UNO Young Alumni Award

Better late than never, right? Back on October 19th, 2017 I had the privilege of receiving the UNO Alumni Association’s, Young Alumni Achievement award. From the association, “Established in 2014, Young Alumni Achievement Awards recognize outstanding career achievement, active community involvement or exceptional service to the university by graduates 40 or younger.” It’s taken a while, but I’d like to share a few thoughts here.

I’d like to thank the alumni association and most importantly, my family.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa, for always being there, supporting everything that I do. Thank you Mom, Dad and Stephanie and Seth for supporting and guiding me. And thank you Aunt Sue and Steve for always being there and pushing me to continue. Without your help I would never have completed my degrees!

Now, let me tell you a quick story about my relationship with UNO

From the moment that I moved on campus UNO had a way of surprising me, reaching out and grabbing me and throwing me to places that I didn’t know I could go.

It’s because of people like Jim Dick and the UNO college of Education that I developed a passion for economic education. It’s the connection with economics education that allowed me to get my first teaching job at Westside. And it’s because of the Center for Economic Education at UNO that I was able to initiate the AP Economic program at Westside.

It’s because of UNO that I met Neal Topp and Neal Grandgenett in the college of education. 

Dr. Topp was my advisor during my masters degree program and pushed me to write a thesis when I didn’t think I could. He helped prepare me for the writing that I would be doing during my doctorate. 

When I was struggling with a statistics class at another University, the professor there wasn’t able to help. But UNO’s Neal Grandgenett was. Neal was gracious and met with me to work through my problems. Teaching me the statistics that I needed even though I wasn’t even going to the university.

It’s the connections at UNO that make it powerful. Not only do I credit them with getting my first teaching job, but I also credit it with my career advancement. 

The UNO College of Education has introduced me to people that have helped propel my career. It’s through the College of Education that I made the connections that allowed me to run for the Nebraska Educational Technology board, first as a director and then as the president. It’s also the connections with UNO that allowed me to jump in to the Strategic Planning process at Westside, working with Neal Grandgenett, Elliott Ostler and Tami Williams. 

Looking back over my past 10 years of taking classes here, my relationship with UNO has become personal – filled with life changing relationships that I hope to continue for many years to come.

Thank you to everyone that I’ve worked with at UNO, and thank you to the UNO Alumni Association for this award. 

I’m honored and humbled.




Matt Lee