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Feature

Jan Meyer.

Jan Meyer, who has endowed a scholarship, also organizes alumni activities in Lanesboro, Minnesota, where she lives.

Putting generosity in motion

From M, summer 2005

Attitude, values, and a strong work ethic have long been the hallmarks of Jan Meyer's life. She got married her senior year in high school and made an agreement with her then-husband. She would postpone college to put him through school when he completed his military service, then he would do the same for her. One child and 14 years later, while moving up the ranks at United Airlines, she decided it was her turn. The year was 1971.

Meyer took a four-year leave from her job in Chicago and moved to Minnesota. Then Meyer's husband hurt his back, leaving her as sole support for the family. Undeterred, she decided to work extra hard and get through school quickly. But because her husband's income was cut off, she needed financial help. It was too late to apply for scholarships and she was ineligible for loans. The U came through with a $400 scholarship from Campus Carnival.

Meyer earned a B.A. in communications in just over two years, taking 25-28 credits per quarter. "You had to get permission to do more than 15 or 16," she says. "I used my time well." She used the remainder of her leave to get her M.A, and then moved back to Chicago, where she became manager of Human Resources for United. In 1981, Meyer returned to the U to earn a doctorate in communications.

Now mostly retired, Meyer is establishing an endowed scholarship at the U. "Last summer I got a call from a student caller that turned a light on," she says. "The U has been in my will for many years, but why not give those resources now? I've never forgotten that seemingly insignificant amount from Campus Carnival. I have the added impetus of having leukemia and it makes you want to get things in order. Establishing this endowment now will make that happen sooner. I also hope that the students who receive this scholarship will return the favor someday and help others."