I'm A Husker &
Tina Secondary English Education · Lincoln, Nebraska
Tina discovered her passion for English and education when her one of her high school teachers, a Nebraska alum, showed her the power that writing has in reclaiming words, standing up for yourself and empowering others. Now, in her junior year of college, she's determined to impact middle and high school students in the same way. Although most people think she's crazy for wanting to work with those age groups, she thinks they're brilliant and have unrealized potential. She currently coaches slam poetry at Waverly and Northstar High School, and it's been one of the most encouraging and motivating things she's ever done. When she's not in class or at school, she's around other kids at The BAY, a local coffee shop/music venue/skate park that provides a safe space for at-risk youth to be themselves. As a barista, she loves meeting new, diverse people every day. In January, she's starting an open mic night to give locals the opportunity to share their work. Next year, The BAY will be opening a new digital art space with computers, recording equipment and other technology that will let kids explore their passions and learn new skills. Tina got involved simply by showing up to events and getting to know people, and she encourages everyone to take risks and do things that are uncomfortable. That's where new opportunities present themselves.
“I encourage everyone to take risks and do things that are uncomfortable. That's where new opportunities present themselves.”
Vic English and History · Norfolk, Nebraska
If there's one underlying theme in Vic's life, it's that he works relentlessly to help others. He's an English and History major, but his interests have led him into politics, too. He currently interns at Nebraska Appleseed, a nonprofit organization that fights for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans. Specifically, Vic works in the child welfare branch, producing a podcast that focuses on the voices of LGBT youth in foster care and highlighting the discrimination they may face in the system. Over the summer, Vic also interned for senator Tammy Baldwin in Washington, D.C., through the Victory Institute, an organization that empowers young LGBT people to become elected officials. After college, Vic wants to be a social worker for a few years to know what it's like on the ground level. He doesn't feel like he's cut out to inform policy without experiencing it personally. With almost 30% of kids in foster care identifying as LGBT, he believes it's important to have people working with them that they can relate to and trust. Although some would call Vic an overachiever, he wants people to know that he has battled with mental health throughout college, and he's proud of that. He's thankful for the university having a great support system and professors who have worked with him, not against him, throughout his four years.
“I'm thankful for the university having a great support system and professors who have worked with me, not against me, throughout my four years.”
Shana Secondary English Education · Niobrara, Nebraska
In high school, Shana knew that the power of education could take her anywhere. After studying hard and receiving scholarships to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she wanted to empower others to do the same. Shana is pursuing a degree in secondary English language arts education, which will allow her to teach in small towns or reservations and, eventually, get a masters degree in counseling to directly guide Native high school students. She believes that high school is an imperative time to encourage and educate students about how important a diploma is in broadening their world and helping their community. In college, Shana worries that Native students struggle because of their lack of preparation on how to thrive in higher education. Luckily, she has revived an organization that offers support for Native students, UNITE. They work to break stereotypes and celebrate Native culture. As the president for the past few years, she has seen the impact it has made on both herself and other students. It's helped her feel at home being around others that understand where she comes from. Each spring, the organization hosts a spring powwow on the green that features vendors and a drum circle. Normally, the powwow honors graduates from the group, but since there aren't any this year, they're bringing in Native students from Lincoln Public Schools to honor their high school graduation, showing how proud they are of something that many people take for granted.
“High school is an imperative time to encourage and educate students about how important a diploma is in broadening their world and helping their community.”
Shadid Biochemistry · Morelos, Mexico
In 2006, Shadid's family came to Lincoln from Morelos, Mexico for her father to pursue a doctorate in genetics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. When it came time for her to think about college, she knew that Nebraska was exactly where she wanted to go. Influenced by her father's studies, she was naturally attracted to science, declaring biochemistry as her major. She is one of the few women and students of color in her classes, but she absolutely loves what she does. You can find her outside of class in the biological systems engineering department as an undergraduate researcher working with bio fuels. In the future, she plans to go into the research and development of cosmetic science. Although Shadid's life is packed with her research and studies, this doesn't stop her from pursuing other interests. She's currently a part of the Lambda Theta Nu multicultural sorority, the Cuddle Raptors frisbee team and, of course, the Cornhusker Marching Band as a rank leader in the piccolo section. The electric feeling of performing in front of 90,000+ people every game day is incomparable. As her last year in the band comes to an end, she's thankful to have played alongside such a dedicated, hardworking group.
“The electric feeling of performing in front of 90,000+ people every game day is incomparable.”
Alumin8 Chemical Engineering · Omaha, Minneapolis, Nicaragua
In high school, Dominic Nguyen noticed that janitors were dumping recycling bins in with the rest of the trash, and he knew that he could create a much better use for the recycled cans. In college, he came up with the idea to collect aluminum cans, melt them down and make things for the community. He rounded up four of his best friends and pitched them the idea. They loved it, and Alumin8 was born. The group of chemical engineering majors, hailing from Omaha to Minneapolis to Nicaragua, made a forge to melt the cans, and the Office of Sustainability took notice. The group gained funding through the office's Green Fund in February of 2017, allowing them to expand Alumin8 and relocate to @turbineflats. Currently, they're working with the Malone Center, an after school nonprofit organization for kids, to create name tags from the melted aluminum. The 3D printing software they use allows them to make virtually anything out of the metal. You don't have to be a computer whiz to join the group, though. They have an RSO full of members from a variety of majors that have assisted in building a shed for their materials and collecting cans from locations across Lincoln. Group member Julian is excited about how far they've come, saying, "I never knew that we would get to this point. We now have a shed, 10,000 cans and a kiln. Try things. You never know how far you'll get and what you'll learn from it."
“I never knew that we would get to this point. We now have a shed, 10,000 cans and a kiln. Try things. You never know how far you'll get and what you'll learn from it.”
Jan 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.
“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.”
Daffnie Art · Lexington, Nebraska
Daffnie always doodled as a kid, but she never pursued art until college. Her minimal training didn't stop her from working hard to catch up with other students. Last fall, though, an unexpected hurdle appeared: she began losing feeling in both her legs. She now has pain throughout most of her body. During daily flair ups, her legs will start to tingle and eventually go numb. Sometimes it's manageable, but other times she's unable to leave the house. She's seen many doctors and neurologists, but they have yet to pinpoint the issue. Initially, Daffnie was very self-conscious when losing an ability that she's had for 20 years, but she's learning to embrace it. She uses her condition as an artistic influence. When she couldn't move at all, she created a painting series featuring things around her home, from a portrait of herself slumped over on the couch to a 6 foot by 6 foot painting of her ceiling fan. She had to lie down while creating the series, and her roommates helped turn the canvas when she finished painting different sections. Beyond personal work, Daffnie is the president of the UNL Art League, a group that explores galleries together, and an illustrator for the Daily Nebraskan.
“ Initially, Daffnie was very self-conscious when losing an ability that she's had for 20 years, but she's learning to embrace it.”
Arthur Architecture · Bellevue, Nebraska
After Arthur's parents fled Vietnam and came to the U.S. as refugees, they were determined to create a new, better life for themselves and their family. Naturally, there was pressure on Arthur to satisfy the parents that sacrificed so much for him. He graduated high school at 16 and studied in the College of Engineering based at UNO's Scott Campus, a decision he didn't have much control of as a minor. As soon as he turned 19, he boldly transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study architecture, develop his photography skills and make his own success. When he arrived in Lincoln, he really wanted to shoot a Husker football game but didn't have any way to get a photo pass. This didn't stop him from capturing the atmosphere around the stadium, uploading the compilation video to YouTube and soon after, being hired by the digital communications team as their only student videographer. Now he has free rein to shoot whatever he wants on game day. While at UNO, he briefly worked for the student paper, and they will occasionally bring him back to shoot events, such as Barack Obama landing in Omaha. When asked why he got into photography, Arthur says it was the people. He doesn't see the point in having a lot of followers or recognition if it's not backed by meaningful relationships. He wants to show others the best of themselves.
“I want to show others the best of themselves.”
Lindsey Psychology · Lincoln, Nebraska
Most students come to college after graduating high school and leaving their parent's house, but that's not the case for Lindsey. After having a kid and separating from her husband, she wanted to prove to herself and her daughter that it was possible to still get a degree. She quickly became involved on campus, especially with the Women's Center, and she's currently the student parent coordinator. There are particular struggles these nontraditional students face, such as class scheduling. It's very difficult to enroll in classes outside of 9 to 3 when there's a child to take care of before and after school. Lindsey has submitted a proposal to ASUN to make priority registration for student parents more accessible. In 2015, she founded the Student Parent Association as a space where parents can come together to support each other, create family-friendly programming and find campus resources. They've hosted a student parent welcome during Big Red Welcome week as a more relaxed and comfortable environment for students and their families to have fun. Lindsey wants other student parents to know that they're not alone, and if they'd like to get involved to email email@example.com.
“She wanted to prove to herself and her daughter that it was possible to still get a degree.”
Erasme Integrated Science · Rwanda
When Erasme came to NEBRASKA, he did not expect to have such a warm welcome. He found that the people here are friendly and approachable, especially when he gets lost on a campus that's 8,000 miles away from home. Erasme is here through the Rwandan Scholarship Program, an experience that offers Rwandan students an opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Science in integrated science at CASNR. As of this year, there are 105 students currently on campus through this program. These scholars have committed to return to Rwanda upon graduation to serve in critical areas across research, extension and training. They represent the talent needed to advance agriculture in Rwanda. Erasme has three concentrations in water and soil management, leadership and entrepreneurship and food safety. Rwanda has a high population with little land, so learning to manage that land and feed its people through agriculture is crucial. Erasme also appreciates learning how to better his communication skills to bring people together and figure out important solutions to these issues.
“"The people here are friendly and approachable."”