I spent all day last Friday back on the UNL Campus going through a crash training for my new position of Rural Recruiter. I met one of my fellow recruiters, Hillary from Albion, and many of the recruiting team at UNL.

To say there is a lot to learn is a big understatement. We only touched on the basics. The idea is we will be able to hopefully answer questions from incoming freshmen or juniors in high school or at least know who can address those questions that are out of my realm of understanding.

My boss is a very nice young man (I am sure I am the same age as his father), and I met some other very talented other members of the team. Hillary and I got a pretty extensive tour of the city campus as part of our training. This brought back a lot of memories from 40 years ago as I was preparing to graduate Harry A. Burke High School in Omaha. I did everything the wrong way to prepare to attend school. Back then, UNL accepted any Nebraskan regardless of their ACT or SAT scores (thank God). That has changed as we reviewed the application process. I waited way too long to sign up for classes and housing, so my freshman year was a mess. Today they have many safeguards to prevent that kind of ridiculous behavior. That’s part of the reason they have us in place. We are there to make sure deadlines are met and commitments are made for housing, new student orientation and signing up for classes. It’s impressive how they have made this process better for the students.

The tour of campus was really an eye-opener for me since it’s been quite a while since being there. First of all, the facilities are amazing. The classrooms are very modern and wired for all kinds of electronic learning. I remember several of the buildings in which I spent many hours and to see them all updated is a great thing. Then there are all the new buildings that are impressive. The young lady who was our tour guide did a great job pointing out the new facilities and those going through a renovation in the near future. One in particular is the old Nebraska Book Store which will soon be the new school for theater and performing arts. It will be very cool.

Two things stuck out for me as an alumni of UNL -- food service and housing. We got to look at some of the new dorms and the suites they offer. I was so envious and jealous of these facilities compared to the three years I spent in Schramm Hall. First of all, they have kitchens and bathrooms in each suite. I remember getting a used little cube fridge that worked once in a while and could keep a six pack of soda cool but not much else. Don’t even get me started on the bathrooms that I shared with 50 of my closest friends. The new ones were nicely decorated compared to the cinder block motif I had to deal with.

Food service was a challenge too. My favorite was Turkey Americana which was a processed turkey product with cheese, battered and deep fried. The only problem is my friend Shelly and I never got cheese in ours. Never fail, we were the cheese-less sad students each and every time. We looked envious as our friends wiped melted cheese-product off their chins. Just wasn’t fair. We got a look at a couple of the food service facilities on our tour. They had food stations you could pick from. I didn’t see the familiar long line of things in chaffing dishes. I overheard a few students anxiously looking forward to going to lunch, but they were still full from breakfast. I wanted to punch them — but I didn’t.

I guess I’m glad the University has advanced since I attended. I asked our tour guide how many are on the tour team and she said about 80. I remember my friend Patti was on the new student orientation team and there were maybe 20. I can only imagine what size that group is today. I think I will be a good ambassador for the University because I can share with the students and parents what NOT to do to have a successful career. I can tell them how good they have it now and how proud I am to have made it through with a great education.

I will be contacting the guidance counselors from area schools to introduce myself as a new rural recruiter. I’ll be contacting incoming freshmen to make sure they are keeping their deadlines and answering any questions they may have and then at the same time reach out to juniors as they start a college search. I’m very excited about this opportunity.

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