Two outstanding alumnae of the Department of Gerontology are recipients of this year’s CPACS Alumni Award: Marcia Adler and Esther Okamkpa.
About this Year’s Award Recipients
Dr. Marcia Adler
Marcia Adler’s professional and academic career reflect her passion and persistence for making impossible goals real in her own life and those of others. As a sixteen-year-old from Grant, Nebraska, she traveled alone to Cape Town, South Africa, for a yearlong Rotary exchange program. During that year, Marcia got to work alongside public health nurses in a grass hut providing Xhosa women reproductive health education and medical care. That experience transformed her life, planting seeds for becoming a nurse and a career in public health.
Never one to do things halfway, Marcia spent her adult life as a wife, and mother while concurrently working, and going to school, always attracted to the next challenge that her nursing foundation provided. After her three sons were out of college, she returned to school to earn a PhD in Gerontology. The PhD created an outlet for Marcia to channel her energy toward a new generation of learners. Her unwavering goal is to ignite in her students a passion for lifelong learning that in turn improves the lives of marginalized populations.
Esther Nonye Okamkpa was born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa. She studied Secretarial Administration in Nigeria and worked for the Nigerian Breweries Plc as a Confidential Secretary. She got married in Nigeria and had her son, Emmanuel, in 2001. In 2003, she lost her husband to an undiagnosed illness. She and Emmanuel moved to the United States in January of 2005 through the help of her sister, Millicent Myres. She started her educational journey in the United States the same year she arrived by obtaining a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate from Nebraska Methodist College, after which she started working at the Eastern Nebraska Human Services Agency (ENHSA), ENCOR division, where she worked with older adults with physical and mental disabilities. Esther attended UNO and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work, in addition to a Certificate of Gerontology through the Department of Gerontology. After obtaining her master’s degree in Social Work in 2014, she joined the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging (ENOA) Division of ENHSA as a Services Coordinator, a job she loves very much.
Esther received various awards and scholarships, as well as other achievements, during her stay at UNO and beyond, including: UNO School of Social Work Sunny Andrews Graduate Award Fellowship; ENCOR Rising Star Award; UNO AAUP Bernie Kolasa Scholarship; Sigma Phi Omega, Upsilon NU Membership Scholarship; UNO Honors Scholarship; Gerontology Scholarship from the Midlands Elder Care Network (two semesters); and UNO Smith Gerontology Scholarship. She made the UNO Chancellor’s List for four semesters and the UNO Dean’s List, seven semesters. Esther also received commendations from ENHSA, as well as a “Thank You Note” from former Omaha Mayor, Mike Fahey, for her volunteer work. Esther plans to stay at ENOA and continue to do what she loves—advocating for, and working with, people 65 and older in providing services they need most.
Kudos to our esteemed alumnae, Marcia and Esther! Your many successes and passion for gerontology are commendable and truly inspirational!
About the CPACS Alumni Award
The university and community leaders established the College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS) to ensure the university was responsive to the critical societal needs and concerns of our community and state. Critical to the mission of the new college was the provision of educational and training programs of the highest caliber that would prepare students for careers and leadership in the public service.
The individuals honored with the alumni award for excellence in public service demonstrate, through both their daily deeds and greatest achievements, the finest attributes of public and community service: integrity, stewardship, volunteerism, leadership, and a commitment to social justice and human dignity. They are a credit to their professions, their families, and our college. We congratulate them for this and all their achievements.
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