Melina Herrera

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The Nebraska College Preparatory Academy program took off in 2006, providing counselors and teachers with resources to give opportunities to talented low-income first-generation students. It began at Grand Island Public High School, before expanding to North High Magnet School in 2008 then to Omaha South High and Winnebago Public School in 2017.   

NCPA prepares students to achieve personal and academic excellence.  

“This is achieved through academic counseling and support, leadership building and personal development throughout high school and college, as well as financial assistance to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and/or Metropolitan Community College,” Jena Mendoza, the program associate, said.  

The NCPA program held its second annual recognition reception at the Livestock Exchange building on April 17th, 2019 with approximately 40 scholars and their families attended. The reception brought scholars, their families and educators together to celebrate the year.  

“I really enjoyed the reception, it was an amazing way to show recognition for students who put in the work,” Vanessa Coronado, a freshman NCPA scholar and ambassador, said 

Coronado presented one of the certificates of appreciation awards to Ms. Maddock from Norris Middle School. The other certificate of appreciation went to Lonnie Moore, who teaches World History and AP Geography at South. These educators, selected by the NCPA scholars, were awarded for the support and knowledge they have shared with NCPA students. 

There is also a mentor program with current UNL college students. These students participate in the various NCPA events held in and out of school, stay in contact with the students and give advice for high school and college.  

“The NCPA mentor program has added another layer or reassurance and guidance in my success here in high school because it reassures that I’m getting a perspective from another person,” Jessica Fuertes, an NCPA sophomore, said. 

NCPA also assists with the cost of college at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They help cover tuition, books, rooms and board and other fees for the students who complete the NCPA high school requirements.  

Most importantly NCPA has provided a family and a trusting atmosphere for its scholars. Providing support in and out of school as well as great opportunities and skills that will help the scholars during their high school career.  

“It’s a program that truly cares for you. There are other programs that are good, but there is no other program that have connections between people like we do. Everyone is always there for each other and is always very supportive. The fact that we’re like a family just makes the program very special,” Belen Madera another NCPA sophomore, said. 

Madera received a scholar award at the 2019 recognition reception. Madera is also one of 11 NCPA ambassadors. She was one of the two sophomores to receive one along with Brandon Monarrez Granillo. 

The NCPA staff at South consists of Jena Mendoza the program associate, Tyler Nicholas the NCPA teacher, David Orozco-Garcia the senior assistant director, Susie Owens the associate director and the new NCPA director Moises David Padilla.  

Many of the staff have one on one meetings with all the scholars to check in on academic progress as well as the well-being of all the students. They provide self-care tips as much as they provide ACT prep tips.  

“It’s college prep skills but they also know that there’s life beyond textbooks,” Mia Garcia, a NCPA sophomore who received a scholar award at the 2018 recognition reception, said.