What does it really mean to be a Husker? Take a look into the experience of our students, faculty and staff.
Computer Science and Economics · Omaha, Nebraska
Since he was a child, Ben has dreamed of working with NASA.
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He began coding as a middle-schooler and was developing apps and interning in software development by the time he was in high school. At Nebraska, he joined the Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, where he’s made maintaining exceptional academics a priority.
Ben’s hard work made his childhood dream a reality when he accepted an internship with Lockheed Martin, the aerospace giant that has long worked with NASA on space technologies. He attributes his ability to succeed in this position to the curriculum at Raikes, which places an emphasis on group work and working with sponsors in the Design Studio process.
“The Raikes curriculum really helped me be able to jump into a new project with a lot of overhead and be able to understand what I need to do and how to work with people on my project.”
During his time as an intern, Ben worked on projects for the Artemis 2 mission, which is paving the way for human exploration of the moon and Mars. It was his team’s responsibility to run hundreds of tests on various algorithms that control vital spacecraft functions, including waste management and ensuring accurate environmental data reporting from outer space to Houston ground forces.
"There are many really interesting problems that people on Earth would never think about. You can’t take anything for granted in space.”
Ben has accepted a full-time offer and plans to return to Lockheed Martin after graduating. As he moves into this new chapter, he hopes to continue working on groundbreaking NASA projects that change the future of human exploration in space.
Director of Cornhusker Speech & Debate · Lincoln, Nebraska
Since its inception 151 years ago as the Palladian Debate Society, the Cornhusker Speech & Debate team has grown into a nationally recognized program that regularly produces Big Ten and national champions.
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Dr. Aaron Duncan is the director for Cornhusker Speech & Debate and has been with the team since 2005. When he first came to UNL, he was familiar with the group’s impressive history and their famous former teammates like speechwriter Ted Sorensen.
Aaron and his fellow coaches develop students from a variety of majors for speech and debate competitions. Students competing in speech perform prepared pieces ranging from persuasive and informative speeches to poetry performance. They may also compete in extemporaneous or impromptu speeches where they are given anywhere from two to 30 minutes to draft a speech based on a current event or quotation. Or, students may compete in the debate round, where they research a specific topic for the entire speech season and go head-to-head against other teams.
“We've debated agricultural policy alternative fuels, immigration policy, diplomacy with China,” Aaron said. “All sorts of different topics.”
This April, Aaron and the Cornhusker Speech & Debate team will host the best of the best speech and debate students from across the country at the annual National Speech Tournament. While the Huskers are excited to share their campus with their competitors, they also look forward to defending their status as one of the nation’s top teams. But while the awards and accolades are rewarding, Aaron loves speech and debate for more than just that.
“Teaching students that mindset of resiliency — to be process-focused, to do great research, to think critically and to strive for constant improvement, is really the outcome that we're seeking as an educational activity,” Aaron said. “And then most of all, we also just want it to be fun.”
Director of the Women's Center · Lincoln
Jan has been the director of the Women's Center since 1998, but that's not where her NEBRASKA story began. She started her undergrad at Nebraska, but at the end of her freshman year, her mother suddenly passed away. When she came back the next fall, no one asked if she was okay. She kept it together for two more years, but eventually flunked her classes and dropped out. After three years, she came back to school and discovered the Women's Center. She felt completely welcomed, and the people there gave her resources and connections to cope with her loss. That experience has shaped how she directs the center today. Now, there are a lot more men interested in violence prevention work, and Jan has even created a men and masculinity class that's being offered this spring. More services have been created, too, like free confidential counseling, 6,000 gender-related books and outreach programs. These programs include UNL Prevent, a relationship violence peer education group that focuses on bystander intervention and sexual assault awareness, and Healthy Outlook Peer Educators, a group that focuses on body image and self esteem. When reflecting on her time so far, Jan is most proud of the alumni that took the center's philosophy of empowerment and collaboration to make real change in the world. One has gone on to be the director of the Women's Fund in Omaha, another works in Denver at a eating disorder recovery center and many more are making a positive impact in our community.
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Business Management · Norfolk, Nebraska
Growing up, Ethan wanted to be a teacher, but when he first came to Nebraska, he enrolled as a management major and had his sights set on entering the business world. It was his involvement in student groups that changed his trajectory and helped him back to his true calling: teaching.
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Ethan realized he could make a career in serving the youth after becoming involved with Dance Marathon and NHRI Leadership Mentoring—two experiences that helped him focus on his passion for uplifting and mentoring the state’s youth.
“In college, I became more focused on impacting youth. You can find a lot of purpose and service in every industry but the idea of working with the next generation and developing young minds is something I found a lot of passion and interest in.”
During winter break of his senior year, Ethan decided to follow his passion and use his business degree in a different way: investing in the next generation. Though he wasn’t graduating with a teaching degree, he began applying for positions and found the perfect match with Bay High, a program where he would be able to leverage his business degree as well as support young creatives who thrive in nontraditional learning environments.
“[At Bay High,] we want to rethink how education works and be there for the kids that other people don’t know how to help. Or help in the best way. Focusing on the youth is a very impactful way to set up the future.”
As Ethan prepares to start his first semester teaching at Bay High, he is excited to continue making an impact in the lives of Nebraska youth. He is grateful for the years of leadership and mentorship experiences through the university and looks forward to using his experience to help his students in education and life.
“I want my students to understand business but mostly, I want to help them develop as human beings, understand themselves and the world, and figure out their purpose and where they fit into the world.”