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After Academic Struggle, Arvie Found Stability, Success

Human Resources Management Major Graduated in May
After Academic Struggle, Arvie Found Stability, Success
After not finding success as a freshman, Ra'Daniel Arvie of Omaha, Nebraska, came back to college ready to find a way. He graduated with a degree in human resources management this spring.

Ra’Daniel Arvie always served others, but in college, he learned the lesson many in service must eventually learn. To take care of others, one must also take care of oneself.

Arvie received his bachelor’s degree in management with an emphasis in human resources from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in May — but achieving that goal almost fell apart.

As a first-year student in 2018, Arvie arrived on campus with dreams of being an architect, but he felt himself pulled more to his church back home in Omaha, Nebraska, than to Architecture Hall on campus. He struggled to fit in and felt different from his peers, and he began to wonder if architecture was really for him.

“I found myself at a crossroads freshman year because I wanted to be an architect since I was in fourth grade,” Arvie said. “It was almost an identity crisis because I had never thought about anything else.”

Arvie spent less and less time on his schoolwork as he drove back to Omaha many nights to serve his church and see family and friends. The pattern diverted him from building the ever-important community on campus.

“Not knowing what I wanted to do created a void for me, which also caused me instability,” he said. “I am the type of person who needs stability, and I wasn’t doing that. I never had just a regular week — always something new, something different going on.”

Arvie knew he was in trouble and ultimately was academically dismissed from the university in May 2019. He immediately decided he wanted to turn things around quickly. He appealed his dismissal and leaned on his academic advisor, Leslie Gonzalez, his family and his faith.

“They didn’t judge me,” Arvie said. “They just wanted to know why it happened. I remember my dad said, 'Why didn’t you tell me you needed help?' They just wanted to help me fix it.”

In his letter to complete his Appeal for Academic Reinstatement, Arvie was “brutally honest.”

"I knew I wasn’t dismissed because I couldn’t do the work," Arvie said. "I was dismissed because I didn’t do the work, and I wanted a second chance to do it right. It was no one’s fault but mine."

He gave it to God.

“I was hoping for a miracle, and that’s what I got,” he said. “It strengthened my faith because I had to rely on God and others’ grace to get me out of the situation I was in. I cried when I got the email saying I could come back.”

He started over academically, and this time he was determined to succeed.

“I went into the Explore Center, and I used every resource I could on campus,” Arvie said. “I had some anxieties about not knowing what I wanted to do, but I learned that is common, and they helped me figure out what my interests were. One of those was business.”

Arvie enrolled in various classes. He kept a close eye on his grades, knowing that a 2.0 GPA was required, and he wanted to see his grades climb. He also started becoming more involved on campus, including in the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services (OASIS).

“They helped me find my community on campus,” Arvie said. “They made sure I was going to events and meeting other students who were doing their work and finding success, and that encouraged me. They helped me find any type of help I needed.”

Among his courses was an introductory human resource management class with Jenna Pieper, associate professor of management. The class resonated with him and his love of service to others.

“That’s when I realized I did want to do business, human resources specifically,” he said. “I’m a people person, and the interaction with people you get in that position appealed to me. You’re not just part of a core team. You’re really working with everyone, and I view it as service-based, both to the people and the organization.”

Arvie started finding the stability he needed. Then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down campus.

“At first, I was relieved a little,” he said. “The professors offered graciousness, and I felt like I needed a break because since I’d come back, I was in hustle mode. But I quickly realized we would be off campus for the rest of the semester, and no matter what question I asked, the answer was ‘We don’t know’ because the situation was so horrible. I had to create stability for myself again.”

Arvie purchased a desk, knowing he studied better at a desk than on his bed or a couch. He started a new daily routine, including turning over a cube of affirmation words his sister gave him, choosing a new word every day and thinking about his goals.

“I tell my mom that COVID made me an adult in a way because before that, my parents gave me that stability, but I had to create stability for myself to succeed,” he said. “I got into the habit of logging into my Zoom courses 30 minutes beforehand, and I read up on the material so I was ready. That changed my academic life. I still do that to this day, even with in-person classes.”

When in-person classes resumed, Arvie was ready. He grew more involved, joining the Afrikan Peoples Union, Society for Human Resource Management, Jacht Agency, Multicultural Business Students Association, the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of People of Color and more. Being involved expanded his community and stability as he grew more intentional with his time. As a peer mentor in OASIS and for high school students in the DREAMBIG Academy at the College of Business, Arvie shares his struggle and what he learned openly.

“My advice to underclassmen is to really find out what works for you, and that’s not a pro tip I heard when I came into college,” Arvie said. “As a peer mentor for OASIS now, I tell them all the time, ‘I know what works for me. I can’t tell you what works for you. It starts with self-reflection. How do you learn, and what circumstance or atmosphere is going to help you be successful? Try to duplicate that as much as you can.’”

Arvie returned to Omaha after graduation, near his nieces and nephews. He wants to stay in Nebraska and hopefully start his career with a service-oriented organization, possibly in the nonprofit or education sectors. He hopes to continue to give back to his community.

"My siblings and I always joked that college was our ticket out of Nebraska,” he said. “But as an adult, as a mature person, the things I value are here — my family, my church. Nebraska, especially Omaha and Lincoln is on the precipice of growing into what everyone who left wanted when they were here. Ten, 20 years down the road, I want to say I was here throughout the whole process. I prefer to be part of Nebraska’s growth rather than part of the statistics of people who are leaving.”

Published: May 17, 2023