Nebraska College Preparatory Academy

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Nebraska College Preparatory Academy

Padilla Named NCPA Director

We are pleased to announce Moises Padilla has been named director of the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, effective April 1.

Read the Nebraska Today article

Our Mission

The Nebraska College Preparatory Academy prepares first-generation and low-income students from Omaha North Magnet, Omaha South Magnet, Winnebago 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.


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


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


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

NCPA Institute of Excellence is supported by the Trenchard Foundation.


Moises Padilla

Director of Operations

Moises "Moi" Padilla immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 5 years old. The family moved from El Paso, Texas, to Lexington, Nebraska, when Padilla was in the fifth grade. He is a graduate of Lexington High School and a Husker alumnus. Padilla has worked at Nebraska since July 2013, serving in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services (OASIS), and Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center. As part of the admissions team, Padilla worked as an assistant director, developing recruitment and communication plans for several academic colleges and coordinated diversity recruitment efforts. He also helped initiate Spanish visit days on campus and led an initiative to translate the university’s admissions and financial aid materials into Spanish. Padilla served as associate director with OASIS and the Gaughan Center.

“I believe this program—which closes the gap between recruitment and retention of students who are ethnically diverse, come from low-income families or are first-generation students—represents the future of higher education,” Padilla said. “It’s humbling to be the leader of a program that has the opportunity to directly impact the lives of so many students and their families."

Deena Curtis

Retention Coordinator

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 the University of Nebraska–Lincoln 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

Jena Mendoza

Program Associate

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

Susie Owens

Senior Assistant Director

Susie grew up in Omaha and graduate from Omaha North Magnet High School. She majored in family science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln 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 Owens

Karen Palacios


Bryce Dantzler

Program Associate

John Jackson


David Orozco-Garcia

Senior Assistant Director

Tyler Nicholas


Vanessa Vaught

Retention and Mentor Coordinator

Nanette Gingery-Lankas

Winnebago Program Assistant

Additional NCPA Research

In 2016, Tara D. Warner, assistant professor of sociology, and Neeta Kantamneni, associate professor of psychology, completed a number of studies regarding the challenges and opportunities facing NCPA scholars. Click below for a summary of their results.

NCPA Sponsors

Metropolitan Community College
State Farm
Trenchard Foundation