Patrons Juris and Katrīna Riekstiņš. Photo from personal archive.

American Latvians emphasize that donations to the University of Latvia (UL) are valuable investments in the future of Latvia. In cooperation with the charity organization “Friends of the University of Latvia” and the UL Foundation, Juris Riekstiņš’ support will contribute to promoting the improvement of studies at the UL Faculty of Medicine.

Patron Juris Riekstiņš was born in Riga in 1941. In early childhood, with parents Hugo and Lūcija Riekstiņš went to exile to Germany, and around 1950 came to the USA and settled in Chicago. In 1965, he graduated from the University of Illinois, where he studied electrical engineering. He worked at the “Hughes Aircraft Company” until the retirement. He married Latvian Katrina Prilaps in 1972, and settled in Southern California, where they still live today. “In our youth, we had a lot of friends among the diaspora of Latvians and we often attended local Latvian events,” reminisce Riekstiņš family.

Since the recovery of independence, J. Riekstiņš visited his Motherland three times, and at the beginning of the 1990s he even explored a part of Latvia by bicycle. The brightest memories have been engendered by the beautiful countryside of Latvia and the unique architecture of Old Riga.

The family, including several relatives, is linked to the University of Latvia. Father Hugo U. Riekstiņš (1904–1998) was an alumnus of the UL, Latvian historian and archaeologist, among the first Latvian archaeologists studying the Stone Age. His father's brothers – Jānis A. and Andrejs B. Riekstiņš also graduated from the University of Latvia. Numerous relatives of his mother Lūcija (1910–1977) also were UL graduates. Her family came from Smiltene area, her father’s cousin was General Jānis Balodis. Even today, J. Riekstiņš maintains contact with three cousins, who are also UL graduates.

Although his entire life has been spent in America, J. Riekstiņš emphasizes that the education acquired in Latvia must be internationally recognized for its high level in the network of European higher education institutions: “It is important for the new generation to be able to build a successful life there – in Latvia. Hopefully everyone, who is able to donate to better future of Latvia will do it.

The initiative to support the University of Latvia originated from a suggestion of his Latvian acquaintance, who also donates to the UL development. Thanks to the individual donation of J. Riekstiņš and “Mikrotīkls“ Ltd., the UL Faculty of Medicine, in cooperation with Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital will purchase an ultrasonoscope of the latest generation with full equipment, thus enabling young medical professionals to acquire the most innovative methods of patient care.

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