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UNL event recognizes achievements of hundreds of Omaha-area high school students

November 20, 2018

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln poured attention over hundreds of Omaha-area high school seniors Sunday at the CHI Health Center.

The students were promised at least $1,000 scholarships if they attend UNL. They also received T-shirts and recognition for their high school efforts. Students from 29 area high schools as well as home-schoolers were invited.

UNL said about 550 high school seniors, plus about 1,150 parents, siblings and other relatives, attended the Nebraska Achievement Recognition Program. UNL described those as record numbers for the event.

The students were identified by high school counselors or community members as hardworking kids, leaders or students with unusual talent or the ability to overcome obstacles.

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green and Executive Vice Chancellor Donde Plowman spoke at the event.

Amber Williams, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management, said last week that this is the 15th year of the event, which she started. Williams came to UNL from the University of Kansas 16 years ago as assistant director of diversity recruitment.

At the time, UNL officials sensed a divide between Omaha high school students and UNL. It was a feeling that those students didn’t necessarily identify with UNL or see it as their place, Williams said.

While at Wichita Northeast High School, Williams had been recruited by a KU admissions counselor who personalized the process, even calling Williams to ask how her high school prom went.

Williams was determined that deserving seniors in Omaha should receive that kind of attention. That’s what Sunday’s program was all about. Williams was one of the speakers at the event.

Half of the students will have the chance to be first-generation college students (that is, the first of their family to go to college), and half have a parent who has been to college. Those two groups were placed in separate rooms of the CHI Health Center.

Each student was recognized by name and received the scholarship offer, a certificate and a UNL “In Our Grit, Our Glory” T-shirt.

The event started with a one-hour information fair. Williams said this is only one effort of several in which UNL tries to connect with all of Nebraska’s high school seniors. Another is UNL’s effort to visit every high school in the state.

Williams said UNL also aims to give prospective students at least three phone calls to express their interest in the student. Of those who attended the program Sunday, Williams said, about half are expected to attend UNL.

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