In 1962, while attending a junior college in his hometown of Fergus Falls, Minn., Joseph Kise (of infamous MSUM fame) was a visiting professor in one of Hollis Nelson’s classes. Kise spoke of the opportunities at MSUM, including programs and scholarships, and after some conversation, Hollis decided to transfer to Moorhead. He was one of the first students to live in Snarr Hall and became active in groups like the Circle K Club, Dorm Council and International Relations.
Hollis landed a summer internship with the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., (the first ever from MSUM), which he describes as a dream job. He worked in the communications department, writing letters and correspondence and attending weekly seminars, including speakers like Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. He even had the opportunity to sit in on Senate hearings regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on Capitol Hill. “It was a great experience and gave me the Washington, D.C. ‘buzz,’” Hollis said.
Hollis graduated from MSUM cum laude with a degree in political science and a minor in economics. He furthered his education at American University and then joined the Peace Corps. He met his future wife Julia, from Lima, Peru, and the two of them lived and worked all over the country, traveled the world, and raised a family.
“During this time, our investment portfolio grew beyond our expectations,” Hollis said. After retiring, the couple decided to give back to institutions and organizations that meant a lot to them, one of those places being MSUM. They started the Hollis P. Nelson Endowed Scholarship, which helps fund the education of minority students based on need. Hollis and Julia have also included a gift to MSUM in their estate plan. “We think education is important and we want to support the institutions that got us where we are today,” Hollis said. “We will continue supporting education and we’re happy to contribute.”
Hollis encourages those looking to give back to consider the places that have made a difference in their lives and those they know. “There’s more than your own family you can impact,” he said. “Reflect, and look beyond, at those organizations that have helped you get where you are today.”
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