Ross grows, pays it forward through campus organizations

· 5 min read

Ross grows, pays it forward through campus organizations

Alana Ross smiles for a photo in front of a mural in Anderson Hall.
Craig Chandler | University Communication and Marketing
Alana Ross smiles for a photo in front of a mural in Anderson Hall.

Editor’s Note — This is part of a student conversation series featured on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series highlights Huskers who are making positive impacts on campus, in their outreach work, and career paths.

Alana Ross, a sports media communication and advertising/public relations double major from Houston, Texas, came to Nebraska nervous about what college would bring. However, those concerns faded after meeting with her OASIS peer mentor and diving head-first into opportunities like UCARE and RSOs head-first. Now she’s helping fellow Huskers find their home at Nebraska.

What originally drew you to your major?

I picked my major in my eighth-grade year. I went to a high school with an audio and video magnet program. In my junior year of high school, I began collecting video content and creating graphics for football and basketball. From there I knew that is what I wanted to do. I came to college, and I loved sports media, but I wanted to expand a bit more. I was recommended to try advertising and public relations, and fell in love with it as well. I wasn’t done though, I needed a minor and at the time I picked textiles design and apparel and then I learned about the women and gender studies minor and the LGBTQIA+ sexuality minor. I added both those minors and the advisor I went to said, “You might as well add English.” So I added English. I got to the fall semester and didn’t like textiles anymore and ended up changing my minor to sociology because I loved understanding what makes us social and how our society interacts. If I had the money I would stay and gain one more minor in communication.

Talk about your work as an OASIS peer mentor. Why was this something important for you to do and what have you learned through this role?

Working as an OASIS peer mentor is a dream come true. When I came in freshman year, I was anxious and very homesick. I found safe belonging in OASIS. My peer mentor encouraged me to speak up and to try new things. I began to join clubs and interact with people on campus, but it all would have not happened if my peer mentor had not encouraged me to put my foot out there. I wanted to be a peer mentor to help guide students to finding their way on campus. The university is scary when you’re a freshman in or out of state. I love being able to help freshmen find their place and their voice on campus. I interact with everyone differently because they are all different people with diverse stories.

You were awarded a research stipend through UCARE. Can you talk about the work you’re doing and how you may use the experience in the future? Were you interested in undergrad research when you came to college or how did you gain that interest?

I was not too interested in research until I ended up in the UCARE program because I let Professor Bryan Wang talk me into it. Funny enough, I was interested in the position prior but I felt nervous about the math component of it. I’m very much less scared of the math component and I’m very happy I joined (the project). We are currently researching the spread of information about e-cigarettes and cigars via social media. I worked prior in the summer with Professor Wang, Dr. Tammy Beck, and doctorate students Diego Villalpando and Daniel Davis, on the Mississippi water crisis project they had. It was incredible to code the information we got. I began to see how a single hashtag can give false information or even spread something unrelated to the main posts. This research position is very important because I am seeing in real time how we can miscommunicate information via social media.

You’re super involved on campus. What have you learned from your involvements?

I am involved in many clubs on campus such as APU, Creative Writing Club, Oasis Peer Mentors, Sister Circle, NAACP, and two newer organizations starting up, the Romance Book Club and the Multicultural Students in Media Club. I’m also hoping to be in PRSSA this year and I am still looking to join one more organization as I love interacting in these clubs, but I would love to have a home organization. Something I learned from all these clubs is to speak. Tell your story in any way possible and create the best home for people. Without these organizations, I would not be able to be as confident and social as I am today. I learned to tell my story while hearing out others and to always have a hand out to help.

Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

The biggest goal I want to accomplish in my lifetime is to build an after-school program back in Houston. I really want to encourage more younger black students to work within media. I want so many younger black people to see someone who looks like them working in media and representing them in so many ways. I would also love to take these younger students to the Essence Festival so they can interact with black entrepreneurs and socialize. This is my ultimate goal to build a program uniquely like this and have a connection with Essence.

What or who inspires you?

Other people inspire me every day. I love hearing people’s stories about their lives and different things they’ve done in their lifetime. It’s the main reason why I wanted to go into public relations. I want to help tell those stories through peoples’ brands and identities. I learn the most from socializing with people.

What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?

My advice is to get out there. Whether it’s joining a mentor program, a club, or even at your job, put your voice out there. Speak up. Tell everyone who you are and what you wish to see. We only have one life with not much time. We might as well tell our stories before they’re over.

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