Tags Posts tagged with "UNO"


Danielle Meadows

Showing off four years worth of growth and talent, the annual senior art exhibit will close out the University of Nebraska at Omaha Art Gallery’s spring 2017 exhibition calendar.

Elisa Wolcott and Katy Baker, upcoming graduates of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, have thesis works on display in the gallery. Selected works by fourteen graduating Bachelor of Studio Arts seniors are also on display there, as well as in the Osborne Family Gallery, located in UNO’s Criss Library.

Wolcott’s work focuses on painting and ceramics. According to her artist statement, she uses the womb as a vessel in her work through using symbolism and the expressive nature of the human figure.

“The work explores the biological aspects of the male and female and the impact that the ability to bear children has had on both,” Wolcott said. “Humanity is connected through the commonality of birth.”

Wolcott makes a connection to the womb as a container through employing the use of symbolism with large nude-colored eggs. Figures are near the eggs; however, they aren’t interacting with each other. These figures conceal their faces while in passive poses, highlighting their isolation and ambiguity.

“The narrative of strings pulling and tugging at the figures represents societal and internal projections, expectations, and fear as they pull from sensitive points of contact,” Wolcott said.

This pulling acts as an irritant, a form of abuse or a means of control. Wolcott’s paintings are deeply affecting, using neutral shades to show off the complex nature of the human body. One piece in particular is striking—displaying a naked woman curled up in a fetal position with one arm across her chest and one covering her eyes. The texture of her hair and bruised skin make the painting come to life, leaving the viewer concerned and questioning what happened to this woman.

Baker, the other senior featured in the exhibit, uses photography as her artistic medium. Her work is deeply influenced by her Jap-anese heritage, being drawn to patterns on Kimonos to materials like Japanese paper and other relics passed down in her family. The title of her thesis is “Enough But Not Enough”, which describes her experiences growing up and being told she doesn’t “look Asian enough.”

However, Baker couldn’t help but smile when a stranger in Japan came up to ask if she was Japanese because “they could tell.” She is also the one her siblings call when they forget the recipe for ozoni, a soup traditionally enjoyed on New Year’s Day.

“I’ve taken all of these comments and occurrences to heart and hear them resonating in my head years later,” Baker said.

Photography opened the door for her to explore self-portraiture, a genre Baker used to avoid at all costs. According to her artist statement, Baker uses natural lighting to convey a meditative mood and a subtle color palette for most of her images. Printing on inkjet velvet paper has helped to soften her image and deliver a quieter mood that she’s searching for in her own memories.

Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, results in the object becoming more beautiful than before. “I show the act of mending myself in this series multiple times,” Baker said.

Through her artwork, Baker shows the journey of restoring her physical and mental health—from being involved in a bad car accident to having to go through chemotherapy at just 20 years old.

“I’m not treating the work as a way to cover up or mask what happened, rather as an acknowledgement of these histories,” Baker said. “I’m developing an understanding of my past, my cultures and society, and how it is intimately bound to the formation of self.”

The UNO art gallery is located on the first floor of the Weber Fine Arts building. The senior exhibit is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., closing May 6. All events at the gallery are free and open to the public.

Danielle Meadows

The University of Nebraska at Omaha Theatre will present “Tales of the Lost Formicans” by Constance Congdon–a play with a unique combination of joy, sorrow, humanity and aliens.

Directed by Professor Ryan Hartigan, theatre students bring “Tales of the Lost Formicans” to the UNO mainstage this month. The cast includes Bethany Bresnahan, Randy Breedlove, Ankita Ashrit, Noah Diaz, Enrique Madera, Kameron Shelley, Shae’Kell Butler and Angie Reynolds.

“Tales of the Lost Formicans” is centered around Cathy, whose husband left her for a much younger woman. Leaving life in New York, she returns to Colorado to live with her parents. A perpetually angry teenage son, a father with worsening Alzheimer’s and a local conspiracy nut might sound like a lot to handle–but then come the aliens.

During this production, the UNO Theatre Department worked with the Department of Gerontology to learn more about Alzheimer’s and how it impacts victims and their families. A common yet heart-breaking neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s (sometimes referred to as senile dementia) often comes on slow and worsens over time. Treatment may help ease symptoms but there is no cure.

“Alzheimers is sad because literally no one survives it,” said Jessie Curry, the production’s assistant stage manager.

Jim, the character who suffers from Alzheimer’s, often experiences episodes of forgetfulness. Actor Enrique Madera believes “Tales of the Lost Formicans” shines a light on what people endure as they care for someone who is slowly deteriorating.

“It opens your eyes to what people go through as they take care of someone with Alzheimer’s and making sure they’re safe, loved, appreciated and not taken for granted,” Madera said.

Madera plays Cathy’s son, Eric, who is very brash and frustrated throughout the play due to his parents’ divorce. In the meantime, aliens invade and analyze this family. After the mysterious creatures are introduced, the play centers around how the family deals with its dying patriarch while aliens look to this family in search of the humanity in humans.

“This show is kind of a comedy but kind of not,” assistant director Geran Ramet said. “It’s an interesting hybrid which should attract people because it’s not what they’re used to seeing.”

After auditioning at the beginning of the semester, rehearsals started about a month ago, according to Ramet. Through three hours of rehearsal per day, six days a week, cast and crew have worked together to embody the joy, sadness and humor of “Tales of the Lost Formican’s”.

Previews nights for the play will be April 12-13, with performances April 14-15 and 19-22 in the Weber Fine Arts building theatre. All performances start at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are free for all UNO students.

“The play shows that through adversity and struggle, we find who we are,” Ramet said, “There’s always hope in difficult situations and sometimes when we’re at our worst is when we find ourselves.”

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Jessica Wade

The approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline by the Trump Administration earlier this year brings both protests and questions to Nebraska. As one of six states impacted by the 1,200 mile, $8 billion pipeline, many Nebraskans are rightfully concerned for the state’s fragile ecosystems, farmland and the Ogallala Aquifer, which is the main water supply for the Great Plains.

The anticipated pipeline that TransCanada wants to build would carry crude oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect with an existing Keystone Pipeline and would take the oil to refineries located on the Gulf Coast.

Nebraskans such as University of Nebraska-Omaha freshman John Bruce are attempting to raise awareness on the potential risks of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Bruce works with Bold Nebraska, an organization that, according to their website, is “a citizen group focused on taking actions critical to protecting the Good Life.”

Bruce said college students are a strong group to become involved with the protests because many are interested in politics.

“So far I haven’t heard anyone who is for the pipeline,” Bruce said. “Water is one of those things where it’s a nonpartisan issue so it’s not a very favorable thing across the state.”

The Trump administration has assured the public that the pipeline is a money-generating, environmentally-safe venture. President Donald Trump also assured the public that the pipeline would be built with American-made steel, a guarantee that will not be kept.

To his credit, Trump has kept his promise to pursue job generating ventures. It is unfortunate he has done so by bulldozing through policies set in place to protect the environment, especially when the potential economic advantages of pursuing clean energy could benefit both the economy and the environment.

The idea of clean energy combined with economic growth is not too good to be true, but the Trump administration is pushing that potential further out of reach.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission is the only thing that obstructs TransCanada’s building the Keystone XL. The company still needs a permit from the committee.

Public hearings held by the Nebraska Public Service Commission regarding the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s route through Nebraska are scheduled.

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Photo Courtesy of KMTV

After last week’s primary, Health Mello and incumbent Jean Stothert advanced to the May 9 general election with Mello trailing just three points behind Stothert.

The Gateway asked a few UNO students for their opinions on Omaha’s mayoral candidates.

“I fully support Heath Mello. He is the only candidate who represents the issues I care most about, like transparency in government and equal human rights across the city. Omaha would improve greatly under the changes Mello wants to bring to our community. He also has first-hand experiences and works with members of the Omaha area constantly. #MelloForMayor”
Kamrin Baker
“Jean Stothert: Chant it with me: ‘Eight. Million. Dollar. Surplus.’”
Eric Velander
“Stothert has consistently managed a budget surplus since taking office and has improved the Omaha Police Department substantially.  She has also managed the various labor unions well. Bad labor contracts had our city in a major pickle not too long ago.  Simply put, Mello has not made a good case for removing a competent incumbent. Therefore, Stothert has my vote.”
Andrew Bartholet
“I support Heath Mello for mayor of Omaha. Heath Mello truly cares about the livelihood of Omaha citizens. He will work hard to create jobs, repair the city’s infrastructure, build safer neighborhoods and collaborate across party lines to make Omaha’s government more innovative,transparent and accountable. Students interested in volunteering can be directed to he at hmello.com /get-involved .”
Trevor Harlow

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Charlotte Reilly

University of Nebraska at Omaha sophomore Jimmy Nguyen has been selected as a Newman Civic Fellow, a national award recognizing students’ dedication to community service.

Nguyen is one of 273 students to receive the award.

Nguyen was nominated by Constance Sorensen-Birk. So-rensen-Birk is his mentor for Project Achieve, a federally funded pro-gram that assists first generation college students, low income students and students with disabilities.

“Jimmy is tireless in his community work,” Sorensen-Birk said. “He is a leader in all of his college service groups.”

Nguyen was interviewed by staff at the Community Engagement Center and then selected by Chancellor John Christensen to represent UNO as its nominee.

He received an email at the end of March stating he was selected for the award.

“I was surprised and shocked but very happy,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen started volunteering be-cause he wanted to break social barriers and teach inclusiveness.

“From when I was born to when I was five I didn’t know any English,” Nguyen said. “My household spoke strictly Vietnamese. Kindergarten was very difficult for me. I didn’t understand how to talk to anybody. I didn’t know what was going on. I could read shapes and numbers, but communicating was very difficult.”

It was hard for Nguyen to make friends throughout elementary and middle school because of social barriers

“Through community service, I break down the social barrier that held me back once,” Nguyen said. “You can’t always change the bad that is happening now. You can’t change people’s opinions overnight. What you can do is instill the morals and qualities in the next generation.”

Nguyen is a biology major with a double minor in chemistry and medical humanities. He is taking the pre-pharmacy track at UNO. He also helps take care of his grandmother and girlfriend who both have cancer.

Still, he finds time to volunteer.

Nguyen is on student government, helped an international student get a translation of the Maverick Payment Plan, is working on a mural project for the library, is part of Students Against Hunger and helped found the South Sioux Student Association.

The South Sioux Student Association started with 14 members last year but has increased to about 50 members.

“I’m pretty proud of us because we went from a small club to an actual organization,” Nguyen said.

He credits his mentors, including Sorensen-Birk for his love of community service.

“You need to find the right people to be around to inspire you to volunteer,” Nguyen said. “My mentors have encouraged me and connected with me on a personal level.”

Sorensen-Birk said Nguyen is the one who has inspired her.

“Jimmy has changed my life. What he is doing is incredible and inspiring. If a very young man with all these burdens can do that, I know I can do more,” Sorensen-Birk said. “A lot of people think of community service as an event, but it’s clear to me that it is integrated into his life.”

Sorensen-Birk said volunteering gives students a new perspective, and she hopes other students follow Nguyen’s example of service.

“When you volunteer, you reach an understanding that one person can make a difference in the world,” Sorensen-Birk said. “Just one day of work changes something for somebody That’s pretty empowering.”

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Cassie Wade

University of Nebraska at Omaha students and community members gathered at Memorial Park Thursday to participate in Take Back the Night, an international event working to end sexual violence and support survivors.

UNO’s Take Back the Night was sponsored by the Women’s Re-source Center (WRC), Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSR) and UNMC’s EMPOWER. GSR Director Jessi Hitchins estimates “a little more than a hundred” people participated in the event.

The event included a rally featuring speakers from local organizations providing victim and survivor advocacy. UNO student and abuse survivor Bronwyn Zitka was the keynote speaker.

Zitka, who also spoke at last year’s rally, shared her story with the crowd through a poem she wrote while taking a women and gender studies class.

“I went home and wrote this poem,” Zitka said in an interview, “and I talked to my professor and asked if I could share it. She said she couldn’t sanction sharing it in class, but why don’t I find a public place and she’ll make it extra credit and so I did.”

After reading her poem for extra credit, Zitka had people come up and thank her for sharing her story, which she said was “shocking” but also made her “want to share more.”

“If my path to healing included speaking and telling my story, other people’s doesn’t necessarily do that or include that, so if I could be of use to them, then maybe I could turn something beautiful out of something terrible,” Zitka said.

Zitka continues to share her poem and testimony through events and her YouTube channel in order to educate others and positively impact the lives of survivors.

“Every time I share my poem, it’s scary because you don’t know how people will feel, but when I see the look on people’s faces and when people come up to me afterward and say ‘I didn’t understand but I do know’ … it’s worth every bit of shakiness. It’s worth it because I didn’t have that, and I’ll go through a hundred times worse if I can give that to somebody else.”

Following Zitka’s speech, battery operated candles were passed out and the crowd assembled to march in a loop along Dodge St. Cards with chants were passed out and participants were encouraged to follow along with chant leaders.

The event concluded back where it began in Memorial Park.

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Photo Courtesy of NFFC

Megan DeBoer

Imagine being a 7-year-old in the back of a locked police car being taken away from home with only a plastic garbage bag. This was University of Nebraska at Omaha alumna Kristi Martin’s reality.

Martin, who graduated from UNO in 2008 with a bachelor’s in psychology, minor in sociology and certificate in gerontology, was removed from her home and placed into the Nebraska foster care system at age 70.

Her experience in Nebraska’s foster care system stuck with her. One year after graduating from UNO, Martin discovered the per-fect opportunity to make a positive impact and joined the board of the local nonprofit group Nebraska Friends of Foster Children (NFFC).

By 2016, Martin was asked to fill the role of president and has continued to make improvements to NFFC.

Founded in 1992, NFFC is on a mission to enrich the lives of children in Nebraska foster care by funding requests for experiences and items to help foster care children “explore, learn and grow,” according to Martin.

As a volunteer and nonprofit organization, NFFC ensures the money it raises reaches the children it’s meant to serve. Since its cre-ation, 95 percent of funds raised have been given directly to those in need.

Some key ingredients to NFFC’s organization are Nebraska pride and Maverick spirit. In fact, nearly half of NFCC volunteers graduated or will graduate from UNO.

Several NFFC board members have a connection to UNO, including 2009 graduate Mitch Cunningham who has a degree in management information systems and Liz Hruska, who graduated in 1977 with a degree in urban studies and 1981 with a master’s in public administration.

UNO freshman Kami Baker had never heard of NFFC, but once she did, she was on board with the mission of the organization. Baker said if an opportunity to volunteer with NFFC came up, she’d “definitely” be interested.

“It sounds like a really good organization,” Baker said. “I’m so glad it helps children in the area.”

Since May is foster care awareness month, NFFC will host several events.

May 6, NFFC is hosting a Speak-easy Soiree fundraising event at the Pella at Blackstone, which will feature hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and a silent auction. For more in-formation, visit NFFC’s Facebook page or email Megan DeBoer at megandeboer@unomaha.edu

On May 24, Omaha Gives will hold its fifth annual online 24-hour charitable challenge beginning at midnight. NFFC is one of the nonprofits available to select for donations. A $10 minimum donation is required to donate. More information is available at OmahaGives.org.

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Will Patterson

University of Nebraska at Omaha’s competitive speech team, MavForensics, earned their spot in the country’s top 10 forensics programs for the seventh consecutive year.

Following the team’s success at the American Forensics Association’s National Individual Events Tournament, they earned the rank of sixth best team in the country—a feat made more impressive given the smaller size of UNO’s team compared to other top 10 schools. With many top 10 teams bringing around 20 to 30 members, MavForensics secured their rank with 13 students.

“To take such a young team and be ranked sixth in the nation is insanity,” said Abbie Syrek, the director of MavForensics and a professor at UNO.

Syrek has been the director of MavForensics since fall of 2006.

“MavForensics, nationally, has become really well known for being a small but particularly mighty school for speech,” said Cameron Logsdon, the assistant director of MavForensics. “We’re getting recruits on our team who came specifically to UNO from Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado and California.”

Logsdon compared the scoring system of speech tournaments to that of a track tournament. While students are competing in their individual events, they are contributing points to the overall team’s score.

The journey to the top 10 is a taxing, time consuming process. Students on the team spend many hours each week, starting in July, preparing speeches and eventually traveling to tournaments later in the season. Tournament weekends typically involve team members leaving Friday afternoon and returning late on Sunday night after a full weekend of competing.

“It’s a rare opportunity that someone my age or someone at my level in education is able to travel the country for an entire school year,” said Sarah Maul, a sophomore in MavForensics. “We meet people from all around the country and build relationships.”

Maul was one of the 13 students who competed in the American Forensics Association’s National Individual Events Tournament.