year career at Southeast Community College, but the Learn to Dream scholarship tops the list.

“When I think about impacting the lives of students, this scholarship program is right at the top of the heap. It’s one of the bright spots of my career.”

Every year in the spring, a recognition ceremony is held for the LTD students. Huck said he enjoys meeting the students and learning more about them through their families that also attend.

“Some of my best memories are talking with them and meeting their families and to learn from mom and dad about the difference this opportunity has made in the student’s life,” he said.

As far as the future of the scholarship, Huck said now that they’ve had a chance to observe it in its formative years, they’ve talked about the possibility of finding more benefactors to cover the entire time it takes to get a degree at SCC.

“It’s something I try and pitch a little bit and maybe build on that success,” he said.

The Learn to Dream scholarship will hold its 10-year spring recognition ceremony in May.


For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher
Marketing Specialist