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Jacob Smaus SuperHero Scholarship


Applicants may be involved in community service on a volunteer-basis, non-profit organizational support or simply demonstrate acts of selflessness on a regular basis.  As an original SMR board member, these traits were some of which Jake Smaus displayed throughout his short but accomplished life.  Jake’s uplifting character is honored through this scholarship with the hopes of inspiring those whose actions impact others in need.

If you are or know someone deserving of consideration for the award, be sure to review our complete Scholarship Eligibility Requirements, also listed below:

  1.  Currently enrolled as a full-time student (college/post secondary education).

  2.  U.S. Citizen and Nebraska resident OR U.S. Citizen enrolled in a Nebraska-based institution.

  3.  Previously completed minimum first term or semester of currently enrolled institution.

  4.  Minimum 2.5 GPA

  5.  Actively involved in community service via volunteer-basis contributions.

Now accepting applications for the 2024 scholarship!

Please review the eligibility requirements above and submit your application today!

Final date to apply for this year's scholarship is July 1st, 2024.




Evada Palmer

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Harris Ebrahim 

Tessa Gatewood

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Kelly Cech 

Kelly is currently pursuing a degree in Biology/Pre-Physical Therapy at Wayne State College.  Upon completing her college education, Kelly is committed to practice and provide Physical Therapy for her rural Nebraska community. 

“I have a passion for helping others and I am fortunate to be going into a profession where I will be able to help individuals heal and feel better every day.” – Kelly C.

Kelly credits her inspiration to become a physical therapist to a special individual; her sister, Jackie.  A role model and best friend to Kelly, Jackie was paralyzed from the waist down due to a car accident.  At only seven years old, Kelly knew she wanted to lead a life of assisting others as she witnessed Jackie’s physical therapy, which rebuilt her strength, balance and helped her cope with her injuries.  During this time, Kelly also experienced the impact of community service, as her community helped her family by providing food, assisting with the family farm, and visiting Jackie while she stayed at rehabilitation hospitals.

“I strive to continue to pay it forward and help others when they are going through a difficult situation or need a helping hand.” – Kelly C.

Kelly’s love for helping others has always been evident.  Her passion flourished once she attended Wayne State College.  As a freshman, Kelly joined the Red Cross Club to pursue further volunteer opportunities.  As a member, Kelly’s commitment was quickly noticed, and she serves as Vice President for the club, now in her 3rd year of coordinating blood drives.

Kelly even took her experience with organizing blood drives to her hometown of Howells, Ne.  This cause was one that was close to Kelly and her community, as her classmate and close friend was diagnosed with Leukemia, which required him to receive blood transfusions.  During this drive, Kelly watched community members donate knowing that they were helping patients like him fight for their lives.

“Without the support of kindhearted people it would be difficult for communities to thrive” – Kelly C.

Kelly’s extensive volunteering background includes several great causes.  Of them, Camp Quality Heartland was another cause very close to her heart.  Camp Quality provides a summer camp experience for children with cancer and their siblings.  The kids participate in activities such as crafts, swimming, archery, and even ziplining.  The camp also gives hardworking parents a chance to relax and find time for themselves while the children create memories and friendships that they will never forget.  Kelly served as a mentor and companion for the camp.

Kelly’s understanding of the importance of community service is made clear via her ongoing volunteer experiences and the opportunities she utilizes to go above and beyond in her community.

 “Community service truly makes the world a better place to live.”  – Kelly C.

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Callie Martin 

Callie is currently pursuing a career as a nurse anesthetist while earning a Bachelor of Chemistry degree at the University of Nebraska in Omaha.


An honor student and lacrosse team member, Callie’s resume is comprised of several awards for academic excellence and contribution to the community.  Her involvement in multiple academic clubs allows her to give back while encouraging others to be involved in both community service and extracurricular activities.


Since the start of her collegiate career, Callie also presently volunteers for multiple organizations.  These include the DreamWeaver Foundation where she cares for elders, the Eastern Nebraska Medical Reserve Crops administering the COVID vaccine, and the UNMC Support Your Neighbor program assisting those affected by the pandemic.

“I truly believe caring for our neighbors and those who need the most help is what we are called to do in life.  If we all support one another, this world would be a more accepting place.” – Callie M.

Callie’s involvement in community service has been evident since age 14.  The loss of her aunt due to cancer, shortly followed by her 9-year-old cousin diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, ultimately led Callie to volunteer for these causes.  Her first three organizations to contribute to included Salvation Army, People’s City Mission, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society where she helped raise over $100,000 through donations and fundraisers.


“I have heard over and over again how thankful people are for the time that I volunteer.  They start to know me by name, and I think that’s the greatest thing that could come out of giving my time.” – Callie M.​​​


Callie’s actions speak volumes to her passion for assisting others and how she continues to lead by example for those around her.  Her love of volunteering instills confidence that she will continue to do so for the rest of her life.  Whether it is high profile fundraising or random acts of kindness, Callie shows us that making a difference can be done on any level and at any age.  She stresses the importance of focusing less on ourselves and instead supporting one another, especially those who are struggling.

 “I hope that I continue to make this world a better place.  Many people believe in the goodness of community service, but I am one to take action and fulfill that goodness.” – Callie M.​







Julia Shipman 

Julia is currently fulfilling undergraduate courses at Hastings College in pursuit of a Doctoral degree in Neuropsychology.  Upon completing her college education, Julia is committed to fulfilling her passion as a clinical psychologist.

Julia's passion for helping others started at a young age and has grown greater ever since.  Her vast experiences in mentoring and serving youth along with her community demonstrate the passion she holds while never hesitating to help those in need.

“I started my community service projects in my first year of 4-H, since then I've pushed myself to do more each year." – Julia S.

Recently, Julia has teamed up with her sister over the past few years to successfully raise awareness for childhood cancer, inspired by her sister's journey with cancer.  Julia also credits her sister's journey to pursue her own career path.  Together their experiences from regular visits to the hospital were filled with encounters of children facing battles that had seemingly lost hope but had gained anxiety and depression.  Julia hopes to utilize her education in the mental health sciences to motivate children in similar situations.

Amongst Julia's extensive volunteering efforts, she credits her continuous perseverance with her academic, athletic, and farming experiences to the character she has built along with the drive for helping others.  From caring for and raising her own cattle to dealing with hardships from crop and cattle loss, Julia has experienced many ups and downs while adjusting to overcome them.

Julia's actions speak volumes to the importance of community service and how it is second nature to her.  The dedication to herself and the opportunities she utilizes to help others in need allows her to go above and beyond in her community.

 “Serving others has always been a priority for me, considering others before performing any action.”  

– Julia S.

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Hunter Kelley 


Hunter is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and majoring in International Business with an emphasis in Supply Chain Management at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.


A proud resident of Lincoln, Nebraska, Hunter has consistently been a heavily involved student, professional, and mentor.  Winner of the Sertoma Award in high school, Hunter’s drive for bettering those around him started early.  The Sertoma Award is given to student-athletes that represent good character both inside and outside the classroom. 


As a college student, Hunter has been a big part of many clubs and organizations on campus, such as the College of Business Administration, the Supply Chain Management Club, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, and the Student Ethics Board where he currently serves as President and strives to help the board become more involved in the community through student functions and events.


Hunter’s most recent experience with GeoSentinel in Aix-en-Provence, France serving as a Project Management Intern has kept him busy during the summer while taking classes in addition.


Not only does Hunter work hard in the classroom but he also volunteers directly within his community as well.  Organizations such as The Bay and City Light Church have allowed him to make a positive impact on others in the city of Lincoln by serving regularly as a volunteer coordinator and Sunday school teacher respectively.

The Bay, voted Non Profit of the Year for 2017, is a volunteer-managed place where local youth come to interact with others and practice activities that they love doing in a positive environment.  The Bay also manages fundraisers, provides access to services, job-training, and mentoring, while striving to inspire and prepare these youth for their future.


Additionally at The Bay, Hunter has consistently volunteered to help mentor at-risk youth and even to give them rides home or where they need to go, while being a friend to talk to when needed.


“Each one of these different outlets that I have been involved in has made life more grand.  Being involved in something bigger than yourself really puts life into perspective” – Hunter K.


A love for his family and friends, combined with a love for the outdoors and staying active helps Hunter keep what’s important on top of mind.  Among his two brothers and wonderful mother, Hunter experienced his father’s passing at just 10 years old.  Although the experience was tragic, Hunter believes the event has given him the tools to know how to be resilient and deal with the stresses and daily struggles one would encounter from it.  Hunter’s grit, determination, and the ability to do anything he sets his mind to gives him the motivation and character to pursue his goals in all aspects, and has made him the man he is today.


Hunter has thoroughly enjoyed volunteering and giving back in such various ways.  He credits his volunteering experience with helping to keep him grounded and humble while working hard to achieve his dreams and reach his full potential.


“I have really loved the camaraderie that has come with being involved in my community.  I have met so many amazing people that have pushed me to also be a better person.” – Hunter K.

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Natalie Abendroth

As an avid contributor to her community, Natalie attributes her most impactful volunteer experience to the Nebraska Foundation for Visually Impaired Children and their annual Ruth Sokolof Christmas Party.  The event provides blind and visually impaired children with an independent holiday shopping experience while allowing them to develop social skills along the way.

“It was incredibly humbling to see, no matter how severe their visual impairment, how independent each child was determined to be.  These children who were facing some of the most daunting roadblocks in life never gave up on their goals.  Their will and conviction inspired me to focus all of my efforts into my own life goals and to give back in any way that I can.” – Natalie A.

Natalie’s experience with this event led her to pursue her interest in the disabled community by joining the UNL Disability Club at the University of Nebraska.  The club, which consists of both able and disabled members, has provided Natalie the opportunity to become extremely active within as she is now the Vice President of the group.  In just the past year, the club and Natalie have been determined to better accommodate all individuals by working with multiple UNL campus departments to further educate and incorporate physical activities for the disabled into the University’s campus.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has also provided Natalie with the chance to expand her knowledge as she has recently attended their annual Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Summer Leadership Academy Conference in Washington D.C. this past June.  She is optimistic about learning more about Autism and how she can create systems of change within the campus, and how to implement those changes, along with furthering her education about the disability rights movement and policies.

Natalie’s passion for volunteering doesn’t stop there.  She is also very involved with her local church and has been able to give back to her community in many ways in doing so.  Of these include; teaching children during the Vacation Bible School program each summer,  working with other members to help keep the community clean, and helping those in need in the more underprivileged areas of their church neighborhood by helping with yard work, daily house cleaning, building projects and assisting with groceries and child care as well.  Natalie states that her experience with her church was a great way to create new relationships and encourage her community and children to pursue their dreams and challenge themselves.

“I am so thankful to be able to serve and give back to my community in many different ways.” – Natalie A.

As a current Nelnet employee, Natalie loves the fact that one of their top core values is giving back to their communities.  Nelnet has allowed her to be able to give back through multiple causes and organizations such as the United Way and The American Heart Association, as well as through many community projects.

As a member of the United Way program, Natalie donates a portion of her paycheck each pay period to help individuals in her community and across the world.  Natalie also helped her group of fellow interns in raising donations for the annual American Heart Association Heart Walk through Nelnet this past spring, raising over $10,000 for cancer research.  The Lincoln Food Bank allowed her to assist in distributing food to community members as well.

Natalie credits her hard work and dedication to her parents for instilling the importance of responsibility at a young age.  From her first job at age 14 till now, Natalie’s work experience has allowed her to challenge herself and to become a leader and learn the importance of effective communication.  She also enjoys being a part of the automotive racing scene and learning about the parts, mechanics, hard work and challenges that go into racing as her boyfriend and his family actively build and race classic BMWs.

Natalie is looking forward to helping foreign exchange students as they learn and become accustomed to American business and culture this upcoming Fall.

 “The benefits that I have taken away from serving my community thus far have already helped me excel and encourage me to do more and to work harder in order to accomplish my goals.” – Natalie A.

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Natalie pictured with part of the bi-weekly climbing group for the UNL Disability Club where she serves as Vice President.

The Jacob Smaus SuperHero Scholarship is offered to currently enrolled college students who are actively involved in local area charity work, non-profit organizational support, or giving back to their communities via volunteer-basis contributions.

These traits were some of which Jake Smaus displayed everyday throughout his short but accomplished life.  Jake’s uplifting character is honored through this scholarship with hopes of inspiring those whose actions impact others in need.

Jake Smaus passed away in July of 2015 due to an unfortunate accident.  As one of our original members, Jake was a huge part of our organization as well as the entire community.

We look forward to helping students meet their college expenses for years to come in honor of Jake’s memory.  He was indeed…our SuperHero.

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