Earlier this year, the Nebraska State Legislature was deciding how to allocate federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, and Nebraska state Senator Tony Vargas proposed bill LB961. This bill would allocate some of those ARPA funds to NCITE, America’s latest terrorism and targeted violence-fighting tool housed at the UNO College of Business Administration (CBA). Each bill only allows three speakers on its behalf – and that’s when Lauren O’Malley stepped in at the Nebraska Unicameral.
O’Malley, who graduates with her Master of Business Administration in May 2022, has been growing with NCITE for the last two years. The bill needed a supportive student voice, so she spoke alongside NCITE Director Dr. Gina Ligon and Chancellor Joanne Li, sharing her belief in the work happening at UNO.
“I believe in the work happening at NCITE because I’ve both witnessed it and been a part of it. I’m proof of the return on investment and believe NCITE is an asset both nationally and locally,” said O’Malley.
While LB961 didn't move forward, her 5-minute speech was still a success. Not only did O’Malley’s words call attention to NCITE, but also to the broader necessity of educational support within Nebraska and at UNO. O’Malley stressed the importance of continuous funding to retain students and young professionals like herself, who originally believed she would need to leave the state to find greater opportunities.
“As a future business leader, I can say that investing in NCITE is a sound investment decision. It will impact both the state and local economy by creating jobs and bringing in high-caliber talent to Nebraska. It will incentivize local talent to plant roots here by providing world-class opportunities for education and employment. It will create valuable resources for law enforcement, government officials, and even businesses to keep their communities safe,” testified O’Malley.
This is a personal concern for O’Malley, who came to UNO for her BSBA and graduated in 2020. She was concerned about choosing UNO because the college was only 20 minutes from her parent’s home, but opportunities like being a member of the CBA Scholars Academy and holding leadership roles in various organizations such as Maverick Investment Club, Financial Management Association, and Student Marketing Association kept her here. Despite her success, she still pondered leaving Nebraska – until she was approached about joining NCITE and recognized the immense opportunity in Omaha.
“I think there’s a stigma sometimes that comes from staying in your hometown. I’m very future-driven and career-oriented, so finding opportunities to challenge myself and grow is important to me, but I thought I needed to leave Omaha to find those,” said O’Malley. “The CBA Scholars Academy and the strength of the College of Business enticed me to stay for my undergraduate, and the opportunity at NCITE did the same for my MBA. I’ve found so much opportunity here, even more so than many of my peers who went far away have found, and I'm extremely happy with my decisions.”
Now that O’Malley has decided to stay in Omaha and be a voice for the city, she’s excited for what comes next.
“My goals are to keep learning, growing, and being the best employee, co-worker, and friend that I can be. I recently accepted a job as a Sales Development Analyst at Aviture, a technology consulting firm who does work for both the private sector and government, so my NCITE experience will transition nicely there," said O'Malley. "The process of interviewing and applying for jobs is typically daunting, but I had a positive experience because I felt excited about what I was bringing to the table. Employers were very interested in what I’ve been up to at NCITE in the past two years and how that experience can add value to their organization."