Giving Back to Caregivers

Giving Back to Caregivers

Memorial nursing scholarship remembers Mary Lynn Wright, ’72

Michael and Mary “Lynn” Wright, in Bermuda, a frequent and special destination for the couple

Michael and Mary “Lynn” Wright sitting at an outdoor restaurant

Learning of his alma mater’s plans to establish a standalone Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, Michael Wright, ’69, knew he had found a perfect way to create something positive from his loss.

It was early 2022 and Wright had just recently lost his wife, Lynn, to cancer. Over their 52 years together, the two shared a passion for UNI. Lynn was also an alum, graduating with a degree in elementary education in 1972.

Michael from Mount Pleasant, Lynn from Chicago – their lives together began in Cedar Falls at what was then known as the State College of Iowa.

“Lynn and I met and got to know each other there, in and around the library and the Campanile,” Wright recalled. “And away we went together for a long, long journey.”

That journey would take them across the world. First to Waterloo, where Michael taught history at East High as Lynn finished up her elementary education degree. Not even two years into their marriage, Michael shipped off to Southeast Asia to serve two tours in Vietnam. Lynn was steadfast through it all, enduring the challenges with her characteristic positivity and grace.

The couple eventually settled in Houston, Texas, which became a home base for their extensive world travels together. Michael worked in government affairs in the pharmaceutical industry and Lynn taught elementary school for 30 years.

“Lynn was a great teacher and UNI served her extremely well,” Michael said. “She was always better trained in the fundamentals of teaching than any of our peers that I ever remember … and that was a testament to the platform UNI gave her.”

Mary Lynn Wright Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Through his service as a UNI Foundation Trustee, Wright learned of the need for scholarships to support the incoming class of nursing students. He jumped at the opportunity.

“I thought the timing was perfect; that it was a way of giving back with all of the care Lynn got from her professional nurses with two years of having cancer,” Wright explained. “It was mentioned that there were no scholarships yet, so I wanted to create that first one … I knew it should be in her name there at UNI.”

The gift builds on Lynn and Michael’s previous philanthropy at UNI. Over the years the Wrights established several scholarships in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (CSBS) supporting students in history, gerontology, military science and more.

The Mary Lynn Wright Memorial Endowed Scholarship will provide tuition assistance to high-achieving students in the nursing program who demonstrate financial need. Brenda Bass, CSBS dean, said the Wrights’ generosity has made a UNI education possible for students with limited financial means.

“Michael and Lynn’s commitment to both UNI’s students and innovation in academic programs has been transformational in supporting key initiatives like the new nursing programs,” Bass said. “They have always understood how education expands people’s potential and benefits the greater community, and this scholarship in particular honors Lynn’s memory in such a special way.”