Nebraska Promise propels Mitchell into classroom

· 3 min read

Nebraska Promise propels Mitchell into classroom

Mitchell said the Nebraska Promise enabled her to attend college when she was unsure if that would be possible.
Mitchell said the Nebraska Promise enabled her to attend college when she was unsure if that would be possible.

When asked about her small town upbringing, Nebraska Promise recipient Nonie Mitchell doesn’t mince words.

“I’m about as Nebraska as it gets,” she said. “I grew up between four cornfields and graduated from a school in the middle of a cornfield. I rode the bus an hour each way to get to that school — it almost felt like a different time period.”

A first-generation college student from a single-parent family, Mitchell grew up in a household that prized reading and writing, instilling in her an early love for English. The Nebraska Promise program, which covers tuition at any University of Nebraska school for students from Nebraska families who make $65,000 or less, enabled Mitchell to take that passion for literature from her Oxford hometown to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

“The Nebraska Promise was really a lifesaver for me,” Mitchell said. “I never thought that I would go to college. I wanted to go to, but my senior year of high school, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to afford it.”

High school was also where Mitchell developed a life-changing relationship with her English teacher, who both inspired her to seriously pursue college and, eventually, become an English teacher herself.

“She always believed in me. It was never ‘If you go to college,’ it was always, ‘When you go to college,’ which was something that I really couldn’t see for myself having no one in my family go to college,” Mitchell said.

Now at Nebraska, Mitchell is working toward a degree in English education in the mold of her high school English teacher who did so much for her. She credited the English department faculty and staff as being hugely influential to her during her time on campus and reinvigorating her love for the subject.

“I think I’m biased because I’m an English major, but the English department on campus has the best staff ever,” she said. “They all really care about you, want you to do well and know who you are. That’s just not something I expected, especially at a Big Ten university.”

As for where she’ll end up teaching after graduation, there’s really only one answer for Mitchell.

“I for sure would like to go back to a Title I school, being from a low-income background,” she said. “Long term, I think I will stay in Nebraska. I can’t imagine being anywhere other than here.”

Recent News