All In The Family: NWU Degrees Become Reynoldson Tradition

A Nebraska Wesleyan University flag flies proudly at the Reynoldson residence in Eagle. They have a lot to be proud of, after all.

In May, Kelsy Reynoldson walked the stage and proudly picked up her diploma from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where she majored in language arts education and minored in writing.

Her dad, Terry, and brother, Chris, made that same walk across the stage as members of the class of 2012. Terry studied computer science and business administration; Chris studied English and journalism.

While many busy families look to the holidays to reunite, the Reynoldsons looked to the classroom.  For example, Kelsy and her dad were in an internship class together. Kelsy was also a student assistant for one of her brother’s classes. When time allowed, they met for lunch in the dining hall. And when they weren’t busy with extracurricular activities, they would bump into each other at home.

Why Nebraska Wesleyan?

The Reynoldsons look to their beloved wife and mother, Kathy, for that answer.

Kathy was Nebraska Wesleyan’s grounds manager for 11 years. She called the campus her home and its students, her children.

Terry met Kathy in 1984 when they managed an Earl May store. When Kathy applied for the grounds position at NWU, she was elated for the opportunity to work outdoors following years of work in daycare and retail.

“She was excited to do something that she loved again,” said Terry.

Terry soon became a part-time student at NWU while balancing full-time work at Earl May. After a couple of years, he realized he needed to quit his job and become a full-time student. His family was supportive of his decision, he said, despite living on a single income.  

The enthusiasm both parents had for NWU rubbed off on their children.

“Within a year of working there, she bled gold and black,” son Chris said of his mom.  “She would go to most of the games, we had a good layout of the campus years before we went there.”

Kathy died of cancer shortly before Terry and Chris were to graduate. At the same time, Kelsy was finishing an internship in Washington, D.C. through the university’s Capitol Hill Internship Program.

They attribute the support and love from the campus community for helping them through difficult times.

This spring Kelsy shared her mom’s story at Nebraska Wesleyan’s annual Relay for Life.

“It was nice to share her story with a community that loved her so much,” she said. “Even though cancer claimed her life, she still lives here.”

While at NWU, Kathy received the “Friend of the Humanities” award and the university’s Core Award, which goes to a staff member who exemplifies NWU’s core values.

Following commencement in May, the Reynoldsons hoisted an NWU flag at their home and celebrated all three graduates with the help of family, friends and the NWU community.

Now they’ve moved onto the real world. Terry works in computer programming at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital; Chris just landed a new sales job with Geist; and Kelsy is researching and teaching in Rwanda this summer thanks to a Gilman Scholarship. When she returns she’ll begin her teaching career at a Colorado middle school.

And not one day goes by when they don’t think about the woman who made it all possible.

“We know she is immensely proud because she put three kids through college,’ said Kelsy. 

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Terry (right) and his children, Chris and Kelsy, each earned NWU degrees in the past two years.
The Reynoldsons stand among one of the many gardens that their wife and mom, Kathy, cared for as the NWU grounds manager.