December 2017 commencement: Marisa, Megan, Olga & Allison


December 2017 commencement: Marisa, Megan, Olga & Allison

13 Dec 2017    

Marisa Esch | McCook, Nebraska | Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education & Special Education (K-6) 

Marisa EschWhat brought you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I chose Nebraska because I wanted to be a part of something that was magical. I wanted a diverse experience with the people on campus and in the learning opportunities that I would have over my next four years. At the same time, I wanted to have many connections that made it feel like the small town in which I grew up. After touring campus and meeting influential professors, I knew Nebraska was the place for me as it was my home away from home and a community that had the same small-town feeling. 

Why did you choose the dual major of elementary education & special education?
When I looked at what I wanted to do in the future, I knew I wanted to be able to wake up every day with a smile on my face ready to take on a challenge. My biggest role model in life has been my Uncle Christopher who was severely handicapped. Growing up taking care of him has been the biggest blessing and honor in my life. Once I had the opportunity to begin my practicum experiences through Lincoln Public Schools and my student teaching in McCook Public Schools, I knew my heart and passion were meant for education. 

What has been most rewarding about studying elementary and special education?
The relationships are hands down the most rewarding. The relationships that I have made with my professors, colleagues, teachers, and students have made a profound and lasting impact on my life. 

What’s next?
The experiences I have had at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have shaped my decision to apply for graduate school, and I plan to study special education. I hope and pray that I can make a difference in the lives of special people. 

Megan Gappa | Plymouth, Minnesota | Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

Minors in education and psychology 

Megan GappaWhat brought you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I decided to go to Nebraska because it immediately made me feel at home while touring the campus. I knew I wanted to venture out of my home state to expand my independence and explore a new environment. The staff was welcoming, the campus was beautiful, and the program that I wanted to pursue seemed to be a great fit. 

Why did you choose speech-language pathology as a major?
I chose to pursue a degree in speech-language pathology because I have always wanted a career that involves working with children and helping others. My mom stumbled across speech-language pathology while I was a senior in high school. After researching more about it, I knew that speech-language pathology was the career I wanted to strive to obtain. 

What has been most rewarding about studying speech-language pathology?
I have loved studying speech-language pathology at Nebraska because of the remarkable teachers and professors. They have made me feel confident and prepared for graduate school and my future career. Learning about speech-language pathology is always intriguing because there are so many facets within the field. 

What’s next?
After graduation, I will head back home to Minnesota to work, prepare for further schooling, and relax. I plan on attending graduate school in the fall of 2018 to obtain a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

Olga Mwenentanda | Lincoln, Nebraska, by way of Congo | Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education & Special Education (K-6) 

Olga MwenentandaWhat brought you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
Living in Lincoln since 2005, I wanted to get out and go somewhere but still stay in Nebraska. I started my college career at Midland University in Fremont and decided to transfer to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after my freshman year. I came to the university because of the warm welcome I got from everyone. The adviser, professors, staff, etc., were great and very welcoming. My advisers made sure they were not wasting my time and making me take classes I did not need. They signed me up for classes that would lead me to my degree. Whenever I needed help, they were ready to help me and get everything situated. The people around campus were nice and always smile at me as they walk by. Classmates were always willing to help with whatever I needed, whether class notes or just general help. 

Why did you choose the dual major of elementary education & special education?
I chose elementary and special education because I wanted to impact the lives of children. Growing up in Africa, I did not get the experience of learning in an elementary school as is typical here in the U.S. There are children like me who are from other countries. I want to be able to relate to them and bring diversity to the schools. I am very passionate about teaching. I believe that teachers who show passion will establish relationships with students. Working with students with special needs has taught me many different assets as a teacher and also as a person. I am more patient and open-minded about different aspects of life. 

What has been most rewarding about studying elementary and special education?
The most rewarding thing about this major is the exposure I got early on in my college experience to work with students in schools. Having that hands-on experience gave me an idea of what I really want to do. Being in different school environments also let me know which school and grades I want to teach when I graduate. Another rewarding thing about this major is being an ambassador for the College of Education and Human Sciences. From this organization, I was able to meet new people and develop friendships. I was also able to talk with new students and give them a little aspect of what CEHS offers to students and what they can expect. 

What’s next?
I am very fortunate to have already been offered a contract to teach at Lincoln Public Schools after I graduate. This goes to show how much the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has prepared me as a teacher. I plan to teach for Lincoln Public Schools and then continue on with my education in a couple years. I am planning to have my own classroom.

Allison Phillips | Omaha, Nebraska | Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences & Disorders

Minors in education and dance

Allison PhillipsWhat brought you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
My best friend and I could both agree to going here. I wasn’t quite ready to be far from her! 

Why did you choose speech-language pathology as a major?
I originally started off as a double major – early childhood special education and dance – with the intention of opening a dance studio for individuals with disabilities. On the first day of educational psychology, however, I was certain that an education major was definitely not for me. Although I heard an older sorority sister complain about getting an A- and a guaranteed future of grad school, speech-language pathology was calling me from a distance. Eventually the voice became so loud, I switched my major. The next few years may be dedicated to the field of speech-language pathology, but the intention of developing a dance program is still part of my “long-term goals” list. 

What has been most rewarding about studying speech-language pathology?
Before class and in the halls, you’ll hear mumbles of the undergraduate program’s “competitiveness.” While this is typically viewed as a negative thing, this idea of being a competitive applicant for graduate school has pushed me to do so much. Before college, I had never earned straight A’s – not because I was lazy or distracted, but because I thought I wasn’t capable. Since entering the program second semester of my sophomore year, I have earned straight A’s for five semesters. The professors of the Nebraska speech-language pathology program also encourage students to gain as much experience as possible. This encouragement landed me a job in Washington, where I knew absolutely no one, working as a cabin leader at a camp for individuals with disabilities. If someone told me even a year before I left for campus that I would do something that broadened my horizons so much, I wouldn’t have believed them. After my first summer, I went back for two more. 

What’s next?
After graduation, I plan to work full-time as a speech-language pathologist’s assistant for a semester and summer before entering grad school. It will be nice to save up a little money before being completely broke again.


Special Education and Communication Disorders