Kayla Cody, ’18, grew up in Beatrice, Nebraska, wondering how she would connect the dots to get to college. She discovered her destination through a program for high school students called DREAMBIG Academy offered at the Nebraska College of Business.
“I was a first-generation student with zero financial aid available from my family,” said Cody. “DREAMBIG turned my idea of attending Nebraska into a reality. When I attended DREAMBIG, college became more comfortable and familiar. It provided me with the confidence to pursue my dream and succeed.”
DREAMBIG Academy provides high school students the opportunity to learn about business and career opportunities while spending most of a week on campus during the summer. The program emphasizes leadership and networking skills so students can better visualize themselves in college and a career.
“The program introduced me early on to professional standards. I found this beneficial because it can take a while to understand and adapt professional mannerisms – especially in high school when surrounded by students who might not act that way all of the time. I credit my DREAMBIG experiences for being able to present myself professionally and confidently,” she said.
DREAMBIG allowed Cody the opportunity to connect with business professionals and immerse herself in principles from a variety of business disciplines. Mark Davis, academic advisor at Nebraska Business, helps guide students in DREAMBIG to step out of their comfort zone. He witnessed her ability to take concepts taught in the academy and apply them in practical situations.
“Kayla had the opportunity to practice what she learned during a professional networking reception where we invited business contacts from the community to have dinner with our students,” said Davis. “She had an infectious personality when making connections, and by the end of the week, everyone knew her by name. I believe those networking skills learned in DREAMBIG served to prepare her for a career.”
After attending DREAMBIG, Cody not only had a better idea of the academic opportunities Nebraska would provide, but ultimately learned more about getting into college. She received the Susan T. Buffett scholarship, which paid for five years of tuition.
“I majored in both accounting and hospitality, restaurant and tourism management. By combining those vastly different majors, I was able to expand my network and utilize the knowledge of different industries to substantially grow in each path,” said Cody.
She believes her interdisciplinary approach allowed her to incorporate soft skills from her hospitality major that pushed her to reach the potential instilled at DREAMBIG Academy. Those skills helped give her the ability to make positive impressions, which led to her current job at Deloitte in Kansas City, as an audit and assurance staff member.
“The experiences to expand my network and perspective at DREAMBIG were unmatched. Whether you’re going to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln or working in a business, it is incredible to have one-on-one time with business faculty, and if you leave a positive impression, they will remember you. It was the start of building professional relationships that I could rely on in college and even thereafter in my professional career,” said Cody.
To learn more about DREAMBIG Academy, visit: https://business.unl.edu/dreambig/.