Expanding their Worldview

A smalltown girl from Grafton, N.D., Lyn Burton, ’70, says one of her first international experiences was in high school when she befriended a foreign exchange student from Costa Rica.

That experience multiplied when she got to UND and chose to major in English and History with an emphasis in Latin American studies.

UND leaders Dean Bernard O’Kelly and President George Starcher took notice of her talent and her international interests and provided the means to further her education outside of North Dakota.

In 1968, they cobbled together funds to pay for an airplane ticket to Washington, D.C., for a summer internship with the Peace Corps where she was assigned to the Latin America/African desk.

The following  year, they did the same for her trip to Colombia where she was a community ambassador with the Experiment in International Living, a program that offers cross-cultural education for students through international homestays.

Lyn Burton

UND gave Lyn Burton, ’70, exposure to crosscultural experiences. 

“Those piggybacked experiences have become foundational to who I've become as a human being,” Lyn said. “My worldview would have been very narrow – extremely narrow – but for UND. It gave me keys to the kingdom. So, paying it back is impossible but paying it forward is possible.”

At the start of her longtime career in government, private sector lending, nonprofit management and education in the affordable housing industry, Lyn began saving money. Her savings grew and in 2018, she established the Lyn Burton Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment in the College of Arts & Sciences. 

My worldview would have been very narrow – extremely narrow – but for UND. It gave me keys to the kingdom.Lyn Burton, ’70

To date, it has provided scholarships for three students to take their education overseas. That same year, Lyn added the endowment to her will hoping to expand the worldview of generations after her.

“[This fund] is for other young people from small towns with limited academic and financial means who also have that need, that hunger, to have a bigger worldview and to become part of shaping a worldview that reflects their lived experiences in collaboration with others,” Lyn said.

Lyn’s generosity can also be felt on campus. She is a lead donor on the Merrifield-Twamley renovation project. 


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