What does it really mean to be a Husker? Take a look into the experience of our students, faculty and staff.
Interior Design · Urbandale, Iowa
Though they may look fine at first glance, many spaces are not designed with those with disabilities in mind. Hallways can be too narrow to accommodate for wheelchairs or walkers, or access might be limited to ramps and elevators. After seeing first hand how difficult it was for her father to go through public areas while using a wheelchair, Rosemary knew she needed to make things better for others. The third-year interior design student is passionate about creating environments that are accessible for everyone. In one of her classes, she designed a multidisciplinary clinic for patients with ALS. As an ALS advocate, she knew that many patients often must visit multiple doctors in a single day and wanted to create a space that allowed the clinicians to collaborate with each other. She also focused on making sure the hallways were accessible and that the furniture pieces were functional, comfortable, and easy to help patients get in and out of. For Rosemary, interior design is all about fulfilling the space needs and well-being of others. She wants to help people through her designs so they can feel comfortable — no matter where they are.
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science learning specialist, biology instructor and educational sciences PhD student · Baton Rouge, Louisianna
Marianna is making science accessible to all students.
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“I tell my students, whatever you experienced in biology or science before you have taken my course...throw it out the window,” Marianna said. “We are going to reset all of the experiences that you may have had if they were negative in science and biology.”
As an instructor for BIOS 101 and LIFE 120, she’s dedicated to helping students overcome their struggles in science and realize their capacity for success in the subject.
“I can have students that are straight-A students that say, ‘Mrs. Burks, I don't think I'm good at science.’ And I’m like, ‘What do you mean you’re not good at science? You’re doing great. But, in terms of if they feel fulfilled in their ability to do science, that's very different from a student's ability to be successful just in college.”
To help her students feel empowered by their abilities, Marianna takes on the role of both instructor and mentor. She forms personal connections, shows them the tools they need to succeed, and cheers them on even after the semester is over.
“I enjoy the relationships we develop during our time in the semester, and the other thing is that those students always come back to me.”
Her teaching method is also the driving force behind the research she is doing for her dissertation, titled, “An Assessment of the Relationships Critical in Developing Science Self-Efficacy in First-Generation Undergraduate College Students.”
Marianna’s impact is clear — and the cards she proudly displays in her office from former students prove that her empathy and enthusiasm-led teaching style is effective.
“My passion every day has been to educate the students and serve them...what has been rewarding about what I do is even just the thank-you's that I get.” Marianna said. “I have hundreds of thank-you cards...that has also been the reward, to see their journeys, to watch their journeys and to know that I was a part of influencing their journey.”
Licensed Therapy Dog · LIncoln, Nebraska
Neo is a dog with a job. As a licensed therapy animal, Neo helps the students at Student Support Services (SSS) as they navigate college. Twice a week he joins owner Dr. Joyce Lehn as she makes her way to the office. When Joyce begins to tackle her tasks as assistant director at SSS, Neo usually begins his rounds — he'll say his hellos to coworkers and students, and then return to Joyce's office to snuggle up in his designated dog couch. When students are in need of stress relief, Neo is more than happy to help. He sits on their lap and keeps them company, distracts them with games of fetch and provides a sense of comfort and relief with his happy-go-lucky attitude and always-wagging tail. Though Neo hasn't always been a therapy dog, he's always been attuned to people. His first unofficial therapy dog task was as a cheer-giver to Joyce's mother as she went through hospice. Nurses were impressed at how well he was able to recognize Joyce's mother's comfort needs and provide affection — and so was Joyce. Shortly after noticing this talent in Neo, Joyce enrolled him in a training program so he could become officially certified. After months of classes and an internship at a local school, Neo graduated from his therapy dog training. With his certification in paw, Neo helps the students, staff and faculty of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln find a positive outlook on their day.
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Alumnus and Nursing Student · Gretna, Nebraska
Troy was surprised to learn that he’d volunteered with Husker Pantry for 5 semesters. The first-year nursing student has always just naturally gravitated toward serving others, dating all the way back to his Boy Scout days growing up.
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“I was a Cub Scout when I was little and eventually got my Eagle Scout in high school, so service was always just on the forefront of everything I did when I was a kid.”
Troy came to UNL as an undergrad looking for service opportunities to supplement his interest in a career in healthcare. He eventually landed on pursuing a career in nursing, attracted to the idea of being the person who can work closely with patients to understand their specific needs and concerns.
“They say nurses are the patient’s advocate. So much of nursing is thinking about and talking to your patient and seeing what you can do to personally help them feel better and get back to their normal lives.”
This attention to everyone’s specific needs has made volunteering for the Husker Pantry a great fit for Troy, who says that it has broadened his understanding of different student experiences on campus.
“I’ve had a few different people tell me about their stories and why the pantry is a great resource for them,” he says. “A lot of the people who use the pantry also have dependents. it’s already hard being a student, but having dependents on top of that adds a whole other level.”
The Husker Pantry provides free food and personal items to UNL students, working to increase access to needed items and reduce stigmas around food insecurity. Troy and fellow pantry volunteers help to field incoming online orders, collecting and organizing items to get orders ready for student pickup.
Volunteering with the pantry is an easy way for students to give back on campus, says Troy.
“It can be as little as 2 hours a week, so it’s a great opportunity to get your foot in the door doing service on campus,” he explains. “I’ve been able to help all kinds of students just like myself who have a variety of different needs.”