The Futures Fair brings middle school students on campus to meet representatives from community partners, local businesses, UNO departments and organizations, and representatives from Metropolitan Community College.
The Futures Fair has been an annual event held by Partnership 4 Kids (P4K) for many years. This year marks the 15th edition of the event, but the 5th in partnership with The Goodrich Scholarship Program.
Goodrich is a unique scholarship program that has its own dedicated faculty, curriculum, and staffed office. Goodrich serves low-income meritorious UNO students who might not otherwise be able to afford college. As part of their mission of serving underserved students, one of the special projects the Goodrich office works on every year is the collaborative Partnership 4 Kids Futures Fair. P4K is also one of 40 UNO and community building partners housed in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center.
Goodrich and P4K have strikingly similar missions. Create a future for underserved students.
P4K, as one of their main goals, provides a path to college through mentoring while Goodrich provides financial accessibility to a college education and supportive services.
This partnership began in 2013 when a Goodrich graduate assistant, who worked with P4K, connected Patricia Shearer, coordinator of recruitment and academic support services at Goodrich, with the President of P4K, Debbie J. Denbeck. “Our collaboration with Goodrich has enriched our program in so many ways.
For Shearer, “It's a great opportunity for students to be up close and personal with not just individuals in academic areas but also really practical connections that they can make."
Denbeck also says, "Having the Goodrich students with our middle school students creates a visual for what college might look like for them. It has also formed a great partnership between P4K, UNO, and MCC as we are all working together so students can see and experience various career opportunities.”
In 2018 graduate assistants Robia Qasimyar and JoVanna Balquier were part of the Goodrich team helping organize the event. The staff reached out to UNO departments and organizations to send representatives and donate items for bags to hand out to the visiting students. They also recruited Goodrich students to serve as volunteer ambassadors.
The student ambassadors guide students around the different tables and answer questions about life as a student in college. Balquier finds that the student ambassadors “feel like they have gotten a lot from Goodrich, so it’s their opportunity to give back and serve as a mentor that maybe they did or didn’t have in their lives.”
“Seeing those relationships build in such a short amount of time and seeing those connections blossom is really nice and rewarding to see," says Qasimyar.
It was Balquier’s first year assisting with the Futures Fair but she said she enjoyed it. Balquier says, “It was such a rewarding experience seeing all those kids so amped about learning about colleges and different career routes."
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Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.