UNL Student Opens Doors Through Inclusive Business Leaders

Headshot of Bree Bell
Bree Bell
By Susan Houston Klaus

When Bree Bell arrived at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln as a freshman in fall 2022, she couldn’t have imagined all the opportunities in store for her.

Today, after participating in Inclusive Business Leaders (IBL), a cohort-based program of the UNL College of Business, she’s looking at her future with a fresh perspective.

IBL brings together a group of first-year students selected for the program who want to see more inclusivity in their chosen field, both at UNL and in the business world. Over two semesters, participants attend weekly IBL-specific classes as well as take part in other activities.

More than 100 students have been part of the IBL program since it started in January 2021. The program includes a $2,000 scholarship for each participant, something Bell says helped ease her transition to college.

“Sometimes financial aid doesn’t cover everything, and it can be hard financially in this new life where you have to juggle more academics, more workload than in high school. It’s just a new dynamic to get used to.”

Featuring curricular and cocurricular learning that includes making connections with local businesses, community service projects, a business case competition and discussions with guest speakers, IBL helps students explore a bigger world. The program receives support from generous donors through the University of Nebraska Foundation.

As part of IBL, students learn about the principles of DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion — and their application in business and receive hands-on experience consulting for local businesses.

During Bree’s fall semester, the group learned about the different forms DEI can come in and heard from guest speakers who talked about their own experiences with diversity. In the spring, she and other students were paired with a company in the interest of their major.

“We went into their offices and were able to consult with them,” Bell said. “Our goal was to help them implement DEI practices either that they can improve on or maybe try to start within their company.”

Kasey Linde, director of teaching, learning and accreditation, praised Bell for taking the initiative to apply for and prepare for the interview after learning about the internship through the IBL program.

“We hope others follow in Bree’s footsteps by taking advantage of opportunities and applying what they learn in the classroom in their personal and professional endeavors,” Linde said.

Bell, a marketing major from Omaha, said she was motivated to get involved in the campus community after hearing a program mentor and recent IBL scholar speak to her group.

“She took a couple minutes explaining everything that she was involved in, and at the end she said, ‘And I’m a sophomore.’ She really inspired me. I saw her and I said, ‘I want to be like that.’”

Now a sophomore herself, Bell is embracing the many opportunities available to her as a UNL student.

This past summer, she was an intern through the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for the University of Nebraska Foundation. She serves as marketing chair and vice president of her Latina sorority, Lambda Theta Nu. At Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity, she is social chair. She’s also involved in the Mexican American Student Association, where she serves as the public relations chair.

“Making myself more exposed to different opportunities on campus has allowed me to network and gain opportunities that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t as involved,” she said.

Bell hopes to study abroad while she’s in college, and after graduation is thinking about working in corporate brand management, possibly in a job that requires some travel.

For any prospective student who’s considering applying for the IBL program, she says the experience is one that will reap dividends.

“The main benefit is meeting people you’ll be able to make a genuine connection with, and also it just opens thousands of doors for you.”

Related Stories

Doug Waggoner talks with students in the Investors With Purpose program.

Investing in Students

Doug Waggoner has created a unique program for business majors at UNL. Investors With Purpose is a wealth management course that brings students together with global investment professionals.

Read More »
Dean Lance Perez talks with civil engineering seniors on the first day of class. The seniors have to wait unitl next week for their first classes in the building as the CE area is being finished this week. First day of classes in Kiewit Hall. January 22, 2024. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communication and Marketing

Building Nebraska

A newly opened six-story building on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus was designed with state-of-the-art features to prepare a growing number of engineering, construction and computing graduates.

Read More »
Chase Glover of Grand Island, Nebraska, is studying agronomy at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

‘Prepared to Go Out Into the World’

Chase Glover didn’t think college was for him. His plans changed after his high school Future Farmers of America adviser suggested he check out the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. He traveled to Curtis, Nebraska, and took a tour. The experience changed Glover’s mind about college and planted the seeds for his future.

Read More »