Alumni enews fall 2019

Student Spotlight: Miranda Kuzela connects with other cultures
through study abroad, local community service

Miranda Kuzela in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Above: Miranda Kuzela in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Miranda Kuzela
Majors: Russian, political science, global studies and Spanish
Minors: National Security Studies, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs
Hometown: Bellevue

Study abroad in Russia, Khazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan

Kuzela studied Russian intensively before coming to Nebraska. As a Husker, she's taking her studies further with Critical Language, Gilman and Boren scholarships.

In the summer of 2017, she traveled to Russia to learn one year of Russian in eight weeks and lived with a host family in Vladimir.

A year later, she traveled to Almaty, Kazakhstan and studied Russian while learning about Russian and Kazakh culture.

"I’m participating in American Council’s Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies program in Almaty, Kazakhstan," she wrote. "I take classes on grammar, history and foreign policy of Central Asia, reading and writing, phonetics, literature, Kazakh culture, and listening. I live with an amazing host family and my program also provides us with language partners.

"On almost every weekend I've been here I've gone hiking in the nearby mountains, and I've loved every single hike. Almaty has so many things to do so I'm never bored, and it was also interesting to try horse meat and horse milk here!

"Plus, the locals are so friendly that I've made great Kazakh friends who I can practice my Russian with. I would come back to this city in a heartbeat.

"Russians and Kazakhs are different, but they have a shared Soviet past that gives them some things in common about their culture."

Since this summer, Kuzela has been attending the School of Russian and Asian Studies’ Central Asian Studies Program in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to improve her Russian language skills.

"At the London School of Languages and Cultures, I take advanced Russian language courses on Russian politics and economics, Russian news, and history of Central Asia," she said. "Outside of these courses I take two more courses: one about the political struggle for influence in Central Asia between global hegemons and another about identity and ethnicity in Central Asia. During the summer I also took an intensive Kyrgyz language course.

"I live with a host family in Bishkek and outside of class, I enjoy spending time with them, or taking weekend trips or day-trips to the mountains which aren't far from Bishkek.

"As a part of the summer session for my study abroad program, I went on a week-long horse trek into the mountains where we lived in tents and met modern-day Kyrgyz nomads who live in yurts. The people we met while on our trek gladly welcomed us into their home for food and conversation, demonstrating the extraordinary hospitality that the Kyrgyz are so well known for."

Lincoln Literacy

In August 2018, Kuzela began teaching English once a week to a Yazidi refugee at Lincoln Literacy, a local organization where people of all cultures learn English.

“There were times when I was struggling to explain a concept, and she was struggling to understand," she said to the Daily Nebraskan. "Her eyes would brighten when she finally understood the concept, and it was a good feeling.

“I love languages, and I’m good at them, but teaching someone my own language has been difficult. It makes me realize how lucky I am to know English as a first language because it would be hard to learn as a second language.

“Because of my study-abroad trips, I know what I want to study and what my interests are, like Central Asia.

“I knew before going to Kazakhstan that it was a Muslim majority country, but not everyone wears a hijab. I also thought many people in Russia were [President] Putin supporters, which there were, but I met many who weren’t.”

New Initiative: CAS Inquire launched with "Rise of the Machines" theme

Guy Reynolds CAS Inquire talk

The college launched CAS Inquire, a program that gives students the chance to connect with college thought leaders and other inquisitive students to discuss ideas, built around a college-wide series of public lectures, on Sept. 10.

Guy Reynolds, professor of English and women’s and gender studies, opened the series with “The Rise of the Machines—and How We Can Resist Them: British novels of the twentieth century.”

The theme for 2019-2020 is “The Rise of the Machines,” which Reynolds traced to the late nineteenth-century.

He looked at how the authors of The Lord of the Rings, Brave New World, 1984, and A Clockwork Orange reacted to the impact of technology—specifically, "Sauron’s crazed world of heavy machinery and industrial domination; Huxley’s fascination with a biological re-engineering of society; 1984’s remarkable forecasting of an invasive information society; Burgess’s interest in how a fragile selfhood might be brutally re-modelled by psycho-medical conditioning.”

Carrick Detweiler continues the series of five lectures in five disciplines on Oct. 8 with "Shaping the Future Rise of Drones."

Future talks include:

  • Colin Meiklejohn, biological sciences, in November
  • Christian Binek, physics, in January
  • Carrie Heitman and Heather Richards-Risetto, anthropology, in Feburary

The lectures will culminate with a panel discussion with all the speakers in March.

CAS Inquire students take specialized courses, help with facilitating the program, and enjoy additional benefits. They can apply, or be nominated by faculty, for the program on the web page.

Faculty News: Lewis leads the university's effort
to grow, diversify Nebraska's STEM workforce

Hailey Smith working on a math problem

Above: Hailey Smith working on a math problem.

Jim Lewis
Dr. Jim Lewis

More than 120 low-income Nebraska students will benefit from a new five-year, $3.56 million grant from the National Science Foundation while they pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is partnering with Southeast Community College and Western Nebraska Community College to build out the state's STEM workforce through STEM Career Opportunities in Nebraska: Networks, Experiential-learning and Computation Thinking.

This funding will provide scholarships and academic support for low-income students, specifically targeting underrepresented minorities, women, and rural and first-generation students.

"We will be working with academically gifted, low-income students, and help them to successfully enter the workforce or pursue graduate education," said Jim Lewis, Aaron Douglas Professor of mathematics and STEM CONNECT's principal investigator.

"This grant will also allow us to build out academic communities, establish faculty mentors and adapt curricula here and at our partner institutions that ensure success, based on existing research."

Lewis leads a team that includes Amy Goodburn, senior associate vice chancellor and dean of undergraduate education; Brittany Duncan in computer science and engineering; Petronela Radu in mathematics; and Wendy Smith in the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education.

The team will identify a first cohort of six to eight students who will receive funding beginning with the spring 2020 semester and become the program's first peer mentors. An additional 20 students will be chosen to begin studies in fall 2020.

The grant also funds a research study, co-led by Smith, to examine which factors affect retention, academic success and graduation in STEM fields among low-income students, and how those factors differ among students who transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution.

Read more at "Multi-institutional effort to grow, diversify Nebraska's STEM workforce" on Nebraska Today.

N|150 Event: Cocktails in the Coliseum

Cocktails in the Coliseum N150 Homecoming event

Show your Husker pride and celebrate 150 years of history by participating in Nebraska’s 2019 Homecoming Week: 150 Years of Grit and Glory!

Catch up with other Nebraska alums and fans at Cocktails in the Coliseum from 7:30-9:00 p.m. Reminisce about college days and bond over the one thing that brings us all together: Dear Old Nebraska U.

This is a 21 and over event (a cash bar will be available) with pre-registration required. RSVP by September 26.