On Tuesday, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs inviteed military-affiliated students as well as all faculty and staff to join them at their Appreciation and Graduate Dinner, which included a celebration on the students who are graduating this December - as well as key UNO partners who provided support to those students over the past year.
The six award winners were:
Institutional Partner Award - UNO Cashiering and Student Accounts
The Institutional Partner Award recognizes UNO entities that have exceeded expectations in directly supporting and aiding the success of our military-connected student population.
This year’s recipient is UNO’s Cashiering and Student Accounts Department for their partnership in removing financial barriers during a critical processing time for our students. They directly work with OMVS staff to provide solutions during critical times for best outcomes. In addition, they assisted the OMVS with the processing of nearly five million dollars’ worth of VA and Department of Defense benefits and incentives.
Employer Partner Award - McCallie Associates, Inc.
The Employer Partner Award recognizes employers who have either provided support to military-affiliated students in the form of direct student engagement, employment or financial sponsorship.
This year’s recipient is McCallie Associates, Inc., for the services they have provided in information technology, program management, analytics and system integration, as well as their donations of $49,500 to the OMVS to aid veteran students facing hardships such as homelessness or loss of benefits which would otherwise prevent them from attending UNO and succeeding in their degree programs.
Community Partner Award - Matthew Starkey (Nebraska Department of Veteran's Affairs)
The Community Partner Award recognizes organizations, government agencies, or non-profits that have exceeded expectations in directly supporting and aiding the success of our military-connected student population.
This year’s recipient is Matthew Starkey from the Nebraska Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Starkey is a US Army and NEARNG veteran who currently works as a Veteran Service Officer with the NDVA. Starkey provides one-on-one support to OMVS students by applying for VA compensation, submitting appeals or understanding and receiving their state benefits. An example of his dedication is the assistance he provided a veteran whose dishonorable discharge was changed to honorable thus enabling him to become eligible for VA benefits. This student is now on track to graduate at the end of next year.
Academic Achievement Award - Cheri Nixon
The Academic Achievement Award recognizes an outstanding military-affiliated individual who has excelled not only in their own academics, but by serving as a mentor and support to others.
This year’s recipient is Cheri Nixon, a graduate student and writing tutor for the OMVS. Her experience as a spouse of a disabled veteran and her 20 years in education uniquely qualify her to serve our military-connected student population. Nixon's commitment to excellence is evident in the 4.0 GPA she has earned in her graduate level coursework and in her desire to help students successfully navigate the challenges of academic writing. Nixon is a valuable asset to our staff and to the students who benefit through the tutoring services we offer at the OMVS.
Community Engagement Award - Patrick Miller and Kim Palmquist
The Community Engagement Award recognizes a student who has developed community ties which have enabled UNO students to prosper. This year, two recipients were honored: Patrick Miller and Kim Palmquist.
Miller currently serves as the Student Veteran Organization Vice-President. He has advocated for the military-connected community by establishing a voice for student veterans on both the Nebraska Veteran's Council and the Governor's Commission on Military and Veterans Affairs. Additionally, he has continued to build a relationship with the American Legion, LinkedIn and other organizations and businesses to help support veterans with their transition from service to civilian life. He was also selected to attend the 2019 Student Veterans of America Leadership Institute in Washington D.C., proudly representing UNO for the third consecutive year in a competitive selection process from over 1500 chapters across the country.
Palmquist is a Marine who served as a Joint Fires observer. He is currently serving as the President of "University of Nebraska Omaha Against Trafficking of Humans" (UN-OATH) student organization where he coordinates with various local groups to educate students by bringing in speakers such as prior FBI special agent Anna Brewer and retired assistant U.S. Attorney and former executive director for Coalition on Human Trafficking Stephen O’Meara. He also volunteers with the Omaha Rapid Response unit to aid in the recovery and clean-up process of communities affected flooding, with the outreach group City Serve to serve in community projects, and with the Bellevue Christian Center event to work with Feed the Multitudes which provided food and clothing to families during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Overall Student of the Year Award - Eric Hamilton
The Overall Student of the Year Award recognizes a student who demonstrates community engagement, high academic achievement and initiative to serve others.
This year’s recipient is Eric Hamilton, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA while earning his bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. He is medically retired from military service but continues to contribute to the military and UNO community by raising money for the USO and through his service as the philanthropy chair for Theta Chi Fraternity Delta Zeta chapter, In addition, He has coordinated events such as the first annual Nets for Vets 3-on-3 basketball tournament and the Egg-a-Chi egg throwing event, as well as participated as a team member of the UNO Wheel Chair Basketball team. Eric plans to graduate in the Spring 2020 semester and to pursue his dream of becoming a civil rights attorney.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
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.