Rachel · Hickman, Nebraska
Before the picnic blankets are laid out and the music starts at Jazz in June, you can find members of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln community doing yoga among the greenery by Woods Art Building. Run by Rachel Huenink, a group fitness instructor with UNL Campus Rec, the classes provide an opportunity for students to drop in and participate in a yoga class that's surrounded by the sun and nature. "It's a really great way to have fun, it's a good way to meet people," Rachel said, "And to help people just feel good in their bodies." Before transitioning to teaching yoga, Rachel worked as an addiction therapist. She holds a masters in counseling psychology and said that she thinks many of the mental health practices she learned in graduate school come from yoga traditions. In fact, she said that many of the people in her 500-hour training program are mental health professionals. "There's certainly a lot of overlap," Rachel said. For Rachel, teaching yoga is a way to help students de-stress and unwind from the pressures of college. She likes to keep her classes lighthearted, often calling it "smiling yoga" since that's what she wants her participants to be focusing on. "Life is pretty serious. School is very hard," Rachel said, "Yoga class shouldn't be something that stresses you out."
“She holds a masters in counseling psychology and said that she thinks many of the mental health practices she learned in graduate school come from yoga traditions.”
Aus Landscape Architecture · Holdrege, Nebraska
When Aus started at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, it was a difficult adjustment. As a first-generation student from a small town, going to college was a brand new experience in a completely unfamiliar place. Thanks to the friendly faces of the orientation team at New Student Enrollment, Aus felt welcomed and encouraged. Now, Aus gets to be that same type of mentor figure to new students as an Orientation Leader for this summer's NSE. "There's something really beautiful in helping someone," Aus said. One way Aus likes to help new students is by informing them about the resources available on campus. Many students know about the library or the campus recreation center, but Aus wants them to know about others that can help them get a great start on college life — like the Explore Center or First Year Experience & Transition Programs. They also recommend other resources, like Legal Services and Husker Hub, for student needs. When Aus wanted to change their name, Legal Services provided them with lawyer representation, and Husker Hub made sure the change was reflected on their student account. Aus remembers feeling vulnerable during the process, but the staff in Legal Services and Husker Hub were open and understanding.
“Many students know about the library or the campus recreation center, but Aus wants them to know about others that can help them get a great start on college life — like the Explore Center or First Year Experience & Transition Programs.”
Jared Political Science · Beloit, Kansas
As an orientation leader for New Student Enrollment, Jared spends his summer days serving other students and making them feel welcome to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He knows how hard it can be going to a new place. When he first came to the university as an out-of-state student, he didn't know anyone. But he quickly found his own community, and now he wants to encourage other students to do the same. By making connections in the Honors Program and the Association of Students at the University of Nebraska ASUN student government, Jared found people that pushed him to succeed. Now serving as internal vice president of ASUN, his goal is to make forming student organizations as simple as possible so others can get involved on campus. Nebraska's culture of involvement helped Jared find his home away from home, and he hopes it can help others too.
“By making connections in the Honors Program and the Association of Students at the University of Nebraska ASUN student government, Jared found people that pushed him to succeed.”
Josie Animal Science · Nevada, Missouri
As an advocate for chronic illnesses, Josie is always happy to explain to people why her pup, Jeter, stays steadfastly by her side day and night. Josie has Type I diabetes, which causes her blood sugars to dip high and low quickly because her pancreas isn't making enough insulin. She's also hypoglycemic unaware, so she can't tell when her sugars dip low. Luckily, she has Jeter. Jeter was rescued by a Nebraska-based company that trains diabetic alert dogs. Using scent training, Jeter can smell when Josie's blood sugar is rising or dropping and alert her. She also taught him to do heartbeat alerts, tricks, and even tasks like fetching her juice when her sugars are low. Just like she was passionate in teaching Jeter, Josie is also passionate about educating others about service animals. She said it's OK to be excited to see a dog, but it's important not to distract the dog since it could cause them to miss important alerts that could affect the health of their owner. It can be stressful when people approach Jeter in public while Josie is just trying to go through a store or do other day-to-day tasks, but she's always willing to inform them about Jeter's important role as a service animal. "You can't really blame them if they don't know," Josie said, "I'm super happy to talk to anybody in a store, just about his job or how to handle a service dog if you see one."
“Using scent training, Jeter can smell when Josie's blood sugar is rising or dropping and alert her. She also taught him to do heartbeat alerts, tricks, and even tasks like fetching her juice when her sugars are low. ”
Abel Assistant Director in the Office of Admissions · Grand Island, Nebraska
As a first-generation student growing up in Grand Island, Abel felt lost when it came to planning for college. Then he found the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy. Started in 2006, the program is designed to help first-generation and low-income students reach their academic goals and attend college. The program helped him get into the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and graduate in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in business. After working in Lincoln at a software company, he chose to return to the university as a recruiter in 2015. “The opportunity to be a recruiter and connect directly with students in Nebraska communities, especially those who are first-generation like I am, was too good to pass up,” Abel said. “I also really liked the idea of helping out kids in and around Grand Island." Abel recently became an assistant director within Nebraska's Office of Admissions, a role he said will allow him to interact directly with student populations in need of more assistance. With his experience as a first-generation student and his ability to speak Spanish, Abel is prepared to connect with students and families that are going through situations similar to those he faced before college. “We want every Nebraska student to know that this land-grant university is there for them and that earning a Big Ten degree is an obtainable goal for anyone — regardless of their situation."
“With his experience as a first-generation student and his ability to speak Spanish, Abel is prepared to connect with students and families that are going through situations similar to those he faced before college.”
Jared Psychology · Omaha, Nebraska
As a student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Jared is taking every opportunity he can to study the Korean language. Though it isn't an official program at UNL, he's been able to take courses on campus via the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Jared and his classmates study with a class from the University of Minnesota, video chatting in to each lecture. His passion for learning Korean translated into Jared being one of five Huskers to receive a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This June he will return to South Korea for his second summer in the country to partake in an intensive and immersive language program. As an UNL Honors student studying psychology, he's using his time in South Korea to do more than just perfect his command of the language. He plans on making connections with professors and other psychology professionals so he can conduct research on cross-cultural psychology between the United States and South Korea. Jared plans to start distributing surveys, gathering responses and completing his thesis research during fall 2019, and then he intends to apply for a Fulbright award. One day, he would like to get his doctoral degree in psychology and use his knowledge to work with children.
“Jared is taking every opportunity he can to study the Korean language. Though it isn't an official program at UNL, he's been able to take courses on campus via the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Jared and his classmates study with a class from the University of Minnesota, video chatting in to each lecture.”
Whittney Forensic Science and Insect Science · Louisburg, Kansas
Through Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) at Nebraska, Whitney had the opportunity to get up close and personal with her research subject — bees. As an insect science major interested in pollen and conservation, Whitney was drawn to the UNL Bee Lab after reaching out to her advisor about potential UCARE projects. With her focus area decided, she began working under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Entomology Judy Wu-Smart. Whitney's project focused on examining how pesticide residues in the brood combs of bee larvae affect the behaviors of the insects after they emerge from their combs and become working adult bees. From summer 2018 through early fall semester, she spent a couple hours each day observing her bees and taking note of their behaviors. Each insect had a tag with a number and color, so she could even record individualized observations as they got older. Sometimes she would perform tests, like when she would use liquid nitrogen to freeze kill a specific area of the hive in order to mimic disease. She would watch the bees to see if they were able to sense if something was wrong with the area, and if the bees would remove the capped cell to stop the "disease" from spreading through the rest of the hive. For Whitney, her UCARE project was a great way to get research experience before grad school. It even gave her the opportunity to present her findings at the American Bee Research Conference in Arizona. No matter a student's post-graduation plans, Whitney would recommend engaging in undergraduate research. "Even if you're not planning on going to grad school or anything like that it's still a great experience.
“ For Whitney, her UCARE project was a great way to get research experience before grad school. It even gave her the opportunity to present her findings at the American Bee Research Conference in Arizona.”
Gage Environmental Studies · Blair, Nebraska
By starting his own business devoted to sustainability, Gage is acting as the change he wants to see in the world. Gage is an environmental studies major, so it's no surprise that he has a passion for nature and sustainability. He had known for a while that he wanted to start a business centered around sustainability, but it wasn't until he was on a plane returning from studying abroad in New Zealand that the idea hit him. He wasn't quite sure what he was going to do, but he knew then that he wanted to do something that helped inform his peers about environmental issues while making an impact. He spent the fall 2018 semester testing different business models in his entrepreneurship class, but none of the ideas stuck. In December he landed on the idea to create a one-for-one t-shirt business in which a tree would be planted for every shirt that is sold. After that, things just began to fall into place. He found a t-shirt manufacturer that creates eco-friendly shirts made out of recycled bottles in Kansas City, then partnered with One Tree Planted to ensure that a tree was planted for every shirt purchased. He worked with designers to shape the look and feel of the brand and to create the t-shirt designs, and received help from a friend to assemble photos for the website. Before long, it was late February and his brand, Greenstain, was ready to launch. He had planned to print the shirts at Nebraska Innovation Campus on his own, but pre-sale orders were so large that he had to ask a friend to help. Now Gage has a local company handling the shirt printing, which saves the time he used to spend using the community tools at NIC. Gage wanted to see a brand that made their customers a part of the story and the opportunity to "be the change," so he made it himself. "I feel like my skill set and my strengths fit this position to start something that matters," Gage said. "So I was like, 'Cool, I have to be the one to do this.'"
“ In December he landed on the idea to create a one-for-one t-shirt business in which a tree would be planted for every shirt that is sold.”
Gauri Computer Science · Omaha, Nebraska
Gauri likes to keep busy. When she isn't studying for her Raikes School classes, she can be found helping run a Girls Code Lincoln, leading Computing for All or checking off the latest book on her reading list. But she doesn't keep busy just for fun — she does it because she's trying to create a future where diversity and inclusion can flourish in the STEM field. Through Computing for All, Gauri and her fellow club members work to create activities for women in the computer science department, while also promoting accessibility in computing for people who may have never done it before. Gauri also makes an effort to make technology accessible to local girls through Girls Code Lincoln. Every Sunday she can be found helping lead the group on everything from basic coding concepts to skills like bravery and leadership. She said it's been one of her most rewarding experiences to teach them about coding through creativity, confidence and communication. So while things might get stressful at times, for Gauri it's all worth it. She has her community through the Raikes School and her extracurricular activities to lean on, and the knowledge that her efforts will help others to keep her moving forward. "I can deal with one stressful day if I know that like, this many students are gonna be impacted by it," Gauri said, "Or, I'm going to make someone's life better by it."
“Every Sunday she can be found helping lead the group on everything from basic coding concepts to skills like bravery and leadership. She said it's been one of her most rewarding experiences to teach them about coding through creativity, confidence and communication.”
Katelyn Animal Science · Lyons, Nebraska
When Katelyn saw the devastation left in the wake of the historic flooding in Nebraska, she could hardly believe it. She couldn't get the thought of the wildlife, animals, farmers and ranchers that were affected out of her mind. So, she scrapped her spring break plans and decided to help. She purchased milk replacer for the animals but realized her own contributions could only go so far. She started a GoFundMe page to share with her family and friends with the intention of raising $2,500. In 24 hours Katelyn had raised $4,500 — enough money to fill an entire trailer with donations. It was full of food for dogs, cats, chickens and horses, along with corn, oats, colostrum supplement, milk replacer, antibiotics, syringes and sedatives. But while it was her first trailer load, it wouldn't be her last. Katelyn took more trailer loads, carrying salt and mineral blocks, all purpose pellet feeds, fence posts, medications and veterinarian supplies to affected areas. At one point, she even received a donation of an entire semi-trailer load of feed from a company in Iowa. For Katelyn, organizing the donations on her own was about the timing. She knew that eventually larger organizations would be able to come in and help, but she knew it could take awhile. "I wanted to do something then and was able to with being on spring break," she said. "The calf that lost its mother didn't have a week to wait to get colostrum or milk replacer. That rancher or pet owner didn't have time to figure out which roads he was going to have to travel to get feed or supplies, along with everything else going on." It was simple for Katelyn. She saw the state that she was raised in and its animals in trouble and knew it was her time to help.
“In 24 hours Katelyn had raised $4,500 — enough money to fill an entire trailer with donations.”