Daniel Balette will graduate Saturday, Aug. 13, knowing the experience he had in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration put him on a course for future success. Like many first-year transfer students, though, he was nervous about being in a new place when he first arrived on campus.
“I remember my first day walking to class as a student. As I walked towards the center of campus, I could hear the Mueller Bell Tower playing the theme song from Harry Potter and that was one of the funniest things I had ever heard,” he said. “It personified exactly how I was feeling, which was nervous about the new world I was entering, but excited to see what was in store.”
Balette, a Surprise, Arizona native, has become accustomed to exploring new surroundings. The senior accounting major attended Community College of the Air Force in Montgomery, Alabama, nearly 1,800 miles from his hometown after graduating high school. There, he took classes at night while serving in the Air Force during the day. He then transferred 1,000 miles north to UNL to complete his undergraduate education.
Once he arrived at CBA, faculty such as Jean Riley-Schultz, assistant professor of practice, and Jina Morris, assistant professor of practice, helped smooth his transition and put him on the path to success. Both professors helped him both in and out of the classroom, and CBA academic advisors showed him exactly what he needed to do to graduate.
“Jean Riley-Schultz was the very first person in college who told me they believed in me,” Balette said. “I went to her office hours after doing terribly on an exam, and she sat me down and showed me the mistakes I was making and how to fix them. By the time the next test came around I hit it out of the park and that streak continues to this day.”
After UNL, he will move north again, this time to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. There he will work toward a master of accountancy with the goal of eventually becoming a certified public accountant. He will go to Minnesota with confidence built through the strong relationships he made in CBA.
“Jina Morris was an excellent mentor. Long after I completed her class she would go out of her way to ask me how I was doing and would tell me to keep going,” Balette said. “She was always available whenever I needed advice about my education or career.”
Balette credited his professors for preparing him for the next step in his journey by taking an active role in his education and caring about his success. He cited Dr. Roberto Stein’s finance class (FINA 361) as a favorite of his that gave him principles to make him a more educated investor. He also put in simple terms his reasoning for making Lincoln, Nebraska, the destination for his undergraduate studies.
“Warren Buffett came here for his undergraduate degree and I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me,” Balette said.
While he is well-traveled, Balette has found a home in Lincoln. He is a resident assistant at Selleck Quadrangle and is active in his classes. This spring he studied abroad to Uganda with other UNL CBA and College of Engineering students to assist an organization known as Kinawataka Women Initiatives in streamlining its operations of turning straws into products such as bags, mats and jewelry. The engineering students designed and built a machine that flattens plastic drinking straws, and business students wrote a comprehensive business plan to further accelerate the business.
“Being a Husker is an experience that’s hard to explain but uniquely our own,” Balette said. “I’ve traveled to other states and have literally had people stop me on the street after seeing my Husker polo and talk football with me. Being a Husker opens doors.”