The scarlet and cream of Husker Nation joined forces with Loper blue, Maverick crimson and UNMC red in the hallways of the State Capitol to advocate for the University of Nebraska on March 27.
Coming together for “I Love NU” Advocacy Day, nearly 100 students, alumni and supporters from across the university system spent the morning meeting one-on-one with state senators and other legislative representatives.
“We are here to talk about the profound impacts all four campuses of this great university have had on us,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “Each story is meaningful, reflecting the quality a University of Nebraska education delivers and the lifelong impacts it makes.”
The university delegation was hosted by Sens. Kate Bolz (District 29) and Matt Williams (District 36).
“We have 55,000 jobs in our state that are unfilled right now,” Williams said. “(State senators) have the responsibility to create infrastructure and the environment necessary to grow our state and, education is the No. 1 investment we need to make.”
Bolz and Williams challenged those attending the advocacy event to talk boldly to senators about the importance of education and the university.
“At the end of the day, the relationship you develop with a senator today is what really matters,” Williams said. “Talk about your vision and the future. I challenge you to talk about your dreams and how we can use those to move the state forward.”
Zak Folchert, a biological sciences/pre-med major from North Platte, was among representatives of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska who attended the event. He waited patiently to talk directly with his senator, Mike Groene (District 42).
“I just felt it was important to meet with my senator and learn more about the overall legislative process,” Folchert said. “I want to talk with Senator Groene directly, letting him know that his constituents believe in the importance of the university and how it has already had a direct and beneficial influence on me.”
In his sophomore year at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Folchert has grown his leadership skills through ASUN involvement, serving as a teaching assistant in the classroom and working as a first-year new student orientation leader.
“The leadership opportunities I’ve found here at Nebraska are amazing,” Folchert said. “Coming to Lincoln, where City Campus is as big as my hometown, has really expanded my horizons. I look forward to continuing to stretch myself and finding new opportunities as I work toward graduation.”
Along with students and other university supporters, senators talked with a number of Nebraska alumni — including Huskers Dori Bush, and Bob and Nancy Brandt.
All three have deep ties to the university, having earned multiple degrees personally and having children/relatives graduate from Dear Old Nebraska U.
“Coming to this university changed my life,” Bush said. “I met my husband here. I graduated from and worked here. I have one brother who graduated from UNMC and another who graduated from UNO.
“I’m a huge supporter of the entire University of Nebraska system and the quality of the education it offers.”
The Brandts, who live in Hickman, each have earned three degrees from the university — bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates. Their two children are also Husker grads, having advanced to earn master’s degrees.
“Our quality of life has been the direct result of graduating from the University of Nebraska,” Nancy Brandt said. “Now, by talking to senators and serving as an advocate of the university, this is our chance to say thank you and give something back to the institution.”
Sen. Myron Dorn (District 30) was among the representatives that the Brandts met with during the advocacy event.
“We talked about how earning a University of Nebraska degree is a rich and rewarding experience that leads to great things,” Bob Brandt said. “To us, that’s a story that you can’t tell enough.”