Loper Circles promote connection and support on campus

KEARNEY – A new campus event brings Lopers from different backgrounds together to learn from and support each other.

UNK Student Government, the Chief Diversity Office and Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion are sponsoring Loper Circles: Conversations about Us. Students, faculty and staff are invited to the monthly events to learn firsthand about the identities and lived experiences of UNK community members and engage in open conversations that promote connection and support.

The goal of Loper Circles is to foster constructive dialogue that challenges biases, promotes equity and inclusion and fosters a campus environment where all students, faculty and staff belong and feel at home. Each event will feature speakers with unique stories and experiences to share.

The first meeting is scheduled for 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Nebraskan Student Union Antelope Room. Attendees are asked to arrive 10 minutes early.

This month’s featured circles are the first-generation experience, Black in central Nebraska and veterans on campus. Speakers for the event are:

Veterans on Campus

  • Al Spain is an aviation and business lecturer at UNK with more than 50 years of international operational experience. The U.S. Army veteran was a military combat aviator during the Vietnam War, airline flight officer and executive and corporate aviation operations manager. In addition to teaching, he currently serves as a safety representative with the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Daniel Medina is a UNK senior studying social work with a minor in behavioral health. He served in the U.S. Army from 2007-15 and currently works for CHI Health Good Samaritan.
  • Amy Jacobson is a senior designer with UNK Communications and Marketing. She’s a UNK graduate who served in the Nebraska Army National Guard from 2011-17.

First-generation Experience

  • Luis Olivas is interim director of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion and he oversees the Gender and Sexuality Resource Office on campus. A first-generation student, first-generation Nebraskan and DACA recipient, he graduated from Central Community College, UNK and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications with specializations in marketing and public relations.
  • Austin Nuxoll is an associate professor in the UNK Department of Biology. He started his journey as a first-generation student at UNK and went on to earn a doctorate in microbiology and pathology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Nuxoll’s story highlights the challenges he overcame and his commitment to supporting current students.
  • Hope Edmunds will graduate from UNK in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in behavioral health. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at UNK. Edmunds is the founder of Parents for Public Education in Nebraska and she serves on the Head Start Program Policy Council. She provides support and advocacy for parents needing assistance with IPP plans at Kearney Public Schools.

Black in Central Nebraska

  • Rick Moses graduated from Kearney State College in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He has more than 30 years of work experience with the state of Nebraska as a juvenile probation officer and with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, he works as an educator for the Nebraska National Guard and coaches high school football at Kearney Catholic. Moses is committed to enhancing understanding of diversity and equality within the region.
  • Whitney Moses is a UNK student in the College of Education. As a nontraditional Black student, she is committed to enhancing representation of educators of color within public and higher education.
  • Esther Uma is a UNK social work major with a minor in political science. She was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States at age 10. Uma is involved in numerous campus organizations and is president of the Black Student Association.

For more information on Loper Circles, contact UNK Chief Diversity Officer Maha Younes at 308-865-8741 or younesm@unk.edu.