John Valencia

John Valencia
Meet John Valencia

Connections, professional opportunities propel Valencia towards the future

May 2, 2019 | by Courtney Van Hoosen

John Valencia has been traveling since he was 13 years old. Originally from Colombia, Valencia didn’t know much about Nebraska before arriving except that it snowed in winter and American football was a big deal.

At first unsure if he would find his place, Valencia’s mind was quickly changed after he felt welcome by Nebraska’s diversity and friendly culture

Valencia graduated from Lincoln North Star High School and began his journey as a college student at local community colleges. When he arrived in the state, Valencia quickly realized that graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was an important dream of his. In the spring of 2016, he began the first step towards accomplishing that dream, entering as a marketing major and impressed by the university's values that matched his own.

"I think diversity of ideas and people is one of UNL's values that 100 percent matches my personal beliefs," said Valencia. "I am a strong believer when it comes to the importance of diversity. Diversity is the tool for the success of an organization."

Valencia said he found diversity all around Nebraska's campus—from its inclusion in course materials to the amount of student organizations that celebrate multiculturalism. In fact, he believes diversity to be one of the university's strongest assets. After meeting people from around the world during his college experience, learning from welcoming peers who were open to hearing his unique perspectives, Valencia feels he has grown tremendously as a person through the connections he was able to make.

Nebraska and UNL remind me of home because of its people. I noticed that people are very welcoming, even to international students that face difficulties with language barriers and cultural differences. So I think the people here make it very easy for international students to feel like home and adapt easy.

John Valencia

John in Monaco

During his time at Nebraska, Valencia continued to make connections with peers and faculty through his coursework and local events. Some of his favorite memories he will always remember are Husker football game days. Coming from a country where soccer is the most popular sport, Valencia wasn’t sure if he could be so excited about American football. But after seeing the passion of the fans and the excitement people have as they interact with others in Memorial Stadium, he became convinced there is something truly special about game days.

“The thing that I cherish the most from my time at UNL is the connections that I’ve made. I cannot emphasize enough on the connections, just meeting other students, faculty or not even faculty members. It has allowed me to grow as a person and then seek other opportunities might not have been available in the first place,” said Valencia.

The connections he made led Valencia to a variety of professional development opportunities at the university and lessons learned that will help him excel in his future career. One of his proudest accomplishments during his undergraduate career is studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain at IAU College in partnership with the College of Business. Studying in Spain had been a dream of his since he was young, and Valencia thoroughly enjoyed his global marketing courses, learning about diversity in a new context, and traveling to other countries.

Through the College of Business Career Center, Valencia also took advantage of multiple career expedition trips to Chicago and other cities, where he improved his networking skills and learned practical tips for his post-graduation job search. Using the knowledge from these opportunities as well as the important information gained from the Career Readiness Certificate Program for international students, Valencia will graduate extremely well-prepared for the future.

John in career expedition in Chicago

"UNL supported me as a student by giving me the tools that I need to succeed in every single class, in every single year," said Valencia. "Since starting college at UNL, I've learned to be a more responsible person as well as a more independent individual."

In his search for employment, Valencia is keeping all of the lessons he's learned at UNL in mind, eager to gain even more experience. Eventually, Valencia hopes to achieve another one of his long-term dreams and become a business owner in the automotive or sports marketing industries.

As he prepares to graduate this Spring 2019, Valencia is grateful for the Husker journey that brought him out of his comfort zone and shaped him as a young professional. He's learned the true meaning of Nebraska grit and determination as an international student, and he's excited for the glory of "graduating from such a prestigious university."

"Coming all the way from South America to Nebraska has allowed me to make better decisions, make great connections and learn from those connections," said Valencia. "I am finally achieving this dream [of graduating] that I've worked so hard for, and I am eager to start my professional career where I know I will excel."

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