The Bellevue University Experience: The Padilla Story
By Chelsie Hartness, Senior Copywriter
Angel and Karen Padilla came to Bellevue University, separately, looking for a place to learn and grow. Not only did they find this, but also a place to work, build a home, and most notably, they found each other.
“When I came to Bellevue University,” Karen said, “I was greeted by the friendly staff who made me feel so welcomed and comfortable. It would have been very difficult for me to attend college if it wasn’t for the help and support BU provided me.”
Angel agreed, and explained that he ultimately chose Bellevue University because it was close to where he lived and because of the support the University offers.
“It was the perfect environment for what I needed after coming from a small city,” Angel said.
Soon enough, the two met during their Latin American Culture class and became friends. They both explained that though they didn’t plan on keeping contact after the term was over, they kept bumping into each other outside of school – at church, the grocery store, and at the mall. Angel said, through a smile, that it took a while to make things official, but that she eventually gave in.
“She is a beautiful person inside and out, so I thought it was worth the wait.”
Though both were busy with college activities — Angel, a soccer player for Bellevue University, and Karen, a member of the Multicultural Club and volunteer for numerous campus events – they still found time to make it work. Angel and Karen were married in 2011.
Currently, Angel is a Programmer Analyst at Bellevue University, working with programming languages and developing web applications. Karen began her career with the University as a work-study and eventually became part of the Community Outreach Program.
“In 2012 when I graduated from Bellevue University,” said Karen, “I was hired full-time as the CSR of Scholarships and Grants. Within a year after that, I was promoted to Admission Counselor on the Undergraduate team. I loved being able to help other students get their journey started with BU and be that person supporting them, as someone did [for] me when I started.”
Karen has recently accepted a position with Union Pacific.
“I feel truly lucky to have supportive co-workers and Managers that cheer me on! I will really miss my team and BU.”
We asked the Padillas what they would say to anyone considering enrolling at Bellevue University.
“My advice would be to really think about what career path you want to take,” said Angel, “because if Bellevue University has the programs and education for the path you want, it will most definitely help you reach your career goals in life.”
“I would tell them to not be afraid and ask for help. All the counselors, advisors and professors are very helpful and are there to assist the student,” Karen said. “Those that fail are the ones that just give up and don’t seek the help they need. Bellevue University has tutoring, a writing center, and helpful staff so there is no excuse to not succeed.”
At Bellevue University, we are honored to serve many students, like the Padillas, and look forward to witnessing their life-long successes.
Hollywood Meets Bellevue At Omaha Film School
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Who knew Hollywood was just across the street?
The Omaha Film School, located just across the street from Bellevue University at 1103 Galvin Road South and run by alumnus Jack Young, will offer a series of seminars in April. The first seminar on pre-production was held on April 4. Production training (Principal photography) training will be held on April 11th. Hands-on training will be held April 18 and post-production on April 25. Additional sessions will be offered throughout the spring and summer. Each session costs $85.
Click here for more information.
“I had earned a two-year degree from Studio Academy, School of Advertising & Design and an associate’s degree from Iowa Western in Electronics Technology, but needed to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program,” Young said. “After talking with all of the local universities and colleges, Bellevue University (known as Bellevue College back then) was the perfect fit for me.”
That Bellevue University education has been paying dividends ever since.
“Not only was I able to apply what I learned, but it gave me the confidence to complete a 25-year engineering career with a local government contractor and be able to comfortably retire,” he said. “The education has also been extremely beneficial in building my film company (Young Films LLC) and running my film productions.”
Young produced his first film (Short) in 1997 and learned the ins and outs of producing a film. In 2001, he co-produced a romantic comedy called Love Win along with a Canadian company. The film, shot entirely in Ontario, Canada, was aired on HDNet and is available to rent on Netflix.
Young lists some of his favorite directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Clint Eastwood. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, China Town, Die Hard (Original), The Thing (both original and remake with Kurt Russell), Alien (first and second), Halloween (Original), Unforgiven are among his favorite films.
A love of writing and a scriptwriting class helped push Young toward film.
“I had been writing short stories as a hobby back in the late 1980’s and had gotten tons of rejections (Writing mostly sci-fi stories for sci-fi magazines), when I took a class on Radio/TV Scriptwriting locally,” he said. “I discovered screenwriting and went full steam from there for several years, cranking out a couple dozen screenplays.”
Now, he’s ready to share his expertise and love for film with others via the Omaha Film School.
“The Omaha Film School grew out of the need that we have here in Nebraska for more film production infrastructure and resources,” Young said. “The largest role that I usually play in film production is as producer, so the training is really presented from the producer’s viewpoint. I’ve learned how to get a film kick-started and into production, even on a low budget. However, as a retired engineer, I’ve invested considerable time developing an indie film production model that was revamped to align with the Hollywood model of film production. I’m hoping the school will educate the new generation of filmmakers in Nebraska with a better film production model that will create higher quality indie films.”
Ph.D. Students’ Beyond Bounce Places Third
Ph.D. students Carrie England, Shannon Nebeker, and Rita Persaud placed third in the Centerstone Research Institute iThrive Resilience Challenge at the Games4Health Summit 2015 March 30 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. Carolyn Youssef served as faculty mentor and resilience expert for the team.
Tasked with creating a video game to foster resilience in teens, the Bellevue team developed Beyond Bounce, a fun, basketball-themed game founded on scientific and evidence-based resilience development approaches that teach teens to build their physical, social and psychological assets while managing risk factors, from drugs and alcohol to bullying and unprotected sex. The team worked hard for about a month to create their submission, which was about half the time that the other teams received.
Military-Veteran Services Center helps student Jeff Owens write success story
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
Madison, Wisconsin, native Jeff Owens credits Bellevue University and the University’s Military-Veterans Services Center (MVSC) with helping him land his dream job assignment in Texas. Owens and his wife, Sandy, and their daughter made the move in mid-March, and he reported to his new job assignment at Fort Worth Naval Air Station on March 23.
Owens served five years in the U.S. Air Force, including an overseas deployment following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His regular duty station was Offutt Air Force Base, and he and Sandy decided to remain in the area after he completed active duty in 2005. The couple lived in Bellevue. He worked as a civilian firefighter at Offutt, and she served as an officer in the Nebraska National Guard.
In 2014, at his wife’s recommendation, Owens enrolled in Bellevue University’s online B.S. in Emergency Management degree program. Sandy, a double alum, earned a B.S. in Healthcare Management and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University. After enrolling, took advantage of the career and counseling resources available at the University’s Military-Veteran Services Center. “In August, I came to the Center for assistance with my resume. Sean McCollum (MVSC manager) spent a lot of time helping me,” Owens recalled. “We put my resume up on the projector screen and ripped it apart and revised it from the ground up. It helped tremendously.”
Owens began submitting the revised resume with applications for first-responder jobs in Texas. “We love the area and had always dreamed of living there,” he recalled. Not long afterward, the Fire Chief of the Fort Worth Naval Air Station called, Owens interviewed, and after his references checked out, he was offered a firefighter job. “The Chief told me later that my resume, work background, and college transcripts got me the job,” Owens said. “It all has to come together.”
McCollum said stories like the Owens’ are gratifying to the MVSC staff. “We like seeing our guys succeed,” he said.
Owens plans to complete his coursework on July 18th. The couple is looking forward to the arrival of their second child, a son to be named Jace, on July 22nd. “That’s the great thing about Bellevue University; life still goes on and you need to prepare for it,” Owens said.
Education Continues For Missouri State Rep, Alumnus
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Trying to hit the ground running can be tough for anyone starting a new job. Justin Hill, a new state representative in the Missouri House of Representatives and a 2010 graduate of Bellevue University, can attest to that.
“My first few months in office delivered a crash course in how bills and agendas move forward and how they fail,” said Representative Hill. “There is no training course for legislators. New legislators are fresh and have had little time to be “educated” on issues by interested parties; therefore, a lot can be passed quickly while one fourth of the legislature is learning the ropes.”
Hill, a Republican, represents District 108 in Missouri which includes Lake St. Louis, O’Fallon, Dardenne Prairie, and Wentzville. He was elected in November 2014 with 72 percent of the vote. Hill was motivated to seek elected office after a career in law enforcement and insurance.
“I always followed the politics behind the decisions that were passed down to those that enforce law or deliver government services. The waste and the self-interest that I witnessed in all levels of government was extremely disheartening,” he said. “I ultimately decided to run for office following the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. The federal government’s overreach into our personal healthcare options went too far and I wanted a state government that could stand up against bad policy and federal funding enticements.”
Hill had earned an Associate’s Degree from St. Louis Community College in 2002, and was looking to build on his education when a Bellevue University representative visited his police department. The online options fit with his schedule.
“I was assigned as an undercover narcotics detective and going to a brick and mortar school was not a good option. I was excited to learn that I could finish my bachelors in the safety of my own home,” he said. “The enrollment process was seamless. I expressed my needs to the advisor and she addressed each one promptly.”
Hill earned his Bachelor of Science in Management and enjoyed the Kirkpatrick Signature Series (KSS) courses in particular.
“The KSS was the final factor in the decision to attend Bellevue University. The expressed values of a higher education institution are extremely important in the decision to earn a degree from that university,” Hill said. “I was excited to learn that Bellevue valued limited government, freedom, and responsibility. It was a pleasure to share with others my experiences as a government employee who recognized the government’s ability to continuously expand. It was even more of a pleasure explaining our duty as citizens, granted to us through the constitution, to make sure it stays accountable to the people in protecting their individual rights.”
Going forward, Hill hopes to impact healthcare options in Missouri.
“My primary goal for this first term is to move forward good legislation regarding healthcare and health insurance,” he said. “Healthcare is at the top of everyone’s list for reform and I intend to help Missouri move in the direction of restoring free-market principles in the purchase of healthcare services and health insurance.”
Former Adjunct Aims to Bolster Marketing Program
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Kristin Lynch has hit the ground running as one of the University’s newest full-time faculty members. Lynch will bolster the Marketing program, where she has served as an adjunct for over seven years.
“I am excited to become more fully involved in the University and take a more active role on campus,” Lynch said. “I’m also planning to grow the undergraduate marketing program because I believe it offers a wonderful opportunity for many students, not only in the local community, but also in the country and around the globe.”
Keeping up with the latest marketing trends and techniques and passing that information on to students will be one of Lynch’s chief missions.
“Marketing is an ever-evolving discipline, and I plan to continue to update the program based on trends in the industry,” she said. “I also want to connect with marketing leaders in the community to best understand what they are looking for in our graduates, so we prepare our students for success as marketing managers.”
Lynch grew up in Norfolk, Neb., and earned her bachelor’s degree in Advertising from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1998. She followed that up with a Master of Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2004. In addition to her adjunct experience at the University, Lynch also has teaching experience at Hamilton College (now Kaplan) and Iowa Western Community College.
Interacting with students is one of the highlights of the teaching experience for Lynch.
“I have met several talented, professional individuals who work very hard and have done some amazing things since graduating from the University. The cohort program is especially exciting because as an instructor you get the chance to form close relationships with the students, and I always become vested in what they are doing,” she said. “I still have students from the first cohorts I taught connecting with me on LinkedIn, contacting me about marketing questions and asking for recommendations. It’s exciting to see where these students’ education takes them in life.”
Married and the mother of four children, family keeps Lynch busy when she is away from the classroom.
“I spend most of my free time at a myriad of practices, games, scouting events and in the car toting kids here and there,” Lynch said. “I also teach fitness classes part-time and enjoy running (and racing) when I have time. I love to travel—especially to places that have warm, sandy beaches, but I am happy to take a weekend getaway any chance I get!”
One Goal Achieved, Floridian John Lazarre Plans to Keep Learning
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
On January 31 , John Lazarre of Wellington, Florida, reached his goal. Now he’s embarked on a new one.
“Getting my degree was a goal. My goal now is to keep learning about technology,” said Lazarre, who picked up his B.S. in Information Technology degree at Bellevue University’s winter commencement exercises.
A telecommunications specialist at A.T.&T., he previously completed a two-year Associate’s in Engineering degree and served six years in the U.S. Army Aviation Branch. When considering a bachelor’s degree, he researched several colleges offering online IT programs before deciding on Bellevue University.
“Education gives you the opportunity to learn more. You develop your own way of learning. You learn how to do research, become more knowledgeable and build up your skills,” Lazarre said. “My program helped with my career to a certain extent. But you also have to put in your own time.”
Lazarre plans to apply what he has learned in is current job and to pursue Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification as well as Cisco Networking certification. His daughter, Saphira, flew in from Florida to see her father reach his goal.
Pursuing the Dream: Matthew Weiberg’s Journey to a College Degree
By Bill Wax, Director of Communication
For Matthew Weiberg, his wife, Crystal, and their two small sons, the 600-mile road trip from their Indianapolis home was the final leg of the journey to his Bellevue University B.S. in Marketing degree.
Like most of the University’s students, Weiberg wanted a degree for career advancement. Eight years ago, he joined Cintas Corporation, a S. & P. 500 company that provides specialized services to North American businesses. Although he liked the company and the career path he was on, he left Cintas for three years to work for the family’s commercial printing business at the request of his father, David Weiberg. “Dad came down with lung cancer, so I helped, primarily in the sales function, to grow the business through cultivating new business relationships and acquiring new customers. Eventually I was able to return to Cintas. Dad was probably one of the biggest reasons I decided to do that, and to finish college. He encouraged me to pursue my dream.” David Weiberg died in 2011.
Now a market sales manager for Cintas in the Indianapolis area, Weiberg initially chose another college and took classes part-time before eventually enrolling at Bellevue University on the recommendation of a friend, Brad Duchac, who completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business degree from the University in 2012. “He graduated, and I didn’t,” Weiberg recalled. That experience prompted him to take stock and look at his options.
“At my previous college, I knew I would have to spend the next eight years attending part-time in order to finish my degree. I decided to try Bellevue University,” he said. “I have spent the last two and a half years at the kitchen table, completing my online degree in Marketing. It was a fantastic experience!”
Weiberg’s only prior experience with distance education was limited to a few online tests and quizzes. “It was not as robust as Bellevue University,” he recalled. “I got to know a lot of my classmates. The cohort format enabled me to focus on one class for six weeks at a time. It was challenging and very informative. It helped stretch me to where I am today. The whole educational experience broadens your thought process, improves your critical thinking and how you look at things. This experience has better prepared me to use the tools available to me now at Cintas, including how to execute an email marketing campaign and to best utilize social media and video.
“I would recommend this program to any working professional who is thinking about going back to school,” Weiberg said. “The program is flexible, and I found the staff to be very accommodating. The only regret I have is that I didn’t start sooner at Bellevue University.”
Roy and Macaela Smith Endowed Scholarship Makes College Possible for Local Residents
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
The Roy and Macaela Smith Community Scholarship reflects the legacy of success and service of its cofounders. Students like Jennifer Mucha of Union, Nebraska, are benefitting. Mucha is one of the first five recipients to receive Smith Scholarships during the current academic year, and many more students will benefit in the future, thanks to Macaela Smith’s commitment to permanently endow this scholarship fund.
Roy A. Smith, a longtime member and former chair of the Bellevue University Board of Directors, is perhaps best remembered for his business acumen and his devotion and service to his community. He also was an advocate and supporter of education, including the University, receiving an honorary doctoral degree from the University. In 1991 while serving as Chairman of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, he made worker training and education high priorities. Smith operated award-winning auto dealerships in the Omaha area and is a member of the Omaha Business Hall of Fame and Nebraska Business Hall of Fame.
The Smiths worked tirelessly for decades, serving and supporting numerous causes and non-profit organizations for decades, including the Salvation Army. Macaela Smith was a member and chaired the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Board. She received numerous awards and other recognition for her efforts in behalf of organizations serving the community.
Both Roy and Macaela Smith have been long-term advocates and supporters of Bellevue University since 1984, when he joined the Board of (then) Bellevue College. “Roy loved being involved at Bellevue University because of the type of students that it helps to educate,” Mrs. Smith said. “He wanted to help students who want to make a better life for themselves and their families, and who gave back to others by being involved in their schools and community activities.”
The scholarship, which enabled Mucha to complete her B.A. in Health Science degree in August without additional student loan debt, really helped. “By working two jobs I could manage to give our kids all they needed,” Mucha said, “but I would not have been able to afford my education without the Roy and Macaela Smith Scholarship and other financial assistance.”
Mucha’s story is fairly typical of the type of working student that Bellevue University helps to educate. After graduating from Plattsmouth High School in 1996, she enrolled in Metropolitan Community College. Then came marriage, a daughter and a son. She and her husband teamed to build a good life. When their children were small, she was a stay-at-home mom. She eventually completed an Associate’s degree in Medical Billing and Coding at Metro. She transferred to Bellevue University to complete her bachelor’s degree and is now a full-time payment representative at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and works part-time for the Plattsmouth Animal Hospital. “Every class that you take at Bellevue University exposes you to something new. It has been totally worth it. I want to show my kids that college is important,” she said. Mucha is now earning an M.B.A. degree from the University, with a concentration in Healthcare. Her career goal is to be a financial analyst.
“This scholarship helped lessen my financial burden, no small thing, especially when you consider that my daughter will be in college herself next year, and my son right behind her,” Mucha said. “I am so appreciative I was selected as a scholarship recipient, and for the quality of the education I am receiving.”
OPPD Employee Completes Bachelor’s Degree Journey
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Kathleen DeLeon set a goal for herself back in 2001. There were more than a few obstacles along to the way, but she crossed the finished line by earning her bachelor’s degree in business in 2015.
DeLeon, a Family Medical Leave Assistant at Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), had to take long stretches away from school to become the primary caregiver first for her father and later for her mother as she battled cancer.
“We took my Mom straight to my house from the hospital where I then became her full time caregiver with my kids,” DeLeon explained.
Her ex-husband and the father of her children also became ill at this time, which added yet another diversion to DeLeon’s quest. Kathleen now had to carve out additional time to ensure her children were able to spend valuable time with their ailing father. “Not only was I a care giver for my mom, I became a single parent…. that was a very heavy load when you go from having a great man/father there and then, one day, he is gone.”
“I did continue going to school,” DeLeon said. “I was almost finished and ready to move on to the Kirkpatrick Series and then around end of November 2009 my mom’s cancer started progressing and I had to put my schooling on hold. This was very upsetting to her because she was so supportive during this time and hated to see me stop.”
After her mother passed away in 2010, going back to school was not DeLeon’s first priority, but she had promised her she would earn her degree. Encouragement from her colleagues helped motivate her to finish as well.
DeLeon praised Professor Rick McFayden for keeping her engaged.
“He was an awesome instructor and I would recommend him to others,” DeLeon said. “He made our learning fun and interesting and that to me is what I needed during this time.”
DeLeon’s first inclination was to skip the graduation ceremony since her mother could not be there, but encouragement from her children helped change her mind. When she saw that the commencement ceremony was on the fifth anniversary of her mother’s passing that sealed the deal. “This was definitely a sign from her that she has been with me during this time and will be there with me on Commencement Day,” DeLeon said. In addition, DeLeon was able to share this moment with her cousin and his wife, Marcus and Emily Jensen, also 2015 Bellevue University graduates.
DeLeon now wants to relay her experience to others to let them know that obstacles can be overcome.
“I really want to get more involved with young ladies or single mothers that feel they can’t go back to school and let them know once you put your mind to it and regardless of your obstacles you can always reach your Dreams!” she said.