Nebraska College Preparatory Academy

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Nebraska College Preparatory Academy

Our Mission

The Nebraska College Preparatory Academy (NCPA) is an innovative college access program that prepares first generation and low-income students to achieve personal and academic success.

Preparing for college often requires more than academic and social readiness and financial resources. Many factors, both in and out of the classroom, can have a stressful and adverse effect on scholars. NCPA supports students through individualized development plans including academic and social counseling, leadership building and personal wellness.

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.


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

Abel Covarrubias

Associate Director

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

Malika Yadgarova

Sr. Assistant Director of NCPA Retention

Malika Yadgarova immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 15 years old. The family moved from Khujand, Tajikistan to Lincoln, Nebraska. She is a graduate of Lincoln Southwest High School and a Husker Alumnus. Malika has worked at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln at the William H. Thompson's Scholars Learning Community since February of 2014.

"I am excited to be part of the NCPA team. We all play a role in creating and maintaining an environment where our scholars achieve personal and academic excellence."
- Malika Yadgarova

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
Peter Kiewit Institute