Mr. and Mrs. Nathan and June Finke visited campus on April 11 to sign an endowment agreement that will benefit nursing school students at A&M-Commerce. The Dr. Omer F. and Nell Kirkpatrick Endowed Scholarship is the third endowment that the couple has established at A&M-Commerce.
During their visit, the Finkes met with nursing student Lilia Ruiz, the 2019-2020 recipient of the LaNelle Ellison Kirkpatrick Scholarship, named after June’s mother. They also toured the new Nursing and Health Sciences Building, set to open later this year.
Dr. Barbara Tucker, professor and director of the nursing program stated, “The generosity shown by the Finkes to the nursing department has been overwhelming. Their scholarship endowments have enabled students to devote more time to studying and being successful in the program. The first two recipients of their scholarships will be graduating this summer, adding to the cadre of BSN-prepared nurses caring for the Northeast Texas population.”
The Finkes have established a rich history with A&M-Commerce and the A&M System. June graduated from East Texas State University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and history/secondary education. Her father and four of her siblings also attended ETSU. Nathan graduated from the A&M system, too, earning a BBA in finance from A&M in 1970.
The Finkes have named each of the three endowments after their late parents who valued education so highly they were willing to sacrifice for it. Nathan recounted that his father wanted to attend high school, but there was no bus system in Brenham, Texas, and it was too far to walk. So, he enrolled in the nearby Methodist boarding school and paid his tuition by cleaning the building.
June recalled that her father’s college boarding house provided weekday meals, but he went without food on the weekends because he could not afford groceries.
“He told us that by Sunday afternoon he felt kind of lightheaded and really looked forward to breakfast on Monday morning,” she said.
The Finkes are strong proponents of a debt-free education. They want to help students realize their dreams of a college education without amassing large student loan debts.
They created the Dr. Omer F. and Nell Kirkpatrick Endowed Scholarship because it is a gift that continues to give.
“Since it’s endowed, long after we’re gone, there will still be students coming to school and getting financial help,” June said. “Our purpose is to help students today as well as in the future.”