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UNO Young Alumni Academy welcomes fourth and largest class ever


Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 20:12

Young Alumni Academy

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kraemer

As an alumnus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Kyle Schulze has made it a priority to stay connected to his Alma Mater. Now employed as a realtor and team leader of the Tabai and Schulze Team at NP Dodge Real Estate, he has stayed connected to the university by taking post-baccalaureate classes and by helping to host a regional university housing conference on UNO’s campus. Now, Schulze hopes to keep his Maverick Mojo alive by enrolling in the UNO Young Alumni Academy.

As a member of the fourth class of the UNO Young Alumni Academy, Schulze will be enrolled with 44 other alumni in an eight-month leadership development program, designed to give participants a chance to examine ways to get further involved with the Alumni Association and  network with other up-and-coming community leaders and alumni.

“It is important to stay connected because UNO provides countless opportunities for students to take a path of self-discovery to find their passions, excel at what they love and grow into engaged citizens,” Schulze said. “Alumni are able to reflect on the experiences they received as students and help make it possible for current and future students to grow as well.”

Each session, with one being held each month starting in September, are held at different locations on and off campus, including a behind-the-scenes tour of the CenturyLink Center and time flying in the cockpit of UNO’s Flight Simulator. Beyond that, alumni participants in the program, which is free to Academy participants, address such UNO-relevant topics as athletics management and community engagement.

Running from Sept. 5 to April 10, the UNO Young Alumni Program’s calendar includes participants attending the UNO-Miami hockey game, participating in a community service project in March and graduating at their last session.

“Through my experience in being a part of the Academy, I hope that I will learn more about Alumni participation and funding, as well as the opportunity to connect with others in the Omaha community that will not only help with my professional career but also benefit UNO and the future students that we hope to recruit,” said Devin Bertelsen, a recent graduate and participant of the program who now works for UNO as an admissions counselor. “More importantly, meeting others with the same passion and gratitude towards UNO will help create a sense of community and excitement with myself, others and the Alumni Association.”

Bertelsen said she was ecstatic to become a member of the Academy, which picks only the most elite applicants. The application process included self-nomination and an online application. Program coordinators at the Alumni Association then chose the top 44 applicants, the biggest class in the program’s history.

Participant Jenneken Beernink, who now works for Nelligan Sports Marketing, has also made staying connected to UNO a priority of hers. As a marketing coordinator for Nelligan, Beernink handles all corporate sponsorships for UNO’s Athletic Department.

“I think by really diving into this Academy and understanding as much as I can, it will only grow my admiration of the university and only increase what I do and plan to give back to UNO,” Beernink said.

A large portion of the program is devoted to networking with the other members of the Academy, which Beernink said she is especially excited for.

“You can honestly never know enough people, well at least that’s how I feel,” Beernink said. “Even though I am in a field and a job I truly do love, you never know what’s next, especially being so young.”

Elizabeth Kraemer, the Alumni Association’s director of Alumni Programming, said the only requirements for members are that applicants be proud to have earned a degree from UNO, enjoy networking with others, have a desire to learn about the university, make a commitment to complete all session of the program and be an alumni that is 35 years or younger.

From members giving back financially to UNO to others participating in annual events or college-specific committees after graduating from the program, the Academy encourages each individual member to use their insights they’ve gained from participation to best determine how they can continue to stay connected to UNO.     
For now, Schulze said he is just happy to be part of the program to further reconnect with UNO.

“The thing I miss most from my undergraduate career is my student involvement, especially Student Government, Residence Hall Association and Maverick Productions,” said Schulze. “Being a member of the UNO Young Alumni Academy has already reconnected me with these memories because there are other members who were also in these organizations. We have also learned about the progress of changes to campus we implemented as students.”

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