Raymond RamirezSecondary Education- Social Sciences
My favorite part of UNL was networking. I met so many great people, both faculty/staff and peers. My peers were very encouraging and supportive. We would hang out and have fun but also spent time studying and helping each other with classes. I'm also very grateful for the faculty/staff. The faculty went out of their way to provide extra support and were always very friendly. The staff helped me navigate campus successfully and pushed me to grow and take on leadership positions.
During undergrad, I worked for TRiO services. I tutored at different schools in Lincoln, I worked summer camps, and I gained teaching and public speaking experiences. Although I was on track to be a teacher, I learned that I wanted to be part of education in a different way. TRiO introduced me to college preparatory programs and I fell in love with the idea. Growing up in Grand Island, we didn't have services like this and I knew that one of my future goals would be to help out my community and establish a college preparatory program. I started working with TRiO Upward Bound immediately after graduation.
UNL helped me create my career. Again, one of my goals was to create a college preparatory program that served my home community, Grand Island. Little did I know, there was already an initiative in place to implement a college preparatory program in Grand Island. This program started in 2006, the year I graduated. In 2008, I received a call from the programs director encouraging me to apply to a position that would coordinate this program. I couldn't believe it; it was a dream come true. Also, did I mention the only reason the director knew me, was because I volunteered to share my story to prospective students through admission events. I had no idea, but admission staff were impressed with my passion and story. If I did not listen to UNL staff, I would have never went out of my way to give back and get my name out there. It was basically a valuable investment I didn't realize I was making. Fast forward 11 years to today. This program, the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy, not only serves Grand Island High School, but Omaha North, Omaha South and Winnebago high schools as well. The program selects scholars in 8th grade, provides year round services until graduation, and those who choose to attend UNL, will have the full direct cost paid for, allowing scholars to graduate with little to no debt. Currently, the program serves over 300 high school scholars, over 100 college scholars and has produced over 60 college graduates. My small vision ended up growing into something I would have never imagined.
Believe in yourself. There is so much negative noise and too many opinions. You have no idea what you are capable of. Every morning, remind yourself just how great you are, say it, believe it, and give every day your best. I would have never envisioned myself where I am today. I think that is both amazing and beautiful. We all have an incredible destiny waiting for us; we just need to believe in ourselves and tap into our true potential. You got this!