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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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Engaging High School Students

November 12, 2018
Engaging High School Students
Derek Branch, who attends Lincoln Southeast, was selected for the High School Future Builders Program.
Derek Branch took the Builders Profile 10 as a freshman in Lincoln Southeast High School, but didn’t know what to expect. Later identified with the aptitude to become an entrepreneur, innovator and builder through the Gallup assessment, he was selected as one of 22 students to attend the Future Builders Challenge held at the College of Business in June.

“When I heard about the Future Builders program, I saw it as an opportunity to grow,” said Branch. “I learned how to build my strengths, met fabulous mentors who were interested in helping me and found a group of peers who both challenged and understood me. The experience was pivotal in planning my future.”

His experience echoes others who attended summer business camps, such as the DREAMBIG Academy. Recognized with a gold award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education District VI, DREAMBIG launched seven years ago as a transformative experience for first-generation and underrepresented students.

The 2018 DREAMBIG Academy students, mentors and staff.
The 2018 DREAMBIG Academy students, mentors and staff.
“Students are introduced to many aspects of business in creative, fun ways, which better helps them visualize the full potential of opportunities ahead of them,” said Dr. D’vee Buss, assistant dean of undergraduate programs. “They build connections with peers, faculty, staff and business professionals on the first day. In addition, they work with current college student mentors who coach them about campus life.” Other experiences include hands-on demonstrations, field trips and speakers who address strengths, leadership and business.

“Meeting new people is important because those connections will help support you throughout college. College is about learning and exploring yourself as an individual,” said Veronica Sanchez from Gibbon, Nebraska, a DREAMBIG Academy alumnus, two-time mentor and junior majoring in human resource management.

Ashleigh Henderson, who attends Benson High School in Omaha, Nebraska, attended both the DREAMBIG Academy and the Accounting Summit. The two camps solidified her decision to pursue a career in accounting.

“The Accounting Summit focused specifically on accounting with a small group of people. DREAMBIG explored many topics from learning about careers to more about ourselves,” she said. “Both were extremely valuable.”