March 14, 2018

McKenna Young
484-385-2913 (office)
[email protected]

Horatio Alger Association Selects Donna Neeman as its 2018 Alumnus of the Year
A 2004 Nebraska State Scholar, Neeman continues to support the Association through her involvement in the National Scholars Conference and the Alumni Summit

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 14, 2018) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced Donna Neeman, a 2004 State Scholar from Nebraska, as its 2018 Alumnus of the Year Award winner. Neeman is the first State Scholar to be named Alumnus of the Year. Honoring a Horatio Alger Alumni Scholar who has previously earned an undergraduate degree as well as distinguished him/herself academically, professionally, and philanthropically, the Alumnus of the Year Award includes a $10,000 grant from the Association to be used for continuing education, previous educational loans or as a donation to their high school for scholarships in 2018.

Growing up in Wausa, Nebraska, Neeman learned the value of a strong work ethic as she watched her mother take on long hours at the family-owned meat locker. It was Neeman’s mother who first sparked her desire to go to college by instilling in her the belief that education is the key to success; her only roadblock was finding the finances. Neeman worked three jobs to help provide some financial relief for her family, but constantly worried about how they would pay their bills or find their next meal. She applied for and received the Horatio Alger AKSARBEN Scholarship in 2004 to attend Peru State College. There were two factors driving her pursuit to obtain a degree in psychology: financial stability and the natural inclination to help others.

Following graduation, Neeman worked in Guam as the coordinator for recreational and therapeutic activities for clients at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. In 2012, she moved back to Nebraska, where she was briefly employed as a case manager. Today, she is working her dream job as director of TRIO Student Support Services at Northeast Community College assisting low-income students, while pursuing a master’s degree in education and writing her autobiography.

“Rather than accepting the path pre-determined for her by the statistics of her upbringing, Donna pushed forward to achieve great success,” said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association. “From her volunteer efforts with the Association to her mentorship of low-income students, Donna’s passion for helping others is commendable.  She is a wonderful reflection of all that makes Horatio Alger Association the organization it is today, and we are proud to bestow Donna the Alumnus of the Year Award.”

“To be the first State Scholarship recipient named an Alumnus of the Year is an incredible honor,” said Neeman. “It is important to give back because I know what it’s like to not have much. Nearly 15 years ago, the Horatio Alger Association saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. As a Scholar, you become a part of the Horatio Alger family. As an Alumna, I want to ensure that I can pay it forward and be a support system to young Scholars, making sure that they know they have someone in their corner, rooting for them to succeed.”

The Horatio Alger Association Alumnus of the Year Award annually recognizes exceptional leaders, such as Neeman, who go above and beyond in their service to the organization and their communities, despite having faced significant adversity and personal challenges in their journey to achieve success. 

For more information about Horatio Alger Association, please visit or follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:
Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2017, the Association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada, and also provided college support services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $143 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit