Nearly two years ago, Katherine Esquivel and a group of Project Achieve students began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Omaha as a means to give back through community service. It was through this experience Katherine became inspired to start the Habitat for Humanity UNO Student Chapter.
Katherine has led the organization in building seven homes and continues to work on three to four houses a year. The organization has raised $1,000 and volunteered approximately 2.500 hours in support of the Habitat for Humanity cause. Serving as its President, she started the UNO Student Chapter because she wanted other students to have an opportunity to be more involved with what Habitat for Humanity was doing. "Getting involved as a student has a lot of benefits – as students, we are more committed to our school and in the community."
Katherine says that for her giving back to the community is both an obligation and something to be proud of. Katherine credits her mother for setting an example: She remembers watching her mother give food every day to an old man who lived under a bridge near their house.
Katherine also says that being involved with the UNO Student Chapter has affected her college experience a lot. "I never felt that I was part of anything, and as soon as I got involved I felt the power of it because you are more involved with your school work, your school, and your community."
Getting involved as a student has a lot of benefits – as students, we are more committed to our school and in the community.
- Katherine Esquivel
The joy she gets from seeing the reactions of the people, watching her classmates grow and seeing how grateful the families are have been extremely rewarding. At the Habitat for Humanity of Omaha event, the organization’s Executive Director spoke of a 14-year old who was so impressed by the UNO students helping to build her home that she now plans to attend UNO.
This year the Habitat for Humanity UNO Student Chapter was the recipient of the 2015-16 UNO Outstanding Student Organization Award. In the upcoming year, the Chapter hopes to host a Rock the Block event with all UNO students. Rock the Block is a one-day community beautification event that helps transform the face of a neighborhood. Katherine, who now serves as the organization’s secretary, majors in Aviation Administration and minors in German. After graduating, she hopes to work for an airport.
Campus Commitment to Engagement
Community engagement and service are fundamental components of UNO's identity. This commitment to engagement is reflected in UNO's academics, student body, partnerships, and institutional framework. As an engaged campus, UNO values mutually-beneficial partnerships where information and expertise is shared and applied for the common good.
Share Your Story
Did you organize or participate in a community-oriented project or service? UNO wants to hear from you! UNO is committed to community engagement in its broadest form, and wants to feature your community service story.