Juan Guzman
UNK Office of Multicultural Affairs director, 308.865.8127

Approximately 450 high school students from Scottsbluff to Omaha are set to attend the 9th annual Nebraska Cultural Unity Conference (NCUC) on Friday, April 1, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“The annual conference is open to all high school students to attend workshops designed to help them make choices about their future, and whether or not to pursue a college career,” said Juan Guzman, director of the UNK Office of Multicultural Affairs. “Many of the students helping with the conference are at UNK, because they came to the conference as high school students.”

This year, high school students from the following Nebraska communities are registered to attend: Bertrand, Columbus, Crete, Gibbon, Grand Island, Harvard, Hastings, Holdrege, Kearney, Lincoln, Loomis, Minden, Omaha, Scottsbluff and Wood River.

At the conference, titled “The Culture of Confidence: Passion, Pride, Professionalism,” students will attend workshops and hear keynote speaker Jeff Yalden. The students will have nine workshops to choose from, including: “Securing a Professional Position: What You Need to Know,” “Self-Segregation” and “UNK/Financial Aid Myth Busters.” Students will also learn about opportunities to further their education at UNK as well as about other options.

“We obviously want the students to come to UNK, but ultimately, we just want them to do something beyond getting a high school diploma,” Guzman said. Representatives from the UNK Industrial Distribution program, UNK Financial Aid, Joseph’s College of Beauty, as well as from area community colleges will be present at the college fair portion of the conference.

For his presentation, keynote speaker Jeff Yalden will draw on his life experiences, some of which he describes as “…his darkest lessons,” to help today’s youth transform their own lives. In high school, Yalden suffered from a stutter, a facial tick, bad acne and a learning disability. He took the SATs twice and scored only 610 out of a possible 1,600. He eventually graduated from high school 128th in a class of 133.

Today, Yalden is a Certified Speaking Professional, the highest distinction by the National Speakers Association, a distinction earned by fewer than 10 percent of all speakers. He has presented for more than 3,000 audiences around the world, including SADD, FBLA, FCCLA, The National PRIDE World Drug-Free Conference and National Student Council, among others. He has also appeared on the MTV television show, “MADE,” as a teen life coach.

UNK students serving on the Nebraska Cultural Unity Conference board, listed alphabetically by hometown, include:Crete – Maira Mendez; Gibbon – Moises Castillo, volunteers chair; Grand Island – Viridiana Almaza- Zavala, conference co-chair; Audie Alvarez, sergeant of arms; and Loany Fajardo; Hildreth – Kevanie Damit-Og; Lexington – Latisha Dominguez, speakers; Diana Rodas, secretary; Lorena Ortega; Lincoln – Caitlin Roussan; Omaha – Derek Comba and Wilson Rivas, evaluations chair; Ord – Blanca Vera Chavez, registration chair; Schuyler – Manuel Rangel, volunteers chair, and Ricardo Sanabria, conference co-chair; Scottsbluff – Alfredo Lara, food and entertainment; andWood River – Martin Rodriguez, advertising chair. From Levittown, Puerto Rico, Martin Diaz.

NCUC Conference Schedule

8:30 – 10 a.m. – Registration/College Fair
10 – 10:20 a.m. – Conference Opening
10:30 – 11:15 a.m. – Session #1
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Session #2
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. – Lunch Keynote
2:45 – 3:30 p.m. – Session #3
4 – 5:15 p.m. – Male/Female Session
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. – Dinner
6:30 – 7:45 p.m. – Keynote Speaker, Jeff Yalden
8:15 – 10 p.m. – Entertainment/Closing Remarks

NCUC 2011 Workshops

 presented by John O’Malley – The idea that as individuals, we segregated ourselves from taking opportunities that we might not think apply to us due to cultural stereotypes. Come learn how to step outside the box and embrace who you are no matter what background you come from.

Male and Female Body Image: How Media, Friends and Supplements Influence Us
, presented by Ryan Sallans – In society today, males and females are influenced by beauty, muscles and fashion. This workshop will explore way media digitally alters images, how Hollywood influences stars’ bodies, where genetics influence what our bodies can actually do and what exercise routines and supplements really do to the body and our overall health. Throughout the workshop, students will be able to ask questions and interact with each other.

“If You Really Knew Me,” 
presented by Dr. Matthew Mims – Is reality TV, really reality? This session will look at characteristics of today’s high school students, well YOU. Going off the MTV show, “If You Really Knew Me,” we will discuss issues many students currently face. This session will be “real” without personal information having to be shared. Challenge yourself to grow. Come laugh, be amazed and learn a little more about the real classmates that might be in your school.

Making Mandala’s
, presented by Patricia Jones – Using the universal language of shape and color, participants will have the opportunity to create their own personal symbols. A Mandala at its most simple, is a design within the shape of a circle. This will be an engaging activity to help students focus on their own emotions through the form of art.

UNK/Financial Aid Myth Busters
, presented by Mary Sommers – What you hear is not always what you should believe. This session is a “fun” approach to learning about the transition from high school to college, financial aid, college life and more importantly, UNK!

“Border Crossing/Cruzando la forntera,” 
presented by the Actos Sin Nombre/Unspeakable Acts Actors from the University of Northern Iowa with Professor Jennifer Cooley – We will facilitate a bilingual simulation of what it would be like to cross the U.S./Mexican boarder. This session provides factual information, and promotes critical reflection and active learning, in order to explore our attitudes regarding immigration.

Securing a Professional Position: What You Need to Know
, presented by the UNK Industrial Distribution Program – Professionalism, career-building skills and lots of money! The Industrial Distribution program at UNK will be presenting to students about the wonderful opportunities awaiting them by majoring in industrial distribution.

Student Panel
 – UNK students will share their thoughts on what higher education is all about, their college experiences and how they have been successful at UNK

“Overcome to Become,”
 presented by Juan Cangas – In this workshop, Juan Cangas will discuss that life is not always what you expect it to be, and that everyone endures struggles like family and personal issues, and how they affect your academic performance. You must use these struggles as motivation to make yourself successful.