Huskers cap successful UCARE project with Homerathon
At any time throughout the day and night April 18, about 100 students could be seen in front of Nebraska Union, listening to the marathon reading of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” grabbing some free food or checking out some entertainment — including a pool noodle fight — signaling that the second annual Homerathon was a success.
Organizers Brooke Mott and Nichole Brady were breathing sighs of relief that they were near the finish line of their UCARE project, but they were grateful, too.
“It’s done so much for me, which people probably don’t really understand since I’m majoring in fisheries and wildlife, but it has been such a learning experience and I think it’s made me a better student and a better person,” said Mott, a senior also majoring in classical studies. “It has made me much more confident and competent when speaking with people I don’t know, how to form working relationships and budget.”
Mott, who organized the first Homerathon in 2018, said she and Brady grew the team and the event this year to make it more relevant for students and the community. They added two lectures leading up to the Homerathon by scholars Michael Shiner and Jonathan Shay, who spoke about leadership and trauma, respectively. Following those themes at the event, Mott and Brady invited veterans groups to participate, and collected donations for Nebraska flood recovery.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to make classics and what we’re doing more relevant to people, and what can we do for students while we are doing that?’” Mott said. “So we thought about our veterans, and flood victims, because both have experienced trauma.
“We also have an even larger organizing team, with five committees. We put students on committees where they could use their strong suits in areas such as digital media and graphic design.”
— Bekkah Watkins (@bekkahwatkins) April 18, 2019
UCARE, the university’s undergraduate research program, is traditionally work done by individual students over a semester or academic year, but putting on an event the size of the Homerathon has many tangible learning opportunities for students.
Mike Lippman, associate professor of practice in classics, pitched it as a UCARE project to his students two years ago, knowing any student who took up the challenge would come away from the experience with real career skills.
“I make sure the students are the ones organizing it because then they get the credit, it looks good on their resume, and it teaches responsibility, discipline and practical skills,” Lippman said in an interview in January.
Brady said the experience honed her leadership and teamwork skills.
“It teaches us leadership, how to meet deadlines and work on a team project,” said Brady, a junior majoring in classical studies and classical languages. “You can’t succeed without working together. When you’re in your career and you’re given a project or goal you have to reach, being able to work as a member of a team is really important.”
She also learned a lot about how to navigate the business world, something she was really uncomfortable with when she started.
“Jason (Diong) from Ichiban Sichuan was a mentor for me in learning how to work with businesses,” Brady said. “He pushed me to get specific and really think through the entire event, to make it a mutually beneficial experience that I could pitch to other businesses.”
As they hand it off to next year’s organizers, Mott and Brady believe they’ve laid the groundwork for Homerathon to become a campus event that students talk about and look forward to each year.
“Last year it was an amazing success, and this year, we’ve noticed more word-of-mouth interest and the recognition of our event has increased,” Mott said. “We’re really trying to create this tradition and make a name for ourselves in the Classics department.”