Stairs to the Astronomical Tower at the University of Latvia main building. Photo: Toms Grīnbergs, UL Department of Communication and Innovation.

Throughout years, donations and good intentions have brought a major contribution to scholarship recipients. Thanks to the support of American Latvians, the University of Latvia (UL) Foundation has received a generous USD 55 000 donation to create new scholarships for the UL Faculty of Theology students. With a help from “Friends of the University of Latvia”, Latvian theologians and religion science researchers will be supported by “Kārlis Ozoliņš – Emīls Mednis Charitable Trust”.

In 2000, at the USA, the exiled Latvian, doctor Hermīne Mednis established the “Kārlis Ozoliņš – Emīls Mednis Charitable Trust” in honour of her brother and husband. Thereby Hermīne Mednis (née Ozoliņš) (1905–2003) created a fund for donations and charitable purposes, especially in Latvia. She chose her relative, Māra Dāvis, who lives in Detroit, Michigan, to become an administrator of the newly established fund.

The Dean and professor of the UL Faculty of Theology, Dr. theol. Dace Balode explains that the University of Latvia theology students will be supported by the “Kārlis Ozoliņš – Emīls Mednis Charitable Trust” in various ways. First of all, it is a scholarship, whose beneficiaries receive financial support to fund their studies. The scholarship also provides support for the purchase of equipment necessary for studies and participation in conferences. Thus, the grant helps students to improve the quality of their studies and to expand their opportunities for action. "We are grateful to the patrons and coordinators for the support, which expands the activities of the Faculty of Theology and the development of theology and religious science research in Latvia," says Dace Balode.

Story of the Ozoliņš Family: From Liezēre to Detroit

Hermīne and Kārlis (1900–1986) were born in Liezēre, Latvia, in a family of three children. They studied at Cesvaine Gymnasium. Hermīne Ozoliņš is a graduate of the UL Faculty of Medicine and in 1936 she became a doctor. She was also a member of the academic student unit “Latviete”. Her working life commenced in Latgale, and later continued at the Riga 1st Hospital, until she left Latvia with her family in 1944.

Kārlis Ozoliņš also studied at the University of Latvia, took part in the activities of the student corporation "Latvia". K. Ozoliņš graduated from the Military School, served in the Latvian Army, and was linked to several companies and organizations. Together with his sisters Hermīne and Marianna and mother Anna, they fled to Germany, and in 1950 moved to the United States and began a new life in Detroit, Michigan. There he married Lūcija Asnīte (née Trautmanis).

Life of the Mednis Family: Hermīne and Emīls

Doctor Hermīne Ozoliņš became actively involved in the life of exile Latvians and in the American Latvian Association (ALA), the Latvian Association of Doctors and Dentists, as well as “Daugavas Vanagi”. Her associates described her as an intelligent, kind-hearted, helpful and knowledgeable woman.

In 1956, Hermīne Ozoliņš married her compatriot Emīls Mednis (1898–1978). The young family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Hermīne Mednis worked as a doctor until her retirement in 1975.

The life of Emīls Mednis also took him from his place of birth across the world. He was born in Jaunpiebalga, where he attended school.  World War I disrupted the studies, and he joined the Latvian Army. After the war, Emīls Mednis worked and studied at the University of Latvia, receiving an engineering degree in 1938. During his studies, he was an active member of the student corporation “Talavija”. In the aftermath of political changes in Latvia, Mednis went to Germany as a refugee and subsequently in 1950 emigrated to the United States. There, he worked as a research specialist at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, until his retirement.

The names of Ozoliņš and Mednis enshrined in the contribution of their families to this day give a momentum to the growth of Latvia.

About the University of Latvia Foundation

Since 2004, the UL Foundation provides an opportunity to patrons and cooperation partners to support both the University of Latvia and other leading higher education institutions of our country, thereby investing in the future of Latvia. The priorities of the UL Foundation are to support the most outstanding, dedicated students and researchers, to advance creation of a modern study environment, as well as to promote construction and refurbishment of university’s buildings.

About “Friends of the University of Latvia”

Since 2012, the non-profit organization “Friends of the University of Latvia” has been uniting American citizens of Latvian origin – supporters of the University of Latvia. It is the partner organization of the UL Foundation, founded by the initiative of John J. Medveckis. By donating to this Foundation, US citizens can receive tax deduction. The main task of the foundation is to ensure a brighter future for Latvian education.