Archives for January 31, 2024

A Global View to Giving Back

Burnett Society member creates opportunities for future nurses to travel the world

By Robyn Murray

Early in her career, Sharon Redding found herself riding on a camel through the Sahara Desert — wondering what on earth she was doing there.

“So here I am out in the middle of the Sahara Desert, trooping along on the top of this camel,” Redding recalled, “and I’m thinking, this is nursing?”

Redding had recently graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center with her nursing degree and joined the Peace Corps. On one of her first assignments, she was sent to Chad to immunize the local residents. It was the first of many adventures for Redding, who is a Burnett Society member and an excellent example of living life to the fullest.

“If I went home and told people this is what I was doing, they would look at me like, Sharon, what are you thinking?” she said. “But I thought it was great fun. I mean, I thought, why not make it fun to be a nurse?”

Redding has traveled to more countries than she can count — 50 to 75, she estimates — as both a tourist and a working nurse. With a quick wit and no-nonsense style, Redding has an abundance of interesting stories from her adventures, like the time she flew over Mount Everest in a tiny plane, an experience she describes as life-changing.

“To see the entire chain of Mount Everest, and all these mountains sticking up out of the clouds, made you feel so small and so humble,” Redding said. “And I’m sitting there thinking, I’m actually doing this. I’m at the top of the world — and I didn’t have to climb anything.”

Redding, who later earned her master’s degree from the University of Washington and her doctorate in education from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, taught nursing at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha for 24 years. She took numerous trips with students, encouraging them to see the world from a global perspective. That view is crucial, Redding said, especially for nurses, who work with diverse populations.

“We don’t just work with people who are born and raised in the United States,” Redding said. “[We work with] immigrants, people from different cultures. And you need to be very savvy about how you integrate teaching … and be attuned to cultural values.”

That belief led Redding to set a new goal later in life: to leave a legacy for the next generation of nurses that would allow them to experience the wonder and adventure of global travel. Working with the University of Nebraska Foundation, Redding established a planned gift to support UNMC nursing students and provide funding for international travel experiences.

Burnett Society member Sharon Redding riding a camel in the Sahara Desert on one of her first Peace Corps assignments as a working nurse.
Redding estimates she has traveled to 50-75 countries in her lifetime and says the experience of visiting and living in other countries has been indispensable in her career as a nurse.

“I want to make sure that my legacy is supporting students who want to be engaged in these kinds of activities,” Redding said. “Nursing and international experiences go together. And for me, that’s why I like the idea of planned giving, knowing that what I’m doing is going to continue, because I believe in that.”

Redding encourages others to think back on their careers and what they loved most as they make their estate plans.

“When did they feel the best in their career? What were things that made them the most satisfied with what they were doing? And then see if you can direct your planned giving in that direction,” she said.

And while not all careers have included riding on camels through the Sahara, Redding encourages others to be creative in their gift planning and consider giving to something that will have a lifelong benefit.

“That involves giving to people who then can turn around and do the same thing that you did,” Redding said. “I think that’s what’s exciting about working with an organization like the Burnett Society to really make your dream come true or make your life activities go on for who knows how long.”