University of Nebraska – Lincoln NEBRASKA College Preparatory Academy

Our Mission

The Nebraska College Preparatory Academy prepares first-generation and low-income students from Omaha North Magnet and Grand Island Senior High Schools 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.

The Pillars of Excellence

NCPA provides academic, social, and college preparation through the Pillars of Excellence: Knowledge, Character, and Commitment.

KNOWLEDGE

NCPA Scholars strive to gain new and innovative knowledge by achieving academic success both inside and outside of the classroom.

CHARACTER

NCPA Scholars will make moral and ethical decisions, promote honesty, and carry themselves with integrity.

COMMITMENT

NCPA Scholars illustrate their commitment by meeting obligations set by the NCPA program, their respective high schools, and the college they attend.

Staff

Raymond Ramirez

Director of NCPA Operations

rramirez2@unl.edu

Raymond was born and raised in Grand Island and is a Grand Island Senior High graduate. He is second generation United States born with family originating from León, Guanajuato, Mexico. He earned a bachelor’s degree from UNL in Secondary Education/Social Sciences. After graduating from UNL, he pursued a career to fulfill his passion working with first-generation and low-income students and families. After learning about a way to help the Grand Island community, Raymond sought a career with NCPA. Currently, he works to serve underrepresented students across Nebraska. Raymond and his wife are parents to a daughter, twin boys, and an adopted daughter. He is currently working on a master’s degree in higher education administration. He is an avid Huskers and Lakers fan.

"NCPA Scholars benefit from being pushed to their maximum potential. NCPA is not for talented students; it is for talented students who are willing to work hard. Scholars are offered an immense amount of resources from emotional support, academic support, exposure to a college campus, leadership opportunities, and family."
- Raymond Ramirez

Amanda Murtaugh

Senior Assistant Director

amanda.murtaugh@unl.edu

Amanda grew up in Omaha and graduated from Ralston High School. She majored in Psychology at UNL, with a minor in Spanish. After graduating from UNL, Amanda moved to Boston to pursue her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. She worked at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School for two years and incorporated her love of music into her therapeutic work. Amanda moved back to Nebraska to be closer to family, and she is excited to continue working with scholars at Omaha North and Grand Island Senior High.

“NCPA has created an incredible blend of academic preparation, informative resources, leadership opportunities, and a network of supportive individuals. Being involved in NCPA will give scholars the chance to excel as individual achievers and to be part of a community that is intent on helping each other grow.”
- Amanda Murtaugh

Jena Mendoza

Counselor

jmendoza2@unl.edu

Jena was born and raised in Lincoln and graduated from Lincoln Northeast High School. She graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in Family Science and a minor in Criminal Justice. Jena is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Youth Development.

“NCPA scholars are given an opportunity to prosper in all aspects of life with the guidance and support they receive from this program, throughout high school and college. Obtaining a college degree will open many doors for them and will leave a lasting impact on their family and community.”
- Jena Mendoza

Jeff Hall

Senior Assistant Director

jhall11@unl.edu

Jeff was born and raised in Omaha. He graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and found his passion for working with young people during his first year at UNL as a part of the Upward Bound program at Northeast High School. In 2014, he earned his master's degree in Higher Education Administration at UNL. As Senior Assistant Director, he manages the day-to-day processes of NCPA.

"To me, the greatest impact for our NCPA scholars is on their families. A college degree means they can take care of parents when they are elderly, have a better quality of life, and it means that their children are much more likely to graduate from college."
- Jeff Hall

Deena Curtis

Diversity & Community Outreach Counselor

dcurtis2@unl.edu

Deena is a native of Ashland, Neb., and holds both a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in athletic administration from Wayne State College. Following graduation from Wayne, Deena spent 13 years as the Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Wisconsin–Parkside. Additionally, she served as an administrator in the National Youth Sports Program at Marquette University during which time the program was ranked as the best in the nation. Deena returned to Nebraska and accepted a position at Platteview High School as the athletic trainer and a substitute teacher. She is a board certified athletic trainer and holds a teaching certificate in Natural Science for the State of Nebraska. She is also pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Administration focusing on Higher Education Leadership. Deena works with NCPA college scholars at UNL in the Institute of Excellence.

"The advantage of being an NCPA scholar is the individualized attention, in academic achievement, given to the students set them on the path to college attendance. They are given a tremendous opportunity to pursue a course which sets them up for success academically both in the high school and into college."
- Deena Curtis

Susie Brown

Program Associate

susie.brown@unl.edu

Susie grew up in Omaha and graduate from Omaha North Magnet High School. She majored in family science at UNL with minors in education and sociology. After graduating from the university Susie worked full-time as the School-Community Coordinator at North Star High School in Lincoln, Neb., for three years. In that role she coordinated homework help, after-school clubs and community outreach programs. Wanting to gain some experience working with college-aged youth, Susie took a position as an AmeriCorps member in Houston, Texas. There she worked to support community college students as they pursued their educational goals. After fulfilling her one year term-of-service Susie was excited to come back to her alma mater and serve in her current position. NCPA has been close to Susie’s heart since she was a mentor in the program as an undergraduate. She loves that she is able to serve the students at the high school from which she graduated.

“NCPA gives scholars the opportunity to have access to college and enhance their lives and the lives of their families. Through academic, social/emotional and personal development the scholars go through a process which allows them to be their best selves. The impact that NCPA scholars will have on their families and their communities is invaluable.”
- Susie Brown

Morgan Conley

Graduate Assistant

admiss-mconley@unl.edu

Morgan is a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She formerly worked with NCPA as the Mentor Supervisor. Morgan will be working with students on campus at UNL.

"The greatest service our scholars receive is a variety of support. Staff are able to help them with their academics, social, and personal lives early enough for them to figure out what their strengths are well before they enter college."
- Morgan Conley

Christina Richardson

Graduate Assistant

admiss-crichardson@unl.edu

Christina was born and raised in Baltimore and moved to Lincoln for graduate school. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in counseling psychology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her bachelor’s degree is in psychology and women and gender studies. She has been a part of various social justice advocacy groups as an undergraduate and worked as a social worker in Baltimore before applying to graduate school. As the Mentor Program Graduate Assistant, Christina will be encouraging and assisting our undergraduate mentors as they work with our NCPA scholars.

“As a first generation college student, I know how difficult and confusing pursuing higher education can be if you haven’t had the chance to see others pursue it. NCPA offers students that missing link: a support system to guide them through that process and encourage them to reach their goals. The mentor program also provides undergrads with a similar support system and the opportunity to have a positive impact on students and their communities.”
-Christina Richardson

Melissa Diebel

Counselor

mdiebel2@unl.edu

A native of Flagstaff, Ariz., Melissa Diebel earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She earned a master’s degree in literacy education at Fort Hays State University, Kansas, and is a doctoral student in higher education at Concordia University, Portland. She previously spent 10 years teaching middle school English and reading in both public and private schools. As a teacher in the NCPA program, Melissa’s overall teaching philosophy is based on two principles: active student engagement in the classroom promotes long-term learning and on-going assessment feedback stimulates student growth.

“I was also a first generation college graduate and remember how difficult it was to navigate the unknown waters. I hope that I can build positive relationships that assist students going through the same process to reach their academic goals!”
-Melissa Diebel

Student Spotlight

Grand Island Scholar

Maricela Paramo

April's spotlight scholar has continuously exceeded The Pillars of Excellence

Grand Island Scholar

Maricela Paramo

April's spotlight scholar has continuously exceeded The Pillars of Excellence

Grand Island Scholar

Maricela Paramo

April's spotlight scholar has continuously exceeded The Pillars of Excellence

NCPA Sponsors

Allstate
Metropolitan Community College
State Farm