Quarterly News from the Office of Community Engagement
2022 Q1
A message from the Office of Community Engagement Director.....
As the academic year ends and we gear up for a busy summer, I would like to acknowledge the efforts made by so many of our students, staff, and faculty over the course of the year. UNMC has exceptional faculty, staff, and students, all of whom have contributed to our community in countless ways over the past year. We appreciated the opportunity to celebrate some exceptional stewards of UNMC at the Student Awards Ceremony held on April 26th. We partnered with the Student Life Inclusion Diversity Office (SLIDO) and Student Senate and jointly hosted an awards ceremony in the beautiful Wigton Heritage Center. I invite you to take in the amazing smiles of the award recipients and to read about their outstanding efforts in the article below featuring this year’s Office of Community Engagement award recipients.  

I would like to take a moment to remark on a few of the initiatives the OCE is actively working on. Our office launched its community engagement survey on March 2nd, and we want to thank the UNMC community for taking time out of their busy schedules to complete this important survey. We received 1,254 survey responses! The survey data will help our office to procure needed resources that will build more opportunities for engagement and partnership. Our office will now begin analyzing the survey data, and we plan to disseminate the results in the coming weeks. We look forward to sharing the results with our UNMC community, so please be on the lookout for future communications. 
Our office and two of our legacy projects, Fostering the Future and EMPOWER, have recently partnered with Girls, Inc. to provide sexual health education to adolescent girls. Girls, Inc. utilizes Making Proud Choices! curriculum. UNMC students from Fostering the Future and EMPOWER are in the process of reviewing the existing curriculum and developing supplementary programming. The students will be leading the educational sessions throughout the summer. Our students are very excited about this opportunity to work with Girls, Inc. and to educate and interact with these future female leaders.  
Another project our office is busy working on is related to UNMC’s special designation from the Carnegie Foundation. In 2015, UNMC became one of the first health care campuses in the country to be designated by the Carnegie Foundation as a Community Engaged Campus. This is a prestigious honor for UNMC as Carnegie Community Engaged Campuses are credited with doing exceptional work in addressing societal responsibilities through community engagement and service. These efforts are essential as they generate scholarship, knowledge, and expertise to address health related challenges in our community. The designation is up for renewal in 2026 so we recently developed a gap analysis to identify advances in community engagement at UNMC since then and any areas that need further attention. We will be working with UNMC leadership and the Community Collaborations Council to focus efforts on identified gaps to continue to build upon existing engagement infrastructure in order to maintain this important designation. 
Thank you for all that you do for our wonderful UNMC. Please reach out and let us know if you have any ideas to spark new relationships or sustain existing ones. We love hearing from you!
Until then, stay engaged!
Heidi J. Keeler, PhD, RN
On April 26th, the Office of Community Engagement (OCE), the Student Life Inclusion and Diversity Office and the UNMC Student Senate hosted the inaugural Student Awards Ceremony celebrating student / faculty accomplishments in 2021-2022. The ceremony was held in the Wigton Heritage Center, and honored individual student and faculty recipients for their contributions to the UNMC student culture, as well as student organizations for their impacts throughout the year. Philip Covington, EdD, associate vice chancellor for student success, served as emcee for the event. We thank the award recipients for their time and energy spent on engagement efforts and for their dedication to the health of our community. We invite you to read about the OCE award winners below.

Community Impact Award

This award recognizes student organizations that extend UNMC core values through creation of health care initiatives that are impactful and sustainable in the community.

  • UNMC Racquet Club

Community Health Education Award

This award recognizes student organizations that extend UNMC core values through demonstration of exemplary contribution to the development of educational health care services or programming to community agencies, schools or organizations.

  • Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity through the College of Pharmacy

Faculty Advisor Excellence in Engagement Award

This award recognizes excellence in community engagement by UNMC faculty and for providing exceptional service to students, their colleagues and/or UNMC.

  • Ryan Mullane, DO, for his advising of the UNMC SHARING Clinics

Click on the button below to read the article in UNMC Today for a complete listing of award winners. Congratulations to all the award recipients!
Asian American and Pacific Islanders Student Association
The AAPI Student Association is an interprofessional network whose mission is to facilitate meaningful connection and cultural exchange between students who identify as AAPI or are interested in learning about the AAPI community. We aim to hold and promote events in four broad program categories related to AAPI interests: social programs, professional development programs, service-/community-oriented programs, and advocacy programs. If you are interested in joining our organization, please select the button below and register through our ENGAGE page.
Makayla McMorris
"I believe that community engagement builds and sustains the well-being of our state. This kind of purpose-driven connectivity has also been linked to mental and physical benefits – it’s one of the many reasons I’m dedicated to service.
As chief communication and marketing officer for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, it is important that I point to communication as the core of healthy engagement.
Fluid and strategic communication is often harder to facilitate than you’d first think. When I’m looking for board and community service opportunities, I gravitate toward a mission that primarily focuses on women and young girls who may have lost their voice or don’t feel they have a voice at all. When an organization’s mission resonates with you as the communicator, it evokes an immediate connection and makes your message more powerful.
Meaningful community engagement can take shape in a variety of ways, but always requires time and flexibility. Something I have found to be beneficial in my community engagement and communication work is building trusting relationships as a way to maximize a group’s efforts. When passion for the mission, trust, and vision is shared between team members, it is amazing how quickly and efficiently you are able to work toward a common good in your community. 
I understood early on the power of giving versus receiving and that no one can make it through life alone, so I have made it my life’s mission to always be passionate about giving back my time, energy, and talents to others.
Current Community Involvement includes: Women’s Ball Committee (Aksarben Foundation), Kaneko Board of Directors, Equestrian Foundation Board of Directors, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority while raising two community driven children with my husband Kenny McMorris who currently sits on 9 community boards."
Makayla McMorris
Chief Communication & Marketing Officer
Office of Strategic Marketing & Communications
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Each year, millions of Americans struggle with mental health, and since the start of the pandemic, many more individuals are reporting mental health symptoms. The increasing prevalence of mental health disorders impacts many of us as we navigate personal and professional relationships. While there has been a recent movement to decrease stigma and an overall recognition that mental health is an integral part of an individual’s overall health, much work remains. It is more important than ever that we join together to show our support for those affected through awareness, advocacy, and support activities. You can help shine a spotlight on mental health education and resources by posting on social media using the hashtag #Together4MH. This is also a good time to check-in with those around you. If you notice a friend or co-worker is more distant, distressed, and/or anxious, reach out and connect with them. Ask them how they are doing, listen for signs of distress, and connect them to resources. If you are struggling and in need of help, UNMC has many no-cost options that allow students, faculty, and staff to receive confidential support. More information about resources available, please select the button below to visit the UNMC Campus Wellness Team Website.

Take care,

Kati Cordts, PhD
Director of Wellness Education and Research
Child Psychologist, UNMC Dept of Psychiatry
Check out the photos from last year's PRIDE celebrations. This year UNMC's pride events align with Heartland Pride so the festivities will begin in July. Be sure to check out the outline of events below.

2022 Pride Events

We're getting ready for this year's PRIDE celebrations through Heartland Pride! Please add these upcoming events to your calendar. See the volunteer section below for information on how to get involved with Pride as a volunteer!

  • Youth Pride Festival July 15th at CHI Center from 6-10 PM. Admission ticket required.
  • Pride Parade July 16th at 10AM in the Old Market. Anyone wishing to walk with the NM/UNMC group can park and meet at 9AM at the Nebraska Medicine Old Market Health Center on 13th and Leavenworth. The clinic will be hosting a pre-parade patio party in their outdoor space on 13th and Leavenworth. The group can then walk together to the parade line-up location.
  • Pride Festival July 16th at CHI Center from 1PM- 11:30PM. Admission ticket required.

Call for Pride Volunteers!

The Pride Committee is looking for volunteers to help coordinate Heartland Pride events. If you're interested, fill out your information in this document. Please do not volunteer if you aren't comfortable talking about important health topics within the LGBTQ+ community. Volunteers at Youth Pride (CHI Health Center, July 15, 6pm-10pm) may be required to spend longer times at the booth (approximately four hours).

Get your Pride T-Shirts!

Order your UNMC / NE Med LGBTQIA + Pride tee from the UNMC Bookstore for only $17. Click on the button below to order yours today!

The Nebraska Medicine Company Store will also have shirts available on an ongoing basis starting in June for purchase online or in-person. Click on the button below to order yours today!
Each edition of the Office of Community Engagement newsletter will feature an article in the past quarter we have found to be interesting and worthy of sharing with our UNMC community. This edition's article highlights Autism Awareness Day to demonstrate the need for organizational leaders to understand, and appreciate, differences in language and symbolism between medical and mainstream perspectives. We hope you enjoy this article as well as future selections!
The Office of Community Engagement is seeking interested faculty to assist us in the development of community engagement programming. If you are interested, please contact OCE coordinator, Brooke Fitzpatrick, at bfitzpatrick@unmc.edu! Thank you for your consideration.
Have a comment or an idea to share with us? We'd love to hear it. Please select the link to the OCE website above and the 'Tell Us!' button. Thank you for ENGAGING with us!
Office of Community Engagement
987110 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-7110