What does it really mean to be a Husker? Take a look into the experience of our students, faculty and staff.
Pre-Nursing · Lincoln, Nebraska
When Sydnie was 16, her life was punctuated by rounds of chemotherapy and hospital room stays. With her energy zapped and her immune system weakened, seeing friends and socializing with other teenagers became a special occasion rather than a normal part of her day-to-day life. Then she learned about Dance Marathon. Dance Marathon raises money for Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha and culminates every year in a 12-hour event where patients and their families are invited to come to Nebraska's campus and be celebrated. The event gave Sydnie the chance to take a break from her hospital room and spend the day with students close to her own age. After a full day of socializing in the family room and watching the dancers bust a move, Sydnie was able to see how many people cared about the hospital that had become her second home. Sydnie was a Miracle Child for Dance Marathon for two years. Now, having been out of chemotherapy since her freshman year, Sydnie dances for the kids. At Dance Marathon's HuskerThon 2019, she'll be dancing for the kids she met while she was at Children's Hospital and for all of those who are still there.
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As people retreated home to practice social distancing early last spring, their newfound free time led to a bevy of creative projects and pursuits. Some tried baking bread for the first time. Others picked up a new craft like crocheting or knitting. And a few folks, like Michael Farrell, created something that would immortalize the unique moment in time.
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Using a glass plate camera, Michael collected the portraits and perspectives of friends old and new. All the photos were taken in Michael's backyard, where he created an outdoor photo studio that would allow the photos to be taken safely with social distancing.
After posting on Facebook inviting his friends and followers to partake in the series, he was shocked to see portrait requests flow in from more than 90 different individuals. Some were complete strangers he had never met before and others were longtime friends and colleagues — including a handful from Michael's time at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
His work, now known as the Pandemic Portrait Project, is being turned into a book. Each portrait is paired with a written perspective from the photo subject about COVID-19 — with some quotes as lighthearted as noting how long it had been since the author's last haircut, to deeper revelations over the sadness of being unable to see at-risk family members.
"You're listening to this stuff like this and you're thinking, 'This is this is pretty rough stuff,'" Michael said. "People's motivations to be a part of this were all very individual and unique — and that's kind of what makes it interesting."
campus tour guide coordinator · LIncoln, Nebraska
Throughout the academic year, friendly faces greet prospective students and their families to show them what life at Nebraska is all about. They are our campus hosts. With close to 70 students working in this role, they are able to provide personalized campus tours to guests while sharing their stories on why the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is special to them. But when COVID-19 social distancing measurements were put into effect, all tours were cancelled, and these students were left without work. Campus tour guide coordinator Roger Allen works with all the campus hosts. They're his students, and he focuses on developing them as leaders and getting to know them as people. Knowing that they would be without work during this time affected him, and he quickly stepped into action. Roger created a six-week course that all campus hosts could take for pay. Each week they would discuss their UNL experiences, watch videos from speakers across campus and continue to better their recruitment skills. For the 45 students that took Roger's course, it was a way to continue working while also keeping some normalcy in their lives while they were adjusting to remote learning, cancelled internships and cancelled study abroad trips. But most notedly, the class provided them an opportunity to continue learning and developing even as life went remote. "Just working with them is like the best part of my job."
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