Meet the Staff

NCPA Omaha staff helping students
Raymond Ramirez

Raymond Ramirez

Director of NCPA Operations

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, Mexíco. He graduated from UNL with a degree in Secondary Education/Social Sciences. After graduating from UNL, he pursued a career to fulfill his passion by working with first-generation and low-income students and families. After hearing 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

High School Programs

Deena Curtis

Deena Curtis


Deena is a native of Ashland, Nebraska 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.

"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


Jena Mendoza

Assistant Counselor

Jena was born and raised in Lincoln and a graduate from Lincoln Northeast High School. She has recently 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

LaTosha Johnson

LaTosha Johnson

University Preparatory Academic Success Seminar (U-PASS) Teacher

Tosha was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a graduate from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She began working with youth early on through church, community organizations, mentoring and tutoring. She worked as a behavioral science instructor for the Community Learning Center (CLC), an after school program for youth. Throughout Nebraska, she has also worked as a middle school teacher and as a case manager for at-risk youth. This fall, she will pursue her Master’s in Community Counseling.

"I believe our NCPA scholars will have a successful future. Getting a college degree breaks the cycle of poverty and low education. Graduating from college means being able to provide for their families, getting better jobs, creating stability and planting seeds for their children."
- LaTosha Johnson

College Programs

Jeff Hall

Jeff Hall

Retention & Mentor Coordinator

Jeff was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He found his passion for working with young people during his first year at UNL as a part of the Upward Bound program at Northeast. Since then, Jeff has taught students at Benson High in Omaha, worked with the Urban League and Omaha Public Schools at an after-school program, and as a substitute teacher for OPS. This fall, he will be beginning his graduate degree, pursuing a Master's in Educational Psychology.

"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

Morgan Conely

Morgan Conley

Graduate Assistant

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 at Omaha North Magnet High School.

"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

Nichole Shada

Nichole Shada

Graduate Assistant

Nichole Shada is originally from Winner, South Dakota. Nichole is a Graduate Assistant in the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy Wellness Program. Nichole obtained her bachelor of science in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2006. After graduating from UNL, Nichole moved to Kansas City, where she pursued a master's degree in Business Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Nichole has worked in the UNL Undergraduate Office of Admissions since 2008. She has recently decided to pursue a master's degree in Educational Psychology at UNL. As part of the NCPA Wellness Team, Nichole will provide services and support for students from Grand Island Senior High School.

"Students in NCPA are given an amazing opportunity to gain a solid foundation in education so they can go on to reach their goals."
- Nichole Shada