Third-generation UNMC student embraces family ties to MMI

Jueliet Menolascino is a third-generation UNMC student with family ties to the Munroe-Meyer Institute.

Jueliet Menolascino is a third-generation UNMC student with family ties to the Munroe-Meyer Institute.

Jueliet Menolascino has become a regular at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute this summer.

Menolascino, who started her first year of medical school this fall, attends weekly bocce ball practices at the institute.

The third-generation UNMC student has family ties to MMI through her grandfather, Frank Menolascino, often called the father of the community programs in Nebraska that largely replaced institutionalization.

Frank Menolascino, MD, became a leading voice in Nebraska arguing for more humane treatment of people with intellectual disabilities.

He died in the 1990s, never meeting his granddaughter Jueliet. But she’s felt connected to him through reading his books and learning of his legacy within the MMI and wider community.

“Even though I never met him, I wonder what he would think of the building and how far they’ve come in what would have been his lifetime,” Menolascino said. “Everything about MMI is so thoughtful for the population they serve.”

Menolascino, who’s from Wyoming, completed her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University. She grew up visiting her dad’s side of the family in Omaha.

She enrolled at UNMC, following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather.

“It’s really special to continue the legacy,” Menolascino said. “You’re not just a doctor who sees patients. You advocate for them, for our systems to better support and serve our patients.”

Menolascino, who is in the MD/MPH dual degree program, spent her summer on campus working in the Buch lab at the Durham Research Center.

She got involved in the wider UNMC community when an email about MMI’s up-and-coming bocce ball league showed up in her inbox. She was eager to sign up, in part, because of past experience volunteering for organizations that work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Life’s too short to just think about what enhances a resume. What’s good for my wellbeing? What brings me joy? Bocce ball definitely brings me joy, especially with the teammates that I have. It adds so much more love to it,” Menolascino said.

Menolascino isn’t quite sure yet where her medical degree will take her, but she knows bocce ball won’t be the only time she visits MMI.

“I can feel it in my bones,” she said. “It’s been such a great way to meet folks and get involved.”


  1. Alena Balasanova says:

    Welcome Jueliet! UNMC is lucky to have you continuing your grandfather’s legacy!

  2. Melonie Welsh says:

    I am sure that Jueliet’s grandfather would be very proud of her. We are excited to welcome her to UNMC and MMI and are eager to watch her build on the family legacy as she navigates her own journey.

  3. Dr. Michael Crawford MMI emeritus says:

    I had the honor of training under Frank the summer of 1972 as one of his SWEAT students (Summer Work Experience and Training) in the field of developmental disabilities. His training program run in concert with Dr. Wolf Wolfensburger was responsible for training and placing more than a 110 young professionals into the fledging community service group homes and sheltered workshops. He was fiery, passionate and completely devoted to the normalization movement and the deinstitutionalization of Nebraska’s DD services.

  4. Tom O’Connor says:

    I too was lucky enough to meet Dr. Menolascino – he was such a likable guy. He was truly a difference maker. Good luck, Jueliet. Know you will make your great family proud.

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