U.S. Department of Education Officials See UNO Student Assistance First-hand on Campus Visit | News

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If there’s one thing James Couvar learned from visiting the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) campus, it’s that the first step to improving social mobility is not just financial support, but It is through mentorship and academic support to college students. .

Kvaal, who was appointed Undersecretary of Education in 2021, visited the UNO campus on Friday. He met with UNO President Joan Lee, Ph.D., CFA, as well as academic and student support units and learning community leaders. He heard that the Thompson Learning Community (Buffett Scholars), the Goodrich Scholarship Program, the Walter Scott Jr. How do you understand that it is as important as removing the economic barriers to education.

President Lee said these efforts are essential to fulfilling the university’s metropolitan mission given the students who call UNO home. This fall, Lee said UNO welcomed the largest class of his freshman year. Among them, 37 percent are identified as minority students and more than 40 percent as first generation. Financial support is important for students who work one or more part-time jobs while attending UNO, but helping students goes far beyond finances.

As a Buffett Scholar of the Thompson Learning Community, UNO student president and student council president Tori Sims said she was nervous about transitioning from high school to college. “I didn’t expect you to hold hands like you did in high school, but with Buffett’s office and people loving you like you really care about your students, it works.” said Sims. “They support their students unconditionally, remove tangible concerns, and simplify the process.”

As the state-funded Goodrich Scholarship Program celebrates its 50th anniversary,th At this year’s anniversary at UNO, director Dr. Troy Romero shared that Milestone provided an opportunity for reflection. The Goodrich Program’s incredible success over the years has been attributed to the provision of access and support to its students. It boasts a 97% graduation rate among scholars, including an 84% graduation rate.

Sabrina Sarin is one proud Goodrich. Without her scholarship, she wasn’t sure how she would be able to attend college. Her financial support allowed her to step into her UNO, but it was Goodrich who helped her maintain her academic and mental health through the COVID-19 pandemic. was the support of the faculty and staff of Goodrich said that thanks to her program, Sallin said she is expected to graduate at the end of the fall 2022 semester.

The Scott Scholars program provides students with academic support and real-world experiential learning opportunities through mentorship, advice, and networking. The program is academically focused on his STEM fields, but also aims to develop the whole human being through community impact. For example, Scott Scholars participates in design thinking projects that solve real-world problems for organizations within the community, such as the US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base. Not only do these projects benefit these organizations, but 77% of his Scott Scholars are still living and working in Nebraska five years after graduating, despite being widely recruited outside of the state. increase.

Undergraduate Dean Dr. Kathy Pettid highlighted the cultural shifts the university has undergone to ensure that students feel supported in achieving their academic goals. “Universities are known for their services, but students have to go,” she said. [seek them out]We’re building an environment where services surround them,” said Pettid.

Kvaal said higher education has evolved dramatically over the past decade and the Ministry of Education is placing more emphasis than ever on social mobility, equity and inclusion in higher education. “For the system to work, we need to change the culture. There is a way to be a better university. What our country needs is more places that engage in inclusion, contribute to local economies and serve their communities,” said Kvarr.

Affordability remains a key concern for the Department of Education, as evidenced by the recent federal student loan forgiveness initiative. Such efforts can strike after student loan debt has arisen, but departments need policy support from Congress to find ways to prevent debt from accumulating in the first place.

Kvaal said lessons learned from the visit to UNO, including hearing about UNO’s learning community and student support, will be passed on to Secretary Miguel Cardona, and may influence future policy.