Aspire Spring/Summer 2021

Highlights EducationQuest’s statewide partnerships that provide college access.

SPRING / SUMMER 2021 Les Monroe retires after 22 years of helping students access college Aspire Working with partners to help Nebraska students access college.

For 22 years, Les Monroe , former College Planning Director for EducationQuest’s Lincoln office, helped countless students realize their dream of going to college. He realized his dream when he retired April 1. Read more about Les - and other college access happenings - in this issue of Aspire .


Hall of Fame College Application Award Spring Events Les Monroe Retirement EducationQuest Scholarships


What We Learned During the Pandemic The headlines recently shifted from “when will we see vaccines to fight COVID-19?” to “Go! Get your vaccine!” Last year, we wrestled with ways to successfully work from home, and now, we plan to return in August 2021, and (hopefully) welcome the public back into our offices in September 2021. Of course, a lot can change before then, please stay tuned. This past year, our staff learned a completely new “virtual” language! We have used Zoom, Click Meeting, Google Meet, MS Teams, ZohoAssist, and other technology to conduct sessions with families, counselors and groups, large and small. Our Virtual College Fair was a new success, and we plan to continue this option so that students learn about colleges that interest them. Virtual College Fairs are a great fit for a state as geographically vast as ours. We hope that we can return to classrooms, gyms, offices, and auditoriums to present to students and families this fall. Getting back into the schools to see faces in person, albeit behind a mask, will be invigorating! We also learned how to work virtually internally, in small teams, to deliver on our mission to increase college going in Nebraska. An important element of our mission is FAFSA completion. While FAFSA filing has been off, we are now just 2.7% lower than last year and we are #20 in the country for total FAFSA completions by our high school seniors. We are getting there! We still believe that earning an education credential after high school is more important than ever. Understandably, timing has been thrown off for some, but eventually college planning efforts will kick into gear and future plans will be made. We are here for students and families, whenever they are ready. The pandemic has taught us to be resourceful, resilient, mindful and grateful. EducationQuest staff have been safe in their homes working hard. Thankfully, everyone was retained, and together we celebrated one retirement. I am personally grateful for all their flexibility and adaptability. It has been a test, but we passed with flying colors!

The pandemic has taught us to be resourceful, resilient, mindful and grateful. – Liz Koop

Published biannually for education leaders in Nebraska.

Liz S. Koop President and CEO Daphne Hall Senior Vice President College Access Programs Mike Timmins Senior Vice President & CFO Eric Drumheller Vice President Grants & Scholarships Tricia Dunn Editor 402.479.6666

Liz S. Koop President & CEO EducationQuest Foundation

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Ann Chambers inducted into EducationQuest Hall of Fame

Ann Chambers , retired Adult Education Director at Central Community College (CCC) in Grand Island, is EducationQuest’s 2021 Hall of Fame Inductee. EducationQuest selected Chambers for her efforts over 34 years to grow CCC’s Adult Education program into the largest in the state, and the work she did to help hundreds of adults achieve a GED. During Chambers’ long tenure with Adult Education, she partnered with EducationQuest on efforts to provide students with information about college planning and financial aid, and invited EducationQuest to present each year at the state Adult Basic Education conference. Chambers was nominated for the Hall of Fame by EducationQuest Outreach Manager Andrew Hunzeker . “There is so much to be said about Ann Chambers,” Andrew said. “Her passion for helping others made her priceless to CCC, her students, and her community.” Andrew said that Chambers not only guided students to their GED, she also made it a point to work college planning into the program. She would tell her students “If you made it through the effort of getting your GED, you can get through the next step.” In addition to her work at CCC, Chambers served on the Greater Nebraska Development Board, Coalition on Adult Basic Education, Adult and Continuing Education Association of Nebraska, and the 1995 Hall County Leadership Tomorrow Class. She is also a graduate of the League of Innovation Chair Academy, a Certified Manager in Program Improvement through the Leadership Excellence Academies, and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. In 2020, she received the Workforce Development Excellence Award from the Nebraska Workforce Development Board.

Ann Chambers

EducationQuest developed the Hall of Fame in 2016 to highlight college and career successes achieved by those who have used our programs and services. EducationQuest selects Hall of Fame inductees annually and honors them at the biennial EducationQuest Symposium . Her passion for helping others made her priceless to CCC, her students, and her community. – Andrew Hunzeker ” ABOUT THE HALL OF FAME | 3

Spring events help students prep for college and careers

EducationQuest hosted college and career-prep virtual events this spring for Nebraska high school and middle school students.

These students from Blue Hill High School attended the Spring Virtual College Fair from their classroom.

Spring Virtual College Fair Approximately 1,100 high school students, family members, and high school counselors attended EducationQuest’s Spring Virtual College Fair March 2-3. During the event, students visited college booths, spoke with college reps, and attended live college-prep presentations. Presentations included “Senior Check-In” presented by Torri Brumbaugh from Chadron State College, Mary Sommers from University of Nebraska at Kearney, and Luis Sotelo from Doane University; “Junior Check-In” presented by Wynter Davis from EducationQuest, and “FAFSA FAQs” presented by Stacy Seim from EducationQuest. Seventy-eight colleges participated in the college fair and they ended the event with nearly 53,000 student leads. The College Fair site will remain open until May 31 for those who would like to visit college booths and watch recorded presentations.

Junior College Planning Programs During March and April, EducationQuest held six virtual college planning programs to help high school juniors get on track to college. Two of the events were in Spanish. During the session, students learned about the admissions process, campus visits, college costs, types of financial aid, and how to look for scholarships. The events drew over 316 students from across the state.

EducationQuest’s Andrew Hunzeker led high school juniors in a session on how to prepare for college.

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Career Chat Live On April 14, middle school students from across the state learned about 17 different careers during a day-long virtual Career Chat Live event. Each speaker spoke briefly about their career, showed props, and took questions from students. Forty-one middle schools set aside time during the school day for students to participate in Career Chat Live. Among the 17 speakers were a police officer, social worker, respiratory therapist, laboratory scientist, agriculture journalist, broadcaster, realtor, human resources director, agronomist, wind turbine manager, and a data analyst. 8th Grade Virtual Campus Visits 8th grade students had the opportunity to visit a two-year college and a four-year college during virtual campus tours held April 21 and April 28. Wayne State College hosted the April 21 event which drew 21 middle schools and approximately 600 eighth graders. Southeast Community College gave the April 28 tour which drew 15 middle schools and approximately 500 eighth graders.

Pictured above is the Health Sciences segment of Career Chat Live. It featured EducationQuest’s Juan Rodriguez , Laboratory Scientist Cassidee Grubaugh , Physician Assistant Michaela

Timmins , and Respiratory Therapist Rachel Gentzler .

These eighth graders from Lakeview Community Schools watched the Wayne State campus tour at their school. | 5

Lisa Johnson named Mentor of the Year

EducationQuest’s Reaching Your Potential Scholarship Program includes the recruitment of college mentors to help ensure the success of scholarship recipients. Each year we give our recipients the opportunity to nominate their mentor for our Mentor of the Year program. EducationQuest’s 2021 Reaching Your Potential Campus Mentor of the Year is Dr. Lisa Johnson , Director of Student Support Services at Nebraska Methodist College. Lisa was nominated by her Reaching Your Potential mentee, Natalie Dinh . Natalie majors in nursing at Nebraska Methodist.

Following is an excerpt from Natalie’s nomination letter.

“Lisa has gone above and beyond, not only for her TRIO students, but for staff and nursing students in need. I experienced Lisa’s help when I came to see her about my living situation. In my culture, I am expected to take care of household responsibilities, including raising three children without help from the husband or other family members. This task is even harder when you add nursing school into the mix. I explained to Lisa my stresses outside of school. She was very kind, understanding, and referred me to resources. She went even further and told me that she would be a support person for me. I admire Lisa as an individual and hope other people will notice how much she cares for others.”

Mentor of the Year Dr. Lisa Johnson

Les Monroe retires after 22 years

Congratulations to Les Monroe , who retired as Director of College Planning for EducationQuest’s Lincoln office after serving students, families, and counselors in southeast Nebraska for 22 years. Treve Florom , EducationQuest’s Director of Outreach Services, replaced Les as Director of College Planning and will also oversee Outreach Services for community agencies in the Lincoln region. Joan Jurek , Director of College Planning for EducationQuest’s Omaha office is overseeing Outreach Services for the Omaha region, and Jodi Vanden Berge , Director of College Planning for the Kearney office oversees Outreach Services in the Kearney region.

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Twelve students receive $500 scholarships EducationQuest awards several $500 scholarships each year designed to encourage students to attend a Financial Aid Program, a Virtual College Fair, and follow us on social media. During 2020-21, 12 students benefited from these programs. Financial Aid Program Scholarship Students who attended an EducationQuest Financial Aid Program last fall were eligible to register for this scholarship. Six winners were drawn from those who registered. The winners are Elise Benson , a senior at Lincoln East High School; Kinser Lundt , a senior at Millard South High School; Tlixali Rodriguez , a junior at Wood River High School; Conner Schutz , a senior at Elwood High School; Jordan Soto-Stopak , a senior at Boone Central High School; and Tanner Zimmerman , a junior at Elkhorn High School. Get Social Scholarship Students who follow EducationQuest on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram can apply for this $500 scholarship every time we reach certain follower milestones. Over this past school year, we awarded scholarships to Braden Adams , a senior at Seward High School, Ella Hansen , a junior at Millard North High School, Kylie Meinke , a senior at Crete High School, and Caitlin Nelepovitz , a senior at Lincoln Southwest High School. Virtual College Fair Scholarship Students who visited at least five college booths during the fall and spring Virtual College Fairs were entered into a drawing for a $500 scholarship. The winners are Corey Oliver Jr. , a junior at HTRS High School, and James Hernandez , a junior at Lexington High School.

Elise Benson

Kinser Lundt

Tlixali Rodriguez

Connor Schutz

Jordan Soto-Stopak

Tanner Zimmerman

Braden Adams

Ella Hansen

Kylie Meinke

Caitlin Nelepovitz

James Hernandez

Corey Oliver Jr. | 7

Milford High School receives award for Apply2College efforts

Congratulations to Milford High School for receiving the 2020 School of Excellence Award from the American College Application Campaign (ACAC). The award is in recognition of the number of students the school helped with college applications during last year’s Apply2College campaign. Milford High School Counselor Rose Kenney was instrumental in the effort.


Milford Counselor Rose Kenney (center) accepted the ACAC award from EducationQuest’s Amanda Ludwig and Les Monroe. (Photo courtesy of the Milford Times)

OMAHA Rockbrook Village

LINCOLN 1300 O St.

KEARNEY 2706 Second Ave.

SCOTTSBLUFF 1601 E 27th St.

11031 Elm St. 402.391.4033 888.357.6300

402.475.5222 800.303.3745

308.234.6310 800.666.3721

308.708.7199 800.666.3721


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©2021 EducationQuest Foundation, Inc.

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