photo of Hayden White and Andrew Baird
Maxine Lane surrounded by the succulents she propagates for The UC Santa Cruz Retirees Association Bruce Lane Scholarship. Photo: J.D. Hillard

When Sabrina Creekmore was about to graduate from UC Santa Cruz, her plan to earn a law degree and fight human trafficking was threatened by a shortage of funds.

Currently studying at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, Creekmore (College 10 ‘16, literature) says her plan is on track again. A Navy veteran, she says the GI Bill enabled her to pay for UC Santa Cruz. But back in 2016, even though she was supplementing the GI Bill with work-study jobs, she didn’t have enough to apply to law school.

Help came from the UC Santa Cruz Retirees Association Bruce Lane Scholarship. The scholarship provides $1,000 awards to veteran students at UC Santa Cruz.

“Applying to law school is expensive,” Creekmore says. “This scholarship really put a dent in that.”

The force behind the scholarship

The Lane scholarship has grown steadily since it began. Some of that growth literally happens in the garden of Maxine Lane, who chairs the committee for the veterans’ scholarship named for her late husband. Bruce Lane worked for UC Santa Cruz for 27 years as a project architect, educational facilities planner, and director of capital planning.

Lane’s home is surrounded by succulents, some of which she propagates in ceramic bowls and other ornate, unconventional planters.

“I just love them,” Lane says. “And it also gives me an opportunity to raise money.”

Selling the plants raises about enough each year for one scholarship.

To her green thumb, Lane adds unflagging energy and meticulous oversight. Asked about their fundraising for the year, she doesn’t need to look up the figure.

“From Giving Day we’ll add almost $15,000,” she says, closing her eyes as she refers to the recent 24-hour fundraising effort UC Santa Cruz held on February 28. “Right now we’re at about $118,000, I guess.”

Fellow committee member Nancy Pascal says Lane is a driving force behind that growth.

“You can’t say ‘no’ to Maxine,” Pascal says. “It’s part of her being right now to continue this scholarship in honor of her husband.”

These qualities also served her during 22 years working for UC Santa Cruz. She steadily earned more responsibility and retired as director of the Contracts and Grants office. As members of the staff, Bruce and Maxine Lane were well-liked.

“They were a devoted couple. Genuine in every inch of their beings,” Pascal says. “They raised a lovely family. They’ve always been to me personally a model of how to go through life.”

Starting a life together without debt

Maxine met Bruce Lane when they were both 11 years old and his family moved next door to hers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“That was the luckiest day of my life, because he was one in a million.”

After serving in the Army during World War II, he earned an engineering degree and they got married. Bruce would be continually grateful that the GI Bill helped them get that far without debt.

Bruce Lane had been involved in the design and construction of nearly every building on campus before his retirement in 1991. He had earned a reputation for sincerity and as someone chancellors would listen to.

In 2008, when the UC Santa Cruz Retirees Association decided to give scholarships specifically to veterans, he said he wanted to help. Unfortunately, he died later that year.

Breaking records

The first year the committee gave six scholarships, and people kept donating. The second year they awarded nine, and the third year they awarded six scholarships. In 2012, they named the scholarship in Lane’s memory and began an additional campaign to establish an endowment. They raised the required $50,000 in record time.

In 2017, 9 recipients used the Lane scholarship to buy books, pay rent or childcare, and to cover school fees when GI Bill funds were exhausted.

“These people all volunteer. They risk losing their lives or becoming wounded or becoming affected psychologically,” Maxine says. “I know Bruce would be so happy about what we’re doing for the veterans.”