When Jennifer Garcia attended the Nebraska Cultural Unity Conference during high school, she recognized some of the current UNK students organizing the event.
The annual conference sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Kearney helped her realize she could take on similar leadership roles while pursuing a college degree. It’s also what led her to UNK.
“There are people here to help you get to that next step,” said Garcia, a health sciences major from Shelton.
Now a junior at UNK, Garcia has been part of the group that plans the Cultural Unity Conference the past two years, and she’s involved with a number of other organizations.
Those include Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Health Science Club, Hispanic Student Association, Office of Multicultural Affairs Council and Sister to Sister, an organization that advocates for women’s issues. She’s also a resident assistant and New Student Enrollment leader welcoming incoming freshmen to campus.
These commitments can be time consuming, but they’re also rewarding. Garcia said the connections she makes through student organizations and social activities inspire her to set new goals and push her to excel academically.
“They give me opportunities I never even thought about before,” she said.
That’s something she emphasizes in her talks with incoming UNK students. Put yourself out there, meet new people and always be willing to try something different.
“If you put in that little bit of effort, you’ll get a lot out of it, especially here at UNK,” Garcia said.
The first-generation college student is proving that.
Garcia received a full-tuition Multicultural Community Service Scholarship from UNK, becoming the first member of her family to attend a four-year college or university.
She wants to run a nonprofit health clinic serving rural Nebraskans someday and help her parents reach retirement a little sooner.
“I just want to give back to them because they’ve provided so much for me.”