What’s Up?! – August 2018

Back to school

There is something about a new box of crayons, freshly sharpened pencils or organizing papers into bright and sharp new folders. And don’t get me started on the mystical power of a new pair of shoes.

New isn’t always better, but it turns out that in the business of becoming our best – new is essential.

According to scientists, learning something new causes the brain to build connections between neurons, even replacing some of those we lose over time.  New experiences also trigger the release of dopamine, a powerful brain chemical that participates in all sorts of brain activity – including boosting our mood and motivation.   

Whether we’re driven by science or the love of adventure, putting ourselves in a position to try new things, and expand our learning brings numerous benefits. Plus, it’s often just plain fun.

I’m always amazed at young people’s capacity for learning and adapting to anything new, especially the joy so many of our students display when they have the opportunity to jump into something they’ve never tried. A few of our summer adventurers…

  • Jason gave himself the summer assignment of exploring music and artists that are new to him; researching new artists and even checking out some live performances.  It’s been great fun talking music with Jason and of course, suggesting some essential “oldies” for his playlist.
  • Angelica never fails to bring her inquisitiveness to tutoring or events. Her persistence in asking questions and her gift of wanting to dig deeper into the facts or ideas she’s trying to master, have challenged us all to know more, and inspired more than a few staff research projects.
  • Maddy, Mary and Beja walked the runway in a local fashion show. Fierce and fearless  – what great skills for taking on the world.

Much like our leaders, we have spent the summer building some exciting new partnerships, reaching out to our neighbors who haven’t yet learned about Lead Up,  and building a new website that brings you closer to the Lead Up story. I must say, we’re definitely in a great mood and motivated for a terrific school year.

If the displays of colorful notebooks, the latest backpacks and fresh bottles of white glue have inspired you too, towards the fun of something new (while helping others find their groove) you’re welcome at Lead Up.  Hope to see you soon.

Julie Allen

Founder and CEO

P.S. Congratulations to Program Specialist Jocelyn Wolff, who went all in to “new,”  becoming a newlywed earlier this month.

Drawn to a New Genre-

by Aubrey Shumake


Our July book tasting was jam-packed with graphic novels and comic books galore, a genre several of our students hadn’t encountered before. This tasty new experience hit our students with a POW, if you will:

  • “I wasn’t really familiar [graphic novels and comics] before, besides stuff like the huge Marvel franchise. I was really surprised when I found out that they remade classic books like Fahrenheit 451 into graphic novels. My favorite part was when we had to look for books that we wouldn’t pick up normally, it helped me gain more of an open mind when choosing books. I want to read more graphic novels because I think it’s fun to look at the pictures that go with the story.”
  • “Before the tasting I’d never read comics or graphic novels ever…but I’m glad I did. At first I thought [they] would be boring and lame but they’re actually fun and eye-catching. What excited me…was the new Black Panther comic (by Ta-Nehisi Coates) that I never had thought would exist! My favorite part of my new experience with graphic novels was seeing many different illustrations that kept me interested in finding out more about the story…I would love to read some now!”

Rock On

by Aubrey Shumake

Jason, a Hip Hop and R&B fan who writes his own music, is a member of our newest class and a sophomore this year. This summer he embarked on an adventure, one that involved a bit of head banging and a guitar solo or two. In July, Jason attended the final run of Vans Warped Tour, a traveling rock music festival: “Music is the most important thing in my life, I feel like music and poetry are very closely related because of the story they both tell. I went to Vans Warped Tour because I think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things.” For Jason, this meant embracing his curiosity and keeping an open mind toward rock music, a genre he was less familiar with. Jason returned to Lincoln with a few new CDs, a lot of stories to tell, and a recommendation for everyone: “Music is something that’s very powerful and influential…I feel like people should experience and try new types of music every once in a while.” We admire the inquisitive spirit that drives Jason to explore and understand the unfamiliar – for those about to step outside their comfort zone, we salute you.

Lead Up in Space?

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” spoken by the incomparable Marian Wright Edelman, is one of the most important guiding ideas behind Lead Up.

Exposure to the incredible range of career opportunities available to students is just one of the barriers that can limit a young person’s horizons. Access to role models, and changing cultural perceptions of what certain professionals look like, also impacts what students choose to explore and ultimately pursue.

That’s why we’re teaming up with the Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation for a new project called “Up Close and Personal” which will bring students all over the country in contact with top professionals across the aerospace industry; careers they may not regularly get to see.

Via distance technology, space industry experts in a variety of disciplines will be available for students to meet and question. Hosted by students – including our own wonderful Leaders right here in Lincoln –  a new conversation will “screen” live each month, and then be available on demand via a dedicated YouTube channel.

NASA estimates that it took more than 400,000 engineers, scientists, technicians and others to accomplish the Apollo 11 moon landing. Our continuing exploration across the universe and beyond will surely require as great a team – and Lead Up is going to help build it!

Follow along on our Facebook or bookmark our website www.leadupne.org for the first airing date and news of other exciting STEM-related programming we’re introducing this year.

You’re coming, right?

Sept 7 - No Clue? explore history and find your future

5pm – 7pm   – Nebraska History Museum

Attention area high school students: If the questions, “What’s your major going to be?” or “What career are you interested in?” are still open-ended, this event is for you.  Not your usual career night, the evening will feature a unique “hunt” through the careers available in museums and historic societies.  Snacks, prizes and of course all of the museum’s great exhibits will be open for you to check out. Lead Up students will be your hosts as you network with museum professionals working in Archeology, Conservation, Education, Preservation and other exciting roles that preserve and bring history to life. Fun place, interesting people, and new possibilities. We’ll see you there.

Sept 18 - quarterly networking event

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm – North Star High School

Each quarter, the media center at North Star High School becomes a hive of excited activity as professionals and leaders from across Lincoln join our student Leaders and their invited peers for networking.  These events provide students with meaningful opportunities to practice basic interpersonal and business skills, and to meet people they can follow into interesting professional or personal pursuits. Come out and meet our Leaders and learn more about Lead Up. By sharing just one hour, you could broaden a lifetime of horizons. R.S.V.P. Volunteer@leadupne.org

Questions or more information?  Check out our webiste @ www.leadupus.org or, email admin@leadupne.org.