After a wonderful tour and delicious lunch, we went on our way to our next stop- the University of Nebraska Lincoln. The three hour drive through the rolling hills of snow-blanketed fields of western Iowa allowed the students time to catch up on some of their blogging, research and homework, interspersed with the occasional nap. Meanwhile, Ms. Hampton and I spent some time debriefing our impressions of Iowa State, the College of Engineering, the Institute for Transportation and certainly the delicious lunch, all while enjoying the wonderful vistas the Iowa countryside provided us with beautiful farmhouses and barns and the occasional black steer dotting the pristine white hillside.
Once we arrived in Lincoln and had retrieved our dinner hall passes provided by the College of Engineering, we made our way to the hotel and took some time to digest and process what we had seen and heard in the morning. We eventually ventured over to the dining hall and had another opportunity to experience campus food, this time on the UN-L campus. The offerings were much different than those we had for our ISU dining experience. Similar variety, but the conditions of the building and cafeteria were distinctly different. We also noticed that there were many more international students and students of color than we had seen at ISU. ISU had variety some variety, but not the mélange we met at UN-L. After a nice meal, we made our way back to the hotel and the boys joined the girls in their suite common area for another homework session. Everyone was deeply engaged in their studies when we all finally headed back to our respective rooms with heavy heads. Sleep was welcomed with open arms.
An early morning call time at the College of Engineering recruitment office, got us out of bed and ready to go by 7:30. We arrived at the office on campus by 8 AM. The recruiting officer gave a comprehensive overview of the College of Engineering and ushered us around to the various departments, explaining the extensive support provided by the professors, the engineering community and the administration had put into place for everyone beginning in the students’ freshman year. Once we had a chance to walk through the complex, the students had a chance to meet with panel fo some of these support personnel. One of these panelists, Lark Bear, is the primary coordinator for internships and job fairs. UN-L College of Engineering holds a yearly event and most recently 156 companies attended to try and recruit the best of the best in engineering for the firms. UN-L ensures that if the company wants to participate, as there is an extended waiting list, they must ensure a stipend or salary, travel expenses and most times housing stipends can also be arranged. This acts as a springboard into careers for the students, and can also help the students refine their interests if the internship is not what they had hoped for when they accepted the position.
After the introduction to the engineering side of UN-L, we were handed off to an Admissions Office tour guide who led us on an hour and a half tour of the campus, moving from quad to quad and building to building as the snow came down over the Lincoln campus. We saw the Library, a residence hall room, the student union and gathering places for students to study, work in groups and socialize. We ended at the Admissions Office when the students had a chance to really refine their preference and ask the questions they wanted answered in trying to make the proper decisions. Greek Life was a prominent thought on the students’ minds and also finding out about students of color support networks. The Assistant Director of Admissions held court in giving the students the broadest overview, while she was followed by the Associate Director for Financial Aid and also the Director for Diversity and Inclusion. It really allowed the students to feel the wealth of opportunity available at UN-L is within their grasp, if they choose to apply.
The students had one last chance to enjoy a campus lunch and having a mechanical engineering student, Rosemary, join them to continue the conversation about the College of Engineering. She was able to connect with many of the group to answer lingering questions, but to also give a dose of reality as to what life as an engineering student is like. She spoke of her internship in Missouri for Alltech and how that showed her it was not the direction she hoped to go with her career. She echoed words I had expressed to the students earlier in the trip, “Sometimes you learn what you want by experiencing what you do not want, and that is just as valuable.”
We loaded up the van, piled in the people and off we went up the road to Omaha, NE and the Creighton University campus to begin the Global Health Conference Midwest. The excitement built, as did the trepidation, but they would soon realize that the introduction they were about to get is well worth the many hours in the car.