A student team from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications recently placed third in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Invent2Prevent competition.
The annual contest, open to college students throughout the United States, challenges participants to develop programs that prevent targeted violence and terrorism in their local communities.
Ten students enrolled in a senior advertising and public relations capstone course last fall entered the competition with an integrated communication campaign, SafeSpace Nebraska. The campaign aims to better educate students on what to do in the event of an active shooter on campus. The students identified underutilized communication channels to reach students and development tactics to engage those channels in reaching students. Their project included a social media campaign, a dedicated website on school shootings, scenario-based training sessions, educational booths in student areas, a petition to include information in class syllabi and information sheets for academic advisers.
The Husker entry was selected as a finalist, and three students — Kayla Enfield, Lauren Ostrowski and Joselyn Vacek — along with Bryan Wang, associate professor of advertising and public relations, were invited to present their campaign on Jan. 24 in Washington, D.C., where they were awarded third place.
“Experiential learning and student opportunity are at the heart of our educational mission at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln,” Wang said. “Our remarkable journey in the Invent2Prevent competition underscores the transformative power of education and collaboration. Through the SafeSpace Nebraska campaign, our students not only addressed a critical issue, but also provided students with a platform to make a meaningful impact in our communities.”
The Invent2Prevent competition is a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, EdVenture Partners, Credence Management Solutions and the McCain Institute. The competition was launched in 2021, and more than 118 universities from 32 states have participated since then.
“Congratulations to our exceptional team of advertising and public relations students for their outstanding achievement in the Invent2Prevent competition,” said Shari Veil, Jane T. Olson Dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “We are immensely proud of their dedication to making our communities safer, and this accomplishment is a testament to the caliber of students we have at UNL.”
Following is a list of team members, listed alphabetically by hometown, with their year in school and major(s).
- Elkhorn: Lauren Ostrowski, senior, advertising and public relations
- Grand Island: Auni Ortega, 2023 graduate, advertising and public relations
- Lincoln: Kayla Enfield, senior, advertising and public relations; Rahmir Johnson, senior, advertising and public relations; Nyajuma Koung, 2023 graduate, advertising and public relations; Jace Noble, 2023 graduate, advertising and public relations
- Omaha: Joselyn Vacek, senior, advertising and public relations
- Highland Village, Texas: Alyssa Micaletti, 2023 graduate, advertising and public relations
- Madison, Wisconsin: Morgan Moll, senior, advertising and public relations
- Shanghai, China: Yiwen Lu, 2023 graduate, advertising and public relations