Bonnie Buckland speaks during the commencement ceremony at North Platte Community College on Friday while her husband Bob looks on. The Bucklands received the college's President's Award.
About 240 graduates were recognized at North Platte Community College on Friday to the cheers of family and friends. The college conferred more than 200 degrees, about 25 diplomas and more than 30 certificates to the Class of 2017.
Antonia Villani, of Frederick, Colo. was the commencement student speaker. She drew on her experiences of losing a brother and coping with debilitating spinal injuries while speaking about overcoming adversity.
Robert "Bob" and Bonnie Buckland were presented with the President's Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize people who have had a positive impact on the college and who reflect exemplary community service.
Bob was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he attended elementary school through sixth grade. His family moved to Omaha in 1956.
Bonnie was raised on a farm in northeast Nebraska. She graduated from Pierce High School in 1963 then attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology on June 3, 1967. She married Bob the following day.
Bob graduated from Omaha North High School in 1962. He played on the state championship football team his senior year and was an editor of the school newspaper.
Like his wife, Bob also attended UNL, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1966. He graduated from what is now the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha in 1970.
Bob then interned at Cedar Rapids, Iowa and served in the U.S. Air Force for three years. He was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone and was second in command at the medical facility on Howard Air Force Base.
After leaving the military in 1974, Bob entered the surgery residency program at UNMC. He completed his residency in 1978 and moved to North Platte, joining the staff of Great Plains Regional Medical Center, now Great Plains Health, as a general surgeon. He retired from his surgery practice in 2006.
Bonnie worked as a computer programmer for Mutual of Omaha while Bob was in medical school and again during Bob's surgery residency.
After settling in North Platte in 1978, Bonnie engaged in numerous volunteer and civic activities, including two terms on the North Platte Public Schools Board of Education.
She earned her Master of Business Administration degree from what was then Kearney State College in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1995.
Bonnie served as the director of Information Technology at GPRMC from 1996-99 and then launched Buckland Consulting, LLC with her daughter Vickie.
It was in that consulting capacity that Bonnie enjoyed a number of successful engagements with Mid-Plains Community College, including writing successful Higher Learning Commission Accreditation reports for MPCC in 2004 and 2012.
She also wrote a successful $1.9 million U.S. Department of Labor Community-Based Job Training Grant application in 2005, a joint project that also benefitted Central Community College, and provided leadership and consultation for a computer information project during the 2004-05 school year.
During his tenure in North Platte, Bob served on the city planning commission for 11 years, was the clerk of session at the First Presbyterian Church three times, was president of the local Rotary club for one year and was twice-elected chief of staff by the medical staff at GPRMC. He also served as a member of the GPRMC board of directors for a number of years.
Bob and Bonnie co-chaired the NEBRASKAland Days Governor's Western and Wildlife Art Show for six years and also co-chaired the 2009-10 fundraising campaign for a Health and Science Center at NPCC.
Bob and Bonnie are now both retired and living in Omaha. They keep busy with church and community activities and enjoy spending time with family. The Bucklands have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.