NORFOLK, Neb. – Abbey Sedlacek is following in the footsteps of her parents in earning a degree from Northeast Community College. The Pierce High School graduate said her father, Chad, studied business and returned for the Utility Line program, while her mother, Angela, graduated before entering the travel agency field.
“It was nice that they had such a positive experience,” Abbey Sedlacek said. “I credit them for helping me make the decision to go to Northeast where I could save money and get the big university feel for the affordable hometown price. And scholarships helped make that decision too!”
Sedlacek is a Business Administration major who is preparing to graduate in May and then transfer to Capital School of Hair Styling & Esthetics in Omaha. She is looking forward to owning and operating her own salon after obtaining her licensure.
Sedlacek said she has always been passionate about two things, a desire to own her own business and hair design.
“I thought it just made sense to combine the two interests into one career path,” she said.
As if that were not enough, the Hadar woman has been employed at Elkhorn Valley Bank & Trust since her senior year in high school. She said she has appreciated the bank’s flexibility with her school schedule and its support of limiting hours to allow her to have time to experience college life. In addition, she really enjoys speaking with and meeting new customers.
Outside of school and work, Sedlacek is involved with First Christian Church, volunteering and singing a on Sundays, and attending practice every Wednesday. During her first year at Northeast, she volunteered as a group sponsor of junior high girls (7th and 8th grade) and this year for high school girls (9th-12th grade) for the FUEL program each Sunday from 7-8:30 p.m.. Her responsibilities included leading a group and asking questions of the participants as well as conducting activities outside of the church setting.
For her hard work and dedication, Sedlacek was named the March 2021 TRIO Student Support Services Student of the Month at Northeast. The award recognizes outstanding students who have been accepted into the TRIO, a federally funded program that assists income-eligible individuals, first-generation college students (students who come from families where neither parent/guardian earned a four-year degree), and those with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline to post-baccalaureate programs. It also focuses on career exploration, cultural and social enrichment and self-awareness.
Sedlacek said she has appreciated the support she has received during her time in college, including that from her family, especially her mother.
“My mom has been there for me throughout it all when I was trying to figure out what to do. She has supported me and helped me guide my own path,” she said. “When I had my doubts, my mom always encouraged me to get out there, job shadow, do college visits, make sure I was making the best decision for me that I could live with and not be going into life blindly.”
Sedlacek said her instructors at Northeast have also played a pivotal role in her education. She has one in particular that has left a good impression – Gary Timm, history/political science instructor.
“I enjoyed his teaching style and felt like he understood what college students were going through with our busy schedules. He seemed very understanding, down to Earth and caring.”
In addition to her family at home, Sedlacek considers the TRIO staff as family too. She uses TRIO’s various services including technology loans that have allowed her to borrow a laptop, as well as an internet hotspot to help ensure her success through the pandemic.
“Staff encouraged the meetings throughout the semester to check in on how we were mentally, always were there to help with anything from a change of major to something smaller. The FYE (First Year Experience) class was a great start to getting to know people and get a good start as a freshman entering college as well.”
Sedlacek credits her TRIO advisor, Matt Sazama, for helping her piece together her time in college.
“It definitely helps to have an advisor that cares and helps you figure it out,” she said.
In addition to TRIO, Sedlacek was active in Student Ambassadors on campus. She was paid to give tours of campus and assist with other student events. She wanted to give a special shout out to Julie Defor, front desk receptionist in the College Welcome Center.
Sedlacek said “From my time as a Student Ambassador, we really connected and she would take time out of her day to check in with me and follow up with me on anything I mentioned I had going on that week.”
It may come as no surprise that one of Sedlacek’s interests is caring for others. She strives to be available as much as she can to check in with them in order to see how they are doing. She enjoys going out of her way to meet other people, as she put it, “you never know the value you bring to someone else’s life, and there is no other way to express that potential than to meet them.”
Josh Becker, director of the Northeast TRIO program, said Sedlacek is not only a great student, but a great person.
“Abbey cares about her education and has taken the steps necessary to be successful at Northeast Community College. She attends class and is actively involved,” Becker said. “It has been great to watch Abbey grow, learn and take chances on topics that interest her.”
Beginning in January 2020, and continuing each month of each semester, a participating TRIO student at Northeast has been selected for the Student of the Month award based upon their work in TRIO and in other activities on campus or in the community. Award winners receive a plaque from the TRIO program and have their photo placed on the “TRIO Program Student of the Month” Achievement Recognition board.
The board, located in the TRIO office, features the theme of “True Leaders.” It reads, “We define true leaders as those who are first to strive and who give their all for the success of the team. True leaders are first to see the need, envision the plan, and empower the team for action. By the strength of the leader's commitment, the power of the team is unleashed.”
Timm said Sedlacek’s selection as the TRIO Student of the Month at Northeast Community College is testament to her hard work and passion.
“Abbey is a hard worker who never shies away from doing what is necessary to do well in class. As a student, she is willing to ask the tough questions in class and a has the ability to grasp the concepts being discussed and apply them in real life situations,” Timm said. “These skills will allow her to do well in her career of choice.”
For more information on the TRIO program at Northeast Community College, visit https://northeast.edu/Support-Services/TRIO.