Broadcasting and Sports Media & Communication · Ashland, Nebraska
Maddie's sports career started at hometown football games. Underneath the shining Friday night lights, she'd stand on the sidelines with her trusty camera. Little did she know that in just a few years she'd be photographing the Super Bowl.
After finding her passion for sports in high school, Maddie came to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to major in broadcasting and sports media & communication. She began racking up photo experience with outlets like The Daily Nebraskan, the Omaha World-Herald and Husker Athletics.
In spring 2020, she landed her biggest opportunity yet: an internship with the NFL. Due to Covid-19, it was remote rather than in-person in Los Angeles, but Maddie made the most of the situation. She showed her passion and impressed her mentor, who asked if she'd help cover Kansas City Chiefs games in the fall.
As the Super Bowl approached, Maddie was given another amazing opportunity. She was invited to stay in Tampa and assist NFL photographers as they shot football's biggest event.
"When my boss kind of asked me, I was like, "Yeah, I'll come,' and I was very composed, but I know I called my family right after freaking out," Maddie said.
After spending most of the game assisting her assigned photographer, Maddie had her moment to shine during the post-game pandemonium. As confetti poured down and players celebrated, her photographer took a break. Maddie jumped into action and started snapping shots.
"That was cool to be able to kind of just take that moment in and then also be able to capture it."
With a new degree in hand and a resume full of experiences, Maddie is ready to enter the professional world as one of the industry’s next sports photographers.
“I'm excited for my future...also just really grateful for these last four years,” Maddie said. “And if it wasn't for the journalism college and so many people I've met, I wouldn't probably be in this experience that I’ve had.”
Community Health & Wellness · Lincoln, Nebraska
Wearing Nebraska’s scarlet and cream is a tradition in Tyler’s family.
Tyler is the fourth member of his family to be on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s track and field team. He follows in the footsteps of his parents, David and Amy, and sister, Shelby, as a Husker student-athlete.
Growing up in Lincoln, Tyler always looked up to his family members and the Husker athletes he watched at meets and on TV. When he first started track and field at the age of 8, he was excited — though knew he had big shoes to fill.
As the years went on, Tyler fell in love with track and field. He embraced the family tradition of competing in throwing events, all while making a name for himself across the state. In 2019 and 2020, he was even named the boys track and field Gatorade Player of the Year for Nebraska.
When it came time to think about where he'd compete in college, Tyler looked at schools from across the country. But after calls with coaches and thoughts about going out-of-state, he realized that nothing could compare to Nebraska.
“I feel like UNL really feels like home...growing up in Nebraska, the track team is like idols, in a sense,” Tyler said. “So, it's just always a dream.”
Tyler now gets the unique opportunity of calling his sister his teammate, and the two of them throw discus for the same team that brought their parents together years ago.
“It's obviously exciting having all of us come through here. It's a really great experience for me to come to the university. I know it really fits me nicely,” Tyler said. “And I know even without all of them coming here I probably still would have gone because I really feel like it feels like home.”
Veterinary Science · Omaha, Nebraska
Because of her hard work in high school, Macy was able to accelerate her undergraduate experience.
Macy brought in credits from her dual-credit high school classes when she started at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Many of those credits counted toward her required ACE electives, which gave Macy more flexibility for her major-specific courses. It also allowed her to graduate in a whirlwind three years.
But while her time as an undergraduate was short, it was still fulfilling. She nabbed an internship in the UNL Vet Diagnostic Center, where she worked in the bacteriology lab, getting hands-on experience handling samples, running tests and seeing the research side of veterinary science.
“It's kind of helped me to see the whole picture of diagnostic medicine,” Macy said.
One of her projects involved identifying salmonella through an infrared spectrophotometer instrument — which was a bit of a departure from what most people think about veterinary science, as it placed her in the lab rather than in the office with four-legged, tailed patients.
While Macy loves research, she’s still searching for her ultimate focus in the veterinary field. She’s been accepted to the university’s Veterinary Medicine program and plans to use the next few years to solidify her post-graduate pursuits. Though she’s not sure on the specifics, one thing she knows for certain is that she’s on the right path.
“I love learning new things, and I like animals a lot...the profession of veterinary medicine just kind of met all the things that I was looking for in a career.”
Master's in Interpersonal Health & Family Communications · Los Angeles, California
For most graduates, the months following graduation are filled with new possibilities. For Jacqueline, they were filled with doctor’s appointments and lingering questions due to an illness that left her bedridden for months.
But when Jacqueline looked for answers, she couldn't find any. She felt overlooked, misdiagnosed and frustrated.
Her frustration led her to a professor from her undergraduate college whose work is focused on health communications. After reconnecting, Jacqueline began working with the professor on a research project. Still sick, Jacqueline would do her work a few hours each day while bedridden in her parents’ home.
As the years went on, Jacqueline’s illness became more manageable. She decided to continue her path in research by attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for a master's degree in interpersonal health & family communications.
"I said, 'If I ever figure out what's going on, if I ever heal, if I ever am able to manage this and have the energy to do my own research,'" Jacqueline said, "I want to extend this into the realm of this experience right here."
While at Nebraska, Jacqueline finally received a diagnosis, giving her a new spark. She felt even more empowered to continue her studies.
Jacqueline's research tackled the helpful and harmful messages communicated to patients. She hopes the research will one day be made into a guide benefitting emerging adults with disruptive medical experiences.
While she intends to shift her studies for her PhD research, Jacqueline has learned much on her path so far.
"If you have someone in your life that's going through this...going through an invisible illness, and that can be a physical illness, it can be a mental illness. That can be anything," Jacqueline said. "Ask them what support looks like to them; believe them...Sometimes it's as simple as looking at this person and saying, 'This is hard and just know you're not alone.'"
English · Essex, Iowa
On Saturday, Misty will trade her dining hall uniform for a cap and gown.
Misty is one of thousands of University of Nebraska–Lincoln students receiving their degrees this weekend. After 22 years of working at Selleck Dining Hall while simultaneously pursuing her studies, it still doesn’t feel real — especially because the last time she took a class was in 2011.
Misty applied for a job at UNL knowing that she wanted to go back to school. She had started working toward an English degree at another institution and planned on finishing it at UNL with the tuition credits allocated to university employees.
Then life got busy. She got married and soon her focus shifted to raising her two daughters. She would take classes when she could, but it wasn't always easy. Luckily, Misty had people in her corner.
Her supervisors allowed her to work classes around her schedule at the dining hall, and her classmates didn’t treat her any differently when she came to class in her food service uniform. Her professors engaged with her questions and comments, and they even recommended scholarships for her to pursue new opportunities. Her husband spent six weeks being a single dad to their girls so she could take a study abroad trip to Mexico for her Spanish minor, and her girls patiently understood that sometimes mom couldn’t do things because she had to study.
Misty took a break from her degree in 2011, and it wasn’t until this March that she decided to dust off her textbooks and finish up her last few classes. When she called her advisor to check in about the coursework, she was given the surprise of her life — she would be graduating in just a month. The advisor reviewed her credits and realized that Misty had all she needed. She would finally get her degree.
“It's so freeing — I have it now and I can take it,” Misty said. "I earned it.”
Mechanical Engineering · Mobile, Alabama
John’s journey to graduation has been a roller coaster.
It started when he first arrived on campus as an out-of-state student. As he settled into life as a Husker, he began thinking about his passions and plans. He’d always loved anything that allowed him to be creative, but it also needed to be a bit of a challenge. After thinking it through, he realized that he wanted to produce theme park exhibits.
“You have to build something that works potentially 1,200 times an hour for 18 hours a day for 10 to 20 years,” John said. “Which as an engineer is a lot cooler of a challenge in my opinion.”
John knew that he could build an education at Nebraska that would match his dream job. But doing that meant he would need to take initiative. While at first he was hesitant to ask his professor about starting a theme park design club, he knew it was necessary to reach his goals. His professor saw the spark behind the idea and encouraged him to pursue it.
“It felt like I was taking the biggest risk of my life, hanging a single poster up saying, ‘Hey, do you like theme parks? Please email me.’” John said.
To John's surprise, within the first day he had 30 interested students email him. A few days later he held his first official meeting with 15 new members.
Since then, the Theme Park Design Group has built real-world exhibits for Lincoln learning spaces. They’ve partnered with the Lincoln Children’s Zoo to create enrichment toys for their giraffe exhibit, as well as the Lincoln Children’s Museum to build a superhero-themed pulley swing.
After four years of balancing school, work and the group, John's University of Nebraska–Lincoln roller coaster ride is coming to an end. And while many of his post-grad plans are still up in the air, he knows he’s ready for his next adventure.
“It felt like I was taking the biggest risk of my life, hanging a single poster up saying, ‘Hey, do you like theme parks? Please email me.’”
Economics, Environmental Studies and Natural Resource Economics · Bellevue, Nebraska
A plot of land behind McCollum Hall has become a second home to a group of University of Nebraska–Lincoln students.
Inside the gated fence lies the Student Organic Farm (SOF). The student-led organization by the same name has grown produce and plants for the Husker community since 2013 — but this year, things are a bit different.
This year the farm shifted to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system, which allows Lincolnites to purchase produce from the farm. The idea came from Kat Woerner, a third-year UNL student.
Kat knew she wanted to learn how to grow her own food, but it was only after joining SOF that she realized the farm could be taken to a new level. She shared her ideas with the farm’s lead gardener, Nash Leef, and put her @nebraskabiz skills to use as she formulated her plans to shift the farm to a new sustainable business model.
The CSA model allows for customers to purchase crop shares. The proceeds from their share are used to fund the tools, seeds and labor put into the farm, and then in return they receive weekly produce boxes during the harvest season. The idea was a hit, and the farm sold out of their 2021 shares.
The excitement around the CSA shares has shown the SOF students that there is support for the farm that they love so much. Day in and day out they tend to the plants in the hoop house, learn about the intricacies of compost, or just relax under the shady tree. They put the farm first through all kinds of weather — even if it means bundling up and taking overnight shifts to care for the plants on frosty nights.
It has become a community and mentality. Their motto is “leave it at the fence,” which reminds them to leave their stresses, worries and troubles outside the gates of the farm. Once they’re inside the fence, they’re home.
“I had no idea I'd be this involved, I had no idea that I would call the farm ‘home,’” Kat said. “I had no idea it’s where my primary community would be, and it'd be my happiest place on earth.”
Biochemistry · Mankato, Minnesota
For Carissa, making the personal choice to get vaccinated was about more than just the free Krispy Kreme donuts.
"When it came to my decision to get vaccinated myself, I really felt like it was not just a decision that was going to affect my health but also the health of my friends and family and the people around me — and also the health of my community overall," Carissa said. "I feel like I have some personal responsibility."
The junior biochemistry student has already received her second shot, and after a two-week wait for the vaccine to become fully effective she will be able to safely gather with her vaccinated friends and family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, her vaccination will also make it less likely for Carissa to get COVID-19, and if she does contract it she will not become seriously ill.
The CDC has also declared it safe for fully vaccinated people to travel within the U.S. as long as they maintain proper COVID-19 precautions — meaning that Carissa will be able to travel home to Minnesota for the first time since winter break. As an out-of-state student, Carissa already faces homesickness each semester — and being unable to visit family members frequently due to the pandemic has made it even harder.
With more and more people receiving vaccinations, Carissa is hopeful for the future. She's already thinking of how different her senior year will feel with all her friends back in town, and is hoping that she'll be able to participate in Husker traditions with her family.
"I have been doing everything I can, you know — following every guideline, getting myself vaccinated — because I know what it was like pre-pandemic going to school here and I loved it so much," Carissa said. "I want to end my time here like that."
“When it came to my decision to get vaccinated myself, I really felt like it was not just a decision that was going to affect my health but also the health of my friends and family and the people around me — and also the health of my community overall. I feel like I have some personal responsibility.”
Emerging Media Arts · Kurdistan
On August 3, 2014, Vianne's entire world changed.
Her hometown of Sinjar, Iraq, was captured by ISIS, which led to the genocide of the Yazidi people and Christians in the region. Vianne and her family hid for two weeks while their city collapsed around them.
"By a miracle, we all survived. I don't know how. Thousands of people died, lost their lives, got kidnapped..." Vianne said. "Some of them were my friends."
She still doesn't know what happened to them.
After the attacks Vianne began volunteering at a refugee camp as social worker with women who had survived ISIS captivity.
"I tried to, you know, help them with anything I can — just at least listening to them...because there was nobody even to listen to them," she said. "They lost their family. They lost everything."
Vianne began working on a documentary about the survivors. She would talk with them about their lives before, during and after ISIS — with some of the conversations lasting as long as seven hours.
In 2016, Vianne was invited to attend Nadia Murad's United Nations Goodwill Ambassador ceremony as a witness and a survivor of the genocide. A few months later, she was able to move to the United States with a few of her family members.
After she settled in Lincoln, memories from the refugee camps came flooding back. Vianne looked for ways to express her complex emotions — and turned to art.
Vianne is now a student in the Carson Center and is using her storytelling skills to uplift the voices of the Yazidi women she met in the refugee camps. She wants to ensure that their stories — and their pain — will not be forgotten.
"These women will remain part of my identity," Vianne said. "Their story always will be with me."
Henry González Hernandez
Mechanized Systems Management Master's · Nahuizalco, El Salvador
Education means everything to Henry.
He was the first in his family to attend college, and soon he'll be the first to graduate with a master's degree. Education is important to Henry, because he knows from experience that it isn't always accessible.
He's the first person from his community in El Salvador to attend any higher education institution. His family comes from the mountain regions where schools were simply too far away to attend. They started working at a young age, and never even considered school to be a possibility.
That's why Henry takes so much pride in his academic pursuits. After earning his undergraduate degree in Honduras, he came to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to pursue a master's degree in mechanized systems management. Henry splits his time now between the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus and his research station in the Sandhills, where he is studying wastewater and irrigation technology.
Leaving home to pursue an education hasn't always been easy. He misses El Salvador and estimates that he's only spent a few weeks there since he left for college in 2014. Luckily, he's been able to build a second home in Nebraska with his community of classmates and coworkers. He especially felt the Husker hospitality when he first ventured out to the Sandhills.
"They were like, 'Okay, Henry. I know you're new here in the United States, so maybe we can go and visit some places,'" Henry said. "They were really, really supportive."
Henry is also now a leader to his family members back home. He's shown them that it's possible to pursue your academic dreams, and has even inspired his younger brother to attend college as well.
"It's like giving back — [my parents] have been making a lot of sacrifices since I was a child...so trying to be the best and everything is just a goal I have for my every day," Henry said. "And that's not only for me, but because I want the best for them."
Spanish, Communication Studies & Latin American studies · Lincoln, Nebraska
Ronaldo uses music to make a difference.
He uses the platform that comes with being a local Lincoln musician to promote personal causes and campaigns related to social justice. As a first-generation American, Ronaldo cares deeply about immigration issues.
Ronaldo's parents fled El Salvador in the 1980s when the country became engulfed in a civil war. They started a new life in Nebraska — and hoped that it would be a better, safer one for their family.
"That’s why immigration reform and equality mean so much to me, because it’s the only reason I’m even here and able to say I’m the first university grad in my family."
Ronaldo's passion for social justice shines through in his on-stage performances and recorded songs. For him, music is a way of decompressing while also expressing his thoughts and feelings. By harnessing his musical talents to write songs about his beliefs, he's able to show his perspective to new audiences while lifting up the causes he believes in.
"I just feel like, the best thing I can do, because everyone's gonna have their opinions and we have to be respectful about that but... the best thing I can do is offer just to educate people on what's going down," Ronaldo said. "It's heavy stuff, but it's also stuff that needs to be addressed."
Biological Sciences & Spanish · West Point, Nebraska
Leigh wasn't expecting much when she filled out the online application to be on one of her favorite reality TV shows. She had always been passionate about gymnastics, fitness and obstacles courses — but never thought that she'd be picked to appear on American Ninja Warrior.
Then she got an email. Her application had been viewed, and the team wanted to connect her with a former contestant for a training opportunity. They didn't make any mention of her being picked for the show, only that they felt she would benefit from the training.
"But that gave me a glimmer of hope," Leigh said.
One day as she waited in line at the Nebraska Union, she received a call from an unknown number. Thinking it was spam, she let it go to voicemail, only to find out afterwards that it was one of the American Ninja Warrior producers telling her she'd been chosen to compete on the show.
Leigh took a week off from classes to film her segment, and when she returned @unlhonors asked if she'd like to replicate her experience on the show for an after-school club.
Leigh agreed and set about creating an obstacle course club for Lincoln Public Schools elementary students. She spent her fall break sharing her passion for fitness by showing her students how to hop, skip and jump through new challenges.
"I think it was a really neat way to have kids have an opportunity to be more active in their clubs," Leigh said. "Being passionate about something is a great way to share it with someone else... just be open to sharing what your niche is. Everyone has their own — so take advantage of it."
“Being passionate about something is a great way to share it with someone else.”
Computer Science · Omaha, Nebraska
Michael is building a brotherhood on campus.
As a part of Brother2Brother, he's providing a space for men of color on campus to connect.
The program functions as part network and part brotherhood. It's a space for members to meet new faces while uplifting and encouraging one another on their academic and professional journeys — and it's also a place for them to share their experiences as men of color and find support and validation.
Michael played sports all his life, so he wants to replicate the same feeling of camaraderie that he found with his teammates through Brother2Brother. All male or nonbinary students from all backgrounds are encouraged to be a part of Brother2Brother, and the program is actively looking for new members to join their leadership team.
"Especially for minorities on a predominantly white institution campus," Michael said. "It's kind of hard for us to connect and even know that each other exists."
By bringing men of color together through Brother2Brother, Michael hopes to help the men involved while also amplifying their diverse voices and experiences to the entire University of Nebraska–Lincoln community.
"I'm a big believer in diversity and how important that is... because diversity not only takes you out of your own box in your own way of growing up, but it makes you explore yourself and open the different parts of yourself that you may not have been aware of. Diversity allows you to find yourself — and I find that really powerful."
“Diversity allows you to find yourself — and I find that really powerful.”
Animal Science PhD ·
Haley’s research takes her to some wild places.
Right now, that place is the Lincoln Children's Zoo. As a doctoral student in animal science, Haley is working with a team to produce a video tracking program that monitors behavioral changes in the zoo's cheetahs.
The program was originally created by University of Nebraska–Lincoln animal science researchers to track livestock animals. Using the system, Haley is able to track a variety of the cheetahs' habits — from how fast they're walking, to how much time they spend sleeping. This data is then imported into a spreadsheet for the zookeepers.
From there, the zookeepers are able to analyze the data and see if there are any noticeable changes in the behavior of the cheetahs. Behavioral changes can indicate problems the zookeeper might not be able to see — like injuries or sicknesses that the animals might be masking.
The inspiration to use the tracking system on zoo animals came after Haley spent two years working as a zookeeper. She knew she could find a solution that would help bridge the communication barriers between humans and cheetahs.
“I’m really excited, because I never thought I’d be able to take my own experiences or these limitations that I saw as a zookeeper and actually try to find a solution,” Haley said. “I knew when I was a senior in college that I wanted to do something with wildlife, and I stayed in Lincoln for that fact. I’m really glad I did, just because it’s taken me to more places than I expected."
Jim Benes & Tim Turquist
Geography PhD & History PhD · Lincoln, Nebraska & Harvard, Nebraska
Like many love stories, Jim and Tim's story starts on campus.
As undergraduates, the two shared lunch dates in Selleck, read together on the green space and memorized each other's schedules so they could connect after class.
"Every minute we were always trying to find each other on campus," Jim said.
The pair have been through a lot together since they started dating in 2008 — in their academic careers they've each obtained a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and now are pursuing part-time and full-time PhDs. In their personal world they've shared a proposal in Tel Aviv, a wedding in Yellowstone and the introduction of their newest family member — their pup, Rudiger. Through all the academic adventures, travels and life changes, Jim and Tim have always had each other.
"It's so much fun having someone who's on the same journey as you," Tim said.
Though a lot has changed in the past 13 years, campus has always been a constant in their lives. Whether they're walking to work, a lecture hall or to meet up for lunch, they can relive their relationship as they pass by the familiar buildings and green spaces.
"The landscape... kind of becomes infused with the love I have for him," Jim said. "So like when I see the cherry trees on campus blooming, or I see the magnolias, or when I stop to get a coffee in the Union or the Academic Grind... I just think of Tim all the time on campus."
“The landscape...kind of becomes infused with the love I have for him.”
Emerging Media Arts · Virginia
Sydney always knew she wanted to impact the music industry. As she dreamed of the possibilities in her future, one thought kept sticking with her — what if she could create her own music festival?
The event would feature performances from up-and-coming artists, and would put them in front of an audience full of potential fans and industry leaders. She'd call it The Citrusfest — after her nickname, Citrus.
After Sydney came up with the idea, she went to her family for help. They were able to connect her with potential teammates for the project, and before long, the gears were in motion and Citrusfest planning was underway.
At times juggling classes and festival planning was stressful, but Sydney made it through with the help of @carsoncenterunl. Her classes in the college taught her about music entrepreneurship, and she was able to connect with director Megan Elliott to bounce around ideas and receive mentorship.
On Jan. 26, The Citrusfest went live. Viewers from across the world tuned in to see 12 new artists show their talents and receive feedback from some of the music industry's top producers and talent executives.
While creating the festival itself was a rewarding process for Sydney, the best part of it all was seeing how it could make an impact on the careers of emerging musicians.
"I just think that a lot of those artists deserve to get exposure and deserve to show their artistry."
Political Science · Lincoln, Nebraska
As a first-generation American, Aila grew up in two cultures.
"I love growing up with two cultures...sometimes you kind of feel torn between the two, like they're both pulling you one way or another," Aila said. "But I think it's just been really awesome to be able to have two parts of myself and be able to experience both cultures and the richness of both and be proud of who I am and the culture I was raised by."
Aila's parents fled Bosnia during the war and genocide of the '90s and eventually settled in Lincoln. They connected with the city's large Bosnian refugee population, which allowed Aila to grow up alongside many other first-generation Bosnian-Americans.
During summer 2020, Aila founded @basa_unl. The registered student organization (RSO) provides a space for Aila and her fellow first-generation Bosnian-American students to share their experiences in adjusting to life between two cultures and helps them maintain bonds to their common heritage.
Additionally, the RSO was created to give other University of Nebraska–Lincoln students an opportunity to learn more about Bosnia and its traditions.
"One thing about Bosnians that makes us really special is how much we love welcoming people into our community and sharing our culture," Aila said.
Aila already feels like BASA has helped her reconnect with her roots. By meeting other Bosnian-American students, showing Bosnian culture to American students, and engaging in this new intercultural community, she is able to appreciate her Bosnian heritage — even though she's thousands of miles away from the country her family once called home.
"I think that making sure that our parents' stories aren't lost, in that we're continuing to share those [stories] and just sharing our perspective on campus with other people... I think that's a really important thing for us to do."
“One thing about Bosnians that makes us really special is how much we love welcoming people into our community and sharing our culture.”
Microbiology · Columbus, Nebraska
Thanks to scholarships, Antonio will be able to take part in experiences that he once thought were out of reach.
Antonio recently received a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State as well as an Early Abroad Scholarship and an Emerging Leader Scholarship through the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. As a Gilman Scholar, Antonio will travel to Italy — once guidelines surrounding the virus permit it — and learn from experts there about the epidemiology of COVID-19.
The chance to learn about the virus from some of the minds that know it best is an amazing academic opportunity for a microbiology student like Antonio. He's excited about the program, but also patient in knowing that it might be a while before he's actually able to go to Italy and safely participate in his studies.
Without scholarships, Antonio wouldn't be able to participate in programs abroad. He's thankful he applied for the scholarships, and now he wants to share his story with other students who think that studying abroad is out of their reach. These opportunities didn't come easy to him — at times, he was working two jobs just to be able to cover bills, all while wanting to lead as an example first-gen student for his family and for other students like him.
"There is a lot of pressure to succeed in college, not just for yourself but for your family — doing something they didn't have the opportunity and resources to do."
Through perseverance, grit and seeking out scholarships, Antonio is now able to do the things he never thought he could do.
Mechanical and Materials Engineering PhD · Mason City, Iowa
According to the Society of Women Engineers, only 13% of working engineers are women. For those women, working in a male-dominated industry can be intimidating at times.
On top of that, life as a graduate student can be isolating. With all the research it takes to complete their studies, it can be hard for students to find time to unwind or to work toward other professional development goals.
That’s why Courtney is passionate about providing a space devoted to connecting with and empowering her fellow women in STEM.
Courtney founded the Society of Women in Physics at her undergraduate institution, and when she came to UNL for her PhD she wanted to find a group with a similar mission. She joined Nebraska’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and eventually spun off a graduate student version of the organization in spring 2020.
In addition to the stress of grad student life, Courtney also experienced imposter syndrome as one of the few women in her field — and she doesn’t want anyone else to feel it too. That’s why she made sure that the graduate SWE’s main focus would be on building and fostering a positive graduate student community that reminds her fellow women in STEM that they are smart, valued and deserving of their role in science.
“When I started grad school I had a difficult time making friends and finding a good work-life balance, and having this community... I’m sure they feel the same, and I want them to know, ‘You’re not alone,’” Courtney said. “We are in this together.”
“I want them to know, 'You’re not alone. We are in this together.'”
Broadcasting · Beatrice, Nebraska
As a transfer student, coming to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln was a fresh start for Alec.
New majors, classes, professors, friends, and a new city to call home. Coming from a city of about 20,000 to UNL's downtown City Campus, he immediately felt a change.
Alec had typical transfer student worries over his course roster and how he'd find his own community, but they soon melted away.
He was able to transfer over his credits from his former school without any troubles, and found professors at @unlcojmc who welcomed him and made him feel comfortable in his new college. And when it came to friendships, as a @huskerfbnation player he quickly bonded with his teammates and found camaraderie on and off the field.
Campus involvements were key to helping Alec transition to life as a UNL student. Along with his involvement in athletics, he joined @jachtagency to further his skills as a broadcasting major. The group helped him connect with his fellow College of Journalism & Mass Communications classmates and allowed him to work on projects that gave back to the community.
For Alec, being a transfer student was all about adapting — to a new city, a new campus, and new community. But it wasn't as scary as it seemed it would be — everything fell into place when he made an effort to branch out.
"Get involved in something; put yourself out there; get out of your comfort zone a little bit," Alec said, "Because you're never going to grow just going to class and going back home... I feel like you've got to do something."
“Get involved in something; put yourself out there; get out of your comfort zone a little bit.”
Elementary Education · South Sioux City, Nebraska
With 2021 just a day away, there's a lot of talk of change. While some might be scared of all that change, Karla has learned to thrive in it.
Karla had been a straight-A student throughout high school and always dreamed of being a band director. After starting music education classes at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, she realized that it just didn't interest her the way she thought it would.
As the semester progressed she struggled academically, and found additional troubles with things like financial aid and the fear of failure. Coming to college as a first-generation student added an extra layer of anxiety to the situation, as she didn't have family to turn to with college-related questions.
Thanks to the help of First Husker, Karla was able to connect with fellow first-generation students who shared her feelings. The program gave her a safe place to go to with her troubles and connected her with mentors that told her it was okay to change her path.
"Kids come to college – especially first generation students — with this mentality that they have to take something while they're in high school and they have to stick to it no matter what," Karla said. "And it's really not the case."
Even though it was a scary change, Karla went through with it and switched her major to elementary education. The risk was worth the reward — she loves what she's studying now.
Karla hopes to use her future career as an educator to help other first-generation students. She plans on telling them about all the little things they need to know about college, along with reassurances that if their plans change, better things are on the way.
"The doors open to so many other possibilities."
“Kids come to college – especially first generation students — with this mentality that they have to take something while they're in high school and they have to stick to it no matter what and it's really not the case.”
The spirit of giving is an all-year feeling for one Husker group.
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Medical Students United with Neighbors Across America (shortened as MUNA) has been gathering food donations for Lincoln refugees since summer 2020.
The registered student organization was founded by two UNL pre-med students — Kailynn and Makayla. The two had always been looking for ways to give back to the community, and even shared a Google Doc filled with all their ideas for changing the world.
As they were searching for volunteer opportunities last spring, they came across UNMC's MUNA chapter. They saw how the UNMC chapter was able to help others and knew they wanted to bring the program to Lincoln.
"We were just really inspired by the work that they were doing and how they were doing it in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Makayla said.
So, Makayla and Kailynn got to work. They gathered the five members needed to form a RSO, set up interviews with local community centers, and started planning their first online fundraiser. After working throughout the summer on establishing the club, the group was able to organize their first food distribution for refugee families in the fall.
Since then, UNL MUNA has completed five distributions and fed over 100 families in the Lincoln area.
"It's taught me a lot about the different communities that I will be working with someday in the future...I really want to set pre-med students up with more cultural experiences," Kailynn said. "I come from a small town in Nebraska and didn't have the opportunity to get to know a lot of people of different cultures and ethnicities. MUNA sort of gives me the opportunity to just get to know these people but also give back to communities that I wouldn't normally interact with."
“MUNA sort of gives me the opportunity to just get to know these people but also give back to communities that I wouldn't normally interact with.”
Great Plains Studies ·
Susan restarted college in her sixties, and is now a proud December 2020 Husker grad.
While working in the Student Involvement office, she was searching through available majors and minors when she learned about the Great Plains Studies program.
"And I thought, 'Oh I think if I would have had that back in the '70s, I might have finished college,'" Susan said.
As Susan thought about the possibility of going back to school, the message of a card on her desk caught her eye. The card — given to her by her coworker — said, "Stop asking yourself about whether you can or should, think about how you might."
"Every day I would see that card, and then one day it just kind of clicked," Susan said. "Instead of sitting there thinking, 'Well, I'd like to go back,' — I work at the university, I get credit for education if I want to — now would probably be a good time, because I wasn't getting any younger."
And so, after dropping out in her twenties, Susan restarted her degree. Her first semester didn't go quite as planned, as she developed an infection and wasn't able to complete her class. But after recovering, she returned and started steadily chipping away at her course requirements. It wasn't always easy — Susan has complications from her past cancer diagnoses, had to balance her studies alongside working a full-time job, and had to spend a lot of weekends away from her grandkids and family so she could complete her homework.
"Being a college graduate means a lot to me personally," Susan said. "Because I really didn't think I could do it."
Susan's degree is also for her family. Her parents didn't graduate high school, making her a first-generation college student. It's also for her kids and grandkids, so they can have an example of perseverance.
"With all my cancer and stuff, I really wanted to show them that you can get knocked down several times and pick yourself back up and go."
“With all my cancer and stuff, I really wanted to show them that you can get knocked down several times and pick yourself back up and go.”
architecture · Baghdad, Iraq
Samah has learned a lot about what makes a home. Because for her, home has changed a lot over the past few years. Originally Samah and her family lived in Iraq. But when things became unsafe, they left for Syria. Shortly after, they were granted refugee status in the US and made their way to Lincoln. Though she now calls Lincoln home, she often misses the comfort and security she found in her home in Iraq. As an avid artist, Samah turned to drawing to capture her emotions. Her mom told her that if she liked creating things on paper that she should consider architecture — where her creations could come alive and be built out in the world. Samah's mom was right. Her passion for creating things pushed her to complete her undergraduate degree in just three years, and she's now pursuing her master's in architecture at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Now Samah is able to create places and spaces on her computer that can become real buildings out in the world. For her, architecture isn't just about designing a visually appealing space. It's about creating a sense of home — and capturing that feeling of home that she left behind in Iraq. "I would like to create something that just makes people feel like they belong, you know, like that feeling of safety," Samah said. "It's not safety from like bombs and all that but you go home you're relaxed... it's like, relief."
“For her, architecture isn't just about designing a visually appealing space. It's about creating a sense of home — and capturing that feeling of home that she left behind in Iraq.”
construction management · Grand Island, Nebraska
After enlisting at 17, Rodrigo joined the Marines right after finishing high school. "It definitely made me grow up really fast. I kind of considered myself an adult right at 18." After being stationed at Camp Pendleton for four years, he decided it was time for a change. As an avid Husker fan, he decided to follow his dream and become a Husker himself by applying to the university. Starting college while reentering civilian life wasn't always easy. After living with the same people for four years at Camp Pendleton, it was easy to feel lost and alone at a university the size of UNL. But thanks to the kindness of his classmates and opportunities with the Student Veterans of America and UNL's Military & Veteran Success Center, he was able to build his own community here at Nebraska. But that's not the case for veterans everywhere. Veterans Affairs has reported that on average 16 veterans die by suicide each day. Rodrigo, like many other veterans, has experienced losing military friends to suicide. This loss has inspired him to take part in The Things They Carry Ruck March, an annual march between Nebraska's Memorial Stadium and University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium to raise awareness for veteran suicide. Though they might not be able to walk the 322-mile trek this year due to COVID-19, Rodrigo will partake in the virtual form of the event. He encourages all those who want to raise awareness and show support for this cause to join him on their own virtual marches—just walking a few miles could make a major impact on someone's life. "I've been in a position where you kind of feel alone when you come to campus from a whole different world. And it helps when just one person says, 'Hey, I got you.'"
“I've been in a position where you kind of feel alone when you come to campus from a whole different world. And it helps when just one person says, 'Hey, I got you.'”
English · Bellevue, Nebraska
Eric Morris likes to inspire and be inspired. One day, he hopes to become a renowned author, to see his novels or poetry books on shelves at Barnes & Noble or a local bookstore. "What do I hope to accomplish? I guess bringing something new into the world that wasn’t there before.” So while he works on his craft, he’s also helping others discover their own. Eric has seen the impact of a mentor firsthand. He’s had family, teachers and advisors he’s looked up to that have provided him guidance and helped him get from point A to point B. But the two mentors he had through Emerging Leaders—a program that supports recipients of the Nebraska Emerging Leaders Scholarship through continued success during their first year—were different. “They were immediately there for me and they were dedicated to guiding me through all of my first semester." After taking an interpersonal skills course and volunteering at the Lincoln Boys & Girls Club, he was even more determined to help other students through mentorship. Now, he’s coming up on his two years as a peer mentor through Emerging Leaders, helping other Huskers become comfortable and succeed through their first semester. Through the program, the mentors take on a class of students and actually teach curriculum that revolves around understanding yourself as the leader you want to become, navigating difficult conversations with others and reflecting on values and identities. Though he mainly teaches, Eric emphasizes the importance of connecting personally with his mentees, opening up to them and being a person they can rely on. "There’s definitely a lot more to us, whether we’re artists, or architects, or marine biologists, or nurses, or fashion designers, or a little bit of everything. I like to think that we’re more than just one of our goals and we’re more than just one of our interests."
“What do I hope to accomplish? I guess bringing something new into the world that wasn’t there before.”
criminal justice and child, youth and family studies · Minneapolis, Minnesota and Omaha, Nebraska
Nasia is making her mark at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln by creating a more open and accepting campus for students like her. As she immersed herself in the UNL community during her first year, Nasia realized that there were very few students that could share her experiences as an Indigenous, first-generation Husker. Along with the everyday stresses of tests, classes and homework, she also had to handle macro- and microaggressions — like people making incorrect assumptions about why she was going to college, who was paying for it, and calling the traditional clothing of her culture a "costume." "I was like, you know what? I'm not going to dwell on it... I'm going to change it," Nasia said. Over the past three years, Nasia has been an active member of the University of Nebraska Inter-Tribal Exchange (UNITE), Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Sorority, Inc., and the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Student Advisory Board for Racial Justice, Inclusion and Equality. "My personality — it kind of doesn't allow me to just be back in the shadows," she said. By participating in these organizations, Nasia is able to connect with students who share the same experiences as her and help younger students as a mentor. She's also able to use her leadership positions in these groups to amplify her voice to the broader UNL community. "I like people to talk about me, even if that's good or bad. I don't care... because not everyone's gonna like me," Nasia said. "Not everyone's going to understand where I come from, why I walk into a room and I laugh as loud as I can, and I talk as loud as I can. It's just so people remember where I am, because if people remember who I am then they'll remember my people, and if they remember my people that's 20 steps more than what Christopher Columbus thought was gonna happen."
“I like people to talk about me, even if that's good or bad. I don't care... because not everyone's gonna like me. Not everyone's going to understand where I come from... It's just so people remember where I am, because if people remember who I am then they'll remember my people.”
psychology major with a minor in gerontology · Cameron, Missouri
Helping others has always been something Bianca is passionate about. In her small hometown, she volunteered at the public library where she prided herself in greeting the visitors and helping them find what they needed. Seeing people leave with a smile on her face drove her to pursue more opportunities to lend a hand. As a desk assistant at Harper, Schramm, Smith, and Village, Bianca works to provide students, parents and visitors a safe but exciting environment where they can excel at their studies and grow as people. She loves to meet different people and the challenge of the role, but helping people is what first drew her to the job. "I'm the first smiling face they see when they walk through the doors to their dorm rooms. Residents come to the desk for a variety of reasons ranging from cable issues to roommate disagreements. They trust me (and the desk staff) to help with whatever issue they may need fixing at that moment and it's such a good feeling to be able to solve that problem for them.” She’s also passionate about safety as it enables her to continue helping others. It’s something that’s been extremely important right now, and she’s sure to follow all guidelines both in her job—like wearing a mask and sanitizing surfaces—and with her friends as they find socially distant ways to connect. This combination of community and safety is something Bianca also hopes find in a post-grad career. She looks forward to becoming an occupational therapist and advocating for older adults. In this job, Bianca will help improve their quality of life, help them understand programs and services they can receive and combat any negative treatment or stereotypes of aging adults. Wherever she is—whether volunteering, working or just being in her community—Bianca will continue to live by one rule: “Everyone has a right to live and receive the care they need. No matter who you are or where you come from."
“Wherever she is—whether volunteering, working or just being in her community—Bianca will continue to live by one rule: “Everyone has a right to live and receive the care they need. No matter who you are or where you come from."”
advertising & public relations · Minneapolis—Saint Paul, Minnesota
2020 has brought in a tidal wave of new thoughts, emotions and experiences for members of the Husker community. College of Journalism student Karin knew she needed to talk about it. That's why, with the help of fellow members of College of Journalism & Mass Communications Ambassadors, she is spearheading the creation of The Circle. The Circle provides an open and understanding space for students to share their struggles, joys, perspectives and questions with one another. The club is molded after the Husker Dialogues style of conversation, which fosters meaningful discussions about sometimes difficult topics. Any Husker can attend the meetings either in person while practicing social distancing or online through Zoom. "Our main goal is just to foster friendships and community for students during this time of uncertainty and just scariness in the world," Karin said. "We just want there to be a comfortable place for students to feel empowered enough to express their opinions." After growing up in a home where her parents encouraged open communication and seeking out new perspectives, she especially wanted to lead a club that had that same mission. Karin understands that for some people, they might not have a place to go to talk about these topics or might have friends or family who won't listen to them. In The Circle, it's different. "In order to change the world and change the way people think, we have to all come together."
“In order to change the world and change the way people think, we have to all come together.”
criminology & criminal justice · Omaha, Nebraska
When Francisco first started at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, he was out of his comfort zone. As the first member of his family to attend college, everything about UNL felt like a new experience. But one day while walking across campus, he found a group doing advocacy work in front of Broyhill Fountain. Sigma Lambda Beta is a multicultural fraternity that is devoted to advocating for the Latino community and issues of social change. As a group they work together to create camaraderie on campus, help the Lincoln Hispanic community, and inspire younger generations to consider secondary education. Francisco felt drawn to join after learning about their mission, and he has been an active member ever since. With Hispanic Heritage Month ongoing now through October 15, Sigma Lambda Beta is currently focusing on creating special ways to commemorate the members of the Hispanic community who have come before them. The group is managing a social media campaign promoting influential Hispanic leaders in history, as well as producing a short video documentary. "The way we celebrate it is making sure that the contributions and the work that has been done isn't forgotten," Francisco said. Sigma Lambda Beta has given Francisco an opportunity to meet like-minded people on campus and connect with the Lincoln Hispanic community, but most importantly it has empowered him to find more ways to help others. "We have all similar backgrounds and similar mindsets on what we want to project on to our unique community, and so that's what's keeping me doing the work that I am doing."
“We have all similar backgrounds and similar mindsets on what we want to project on to our unique community, and so that's what's keeping me doing the work that I am doing.”
forensic science · Papillion, Nebraska
Though she's only been a Husker for a few months, Aliyah has already found a support system for her big dreams. Through the CASNR Change-Maker Quick Pitch Competition, Aliyah was given the confidence to pursue her dream of producing a surgical sleeve that would help those with breathing problems. After seeing her brother live with asthma and a family friend face the challenge of a collapsed lung, she knew she wanted to make something that could help those struggling — and with an interest in surgery, she knew she would one day have the skills to do it. Aliyah brainstormed how to make it happen, and then presented her idea for a surgical sleeve that could detect lung complications. After filming her pitch this summer, she waited to hear back on the results. Ultimately, Aliyah was picked as one of eight first-year students to receive a Change-Maker scholarship. In addition to receiving the scholarship, she will also be matched with a professional mentor that will help her as she works to make her surgical sleeve research a reality. By getting an early start, she's hoping she will be prepared for when she needs to streamline her research focus for medical school. It's just the beginning of Aliyah's University of Nebraska–Lincoln story, but thanks to CASNR she already knows that she can chase big dreams here.
“After seeing her brother live with asthma and a family friend face the challenge of a collapsed lung, she knew she wanted to make something that could help those struggling — and with an interest in surgery, she knew she would one day have the skills to do it. ”
music education · Lawrence, Kansas
Cameron never expected his senior year to look like this. He thought his final year would be filled with the quintessential moments of college and all the little details of a life lived pre-pandemic. Changes to his senior year like mask-wearing policies, some classes going online and canceled events were difficult to adjust to at first, but now he understands that they were initiated for the safety of everyone. And as an LNK is Greater Than ambassador, he is on a mission to be a role model on campus and encourage other students to adapt to this new normal. LNK is Greater Than is a campaign devoted to showing Lincolnites how they can curb the spread of COVID-19. Cameron applied to be an ambassador because the mission of the campaign aligned with his own personal convictions — he cares about the people around him, wants to have a safe school year, practices social distancing, wears a mask and washes his hands. Cameron and his fellow ambassadors can be found on campus or at local public events handing out prizes to people practicing proper social distancing and mask wearing. They're also active on social media and share information on how to still have fun and socialize while staying safe. "I wanted to show people that it's still possible to be safe and to follow guidelines and to put others safety and health as a priority," Cameron said. "But also it's still possible to get together through things like social distance picnics or even just wearing masks at the Haymarket Farmers Market. It's been a great way to see people gather and come together but also respect others and respect their safety."
“I wanted to show people that it's still possible to be safe and to follow guidelines and to put others safety and health as a priority.”
psychology · Schuyler, Nebraska
The Mac Miller lyric “there was never a better time to better myself” has been a drumbeat in Erik’s head for the past couple of years. When he was exploring colleges, he originally planned to become an accountant. He was good at accounting in high school and it became second nature. After getting involved in engineering competitions, he set his sights on nuclear engineering and started attending Central Community College. Though he would later switch back to accounting, he dropped out to take care of himself and focus on his mental health. Around this time last year, he was really inspired to go back to college, both for himself and his parents. “I’m a first-generation Latino student so I want to make them proud by being the first in my family to graduate from a 4-year university.” Going to college is also a way to honor the legacy of two of his friends, Ramon and Juan, who passed before they could attend college. “I’m going through this journey for them as well." Now he’s started as a junior at Nebraska, a university he said he’s wanted to attend since middle school. And he’s also discovered a new path for himself: finishing college and then attending graduate school to become a guidance counselor. "I’ve always been the “therapist” for my friends so that inspired me to go into psychology. I wanted to become a guidance counselor because more often than not I found myself helping friends and coworkers with resumes, scholarships, applying for colleges, and FAFSA as well." As someone that strives to help others and to better himself no matter where he's at in life, he feels like being a guidance counselor is the perfect fit. And aside from helping students navigate school, he'll be able to help families. "There’s also not a lot of bilingual guidance counselors so I know it would help some parents of students to know what their child is going through it when comes to school."
“I’ve always been the “therapist” for my friends so that inspired me to go into psychology. I wanted to become a guidance counselor because more often than not I found myself helping friends and coworkers with resumes, scholarships, applying for colleges, and FAFSA as well.”
Agricultural Education · Genoa, Nebraska
On many people’s 18th birthday, they may have a nice breakfast, open presents and celebrate. The first thing Kelsey did was call the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Growing up, her family was very involved in the community and instilled one particular message that has stuck with her: no matter what life gives you, give more back. A trip for ice cream in high school sparked her own interest in community involvement. After seeing a flyer on a bulletin board, her dad encouraged her to get involved as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Although she was hesitant at first, she thought about her own family. “I knew that if my grandpa or my dad or mom needs to call 911, I’d want someone to respond for my family; so I do it for other people’s families." At 17, she wasn’t eligible to become a volunteer EMT. But she went through training and waited for her 18th birthday when she could officially take the tests necessary to become licensed. When she’s in her hometown, she carries a pager in case someone needs help. And two years later, she’s gotten use to the unexpected nature of the job. “The calls always seem to come at in at the worst time, like when your meal is hot and you’re sitting down. But that’s part of the job.” And she doesn’t mind because she’s able to help those who need it. Kelsey has been able to help people even when she hasn’t been called on, like when she was cheering on the sidelines of her high school football game and a player was injured, or when someone on campus became light-headed during an event. But her EMT training has also given her peace of mind at home. She says that living on a farm, so much can go wrong so quickly and being an EMT makes her and her family feel a little safer if something were to happen.
“Growing up, her family was very involved in the community and instilled one particular message that has stuck with her: no matter what life gives you, give more back.”
advertising and public relations and psychology · Lincoln, Nebraska
Alexis has lived in Lincoln her entire life. And when she saw an opportunity to connect with her Black heritage and advocate for Lincoln’s Black community, she took it. “It was just important for me to use my voice. Usually I’m silent about polarizing topics but I wanted to finally speak out and use my voice and my social media to push that on to other people.” So she set out to create a list for the community to come together and support local Black-owned businesses. It started with a simple post on Facebook and Instagram but soon grew into a community-fueled project. Alexis received tons of direct messages and comments about additions to the list. As a @unlcojmc student, she knows how to use social media to generate buzz but she didn’t expect the list to get as much attention as it has. And she has seen the impact firsthand, meeting the business owners at rallies and hearing that others in the community have found their new favorite restaurant. The whole experience reinforced something she’s known about the Lincoln community: “When we all get together, we can all make a change.”
“When we all get together, we can all make a change.”
child, youth and family studies · Moreno Valley, California
When Kami first signed up for a volunteer shift at the Malone Community Center, she thought she would just spend a few hours there while checking off requirements for a class assignment. Instead, she ended up finding a community that would change the rest of her college career. Kami went from being a volunteer for the Malone Center to becoming one of their youth specialists. Since 2016 she's spent most of her afternoons picking up students from school, providing them with after-school activities, homework help and snacks, and then driving them home around dinnertime. For Kami, finding the center felt serendipitous. As a child, youth and family studies major, it made perfect sense for her to be working with kids, and as a former Husker gymnast, she was excited to start the center's first gymnastics club and share her passion for the sport. Best of all, she could do it all while supporting one of Lincoln's only African American community centers. Kami recently moved home to California and completed her final shift at the Malone Center. While the center might be far away physically, it will always be something she keeps close to her in her heart. "It's just nice to be able to have a center like that for these families to come to and feel a sense of community that people are here for you, that they care for you, and that we can all stand together." Kami said.
“It's just nice to be able to have a center like that for these families to come to and feel a sense of community that people are here for you, that they care for you, and that we can all stand together.”
Accountancy · Sioux Falls, South Dakota
As an out-of-state, first-generation and biracial student, there were plenty of times when Andee felt like she was the only person in the room that understood her experiences. But instead of sinking into that lonely feeling, she sought out and created supportive communities that would uplift her and push her forward. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Andee was active as a mentor for DREAMBIG Academy and First Husker — two programs that are aimed at helping first-generation and underrepresented students achieve their college goals. She was also a resident assistant for housing and a tutor at an elementary school. Her passion for helping students like herself also led her to found a campus organization for her fellow Black students in accounting. With the help of Associate Professor Crabtree and the accountancy program, Andee was able to join the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) during her undergraduate career. After attending the association's student conference for two years, Andee felt the impact of the program and decided it was time to create a student chapter on UNL's campus. UNL's NABA chapter is now officially a registered student organization on campus, and Andee hopes to have the chapter recognized by the national organization this fall. To Andee, the organization is an opportunity for Nebraska College of Business to have an inclusive space for Black students to share their experiences, dispel their insecurities and grow together in their careers. "I feel like a lot of times students kind of have imposter syndrome in these experiences, and so I think it's important for them to realize like, 'There's other people doing it — I can do it.'"
“Her passion for helping students like herself also led her to found a campus organization for her fellow Black students in accounting.”
Sociology · Virginia, USA and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Han, a May 2020 University of Nebraska–Lincoln graduate, had been preparing for the 4K for Cancer for months. 4K for Cancer is a program where volunteers run or bike across the United States to raise funds for the Ulman Foundation, which provides support services like scholarships and housing to young adults battling cancer. Han lost her grandmother to cancer as a child, and recently her mother was also diagnosed with the disease. Her personal connections to cancer made her especially motivated to partake in the event. But with coronavirus concerns in mind, her running plans took a new path. Originally she was going to run with her 4K for Cancer team from Baltimore to San Francisco, however, due to the effects of COVID-19 the cross-country trip was canceled. That won't stop Han — she's participating in the full 49-day run from home. She has her road ID, her safety devices and a daily schedule of miles to run to keep her on track, and each day she'll check in with her team via Zoom to dedicate their run to a cancer patient or survivor. All that's left to do is run. Though coronavirus might have stopped Han's cross-country trek, it hasn't stopped her mission to help those battling cancer. "I don’t think that anything can replace the real thing, but at the end of the day, cancer is larger than all of us individually, and there are brave warriors out there fighting this disease," Han said. "We continue to remind ourselves of our mission — that we run for them and for each other."
“Though coronavirus might have stopped Han's cross-country trek, it hasn't stopped her mission to help those battling cancer.”
Biochemistry · LIncoln, Nebraska
Aiah Nour, a biochemistry major and president of the African Student Association (ASA), found community in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Black Student Union (BSU). BSU is a group of Black leaders from different student organizations on campus that advocate for the Black voice and create a safe space for Black students to express themselves as a minority at UNL. "Being a student at Nebraska, I’ve always been the minority in all my spaces," Aiah said, "However, getting involved with the Black Student Union and the African Students Association has allowed me to find where I belong and who I can relate to." Recent events have triggered many emotions in the Black community. To ease the stress, BSU has created a community initiative to give back to the people of Lincoln and help those that who are struggling with the economic and social tensions. "It’s in times like these where community becomes crucial." Aiah said, "To be a part of something bigger than yourself provides a sense of security, as well as cultivates a community that will be kept for the generations of Black students after us." Aiah encourages other students to get involved and find community at Nebraska. "For Black students, it’s important to get involved in RSOs like ASA and APU (Afrikan People's Union), as well as get connected with BSU." Aiah said, "These organizations allow for communication within the Black community, and act as spaces of inclusivity and welcoming to a particular minority that attends UNL." Over $12,000 has been raised for the BSU Care Bag initiative to provide the Black community in Lincoln with wellness items such as hand sanitizer, food, hygiene products and anything else a family needs to be supported during this time. Learn more at the UNL African Student Association Facebook page.
“It’s in times like these where community becomes crucial." Aiah said, "To be a part of something bigger than yourself provides a sense of security, as well as cultivates a community that will be kept for the generations of Black students after us.”
Fashion Design and Textiles · Lincoln, Nebraska
Emily Pillard has known how to sew since she was six years old. After finding her passion at a young age, she followed it all the way to college at UNL Fashion. In March 2020, Emily realized that her gift for sewing and design could be used to make face masks to keep people safe from COVID-19. With the help of her mother, sister and brother, Emily has now produced more than a thousand fabric masks and shipped them across the country. Emily did all of this while finishing her spring semester at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. In between adjusting to taking her classes remotely and preparing for finals, she still found the time to gather fabric and elastic and set up her production and shipment plan with her family. Emily and her mom and sister are tasked with using the sewing machines while her brother handles cutting out all the fabric. Once the fabric is cut to the pattern, each mask takes about five to eight minutes of sewing to be completed. Then they are either mailed off or offered for pickup locally. She charges her customers only for the cost of fabric, elastic and shipping. "I'm trying to just make them as cheap as possible because they're essential. And I'm just not trying to charge people a fortune in a pandemic," she said. When she first offered to make masks, Emily thought she would be able to help only a handful of people. But as needs have grown, she's received more and more messages asking for her help from people living in remote areas without access to masks. "So I'm just like, if I can't help them, who's going to help them? So I kind of have this feeling like I need to push myself, I need to do this," Emily said, "And so it's a lot of hard work. I don't eat or sleep that much, but I'm okay. My mom is taking care of me. And I'm just trying to do the best for the community which is crazy...it just feels crazy."
“When she first offered to make masks, Emily thought she would be able to help only a handful of people. But as needs have grown, she's received more and more messages asking for her help from people living in remote areas without access to masks.”
Animal Science · Lincoln, Nebraska
When health care forces across the nation went into overdrive in response to COVID-19, University of Nebraska–Lincoln student Laura Walklin stepped up to help on the front lines. Laura had been working part-time as an x-ray technician at Bryan Health before the outbreak began. But when her clinic staff had to double its size to handle all the testing, potential patients, and new safety protocols surrounding COVID-19, she shifted her hours and started working full time — all while handling a full-time course load in animal science. During the day she dons her PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator) while attending to patients and phone calls. And when the mask comes off and she heads home at the end of the day, it's time to focus on homework, tests, and projects. Balancing life, the priority of a full-time course load, and a full-time job is a lot to handle. When Laura finds downtime, she likes to take her mind off of things and unwind by training her 4-year-old former racehorse. She feels joy when she's taking care of animals, and she hopes to one day combine it with her love of medicine by working with injured horses or pursuing the additional credentials she'd need to become an equine veterinarian. For now, Laura will continue to help Nebraskans receive the medical help they need during this different and difficult time. It's been taxing, but it's been worth it thanks to the support she's seen and felt from the people around her. "My coworkers and I have been so grateful for all the appreciation shown by businesses and members of the community," Laura said.
“She feels joy when she's taking care of animals, and she hopes to one day combine it with her love of medicine by working with injured horses or pursuing the additional credentials she'd need to become an equine veterinarian. ”
Business · Verona, New Jersey
Like many Huskers, Emilia finished her spring semester hundreds of miles from campus. And though she may be physically far away, she still feels connected to her campus community. Checking in with coworkers at the communications department at Nebraska Business and taking classes through Zoom, sometimes things feel almost the same — just virtual. The Nebraska community has been a constant in her life, helping Emilia to adjust to all the changes around her. She's in South Carolina, living with her entire family for the first time in years, and many of the plans she had for this spring and summer don't look the same. One of those major plans that changed was the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. With a goal to work in college athletics one day, Emilia volunteered at the event last year and was in Indianapolis again this year observing and learning from professionals in the field. Emilia was volunteering at the first game on March 12 when the call was made to cancel the rest of the tournament. She went straight to the airport to catch a flight back to Nebraska. While in the airport, she got the email saying that classes would be moved online. After weighing their options, Emilia and her family decided it would be best for her to join her family in South Carolina. "I knew it was a serious thing," Emilia said, "But I didn't really realize the magnitude of it all until I was there.” In addition to continuing her education through her remote classes and graduate assistantship, Emilia is also using this time to learn more about her career. As sports teams and athletics organizations adapt to life in this new normal, she's taking note of how they respond and lead. "I think we're in a very unique opportunity to be able to learn from what our peers are doing in the industry," Emilia said, "And kind of being able to see how people operate in situations that are completely unexpected and unprecedented."
“And though she may be physically far away, she still feels connected to her campus community. ”
Actuarial Science · Rusinga, Kenya
As the University of Nebraska–Lincoln seniors wrap up their final tests, papers, and projects as Huskers, many are reflecting on what their time on campus has meant to them. Every senior became familiar with the campus in their own unique way. Some of them grew up visiting it for football games and attending field trips and festivals. Others saw it briefly during Red Letter Days and New Student Enrollment. And some experienced it for the first time when they landed here at the beginning of their international student experience. Don is one of those international students. He came to Lincoln from Rusinga, Kenya. While initially, he picked Nebraska for its actuarial science program, he found more than just a highly ranked course of study — he found a community. Don felt the friendliness of the UNL community before he even started his classes. As he prepared to pack up his life and move to Lincoln, he kept in close contact with a UNL Housing employee who helped him as he decided where to live on campus. "It doesn't matter what time I sent emails — she'd be there to respond," Don said, "And we built a friendship on that." Don's Husker community continued to grow when he got on campus. From NSE events connecting international and domestic students to desk jobs at residence halls and making new friends over meals at the dining centers, his time on campus allowed him to build a life-changing network of friends, professors and professionals. His philosophy is that every interaction he shares with someone else is worthwhile, whether it's a brief conversation in class or a long talk over a cup or two of coffee. Even though his time as a Husker student ends this week, Don hopes to stay close to campus after graduation so he can visit the friends he has made during his time at Nebraska. "Building a community was so easy and so much fun," Don said, "And I think that's the most valuable experience I've ever had in my life."
“While initially, he picked Nebraska for its actuarial science program, he found more than just a highly ranked course of study — he found a community. Don felt the friendliness of the UNL community before he even started his classes.”
Political Science · Elkhorn, Nebraska
Alyssa spent most of her senior year preparing for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Out of the Darkness Walk, an annual event aimed at raising awareness for suicide prevention. But in a matter of days, her plans crumbled. As universities across the country closed and events large and small were canceled, she realized that the walk wouldn't be able to happen the way she thought it would. At first, she was gutted. "You put your blood and sweat and tears into this," Alyssa said, "And then suddenly it's like, 'Oh — can't do it.'" But the mission of the Out of the Darkness Walk inspired her to find a way to make it happen. As a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, Alyssa knew how important it was to continue sharing the message of outreach, awareness, and prevention through the event. So, like most things now in a social distancing world, she decided to make it virtual. Attendees can now tune in to a virtual walk streamed on April 26 on the Out of the Darkness Walk's Facebook page. Though the day won't go exactly the way Alyssa originally had planned, it will still be an opportunity for people to listen to the walk's keynote speaker, raise funds, and virtually walk together to amplify awareness for the cause. By transitioning the walk online, Alyssa felt like she could still make an impact on a cause that has deeply affected her life. When she struggled with a personally dark time during her first few years at college, Alyssa relied on Out of the Darkness to provide her with a support system, a reason to get better, and a will to continue. Though her last event with them as a Nebraska student might not be what she expected, she's still grateful that it's happening in some capacity.
“As a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, Alyssa knew how important it was to continue sharing the message of outreach, awareness, and prevention through the event.”
Integrated Science · Kigali, Rwanda
While campus may seem far away for some, a number of Huskers still call it home. Shemsa is one of those Huskers. While many of her classmates packed up their residence hall rooms, she knew she would need to stay on campus to finish out her classes. For Huskers like Shemsa who couldn't return home, University Housing stepped in to institute social distancing measures to keep students safe. Shemsa was moved into a suite where she has her own private bathroom, which lessened her parents' worries about her sharing a space with other people in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. She gets her meals to-go from the dining hall, engages in her coursework online in her room, and has necessities like toilet paper and cleaning supplies provided to her so she doesn't have to leave campus to make any purchases. While at first she felt anxious about being one of the few students left on campus, now that she's in her suite and she knows other students are going through the same experience, she doesn't feel so lonely. "There's a certain comfort that comes from seeing people, even if you don't hang out with them or you don't talk to them, you know?" Shemsa said, "Just see them around and you know, feel like you're not alone." To further combat loneliness, Shemsa also regularly connects with her family and friends. Her parents call from Rwanda nearly every day to check in on her, and she video chats frequently with her friends. She might be social distancing, but she doesn't feel too distant from those she loves. And though she is by herself in her residence hall suite, she knows she is not alone in the challenge of continuing to learn and engage in new ways. "I have everything that I need right here," Shemsa said.
“She might be social distancing, but she doesn't feel too distant from those she loves. ”
Global Family Health · Selangor, Malaysia
Huskers are taking the lyrics "we'll all stick together in all kinds of weather" to heart as our community adjusts to our new normal. One of those Huskers is Cassandra, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln Ph.D. student that has created a way for people in the community to get mental health support for their COVID-19-related anxiety and stress. Using her connections to mental health practitioners, Cassandra organized a group of more than 40 therapists to offer free mental health support for those that may be struggling. Cassandra understands that people are going through a lot right now. When people undergo change, especially sudden change, it's likely to leave them feeling overwhelmed. "Even the "adjusting" itself is stressful, because you had a routine of something and suddenly you don't." Cassandra said. As an advocate for mental health, she wanted to make sure that this service was accessible to all — that way whether they live in Nebraska or across the world they can still access a therapist through the virtual Telehealth services. She did this all while balancing her own stresses in life. As a TA she had to quickly adapt to putting her classes online, and as an international student she had to grapple with knowing that her family was thousands of miles away in an uncertain time. Though she had a lot of adjustments herself, she still took the time to find a way to help others. Cassandra is proof that we stick together — in all kinds of weather.
“Using her connections to mental health practitioners, Cassandra organized a group of more than 40 therapists to offer free mental health support for those that may be struggling.”
Management · Columbus, Nebraska
At the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, our students do big things — even during difficult times. Luke is one of those students. When he heard about local restaurants having to shut down in the wake of COVID-19, he realized he had a way to help those businesses through their hardships. With his and his partner's app, Brim: Mobile Ordering, he's helping coffee shops and restaurants continue to reach customers through mobile orders. The concept for Brim took shape in October 2018, when Jacob connected with The Foundry coffee shop over their need for a mobile ordering solution. By August 2019 he had created a working product, which led him to bring on Luke to help with the business aspects of expanding the app out into the community. Soon, coffee shops from across Lincoln and Omaha could be found on Brim. As restaurants began to switch to take-out only dining options when COVID-19 recommendations were announced, Luke and Jacob decided it was time to jump in and help by offering the Brim mobile ordering service for free for new businesses for six months. The two don't see it as a business opportunity for themselves — they just want to help businesses that are struggling. In fact, any business that joins won't have any obligations to continue using the service after their six months are up. Luke said that even if they end up leaving the platform, the Brim team will still consider it a success. "Because that was, you know, six months where we're able to help them out through tough times." Luke said. A handful of businesses have already taken Jacob and Luke up on their offer and will be up on the app soon. "For us, if we're able to help a few shops stay open this time..." Jacob said, "That's a total win for us."
“Luke said that even if they end up leaving the platform, the Brim team will still consider it a success. "Because that was, you know, six months where we're able to help them out through tough times."”
Software Engineering · Kansas City, Missouri
At the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, our students do big things — even during difficult times. Jacob is one of those students. When he heard about local restaurants having to shut down in the wake of COVID-19, he realized he had a way to help those businesses through their hardships. With his and his partner's app, Brim: Mobile Ordering, he's helping coffee shops and restaurants continue to reach customers through mobile orders. The concept for Brim took shape in October 2018, when Jacob connected with The Foundry coffee shop over their need for a mobile ordering solution. By August 2019 he had created a working product, which led him to bring on Luke to help with the business aspects of expanding the app out into the community. Soon, coffee shops from across Lincoln and Omaha could be found on Brim. As restaurants began to switch to take-out only dining options when COVID-19 recommendations were announced, Luke and Jacob decided it was time to jump in and help by offering the Brim mobile ordering service for free for new businesses for six months. The two don't see it as a business opportunity for themselves — they just want to help businesses that are struggling. In fact, any business that joins won't have any obligations to continue using the service after their six months are up. Luke said that even if they end up leaving the platform, the Brim team will still consider it a success. "Because that was, you know, six months where we're able to help them out through tough times." Luke said. A handful of businesses have already taken Jacob and Luke up on their offer and will be up on the app soon. "For us, if we're able to help a few shops stay open this time..." Jacob said, "That's a total win for us."
“As restaurants began to switch to take-out only dining options when COVID-19 recommendations were announced, Luke and Jacob decided it was time to jump in and help by offering the Brim mobile ordering service for free for new businesses for six months.”
Agricultural Leadership · Omaha, Nebraska
Brytany is grateful. Grateful for a major she's passionate about, a school she loves, and the opportunity to share her story with each person she meets. Brytany's story starts in Jalisco, Mexico, where she spent the first few years of her life growing up on a dairy farm. Her parents moved their small family to the United States when she was four so she could have access to a better education, and her love of agriculture followed. Throughout high school, Brytany was a student leader in Future Farmers of America, so when it came time to pick her course of study at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, emphasis on agricultural leadership felt like a perfect fit. Now well into her second year, Brytany is already making big plans for life after graduation. Along with her interest in agriculture, Brytany's experience immigrating to the U.S. and being a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient stoked a passion about human rights and the legal system. She'd like to one day start an educational program focusing on advocacy and urban agriculture or to work as an immigration lawyer. "I want to change people's lives and show them that they too can pursue the American dream," Brytany said. For now, Brytany will continue sharing her story with students at Nebraska and encouraging them to share their stories, too. "I'm just really grateful for being at UNL, because it's provided that platform and it always encourages students to share those stories," Brytany said. "It's nice to be in a community that allows you to be yourself, but also share your story and change others perspectives."
“Along with her interest in agriculture, Brytany's experience immigrating to the U.S. and being a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient stoked a passion about human rights and the legal system. She'd like to one day start an educational program focusing on advocacy and urban agriculture or to work as an immigration lawyer.”
Integrated Science · Kigali, Rwanda
For some students, taking the leap and studying abroad in a new country can be scary. For Damien, it was a challenge accepted. From the moment he received his scholarship to study across the world at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to when he applied to be a member of Freshman Campus Leaderships Associates (FCLA) to today, Damien has always felt propelled to try new things that pushed him past his comfort zone. "It's all about taking the first step," he said. Now that Damien has taken those first steps and adjusted to life as a Husker, he's looking to help other students. As a part of his FCLA duties, he's working on a project that would connect first-year students to valuable social and academic resources. From finding registered student organizations that suit their interests to seeing where they can get help with their classes, the goal is to make it easier for Huskers to acclimate to campus culture. If students are struggling to form friendships or find a community, Damien suggests that they open up to new opportunities and cultures. By experiencing new people and exploring new topics, they just might find the connections they seek. "Be courageous, adventurous — try new things," Damien said, "That, you know, the 'old you' couldn't try."
“If students are struggling to form friendships or find a community, Damien suggests that they open up to new opportunities and cultures. By experiencing new people and exploring new topics, they just might find the connections they seek. "Be courageous, adventurous — try new things," Damien said, "That, you know, the 'old you' couldn't try."”
Software Engineering · Lincoln, Nebraska
As a software engineering student, Hallie wanted to find a way to share her love of STEM with the community. Then she found Initialize UNL. The registered student organization is composed of computer science majors at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Hallie joined the organization in her sophomore year and has been an active member ever since. Hallie is involved in the mentorship branch of Initialize and volunteers as a leader for after-school robotics clubs. There she teaches elementary, middle and high school students about STEM and creates curriculums designed to show them the tools and skills associated with programming. Initialize mainly focuses on working with Title 1 schools, but they also extend their reach to rural schools using Zoom video calls. Introducing students to STEM and acting as their mentor is especially important to Hallie because she missed out on STEM opportunities growing up. She was only introduced to computer science during her high school years, but she wishes she had the opportunity to start learning about it earlier. One of Hallie's favorite parts of leading an after-school club is when a student starts the meeting acting bored and unenthused, but they end it filled with excitement and eagerness to continue learning. Hallie remembers one occasion when a student wasn't picking up on an activity, so Hallie decided to shift the curriculum a little bit to cater to her. At that point, the activity started to make more sense to the student, and she began to act excited was clearly engaged and excited about the work even when she was faced with issues, saying, "Oh, this is how I can fix it!" "I think the work we do is just really cool," Hallie said, "I can see the effect that it has on the students that we work with for our educational programs, but then also how helpful it is and how cool of an experience it is for the college students."
“Hallie joined the organization in her sophomore year and has been an active member ever since. Hallie is involved in the mentorship branch of Initialize and volunteers as a leader for after-school robotics clubs.”
Political Science · Norfolk, Nebraska
Jesse knew even before college that he wanted to go into a career focused on public service. Now, he's doing just that through The Nebraska Change Venture. "I think it's important because a lot of young people want to do well," Jesse said, "And the biggest gap is knowing how to do it." With The Nebraska Change Venture, Jesse and his fellow organization members create free presentations, workshops and online resources that help high school students determine their professional goals and ambitions. Through classes on how to write cover letters, and handouts on networking or online resume templates, they're giving students professional development opportunities and materials they might not have access to otherwise. Even though he's always felt comfortable in a professional atmosphere, Jesse understands how it can be difficult for other young people to find the confidence to put themselves out there when they're meeting with a potential employer or new networking connection. He believes that by teaching these skills at a peer-to-peer level, students will feel more comfortable learning and replicating them. "We think that it's really important that when we go and speak with students," Jesse said, "We are doing it from a perspective they can kind of understand." Since bringing The Nebraska Change Venture to Lincoln during his sophomore year, Jesse has gained valuable professional skills while sharing his knowledge and impacting students across the capital city community. Now that he's close to graduating, he is proud to be able to look back at all the lives that The Nebraska Change Venture has shaped so far, and all the future Huskers it will help as well.
“With The Nebraska Change Venture, Jesse and his fellow organization members create free presentations, workshops and online resources that help high school students determine their professional goals and ambitions. ”
Biochemistry and Chemistry · Lincoln, Nebraska
Sonoor has always called Lincoln "home," so attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln was an easy decision. Even though she was familiar with the university, she still had her worries. How would she navigate college as a first-generation student? Where would she find her support network? Were people going to treat her differently? Would they accept her for who she was? She knew it was important to go despite her fears — growing up, her family had engrained in her the importance of education, and sometimes it felt like the only thing they could hold on to. "I think most of all my parents emphasize education so much because I'm a first-generation student — my parents didn't get an education. We fled from war. I'm a refugee. We had no idea what was going on when we first came here." At first the thought college was daunting, but once Sonoor started classes at Nebraska, she began to feel at ease. She became a part of the McNair Program, Student Support Services and other organizations, and she also began cultivating connections with student and academic mentors. Because of all the support she's received as a student, she's already thinking of the ways she will be able to give back to others once she graduates. She plans on becoming a physician-scientist, so she can help patients while also researching illnesses and diseases, and she also hopes to mentor students seeking guidance, as she was once in their shoes. "Now that so many people have given to me, I think of how I can do it too for others."
Music Performance · Peculiar, Missouri
Opera might seem like just music, lights and flashy costumes to some, but for Alie, it's much more than that. As someone who has been performing in operas since her early teens, she's learned a lot from the art form and thinks that others can too. It might feel intimidating at first to attend an opera, but in reality there's nothing to worry about. Though stereotypes might make out opera halls to be stuffy and unwelcoming to newcomers, Alie said it's actually quite the opposite. Dress codes are relaxed, there's often pre-show talks that go over the plot, and the lyrics (when performed in a language other than English) are translated and projected out for the audience. Alie believes that opera is so accessible that even children can understand it. During her summer working at Opera in the Ozarks, Alie performed in an opera that toured across northwest Arkansas for children of all ages. Not only did the job allow her to use her musical talents as a performer, but it also provided her a chance to show a new group the discipline, teamwork, kindness and preparation it takes to perform an opera. "The longer that opera has been a part of my life, the more I've come to realize how it can be a strong indicator of social responsibility," Alie said. While the work that goes on behind the scenes of an opera shows the importance of forming strong, trusting social relationships with others, what happens onstage is just as important. Themes of reconciliation, mercy and forgiveness are common in many operas, and Alie thinks they are vital to share with the opera audience as well as the world. "I think that those are stories that really need to be told," Alie said, "The world needs to hear that."
“As someone who has been performing in operas since her early teens, she's learned a lot from the art form and thinks that others can too. ”
Biochemistry · Howells, Nebraska
Coming from a small town in Nebraska, Carter knew he wouldn't know many people in Lincoln. So, he built his own community. By joining plenty of Registered Student Organizations, being active in the honors program and working at the Campus Rec, Carter started to find friends and mentors that helped him adjust to collegiate life. Being active on campus helped him to find his interests and make new friends, but it also taught him about diversity and respecting others. Hailing from a town of fewer than 600 people, he didn't grow up with many of the different cultures that are represented across the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus. By reaching out and opening his mind, he was able to forge strong relationships with Huskers from across the world. "If you're close-minded, you aren't going to form anything, you're not going to learn anything.” Carter took the lessons he learned from his experiences on campus and applied them to his keynote speech during this year's Husker Dialogues. He urged students to be inclusive, respectful, outgoing and kind and also encouraged them to find some form of student involvement that interests them. With over 550 student organizations on campus, Carter says there's something for everyone. "Go to that one club meeting — you're going to find somebody want to meet," Carter said, "You're not going to really go anywhere or make any new friends unless you make the step to go and go do it."
“Hailing from a town of fewer than 600 people, he didn't grow up with many of the different cultures that are represented across the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus. By reaching out and opening his mind, he was able to forge strong relationships with Huskers from across the world.”
Biology and Psychology · Omaha, Nebraska
Saisha is driven to help others. As a biology and psychology major, Saisha hopes to pursue a master's in public health after graduation and one day work for a large public health institute where she will be able to affect even more lives. Her inspiration came from her time at a neuroscience internship in Nepal, where she was able to see the disparities in public health between the United States and other parts of the world firsthand. Back in Nebraska, Saisha continues to work towards her goals by being a public health resource to refugees that have recently been resettled in Omaha. She presents to these groups on the cultural health differences they might be experiencing upon their arrival to America and shares with them the proper protocol to follow to call 911 or understand if they need an ambulance. When she isn't volunteering, Saisha is often working in the Child Maltreatment Lab or planning and preparing initiatives for ASUN's Diversity and Inclusion committee. "Being a person of color and having that culture, I really want to embrace that here and then educate those around me.” As the co-chair for this committee, she and her fellow members are tasked with connecting the different cultural communities at the university. They work on projects that range from creating handbooks on American culture to educating their fellow students on non-gendered bathrooms across campus. "Making an impact is so huge."
“Her inspiration came from her time at a neuroscience internship in Nepal, where she was able to see the disparities in public health between the United States and other parts of the world firsthand. ”
Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management · Beatrice, Nebraska
With nearly 1,400 degrees to be awarded this weekend at undergraduate and graduate commencement, Huskers across campus are taking in their final moments as students before accepting their diplomas and officially becoming alumni. As a hospitality, restaurant and tourism management student in CASNR, Marissa was able to visit nine countries on study abroad experiences, complete three internships and even work at the Masters Golf Tournament. These opportunities led her to make lasting friendships with classmates and valuable connections with professors. Now she's a soon-to-be graduate that will begin a master's program in business administration this January. While she's excited to graduate and begin the next chapter of her life, Marissa said she will miss her undergraduate years. Whether it was chatting with her pals in classes, connecting with her HRTM professors, or even just grabbing lunch at her sorority house, she knows her college experience was enjoyable because she picked the right major and extracurriculars. "College was much more enjoyable when I focused on being involved in a few things that made me really happy, rather than trying to give half effort in a ton of things." Marissa said that while it was stressful at first to figure out life after graduation, the pieces fell into place and now she's excited for the future. She's especially excited for all the possibilities ahead of her, and she will always be grateful she chose Nebraska to be a part of her story.
“As a hospitality, restaurant and tourism management student in CASNR, Marissa was able to visit nine countries on study abroad experiences, complete three internships and even work at the Masters Golf Tournament. These opportunities led her to make lasting friendships with classmates and valuable connections with professors.”
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 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 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.”
Marketing · Omaha, Nebraska
Though he only started posting his music on Spotify in early December, junior Noah Floersch already has more than 40,000 monthly listeners. The marketing major has been making music his way for years. He started by teaching himself how to play banjo in middle school, then picked up the piano, guitar and ukulele. By the time he reached high school, he had learned how to record music on his iPad and was piecing together his own creations at home. He knew then that he wanted to make a career in music, and when he started at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, he connected with a fraternity brother who happened to produce it. The two teamed up and since December 2018 have been producing roughly one song a month. Noah looks forward to writing every day and especially to showing his new songs to his friends. When he sees them perk up and connect with a line or a melody, he can't help but feel motivated to keep creating. "That's the best feeling in the world."
“When he sees them [friends] perk up and connect with a line or a melody, he can't help but feel motivated to keep creating. "That's the best feeling in the world."”
Mechanical and Materials Engineering · Nowshahr, Iran
Coming to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln involved a lot of firsts and lasts for Ramin. He would be a first-generation student leaving to visit the United States for the first time. His single-entry visa meant it would be the last time he would see his family for five and a half years and the last time he would see his home country. Though the transition was a big one, Ramin remembers being excited for the new experience. He threw himself into his studies and became involved in the community. He frequented coffee shops, the Outdoor Adventure Center and biking trails. Ramin even became president of the Iranian Student Organization and a graduate ambassador for the College of Engineering. Most significantly, Ramin became a husband and stepfather. Despite being so busy, Ramin still wanted to do more. When he learned about an opportunity to teach middle school students about STEM through the Girls Inc. Eureka! program, he was quick to volunteer. He identified with the challenge many of the girls will face someday in college as first-generation students like him, and he wanted to serve as living proof that if they worked hard they could make their dreams come true, too. "There were so many odds against me, and I made it." Ramin said. Ramin also wanted the girls to know that engineering wasn’t just for boys. At the end of their class session on polymers and recycling, he took them on a tour of the College of Engineering so they could see where they could study engineering in just a few short years. He’s seen firsthand how education can change people, and he wants to continue to help others learn and grow.
“He identified with the challenge many of the girls will face someday in college as first-generation students like him, and he wanted to serve as living proof that if they worked hard they could make their dreams come true, too.”
Speech Pathology · Omaha, Nebraska
Alyssa has always had a special passion for helping those with language disorders. That's why she organized the fifth annual Aphasia Awareness Walk. Aphasia is a language disorder caused by brain injury, and it affects how people express and understand both written and spoken language. A large majority of people have never even heard of it, according to Alyssa. The goal of the walk is to raise awareness about aphasia, as well as to raise proceeds for the Barkley Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic and the Aphasia Community Partners Program. The Community Partners program pairs volunteers with individuals with aphasia, and together they work to practice communication skills through easy, low-stress social events like grabbing a coffee or visiting a museum. Alyssa started planning the June 8th walk during the fall 2018 semester, but she realized that it was difficult to promote it since not many people knew what aphasia was. She decided this year that she wanted to take the awareness efforts even further than before and got the state to recognize June as Aphasia Awareness Month. Planning the walk was a big task, but it was worth it. "It's taught me that the most meaningful things are the things that seemed impossible."
“Alyssa decided this year that she wanted to take the awareness efforts even further than before and got the state to recognize June as Aphasia Awareness Month.”
Psychology · Waverly, Nebraska
For Will, the LGBTQA+ Resource Center is more than just an office in the Nebraska Union — it's a community. As a first-year student Will became involved with the resource center through their Peer Mentor Group, where students are paired up with an upperclassmen mentor in an effort to help new students become acclimated and active in the LGBTQA+ campus community. He gradually became more and more engaged in the center's events and activities. Now as a senior, he is the center's library and resource coordinator. In this role, he gives presentations, recommends LGBTQA+ friendly counselors and doctors, and oversees the 1,500 items in the center's library. Will is also the president and one of the founding members of TRANSform, a club focused on a new support system within the LGBTQA+ Resource Center. The group promotes advocacy and support for trans students and works together on everything from housing policies to inclusive swim nights for those that might feel uncomfortable at public pools. The resource center gave Will a community at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and now he's helping to expand it. "It's just nice to have people that are here to help you and support you," Will said.
“Now as a senior, he is the center's library and resource coordinator. In this role, he gives presentations, recommends LGBTQA+ friendly counselors and doctors, and oversees the 1,500 items in the center's library.”
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.”
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.”
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. ”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Integrated Science · Kigali, Rwanda
Patrick has been drawing since high school. Now, as a freshman at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, he's using his hobby to cultivate a new generation of agricultural professionals. Patrick recently wrote and illustrated a children's book called "Miss Farmer." The project helped him combine his passion for agriculture with his love for art, while creating something that could help future generations. He hopes that "Miss Farmer" will bring awareness about the lives of people working in agriculture to the growing number of people who have no direct connection to it. While it's easy to find books and games promoting technology and math, he said he sees a lack of stories about farming and raising animals. The book is 15 pages long. Each page took Patrick 1-3 days to illustrate. He presented it in a poster format at College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Community Night with Agriculture Leadership Shields, and he already has parents asking him when he'll publish his work. He hopes to one day have it printed and that it will inspire young readers to be interested in the agriculture industry.
“Patrick recently wrote and illustrated a children's book called "Miss Farmer." The project helped him combine his passion for agriculture with his love for art, while creating something that could help future generations.”
Biochemistry and Mathematics · Fairbanks, Alaska
Hailing from Fairbanks, Alaska, senior Shannyn Bird knows a bit about getting out of her comfort zone. As a senior in high school she knew that she wanted to find a university with a strong research background and a tight-knit community, and knew she'd have to leave home to find it. Though it was a scary step to take, she packed up and moved more than 3,000 miles away to study at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. "If I had stayed in Fairbanks," Shannyn said. "I would definitely not be the same person I am now." Shannyn knew she had to set her own path, and that's something she's stuck to throughout her time at the university. Though she studies biochemistry and math, she isn't applying for a medical school program like most of her classmates. She wants to study law, something she got unique experience in as an Alaska youth court participant. Shannyn spent five years processing and sentencing low-level juvenile misdemeanor cases with other youth attorneys, judges and jurors under the supervision of practicing attorneys. This experience, coupled with the realization that she didn't want to work in a lab, made her decide to pursue a career where she could intersect her strengths. Shannyn hopes that when she is finished with law school she can pursue both her passions through environmental or scientific policy law. Though it's a different path than most of her classmates, it's her own — and that's one of the most important things she's learned. From her time at Nebraska, Shannyn has learned to find her own happiness and pave her own way. "I think that just having that inner sense of self is really important." Shannyn said, "Now I feel that the place I am doesn't determine who I am, I determine my sense of happiness."
“Shannyn spent five years processing and sentencing low-level juvenile misdemeanor cases with other youth attorneys, judges and jurors under the supervision of practicing attorneys. This experience, coupled with the realization that she didn't want to work in a lab, made her decide to pursue a career where she could intersect her strengths.”
Pre-Dentistry, Psychology · Bloomington, Illinois
For a handful of University of Nebraska–Lincoln students, spring break was filled with drywalling, painting and picking up the pieces left in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. A group of volunteers from UNL Lutheran Chapel made their way to Corpus Christi to take part in the relief efforts still needed after the Category 4 hurricane hit the coastal town in 2017. Spring break mission trips are common for the UNL Lutheran Chapel, and this year's service opportunity was led and planned by junior psychology student Kaitlin Buhler. While it wasn't Kaitlin's first mission trip, it was her first time using her spring break to give back. She said she sees the trip as a special chance to contribute to something bigger than herself. As a college student, she said she'd been given responsibility and independence when planning where the group would be volunteering. Kaitlin made contact with a Texas group and was able to find the communities that were most in need of assistance and the tools that her team could use to help them. While a lot of cleaning out has happened in Corpus Christi, Kaitlin said there's still work to be done to get people back into their homes. Kaitlin hopes that the group's efforts have helped some of the hurricane victims return to normalcy, and that having been helped to get back to their homes they will be able to help others in the future, too.
“Kaitlin hopes that the group's efforts have helped some of the hurricane victims return to normalcy, and that having been helped to get back to their homes they will be able to help others in the future, too.”
PhD Educational Psychology · Winnebago Reservation, Nebraska
Growing up on the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska, Colette Yellow Robe dreamed of pursuing an advanced degree. But after graduating from college with a bachelor's degree in sociology, she hit a wall. She couldn't find work, so she took a job in interior construction to make ends meet. While spending her days building walls and shelving, she had a moment of clarity. “I didn’t do all this schooling and sacrifice to do construction,” she thought, “I have to get myself going.” Colette balanced being a single mother, teaching assistant and research assistant all while working towards her PhD. When she was offered her current job as assistant director for non-cognitive development and leadership for the university’s TRIO Programs, a mentor warned her that she needed to put her education first. Colette took the job, and her mentor seemed to be right. Life kept moving. She got married. She had another child. Her father became ill and died. Her husband asked for a divorce as she was two chapters into her dissertation. Though all this may have slowed her down, Colette never let it stop her from achieving her goal. When she completed her PhD in educational psychology in 2014, her mother suggested that she re-adopt her tribal name and become Dr. Yellow Robe. By changing her name to reflect her Native American heritage, Colette found a source of strength to help her carry on. “Sometimes you have to do things for a reason,” Colette said. “It’s absolutely the grit and the glory. We have to learn things the hard way — but we persevere."
““Sometimes you have to do things for a reason,” Colette said. “It’s absolutely the grit and the glory. We have to learn things the hard way — but we persevere."”
For the past six weeks, campus was home to 10 new students from Argentina. As part of the Friends of Fulbright program sponsored by the Fulbright Commission Argentina and the U.S. Embassy in Argentina, the cohort observed classes, strengthened their English skills and fully immersed themselves in American culture. From living in the residence halls to attending labs and lectures, the students lived their six weeks on campus as any other University of Nebraska–Lincoln student would. They explored local coffee shops, took part in classes in their majors, and even experienced fraternity and sorority life. Though at first unsure of how conversations would go with American students, the Argentine students found everyone was warm and welcoming. The students say that university life in the U.S. is much more community focused than in Argentina. They also said that being a part of the Friends of Fulbright program has allowed them to see a mix of culture and ideas, and make new friends from all over the world. They head back to Argentina on Saturday, and while their time in Nebraska might be over, they'll always have their memories (and new Husker apparel!) to remind them of their experience. ¡Buen viaje!
“They head back to Argentina on Saturday, and while their time in Nebraska might be over, they'll always have their memories (and new Husker apparel!) to remind them of their experience.”
Speech-Language Pathology · Omaha, Nebraska
Michaela loves hearing other people's stories. In fact, she loves them so much that she's dedicated to helping others be able to tell their story in their own voice again. As a student studying speech-language pathology, she hopes to help people be able to communicate again through speech therapy. While on a mission trip to India, she saw the impact of the lack of speech therapy in children's lives. She saw how it changed them as a human and wanted to show that someone was listening to them. After her experience in India, she decided to do independent research on the impact and strengths of speech therapy in developing nations and even traveled to Uganda for an internship at a hospital there. She continued her research upon her return to Nebraska and hopes she can pursue it through graduate school. Her research wasn't just something she did to liven up her resume. For Michaela, it was an opportunity to grow into the kind of speech therapist she wants to be — someone who listens to those who are unheard and is there to help.
“After her experience in India, she decided to do independent research on the impact and strengths of speech therapy in developing nations and even traveled to Uganda for an internship at a hospital there.”
Political Science · Hackettstown, New Jersey
When Justice started college at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, there was one thing missing: hockey. She had played for years back at home in New Jersey and it didn't make any sense to her why a university as big as Nebraska wouldn't have its own active women's team. She found out that there used to be one, but it had dissolved after a few seasons. So, Justice decided to bring women's hockey back on campus. It wasn't easy. She tried to gather names of interested members during her freshman year but only came up with five. During her sophomore year, she started to put out the message again. This time, Justice had ten interested players and began to search for coaches. By the spring of 2017, the UNL Women's Hockey team was approved as an official sports club. They joined the American Collegiate Hockey Association and squared off against 17 other college teams during their first season. The team is open to all players that are ready to lace up their skates and go — even if they've never played before. For Justice, bringing women's hockey back on campus was about more than just getting back on the ice. She saw that there was a men's team and wanted women players to get the same chance to play. "Not having that same opportunity for women is kind of tough," Justice said.
“For Justice, bringing women's hockey back on campus was about more than just getting back on the ice. She saw that there was a men's team and wanted women players to get the same chance to play.”
Computer Science · Lincoln, Nebraska
For Brian, being a member of the UNL Vietnamese Association (VSANE) gives him a voice. It's a voice that is heard in the large Lincoln Vietnamese community, but also a voice he uses to teach other students about a vibrant culture. One way he's doing that is by serving as the chair for VSANE's "Hello Vietnam: A Ticket to Childhood." The event is the RSO's biggest fundraiser of the year and features local Vietnamese food, dancers, singers and more. Brian says it's an important event for the university community, because it gives students the opportunity to experience the culture for themselves. "It's just important to see a different outlook or perspective." Brian says. "Hello Vietnam" is this Saturday and will reflect on the past and present experiences of growing up in the Vietnamese community. Some of the story is based on a popular novel from Vietnam, but Brian says a lot of it is based on the life experiences of VSANE members. Brian says that VSANE, as well as "Hello Vietnam," isn't exclusive to only local or international Vietnamese students. Any student interested in learning more about the culture can join the RSO or attend the event.
“For Brian, being a member of the UNL Vietnamese Association (VSANE) gives him a voice. It's a voice that is heard in the large Lincoln Vietnamese community, but also a voice he uses to teach other students about a vibrant culture.”
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.
“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.”
Advertising and Public Relations · Lincoln, Nebraska
At a time when most people in Lincoln are sleeping, Jesse Esquivel is waking up and getting ready for the day. The full-time student usually wakes up early to be ready for work at 4 a.m. and then heads to class. When he isn't studying at @unlcojmc, he can be found attending meetings and brainstorming with UNL PRSA. For Jesse, it's worth it — he wants to be here, and he wants to do this. When he started classes in fall 2018, he saw award trophies on display in Andersen Hall. He decided he wanted one. Last month, the work he and PRSSA did for their Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry+ campaign earned a Nebraska PRSA Paper Anvil Award. He doesn't let the early hours hold him back. He told his dad he would get his degree, and after enrolling at Nebraska at 32, he's on his way. He says he feels welcomed by the Nebraska community and wants other non-traditional students to not be afraid. Jesse says that if they want it, they should go for it.
“He told his dad he would get his degree, and after enrolling at Nebraska at 32, he's on his way.”
Advertising and Public Relations · Omaha, Nebraska
Though she isn't a parent herself, Lauren Gehrki puts her heart into helping Huskers with little ones. As the coordinator for Students with Children, she helps plan events and cultivate the community of student parents on campus. In December, Lauren organized the first Holidays for Little Huskers event. Students with children applied and listed their wants and needs, and faculty and RSOs "adopted" them to support their holiday wishes. From warm winter clothes to child-size sleds, a variety of gifts were shared with the seven sponsored families during their busy finals season. Lauren hopes to continue to raise awareness of the resources available to student parents. No matter their level of need, any Nebraska student parent is welcome at the Students with Children RSO and can participate in their events. The group meets every Monday and discusses programming, resources and advocacy opportunities for students with dependents. Lauren believes that someone shouldn't have to stop their education to pursue having a family, and she advocates for her classmates with children.
“Lauren organized the first Holidays for Little Huskers event.”
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.
“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.”
Elementary Education · Omaha, Nebraska
No matter where a student is from, Abbey believes they should feel welcomed and included. When she saw a group of Rwandan students sitting by themselves at a dining hall, Abbey said she felt compelled to do something. A simple "hi" was all it took. That exchange, Abbey said, was the start of a unique friendship. Abbey learned words in their language (like "amakaru" for "how are you?" and "ndagukunda" for "I love you"), taught them American lingo and made herself available to help them with whatever they needed. Abbey's genuine love and interest for the group of students earned her the nickname, "The Good Samaritan." As the friendship flourished, Abbey accepted invitations to events within Nebraska's Rwandan community; they attended church together, and they supported one another in life on and off campus. This semester, Abbey was honored by the group of students at a ball they hosted. The Rwandan students made a video thanking her for all she has done for them. Abbey said that night was one of her favorite memories at Nebraska. The Rwandan students, like Cesar Harry Cyuzuzo and Mark Iradukunda, have "adopted" her into their community and have become family to her. However, Abbey said forming the friendship didn't take much work, and is something she encourages other students to do. Putting yourself in the shoes of students who are far from home and doing something as small as saying "hi" can have a huge impact.
“ Putting yourself in the shoes of students who are far from home and doing something as small as saying "hi" can have a huge impact.”
Pre-Law · Lincoln, Nebraska
When Jeffrey started applying for colleges, he thought applying to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and other state schools would lack opportunities. At first, he said he wasn't too excited to attend Nebraska. He thought it was a safe and unexciting choice. However, over the past three years, Jeffrey's experience at Nebraska has been anything but boring. During his time here, he has met students from all around the world and has been able to be a part of opportunities he didn't think he'd have when he was in high school. Jeffrey serves as the executive vice president of ASUN amongst other student organizations. The people that make their mark on campus, have passions of their own and are making the university a better place are what makes Nebraska what it is. Jeffrey said that he has noticed that students, faculty and staff work to improve the university every year. His involvement around campus and the connections he's made with other students have made his college years fly by. While college is short, Jeffrey has learned the value of taking on any opportunities given, cultivating relationships and doing whatever makes him feel most fulfilled within the university.
“While college is short, Jeffrey has learned the value of taking on any opportunities given, cultivating relationships and doing whatever makes him feel most fulfilled within the university.”
Mechanical Engineering · Safwa, Saudi Arabia
Originally from Saudi Arabia, Hadi moved to Nebraska in 2014 to enroll into Nebraska's engineering program. As a kid, he had a fascination with how cars and other objects worked and he'd often ask his mother how a simple, plastic gas pedal could make a whole car move. During his freshman year, Hadi said he found himself stuck in the same routine of going to class and going home. While he was learning a lot in his classes, he began to feel that he was simply going through the motions and not fully enjoying his college experience. One day, however, his friend pushed him to get involved and join an on-campus organization. This decision, he said, put some "flavor" back into his college experience. Since then, Hadi has served as a New Student Enrollment Leader and a member of the math club and the Nebraska Engineering student advisory board. Making connections with people within his program has led him to participate in some unique opportunities. Right now, Hadi is assisting in creating "hands" for a robot that could be used in hospitals. Though technical and often frustrating, the robot will be able to complete mundane tasks, like sanitizing surgical instruments. His choice to get involved has helped him grow and gain the confidence he needs to succeed beyond campus.
“This decision, he said, put some "flavor" back into his college experience. Since then, Hadi has served as a New Student Enrollment Leader and a member of the math club and the Nebraska Engineering student advisory board. ”
Nutrition and Diatetics · Lincoln, Nebraska
Jacinta was a high-achieving, outgoing student. But when she found herself growing unmotivated and sleeping a lot, she realized that she needed help. She turned to her religion, her academic advisor and Counseling and Psychological Services before going to the doctor. Finally, in March 2016, Jacinta was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Though Type 1 Diabetes is considered a childhood disease, it is on the rise in teens and young adults. Type 1 occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream to dangerous levels. Her doctor got her started on insulin and worked with her to find a pump that would work best. Jacinta was referred to an on-campus diabetes educator, which was helpful for her in learning how to further manage her disease. Educating herself on diabetes made her rethink a few things, including her major. She switched from elementary education to nutrition and dietetics in the hope of becoming a dietician where she could one day work with clients with diabetes. Jacinta hopes to make an impact before she even graduates as the social media director of the university's College Diabetes Network. In this role, she seeks to raise awareness and provide students an additional on-campus resource. Sharing her experience and advocating for diabetes awareness has left Jacinta feeling that she's serving a larger purpose now than ever before.
“Jacinta hopes to make an impact before she even graduates as the social media director of the university's College Diabetes Network. ”
Agriculture and Environmental Sciences · Rochester, Minnesota
Katy is part of the 85 percent of college students who have faced feelings of depression and hopelessness. For Katy, these feelings that began the summer before her sophomore year of college worsened when the school year started. She wasn't going to class and was self-harming, skipping out on social events and not doing what, at one point, made her happy. However, on social media, she made it seem like she was a thriving college student because she didn't want her friends and family to think that she was struggling. A suicide attempt served as a wake-up call for her to get the help she needed. Katy reached out to CASNR Cares, a safe place where faculty and students can get the resources they need if they're in traumatic situations. They helped Katy get into a hospitalization program. During her one month stay in the hospital, she focused on her spiritual journey, mental health and rediscovering herself. Katy learned that it's important to make a conscious effort to act against your own brain: taking your medication, going to therapy and staying away from harmful triggers. To further help her journey, Katy put together a wellness toolbox. This "toolbox" holds items, activities, and people she can turn to when she needs them, including puzzles, her mom and her favorite music. Following through with your therapy plan, fighting against your urges and relying on a "toolbox" are all part of being a survivor and continuing to survive. By sharing her story, Katy hopes to alleviate the stigma surrounding depression and mental illness. Nebraska provides numerous resources to help students through and beyond their mental health journey.
“By sharing her story, Katy hopes to alleviate the stigma surrounding depression and mental illness.”
Biological Science · Colby, Kansas
Just three years ago, Bridget Bickner was sitting in a biology class not knowing of the opportunities coming her way. Now, as a teaching assistant for microbiology classes, Bridget said it's rewarding to teach for the same class that helped fuel her passion for science. Serving as a mentor and educator has allowed her to pay it forward to other passionate students. Through the long lab hours and unique experiments, Bridget said she has found her place within the biological sciences department. What has also helped her find her place at Nebraska is the university's UCARE program. UCARE gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty research advisors. The program, she said, has been one of the most beneficial aspects of her college experience as it has given her the chance to form connections with faculty within the field. Being part of the program eventually led her to apply for summer research programs, including one at Harvard University. The competitive program gave Bridget the opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and bring the skills she's gained at Nebraska to the east coast, researching why the plant species Phlox drummondii blooms in different colors. She said she owes her drive to apply for advanced research programs and her desire to spread her knowledge to others to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“Serving as a mentor and educator has allowed her to pay it forward to other passionate students. ”
Education · Lincoln, Nebraska
What began as a high school senior project for Riana has since turned into an ongoing passion project. Whether it be an up-and-coming business owner or a passionate Nebraska student, Riana has the ability to form people's stories into art. Her interest in storytelling was shaped through her curiosity for history—reading the stories from people of the past sparked her desire to do her own storytelling. This passion has led her to create Kind Magazine, a literary magazine that highlights people all over Lincoln who have made a difference in the community and serves as a way for people to get to know others in the community. When Riana came to the university, she was unsure how she'd continue the magazine. But, the programs she's been involved in, including UNL Nova, the university's Asian-interest sorority group, as well as the people she's met here have given her the inspiration she needed. The wholesome and passionate people in Lincoln and throughout the university have given her a place to belong, inspiration to draw from and a thriving community she gets to be a part of. As Riana continues her chapter at Nebraska, she strives to make an impact by elevating the voices of those within the Lincoln community.
“Whether it be an up-and-coming business owner or a passionate Nebraska student, Riana has the ability to form people's stories into art.”
Psychology · Fernandina Beach, Florida
Grace Mosier is used to moving around. As the daughter of a retired Navy officer, she grew up living in eight different states and attending 11 different schools. Every three years, Grace and her family would pack up everything they knew, leave behind the friends they promised to keep in touch with and start a new life in a new home. When Grace chose the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, her high school classmates questioned her decision and were worried she wouldn't thrive so far from home. Of course, leaving the comfort of home and coming to a school without knowing anyone was scary. But Grace said moving so frequently has given her the ability to adapt and make friends easily. Since day one of her freshman year, Grace knew it was important for her to get involved and welcome her new life at Nebraska with open arms. Now Grace is making an impact on students that were in the same position she was through her work with @unl_nse where she has helped teach incoming students how to be successful at Nebraska. All of her involvements, from greek life executive roles to the Nebraska Alumni Advisory Council, Grace said she has been able to enhance her leadership and communication skills, become friends with other passionate students and create a home for herself here.
“All of her involvements, from greek life executive roles to the Nebraska Alumni Advisory Council, Grace said she has been able to enhance her leadership and communication skills, become friends with other passionate students and create a home for herself here.”
Biological Science · Scribner, Nebraska
Coming from a high school class of 18 to a college of over 25,000 may seem daunting, but Michael Broussard always dreamed of being a Husker. Watching football season after season as a kid, Michael has always known the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was the place where he belonged. He embraced the transition from a small town to a large school, getting involved from day one and fully immersing himself into what Nebraska has to offer. During his sophomore year, Michael got involved with an on-campus organization called Camp Kesem (@campkesem_unl), a nonprofit organization that supports children through and beyond their parent's cancer. His own experiences with cancer prompted him to get involved. When Michael's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer his freshman year of college, he saw how it affected his younger sisters. After her diagnosis, his sisters went to Camp Kesem and Michael became interested in how Camp Kesem made an impact in children's lives. Camp Kesem, he said, has allowed him to grow and help kids understand and cope with the uncertainties revolving around their parent's cancer. The organizations he's joined and the people he's met have made his time at Nebraska life-changing. When reflecting on his favorite student life memories, Michael can't just say one. Every football game, class and organization he's been apart has given him more reasons to love the university and continue to grow as a student.
“When reflecting on his favorite student life memories, Michael can't just say one.”
Yajaira and Ana
Spanish/Latin American Studies and Sociology/Spanish · Crete and Grand Island, Nebraska
Finding a place to belong in college has always been important for Yajaira López-Villa and Ana Perez-Sinic. Being away from their families, Yajaira and Ana wanted to provide a home away from home for themselves and other Latina students. They thought the university needed more options for students to celebrate their culture and bringing Kappa Delta Chi, a national Latina sorority, to Nebraska's campus seemed like the perfect solution. They were drawn to the sorority's passion for latin culture, academics, immigrant rights and cancer research. While completing national's requirements, Yajiara and Ana decided to give their chapter the name EMERALD, the national chapter's stone. Ana, the president of EMERALD, said the organization gives Latina students at Nebraska a feeling of sisterhood and an opportunity to be part of something that is bigger than themselves. As EMERALD continues to grow, both Ana and Yajiara hope this group gives Latina women a place to go and serves as a community where they can write their own story.
“They thought the university needed more options for students to celebrate their culture and bringing Kappa Delta Chi, a national Latina sorority, to Nebraska's campus seemed like the perfect solution.”
Music Education · Hays, Kansas
Alex Crowley's first memory playing an instrument was in seventh grade band. As an aspiring music teacher, he now spends his days rehearsing, practicing his six instruments and participating in recitals. A fourth generation Husker, Alex said the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was always his dream school. Both of his parents were music majors and his mom even graduated from the same program in which Alex is currently studying. Alex was initially impressed by the opportunities provided by Glenn Korff School of Music (@unlsofmusic) but he has been most impacted by the connections he's made at Nebraska. Throughout his college career, he has gained confidence and strengthened his dedication for music and he is moved by how invested Nebraska faculty are in seeing students succeed. Alex's ever-growing passion has led him to be the trombone section leader for the Cornhusker Marching Band and play in both the wind ensemble and symphonic band. It's the people within these involvements and the evolving student life that have given him the college experience he has always envisioned for himself. The connections he has formed with his music professors, members of the marching band and other passionate students have positively impacted him physically and mentally. Alex hopes to provide a similar experience to his future students, helping them gain confidence, explore new interests and find something that makes them happy. Just like he's found at Nebraska.
“The connections he has formed with his music professors, members of the marching band and other passionate students have positively impacted him physically and mentally.”
Advertising and Public Relations · Bellevue, Nebraska
When Jazmyn was a freshman, she sought out mentors to help her navigate college and overcome obstacles. This, she said, influenced her decision to help students herself. Being a mentor has allowed her to step into a leadership role that has impacted students all across campus, helping them be successful at Nebraska. As a peer mentor for First Generation Nebraska and through her mentorship of students in Oasis, Jazmyn has found her true calling: guiding and helping others. Throughout time, her mentorship style has evolved as she has connected with various groups of people across campus. Eventually, Jazmyn would like to transfer her leadership qualities into a classroom setting and work as college professor to further make a difference in students’ lives.
“As a peer mentor for First Generation Nebraska and through her mentorship of students in Oasis, Jazmyn has found her true calling: guiding and helping others.”
Student Affairs Administration · Texas
As a second year graduate student in student affairs administration, Mac is often asked why he chose the path he did. Originally from Texas, Mac earned his bachelor's degree in education from Kansas State University. While there, he worked in the university's student affairs office. For hours, Mac worked with incoming freshmen to help them afford college. That was the moment he knew he wanted to pursue student affairs. When Mac came to Nebraska for graduate school, he joined the University Program Council as a graduate assistant and started the Intercultural Leadership Program for Oasis. He created the program to help students learn more about identity and intercultural development and gain more effective leadership skills. The 11 week program allows students to make connections with others across campus and helps them explore their leadership style and how it is impacted in different cultural settings. Working one-on-one with students and directly impacting their lives is what keeps Mac fulfilled. Once he graduates from his program in May 2019, he hopes to leave the university knowing he helped students make connections across cultures, solve problems and foster diversity and inclusion.
“Once he graduates from his program in May 2019, he hopes to leave the university knowing he helped students make connections across cultures, solve problems and foster diversity and inclusion.”
Food Science · India
Paridhi lives by the quote "nothing worth having comes easy," and it's reflected in her work every day. Coming to the states from India was a challenge, but she thinks it was definitely worth it. She was working at the Indian Counsel of Agriculture Research when she was encouraged by one of her colleagues to check out Nebraska for her PhD. She's constantly impressed by everyone's politeness and dedication to their work here, from researchers to grocery store cashiers. Another challenge for Paridhi has been her work with millets in the food science department. Researching millets is important because most farmers are reluctant to grow them, despite being wonderfully sustainable crops. If she can prove that millets are beneficial and capable of being a food product, the proliferation of their growth will impact the planet for the better. When Paridhi isn't in the lab, she's goes on hikes, studies history or works on her statistics minor. She also appreciates spending time with the friends she's gained through her studies. The culture among the graduate students is very diverse, which has opened up the world to Paridhi without even having to leave campus.
“Paridhi lives by the quote "nothing worth having comes easy," and it's reflected in her work every day.”
Chemical Engineering · Eerie, Pennsylvania
As a kid, Lindsey doodled beakers and lab coats on the back of her elementary school worksheets. Once she hit high school, she learned about the variety of science-based jobs, discovered chemical engineering and never looked back. Now, in her fourth year of chemical engineering, she's still just as enamored with science. After attending an engineering conference for LGBTQA+ students, Lindsey learned that other schools had Out in STEM groups, and she was determined to create a similar community at Nebraska. The Nebraska oSTEM group does many things, from ice cream socials to career prep to attending national conferences. Above all, Lindsey wants the group to empower its members professionally, academically and personally by cultivating environments and communities that nurture innovation, leadership and advocacy. The most fulfilling part of her experience was handing off her presidential position to a member who said the group made them feel like they had a community. When Lindsey looks to the future, she's not sure exactly where her career will take her, but she knows that she wants to leverage diversity in all encounters to solve problems and make the world a better place.
“ Lindsey learned that other schools had Out in STEM groups, and she was determined to create a similar community at Nebraska. ”
Management · Lincoln, Nebraska
Phát's family came to America from South Vietnam in 2010, and he felt compelled to give back to his new home. His grandfather had been a lieutenant in the South Vietnamese army, so Phát wanted to continue the tradition of service in his family. He joined the army reserve his senior year of high school and soon decided that he would pursue a career in the military. He's currently in the university's ROTC program as a S1 Personnel, handling the paperwork and managing the well-being of 90 cadets. He appreciates the tight-knit, friendly culture of the group. Everyone is unified under the same dedication to serving. After graduation, he's interested in exploring explosive ordnance disposal. Beyond ROTC, Phát has explored his own cultural heritage through other organizations on campus. He helped establish the university's first Asian interest fraternity, assisted in creating an Asian student leadership conference with the Asian Student Union, is the external vice president of the Vietnamese Student Association, has served on the scholarship committee for Define UNL and assists in fundraising for North Korean refugees through UNL Link. Phát believes college is the best time to find your niche and follow it. Swipe over to hear him talk about stepping out of your comfort zone.
“Phát believes college is the best time to find your niche and follow it. ”
Political Science · Elkhorn, Nebraska
After graduating from Elkhorn High School, Hunter's initial plans were to go out of state for college. He didn't believe Nebraska had as many opportunities as some other elite colleges, but ultimately, he ended up staying for scholarships and to be near his family. Although he started college skeptical, after three years here, he's never been more happy to be wrong. He discovered that the special thing about Nebraska is its people, and he's always had a strong desire to lead and serve them. Now, as the new ASUN president, he's doing just that. Some of his team's top priorities are increasing transparency and student input with fee allocation, instituting and increasing awareness of the Green Fund, which is funded by students for students' sustainable project ideas, and expanding mental health resources through Counseling and Psychological Services. Overall, he hopes to shape a culture of dedication and passion for student government that will live on beyond his term.
UNL Hip Hop Dance Club
While studying abroad, Tristan learned new dance techniques and was excited to bring them to the states. After returning to campus, she discovered that there was not a student dance organization that fit her passion, so she decided to start one. Now in its third semester, the UNL Hip Hop Dance Club boasts a strong membership. Tristan and her vice president Jordan teach anyone that wants to learn, regardless of their dance experience. Members can also audition for the club's team to perform at campus competitions and events. Tristan and Jordan both immensely appreciate the welcoming atmosphere of the organization. Dancing is vulnerable, but the crew makes everyone feel comfortable trying new things. In the future, Tristan and Jordan would like to expand the club's YouTube presence and collaborate with other local artists.
“Dancing is vulnerable, but the crew makes everyone feel comfortable trying new things.”
Sociology · Grand Island
In high school, Guadalupe wasn't sure if she'd go to college. She was especially unsure after suffering a traumatic brain injury close to graduation. Despite the odds being stacked against her, she secured a full-ride scholarship. Now, she's bringing her voice to a national stage through the University of Nebraska–Lincoln speech and debate team. Guadalupe intertwines Latino themes into her performances of poetry, oral interpretation, program, dramatic and duo. She loves the team's culture of growth and encouragement. The culture translates to success, especially after taking home a seventh consecutive Big Ten title in January. When she's not traveling for tournaments, Guadalupe is on the executive team for the Mexican American Student Association and a member of Emerald, a women's enrichment group. Ultimately, Guadalupe is grateful to have been able to make it to college as a first generation student and do what she loves, and she looks forward to her next few years.
“Guadalupe intertwines Latino themes into her performances of poetry, oral interpretation, program, dramatic and duo.”
Computer Science · Lincoln
While some kids spent their summers at the swimming pool, Maggie was doing math workbooks. This may sound like torture to some, but she loved it. Her mother was a math teacher and showed her how numbers could be a fun challenge. Having encouragement from her mother to pursue STEM, Maggie applied to the Raikes School at Nebraska to study computer science. During her sophomore year, she caught the attention of Google and joined their internship program for the next two summers. The infamous, sexist Google memo was released as one of her internships wrapped up, and she was immediately contacted by her team. They assured her that they immensely valued her as a woman in their workplace. She'll be going back again after graduation as a full-time software engineer and she couldn't be happier. She has no hesitation returning to the company because she knows that the good eggs far outnumber the bad. She thanks the Raikes School for giving her so many opportunities to work with real clients, build her portfolio and meet her closest friends. It's the experience she's gained here that paved the way for her dream job.
“Maggie thanks the Raikes School for giving her so many opportunities to work with real clients, build her portfolio and meet her closest friends.”
Art · Lincoln
Although he attended an Indiana high school without any art classes, Pha wasn't deterred from pursuing his passion. When it came time for college, he joined Nebraska's art program as a graphic design major. Over time, Pha realized that he'd rather create more self-expressive work, so he shifted his major to focus on painting. Many of his pieces are self portraits, an art form that urges him to be vulnerable. He knows that everyone has personal problems, but it's not always easy to open up, so he uses painting as a way to share emotions. In the last couple of years, Pha has stepped out of his comfort zone even more with photography, a medium that has pushed him to connect and collaborate with others. He's even become the photographer for a local boutique he admires. He owes part of his growth to the art professors that take a genuine interest in his improvement and encourage him to stay focused. To Pha, the program has felt more like a community than school.
“Pha knows that everyone has personal problems, but it's not always easy to open up, so he uses painting as a way to share emotions.”
Advertising and Public Relations · Chicago
As a Chicago native, Bari knew that immersing herself in Nebraska activities was vital to connecting with new people. Soon after starting college, she found a group that embodied her interest in women empowerment: the Creative Commons. She believes that having a space where everyone builds each other up combats the stereotype that women need to tear each other down to get ahead. Bari started as a regular member and worked her way up to vice president. In her leadership role, she embodies the club's motto of "Build. Empower. Collaborate." by brainstorming new ways the organization can help members explore and hone their creative skills. When a particular speaker resonates with a member, or they learn how to use a new design tool, Bari can see their self-confidence growing. She's excited to see how high members will reach.
“Bari believes that having a space where everyone builds each other up combats the stereotype that women need to tear each other down to get ahead.”
Environmental Economics · Grand Island
Sustainability is something Eric has always been interested in, but after taking a geology course freshman year, his passion was ignited. Now an environmental economics major, he gets involved with anything and everything that impacts sustainability. He's been a part of Sustain UNL for several years, an environmental student organization that puts on popular events such as Earthstock and brings in community leaders to talk about environmental solutions. Off campus, Eric's currently working with Gene Hanlon, the recycling coordinator for Lincoln, to help educate residents about the cardboard landfill ban that will go into effect this April. Looking back, he realizes that his childhood shaped him into an environmentalist. Seeing his mother reuse food containers and getting clothes from his brother taught him that it's important to reuse and recycle. Eric doesn't believe sustainability is a partisan issue. We all share this earth, and we should use any resource as effectively as possible. Whether it's to cut down economic costs, preserve resources or help people, sustainability is important to everyone in some way. In fact, Nebraska recognizes this and gives students the opportunity to apply to the UNL Green Fund, a fund that helps students turn their green ideas into reality. Eric encourages students who want to make a change to get involved and seek out projects that spark a fire in them.
“We all share this earth, and we should use any resource as effectively as possible.”
International Business · Sacramento, California
After playing rugby for six years, Ryan has braved many opponents. When returning to Sacramento after his freshman year of college, though, he had no idea that an unexpected challenge would arise: leukemia. He was hospitalized for a month, and although it was tough, he had many friends come visit in support. After weeks of intense chemo treatments, Ryan can now proudly say he's been cancer-free for a year. In an odd way, he was thankful to be home, despite the illness. He was able to see a new stadium open, spend time with his family and help coach high school rugby with the coaches that shaped him. He even received a supportive phone call from Carlin Isles, a member of the United States rugby team who has been touted as the fastest player in the world. Getting back into the game hasn't been an easy battle, but when he's on the field, Ryan's focus cuts through the fatigue. After beating something so big, he feels like he can take on any challenge, and he doesn't lose hope when facing obstacles. As games start up again this spring, he wants students to know that anyone is welcome to check out joining the UNL rugby team.
“After beating something so big, Ryan feels like he can take on any challenge, and he doesn't lose hope when facing obstacles.”
Entrepreneurship & Innovation · Omaha, Nebraska
Jewel Rogers is many things. She is a community builder for South of Downtown, a writer, a TEDxLincoln speaker, a management entrepreneurship major and a performer. But, above all, she is a revolutionary. She sees a revolutionary as someone who is simply an agent for change. Change does not mean something abrupt, intimidating or scary, but rather just movement forward. Jewel is particularly interested in revolutionizing urban development. While initially pursuing architecture, she thought that change was laid in the designs of structures, but she realized that what was more important was directly helping the lives that would be in them. Jewel dreams of creating the largest urban cooperative in America, leveraging collective economics to rebuild gentrified or dilapidated areas. She wants the people's needs in these areas to be taken into heavy consideration with any architect's design. In the mean time, Jewel performs spoken word at events, volunteers with youth at the F Street Recreation Center and is creating a documentary that features local change-makers. She wants to show people how attainable it is to make an impact at a small scale. If she makes even one person realize their potential, then she's made a difference.
“Jewel dreams of creating the largest urban cooperative in America, leveraging collective economics to rebuild gentrified or dilapidated areas.”
Environmental Economics · Grand Island, Nebraska
Sustainability is something Eric has always been interested in, but after taking a geology course freshman year, his passion was ignited. Now an environmental economics major, he gets involved with anything and everything that impacts sustainability. He's been a part of Sustain UNL for several years, an environmental student organization that puts on popular events such as Earthstock and brings in community leaders to talk about environmental solutions. Off campus, Eric's currently working with Gene Hanlon, the recycling coordinator for Lincoln, to help educate residents about the cardboard landfill ban that will go into effect this April. Looking back, he realizes that his childhood shaped him into an environmentalist. Seeing his mother reuse food containers and getting clothes from his brother taught him that it's important to reuse and recycle. Eric doesn't believe sustainability is a partisan issue. We all share this earth, and we should use any resource as effectively as possible. Whether it's to cut down economic costs, preserve resources or help people, sustainability is important to everyone in some way. In fact, Nebraska recognizes this and gives students the opportunity to apply to the UNL Green Fund, a fund that helps students turn their green ideas into reality. Eric encourages students who want to make a change to get involved and seek out projects that spark a fire in them.
“We all share this earth, and we should use any resource as effectively as possible.”
Vocal Performance · Kearney, Nebraska
In high school, Matthew was a math and science guy. There was always an answer to a problem with a fairly strict binary between right and wrong. Outside of class, though, he regularly participated in plays, and once he began college, he knew music had to be a part of his life. With any music major, things aren't always cut and dried, and that's something Matthew has learned to embrace. Originally, he intended to minor in vocal performance, but during his audition, the faculty insisted he declare it as a major. Now in his sophomore year, he's been a part of eight shows, with the next being Avenue Q, a comedic, puppet-based musical with adult themes debuting March 2. In class, he's training his brain with music theory, his ear with aural skills and his voice with diction courses. While most of his classmates will go on to get their masters and doctorate to teach, Matthew is determined to be a musical theater performer. He loves performing because it allows him to explore a part of himself that he doesn't always show, letting loose with his emotions. He's willing to go anywhere in his career, as long as he's inspiring people and being inspired by them through art. For now, he's not getting caught up with future plans and appreciating the time he's spending at Nebraska.
“Matthew's willing to go anywhere in his career, as long as he's inspiring people and being inspired by them through art.”
Educational Psychology · Tampa, Florida
Lawrence Chatters doesn't have the phrase "slow down" in his vocabulary. He's currently working on his PhD after getting his masters degree in educational psychology, which some would consider a full-time job. But that's just the start for Lawrence. Throughout his years at Nebraska, he's worked at the Multicultural Center, the Women's Center and, currently, the athletic department as a diversity consultant. At the core of his job, he makes sure that student athletes from all walks of life are being seen as a whole person through inclusive programming and outreach. During his three years with the athletic department, he has helped establish the Nebraska Athletics Diversity and Inclusion Summit, a yearly event that brings together student athletes, staff, administrators and coaches to focus on inclusion, turn inward and better understand themselves to create better teams. Outside of his campus work, Lawrence started the Goldwin Foundation, which provides funding for national children's hospitals to purchase equipment outside of their budget and champion underfunded research. He's also an international DJ, owner of an energy drink company, a husband and a father. To Lawrence, all this work is connected because he's serving people, whether it's creating a special event through his music or sitting in on a board meeting at a hospital. He advises people to never underestimate their own potential. Giving yourself the opportunity to experience a multitude of things makes you a well-rounded, better person.
“To Lawrence, all his work is connected because he's serving people, whether it's creating a special event through his music or sitting in on a board meeting at a hospital.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“She wanted to prove to herself and her daughter that it was possible to still get a degree.”
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."”
Fashion Merchandising and Apparel · Omaha, Nebraska
Alexis has always loved clothes, from creating miniature pieces for her Barbies to designing her own fashion line, LAME Eccentrics. You can see some of her latest work at lameeccentrics.com. She loves standing out and expressing herself through her appearance and art. She has a design studio in The Creative's Lounge, a new space downtown for local artists, and she has displayed her pieces at First Friday shows. She hopes to expand her shows to include live models and her creation process during the exhibit. After just turning 20, Alexis doesn't think she's too young to start a fashion collection. She believes that if you love something, start as early as possible and grow with your passion. If you know what you want to do, you should go for it. When she's not working on her art, she's taking Taekwando classes at the Rec or attending meetings for the Afrikan People's Union.
“If you know what you want to do, you should go for it.”
Film and New Media · Lincoln, Nebraska
Carter came to UNL for many reasons. He's from Lincoln, his family is full of alumni and he has many friends on campus. Most importantly, though, was the film program. Being a part of a Midwest film school is a bit unusual, considering most are along the coasts. Although the program is small, the quality of education is phenomenal, and it's one of the best in the region. His love of cinematography evolved from his initial interest in photography. With videos, though, the story runs deeper. He could study it for his whole life and never quite grasp everything. It's a whole new level of technicality and creativity. Luckily, he has a ton of learning opportunities, whether it be class activities, competing in film competitions put on by Cinema 16 or his own projects. He even filmed a music video for Salt Creek, a Lincoln-based band.
“Although our film program is small, the quality of education is phenomenal.”
Computer Science · Omaha, Nebraska
After visiting the Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, Jessee fell in love. After coming to NEBRASKA, he filled his time with any opportunity available. He claims his life is just like his dining hall habits: he puts a lot on his plate. He's a part of the aerospace club, a manager for the school's capstone design studio, works remotely for IBM, is working on an app and, surprisingly, is a part of the ballroom dancing club. Even more surprising is students from the Raikes School make up a large chunk of the members. He realized that he should fill his time with more than just work, so he turned to dancing after a couple friends encouraged him to join. He's a member of the competitive segment of the club, but there are casual classes on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. in the Union's ballroom. He's glad he joined, and he encourages students to "take risks and explore new opportunities. Change happens outside of your comfort zone."
“Change happens outside of your comfort zone.”
Advertising · Lincoln, Nebraska
Brooke is not a collector of trinkets, stamps or coins but of people, ideas and connections. Her passion for people runs so deep that she invites guests into her home once a month for her long table gathering, Dwell Dinner. The idea for Dwell Dinner came together in late 2016 through her interests in cooking, food photography and beautiful lifestyle publications. Although she's not the first to create a long table gathering, she is determined to keep her dinner accessible and affordable. To attend the gathering, guests sign up online and fill out a questionnaire about themselves. Brooke goes through the responses to create conversation starters for the group along with a dinner theme, whether it be "inspire," "minimal" or "nourish." Her gathering has become so popular that it's not rare for all the guests to be complete strangers. She loves bringing people together to learn from each other in a unique atmosphere. Although the dinners can be stressful, by the end of the evening her efforts are rewarded through the meaningful connections made.
“I love bringing people together to learn from each other in a unique atmosphere.”
Advertising/Public Relations and Art · Des Moines, Iowa
When Michael came to Lincoln for school, she did not expect it to be much different from her hometown, Des Moines, but she quickly grew to love the university, city, and particularly, the local art scene. As a sophomore, she discovered the Tugboat Art Gallery and dreamed of being a featured artist some day. A few years later, it became a reality. Although Michael has been a part of multiple shows, one of her favorites was "Chew on This," an interactive piece inspired by a cow tongue from an earlier project. She had a bizarrely personal moment when thinking about the cow's tongue, and it made her reflect on the responsibility and helplessness she feels about being environmentally conscious. Installation visitors were given instructions to chew on wheat grass while interacting with the tongue and discussing their thoughts and experience with the people around them.
Michael is thankful for Lincoln's welcoming art community and her opportunities to grow as an artist and learn even more off campus.
Michael Johnson is a senior majoring in ADPR and art from Des Moines, Iowa.
“The art scene has been really fantastic. It's been a great place to grow as an artist and a person.”
Psychology · Omaha, Nebraska
At NEBRASKA, Chueqa found her home in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center. It was there that she gained a sense of identity beyond just being a student. In fact, as far as she knows, she's the only Hmong person on campus and one of few in the state. The Multicultural Center inspired her to get involved with Asian interest groups, such as her sorority, Sigma Psi Zeta, and the Asian Student Union, which she revived herself. The Asian Student Union is starting their first annual Asian American leadership conference this fall for high school students and incoming freshmen, and she's very excited to show their hard work. She encourages students to visit the Multicultural Center next to the Union, check out multicultural Greek life and get involved with inclusive groups like Resilient Women.
“Chueqa found her home in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center”
Business & Broadcasting · Jefferson, South Dakota
Alex is from South Dakota, but he’s been a Husker fan his whole life. His mother forced him to even consider other colleges, but he always knew exactly where he’d go. In fact, he loves NEBRASKA so much that he spends his time being as involved as humanly possible. He works with admissions, has been a campus host since freshman year, has been on the board of directors for the student alumni association for three years, is a part of the Iron N student group, was nominated for homecoming royalty and just wrapped up his role as a New Student Enrollment leader. It’s no surprise that his mantra is “stay away from your dorm room.” Alex also gives recruiting tours for football on game days, and one of his dreams is to coach Husker football. There’s no doubt that Alex is a lot like other students with his love for our school and sports, but he is unique in his extreme involvement and passion for people. He tries to average three to five new friends a week, and if you see him on campus, definitely say hello.
“Stay away from your dorm room!”
Spanish and Psychology · Lincoln, Nebraska
Though he arrived at the university less than one year ago after transferring schools, Jace’s driven personality has afforded him countless opportunities at Nebraska. Beyond being a double major with two minors, Jace is also a member of the university track and field team. He credits the campus communities he belongs to as places of comfort and support for him - including the Husker athletic department, W.H. Thompson scholarship community, his residence hall and the friends he’s made by being a student. The feelings of acceptance and support he receives from these groups is something he aims to emulate in his personal relationships. As a LGBT athlete, Jace recognizes the importance of giving yourself the opportunity to grow and discover who you’re meant to be while in college. Looking back now, he’s surprised by how much growth he experienced at the university. “I feel like I’m learning to live for myself,” he says of this past year, feeling more confident and open than ever.
“I feel like I’m learning to live for myself.”
Speech Pathology Major · Norfolk, Nebraska
From the moment she stepped foot on campus, Emma was involved. Attending a Red Letter Day prior to her freshman year, she was encouraged to apply to be a CEHS ambassador. Though she was originally hesitant to attend the university, her experiences throughout her time here have reaffirmed Nebraska as her home. In Lincoln, Emma is heavily involved as a student researcher, beyond her organizational and community involvement and on-campus positions. She prides herself on her hard work ethic, and sees this determination present in many of her peers. She notes how many opportunities this university has available, and encourages students to take advantage of them all.
“Her experiences throughout her time here have reaffirmed Nebraska as her home. ”
Marketing and Advertising/Public Relations · Chongqing, China
Looking back, Nathan’s experience at Nebraska has been a roller coaster that’s only continuing to get better. Arriving in a new country and not knowing anyone was difficult for Nathan. A small move to a new residence hall, though, changed his life. There, he befriended his resident assistants and began blossoming into the energetic person he is today. “Ever since then, I feel there’s so many bright sides of UNL I didn’t notice at the beginning,” Nathan shares, a telling reminder of the impact one person can have on another’s life. One thing he loves about Nebraskans is a trait he believes he shares with others - sincere kindness. He can easily recount a story with a delayed flight back home to China, in which a stranger in the Lincoln airport drove him to Omaha to catch another flight. He loves how people here are are so friendly and naturally willing to help one another. Through the ups and downs of this roller coaster, Nathan now considered Lincoln just another one of his homes.
Nathan Wenchang He is a senior marketing and advertising and public relations double major from Chongqing, China.
“There’s so many bright sides of UNL.”
Animal Sciences · South Sioux City, Nebraska
Coming to college as a first-generation student, Carina truly did not know what to expect. The success she has experienced on campus primarily came from her personal initiative, especially being willing to ask questions. In her high school, Carina was surrounded by people like her. The university, though, was the first time she realized how much of a minority she was. During her time on campus, she has found people that she relates to and has built meaningful friendships. She is fiercely passionate about all that she does. She connects with many other students based on their similar drive and motivation to accomplish goals. To the campus community, Carina encourages, “No matter what obstacles are in your way, know that with perseverance you can accomplish anything."
“ No matter what obstacles are in your way, know that with perseverance you can accomplish anything.”
Agricultural Business · Imperial, Nebraska
Hailing from a small town in southwest Nebraska, Darin knew college would expose him to new ideas, beliefs and people. To expand his views, he took specific steps to learn new perspectives, such as enrolling in a political science class just to learn a new point of view. Though the university is far larger than his hometown, Darin was surprised at how he was able to build a community that made campus feel much smaller. His experience on East Campus has been instrumental in allowing him to grow and build a path to success. He loves that he’s able to walk on the sidewalks of East Campus and recognize every third or fifth person, demonstrating the community atmosphere this campus provides that makes college feel like home.
“The atmosphere campus provides makes college feel like home.”
Spanish and Latin American Studies · Crete, Nebraska
Hailing from a smaller town in Nebraska, Yajaira was overwhelmed when first stepping foot on campus. As she’s advanced in her college career, she began to create a family at the university, making this once seemingly huge campus not feel so large. Her time in Lincoln has taught her the importance of adaptability. From schedule changes to cultural shifts, she sees a need for everyone to develop this vital skill of flexibility. Yajaira has made it her mission to learn in hopes to help others. Though she’s pleased with the changes she’s seen on a university-wide scale since her freshman year, she believes action falls on all of us, not just administration and faculty, to make this campus more welcoming to all. Whether encouraging a high school student to pursue college or being more intentional in our inclusivity, we can all always get better.
“We can all always get better.”
communications and global studies · Kearney, Nebraska
From the day he stepped foot on campus for his New Student Enrollment day, Griffin felt welcome at Nebraska. A self-proclaimed “stark optimist,” he aims to make everyone he encounters feel just as welcomed at the university. His involvement on campus has allowed him to meet a vast amount of people from different backgrounds, providing him with new perspectives. Given multiple opportunities to travel throughout his life, Griffin quickly learned that there is far more to this world than Nebraska. “There are so many people here that have stories and experiences to expand and enlighten your mind,” he says, encouraging students to start up conversations with people they don’t know. He loves Nebraska for many reasons, but especially the chance this university provides students to tell their own story and pursue their own path. He reminds students, faculty and staff to embody “Nebraska Nice” and make others feel welcome.
“There are so many people here that have stories and experiences to expand and enlighten your mind”
Computer Science · Ankara, Turkey
Moving from Turkey to Nebraska with her family shortly before her freshman year of college, Ceren experienced a slightly different move than other international students. One of her favorite parts about Nebraska is being surrounded by nice people. The people she met after her move were open-minded and welcoming. This kindness is something Ceren also emulates to everyone she meets. Though she knew moving to a new country would present a lot of changes, she was surprised by how many friends she was able to make from all around the world. She knows her higher education experience in Turkey would be vastly different than her time at Nebraska, but she wouldn’t change it for the world.
“Kindness is something you can share with everyone you meet.”
Marketing · Grand Island, Nebraska
As an adopted, first-generation college student, Shayne has experienced many firsts throughout his life in college. His background sets him apart in the way he approaches his time at the university. He credits the skills he learned when preparing for college - leadership, integrity and work ethic - as the things that have carried him through and led him to success. The connections he’s made through classes and involvement have transformed his perception of his ability to benefit the campus community. He encourages his peers to “make a difference and put yourself out there…leave the university in a better place than when you got here.”
“Make a difference and put yourself out there…leave the university in a better place than when you got here.”
Fisheries & Wildlife · South Sioux City, Nebraska
For many, attending college can be a culture shock. Hailing from Nebraska, Jazmin did not assume she would have this same experience at a university in Lincoln. Jazmin’s high school was predominately comprised of minority students, much different than this university. The tradition and pride she holds for her Mexican heritage has allowed her to connect with many people, especially international students. What started as a Facebook search for students with an interest in soccer has bloomed into friendships with people from across the state, nation and world. Throughout her time at NEBRASKA, she has made a concerted effort to be a better listener in an attempt to learn from others. These listening skills especially aided her during her research abroad, studying hyenas in Botswana. “You can’t enter their country with your perspective,” she warns, encouraging peers to be more open-minded both domestically and internationally.
“You can’t enter their [another] country with your perspective”
Architecture · Lincoln, Nebraska
Rousol’s college career has shown a progression of challenge and change. Every year, she learned to be a better person and a better citizen. The ambition and drive she’s aimed to demonstrate throughout college are also qualities she admires in many of her peers. The opportunities the university has afforded her have prepared her to be a global citizen. She’s noticed important changes on campus this year - from seeing more women in hijabs to the inclusive messaging from administration - she feels the university is creating a safe haven for all. To students, faculty and staff at the university, she reminds, “You impact us more than you know.”
“To students, faculty and staff at the university, she reminds, “You impact us more than you know.””
journalism, advertising and public relations · omaha, nebraska
Coming to the university with a set life plan in mind, Steven was thrown for a loop when he decided to change majors during his junior year. After confiding in academic advisors and friends, he realized his goals had shifted. This sense of depth in conversations is something he’s tried to implement throughout his time at the university. He noticed that many people he encountered had a shield up when conversing with others, and stayed comfortable with surface-level conversations. Steven, though, has aimed to dive right in and show his true self to everyone he meets quickly in their relationship. From bridging gaps between international and domestic students to facilitating conversations at new student enrollment, he thrives on the connections he builds with others on campus. Steven recognizes that in order to engage in diversity, you have to reach out. If you only stick with your friend group in your comfort zone, you’ll likely miss out on incredible friendships and lessons. “So say ‘hi’ and start a conversation…you’ll be surprised how many doors it opens for you.”
“Say ‘hi’ and start a conversation…you’ll be surprised how many doors it opens for you.”
Broadcasting, Advertising, and Public Relations · Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Walking on campus as a senior, Sydney is watching her college career come full circle. From entering campus knowing almost no one, to now, constantly recognizing acquaintances and friends on the sidewalk, she is appreciative of the situations that have put her where she is today. The growth and culture shock she was forced to face in adjusting to college life is something she willingly put herself through multiple times throughout college by interning abroad. She sees her eagerness to grow mirrored in many of her peers. As she puts it, “Everyone here is working toward a greater purpose.” As she pursues her larger destiny in life, she recognizes the importance of always learning and growing. She encourages everyone to ponder, “If you could strive to be better, what would that look like?” Campus can be a tough place; we might as well teach and encourage others to be better, to be more culturally sensitive and understanding to make all feel welcome.
“Everyone here is working toward a greater purpose.”
Finance · Khujand, Tajikistan
With a smile from ear to ear and infectious enthusiasm, Nurik is one to leave an impression on everyone he meets. Coming to the university as an international student, he saw himself as self-sufficient and was always helping others. In college, however, the tables turned - requiring Nurik to be the one asking for assistance. Whether questioning his domestic-student roommates why a joke was funny or having another set of eyes read over his paper in the writing center, he is very appreciative of the academic and social support he’s received in Lincoln. Originally, Nurik sought comfort in students similar to him, like in the Russian Club on campus. Soon, though, he realized the importance of immersing himself in the diversity of campus to strengthen his understanding of himself and American culture. As for most every student, freshman year was full of lessons about independence and growing up. Through it all, Nurik faces adversity with a smile on his face. The kindness he prides himself on demonstrating is what he feels connects him most to other Huskers. For all faculty, staff and students at the university, Nurik offers one piece of advice - “Smile more.”
“I realized the importance of immersing myself in the diversity of campus to strengthen my understanding of myself and American culture.”
Athletic Training · Wayne, Nebraska
After spending nearly twelve years with the U.S. Army, Joe assumed college would be a piece of cake. “They’re not trying to kill me,” he reasoned. His tasks during deployment were straight-forward; college, however, was harder than expected. He was, and remains to be, constantly busy - with classes, internships and his work as a student veteran peer mentor. Though his education at the university is not easy and takes a great deal of effort, he, like most other students, finds college to be pretty fun. The values instilled in Joe during his military career transfer over to his role as a student - motivation, focus and hard work. Though he is grateful for the work of fellow student veterans in creating a resource center and accompanying student organizations, he sees great opportunity for more veterans to attend the university. The maturity and work ethic of these students is well-developed, preparing them for a successful career as a student. His education at Nebraska has given him a great advantage when going into his post-collegiate career, and Joe readily praises his professors and advisers for their help. As he has been for years, Joe is and will continue to be a life-long Husker.
“The values instilled in my military career transfer over to my role as a student - motivation, focus and hard work.”
English · Bellevue, Nebraska
With a vast vocabulary and eloquent voice, Christian has always had a love for words. Whether competing as a member of the university speech and debate team or walking the halls of Andrews for his classes as an English major, he largely defines his time at the university through his academic experience. Christian loves his field of study, because, “Everyone takes an English class, so you meet people from all walks of life.” Getting to know new people through classes and his on-campus job at the University Bookstore, he prides himself as being a friendly face on campus. Though his positivity is evident through his smile and presence, college hasn’t always been pleasant for Christian. From being gay to struggles with body image and mental health, the once sturdy person Christian saw himself as came to a crumbling halt. By seeking support from friends, family and the counseling and psychological services office in the health center, he came to peace with himself and started on a new path. Changing his ways and adjusting to the level of freedom he has in college taught him the importance of not putting false expectations on himself or others. Christian is now confident in who he is and the role he plays at this university, because no matter where he and his fellow students end up in the world, they will always be Huskers.
“Changing my ways and adjusting to the level of freedom in college has taught me the importance of not putting false expectations on myself or others.”
Political Science and Global Studies · Omaha, Nebraska
As a first-generation student of Afghan descent raised in the Midwest, Leemah has always understood her cultural and racial identities are fluid. Taking pride in the different aspects of her life, she has found the university to be a great place to call home during the transformative years of college. Though she has experienced personal growth throughout her time, she did not always understand her place at this university. The resources on campus, as well as the education she obtained from classes and involvement, have allowed Leemah to carve out her own place and grow in her understanding of people both similar and different from her. Her convictions have developed steadily with her knowledge - a friendly reminder that people can and will believe in you if you believe in what you’re saying.
“At the end of the day, we will never understand the individual experiences of each person. What we can do, however, is validate them.”
Advertising and Public Relations · Norfolk, Nebraska
When asked about what makes her distinctive from others on campus, Maxine laughs and replies, “My age.” Currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she sees her values shared with countless others at the university; passionate people excited about learning, trying to get a degree and a sincere want to make the world a better place. Adjusting to life in college was hard, as it is for most any student, learning to connect with instructors and practice strong time management skills. She can immediately recount her first mass communications professor, Carla Kimbrough, as a welcoming face as she began this journey. She readily shares her gratitude for the understanding nature of the professors. Last year, Maxine needed to take some time off to attend to family needs. When contacting her instructor about missing class, he replied saying, “Thanks for being a good mom.” To faculty, staff and students at the university, Maxine believes sincere thanks are in order.
“Thank you for accepting me, encouraging me and for being here.”