Students from the College of Business Administration Honors Academy and the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln received a hands-on assignment to improve the Ogallala, Nebraska, community. The project focused on four areas: attracting new businesses to the downtown and surrounding area; revitalizing the downtown area; drawing new, young families and professionals to the community; and stimulating population growth.
Dr. Tammy Beck, associate dean for graduate programs and external engagement and associate professor of management, teaches the Business Policies and Strategies (MNGT 475) course. She assigned the service-learning project so students use the information learned in class in a real-world project.
“Students are making recommendations and putting forward implementation strategies for a community. The service learning allows them to connect to the material in a way that’s different than just reading about something,” Beck said. “I want to put as few constraints on them as possible. My job is pushing them to make realistic yet impactful recommendations and serving as a mentor.”
Working in teams, students are studying the community and providing feasible recommendations to community leaders while considering funding restrictions and abiding by city and county ordinances. After hearing the recommendations, the Ogallala leaders decide which ones to implement.
“I believe this project will be something I talk about for years to come,” said Rachel Sutcliffe, a senior management major with minors in computer science and mathematics from Overland Park, Kansas. “The ability to potentially make an impact in Ogallala is exciting. Granted, the impact will not be seen immediately, so I will be intrigued to continuously follow the community over the next decade.”
Last summer, Beck traveled in a team across the state to create greater partnerships with communities in western Nebraska. She hopes the project will bring attention to the community and create a self-enforcing relationship between Nebraska and Ogallala.
“One of our core missions at Nebraska is service to our community and making sure we are serving the needs of the people in the state,” Beck said. “That means serving not just here in Lincoln, but throughout the whole state. This partnership is allowing us to fulfill that mission.”
Brendan Gallo, a senior finance major with minors in computer science and math from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, gained employment with Tenaska, one of the largest private, independent energy companies in the United States. Working as a strategic development and acquisitions analyst, the project is applicable to his future. Gallo appreciates the hands-on experience traveling to Ogallala as a class will provide.
“We will travel to Ogallala as a class in mid-March. Thisis the first course I’ve had where we will take a trip to better contextualize a case study, and I am looking forward to that level of immersion,” Gallo said. “There is something refreshing about applying my knowledge in this tangible way and I am lucky to be provided with the opportunity.”