Editor’s Note — This is part of a weekly student conversation series highlighted as part of Hispanic Heritage Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and beyond.
As a Husker, Valeria Uribe, an advertising and public relations and graphic design double major from Le Mars, Iowa, has been able to advance her passion for giving back through her work in the classroom and the community.
Can you talk about your time with the College of Journalism’s Experience Lab?
I started in the Experience Lab in Buoy (a student-run advertising agency focused on non-profits) my sophomore year. This was the first year it launched so we all were still trying to figure it out. I can say that this experience was incredible. I made lifelong friends and made work that I am proud of today. The work we did for the nonprofit, the White Cane Foundation, made a huge impact in the Lincoln community, which is where my love of nonprofit work came from. I still wanted to be a part of this program but wanted to experience a different outlet with Jacht. I had my eye on working at Jacht since my freshman year. Again, I worked with a great group as a public relations specialist. After that position, I wanted to be a part of leadership and have more responsibilities. Therefore, I became the director of public relations and communications in the spring of 2023. Throughout these experiences, my favorite part was the relationships built by faculty, peers and clients. I still connect with all in one way or another. I feel very thankful that I was able to be a part of the Experience Lab for three semesters.
You’ve been able to leverage your passion for giving back in the classroom and community. Talk about where that passion came from/why it’s important to you.
It is important to give back to a classroom and community when they have given me so much. This passion has been instilled in me by my parents and school. I have been very fortunate to have amazing mentors by my side growing up. My parents have always taught me that I do not have to give the same thing in return but instead, give back by giving back the same time and energy to the place that gave it to me. Therefore, I think giving back is a form of thanking the people who have helped me grow into the person I am today.
What has your experience been like with Big Brothers Big Sisters?
Growing up my parents have taught us the importance of volunteering through talent, time, or money. Furthermore, my school in Le Mars, Iowa — Gehlen Catholic — provided me with those opportunities by being a part of the Christian Leadership Team and Then Feed Just One program. These programs were always very heartwarming to me and I wanted to make a bigger impact and more specifically mentor someone.
As I began to research I found this program on a simple Google search and wanted to be a part of it immediately and thought it could be a fun opportunity for my family to get involved as well. In 2018, my mom, sister and I officially got our “little.” This experience has been one of the best decisions I have made as I have learned so much from our little. I have loved seeing her grow over the past five years and I continue to see them when I can. This mentorship is not only helping my little succeed but also allowing them to spend a few hours to have fun and get away from the noise in their own life. I have loved getting to do their hair, go to pumpkin patches, make deserts, swimming, the list can go on and on. I am so grateful for the impact they have made in my life.
It seems like you’ve made a concerted effort to get involved in all campus has to offer, including Mortar Board, PRSSA and study abroad opportunities. Why was that important to you and how has your involvement shaped your college experience?
I am a big believer that involvements do not define you. Instead, they are meant to help you apply and reinforce your values. Because I am an out-of-state student, this was an easy way for me to step out of my comfort zone and further expand and understand my values. I did not have the luxury of going home every weekend, therefore, I had to find my own family here at UNL through various involvements. As I am in my last year at UNL, I have noticed that the friends I have made have been through most of my involvements around campus. It is nice to find people with similar passions and interests as you and getting involved is the easiest way to find them.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I hope that in my lifetime, I can make a difference and inspire others to do the same. Throughout my college career, if there is anything I have learned is that what you have planned for yourself may not always align in 4+ years. I have learned to keep an open mind, and as I change and grow, so will my passions and interests. Through new evolving passions and interests, I hope to make a difference in whatever I plan to do.
What or who inspires you?
My mom and dad have inspired me to live out my dreams. Hearing and seeing the obstacles and sacrifices my parents had to make to get where they are inspires me that nothing you dream of is impossible. My parents have always been my biggest supporters and I am so thankful to have them as role models.
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
Find something you are passionate or interested in and get involved! UNL has so many opportunities that it can seem overwhelming in the beginning. However, if you take the time to know your values, interests, and passion it is guaranteed you will find clubs or organizations you can be a part of that are making an impact on campus that aligns with your interests and passion. If not make your own and there will be people that will want to join you as well.