Rising Nebraska high school seniors attended the 2017 DREAMBIG Academy at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business to help prepare themselves for college and build leadership and networking skills to allow them to achieve their full potential. At the heart of the program, current college students serve as mentors to motivate the high school students into action while learning about the world of business and career opportunities.
Guadalupe ‘Pita’ Mora, a sophomore pre-nursing major from Crete, Nebraska, became a mentor because of her experience attending DREAMBIG as a high school student in 2015. She learned how to step out of her comfort zone through the program.
“DREAMBIG motivated me to speak up and gain confidence in myself,” said Mora. “Most of us are hesitant at first but activities like the networking reception force students to interact with business professionals. That’s one of the big steps to getting started in your career.”
Mora keeps in contact with her DREAMBIG mentors and wants to inspire her mentees to do the same with her. She believes the foundation of DREAMBIG is built on modeling positive behavior which continues well after the five-day program ends.
“If I have a question about anything, my mentors are still here to help. They dream big and I see them achieve their goals so I know I can do it too. DREAMBIG also offers a business class for all DREAMBIG students who come to Nebraska. It taught me about student resources on campus. Now I’m giving back through DREAMBIG mentoring, being a part of the Nebraska Preparatory Collegiate Academy and also mentoring in the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services. My goal is to tell my story and inspire others,” she said.
Veronica Sanchez, a sophomore business administration major from Gibbon, Nebraska, discovered she enjoyed business classes in high school. DREAMBIG allowed her to make the connections to get to college and pursue her goal of working in business. Now she serves as a mentor too.
“Leadership is the main theme of DREAMBIG,” said Sanchez. “I’m usually quiet and shy in front of other people. When I attended DREAMBIG it helped me get beyond my nervousness. As a mentor, it’s given me the opportunity to provide leadership which helps me grow even more by working with high school students and leading them through activities during the week,” said Sanchez.
DREAMBIG activities included visiting local businesses, doing volunteer work, learning about their strengths from members of the Clifton Strengths Institute and wrapping up the week delivering three minute business pitches to faculty from the Center for Entrepreneurship. Mentors gave advice and direction to student teams to better deliver their business proposals.
“My mentor encouraged me to participate and jump into every activity during the week. She always asked me how I was doing so I knew she really cared about me,” said Trinh Bui who attends Lincoln High School.
Emily Bergen, DREAMBIG events and outreach coordinator, witnessed the attendee and mentor bond grow stronger each day. She noted the changes in student’s attitudes through written questionnaires completed during the week and through personal conversations.
“The mentors make the biggest difference with everything that happens at DREAMBIG. The last day of the program the students were in tears not wanting to leave their groups. It’s amazing to see the impact mentors make in just a few days,” said Bergen.
Esteban Mancinas, who attends Omaha South High School, added, “The mentors help us open up and talk to anyone about anything. They’re always there for us and now we’ll always be there for them.”
Participants qualify for the Nebraska Emerging Leaders Scholarship of $2,000 for completing the program and meeting academic requirements their senior year in high school. To learn more about the DREAMBIG Academy visit: http://business.unl.edu/dreambig