Lincoln, Neb. — Soon-to-be Nebraska alumna Rebel Sjeklocha is energetic as she eyes the future, including plans to someday compete for the title of Miss Rodeo Nebraska, but not before taking a moment to reflect on her rural ag roots, support from her family and formative experiences at Nebraska.
The senior agricultural and environmental sciences communication major, with minors in Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship and, law and business, admits she planned on pursuing a degree in history or English until she stepped foot onto East Campus.
“I really wasn’t excited about college until I went on my CASNR visit, and that’s when I knew that this was going to be a really exciting step for me,” said Sjeklocha .
Looking to find her niche during her freshman year, Sjecklocha joined the CASNR Advisory Board and hosted a series of events called Dialogue with the Dean, as a way for students within the college to address student concerns and ask questions face-to-face with the dean.
At one of the Dialogue with the Dean events, Sjeklocha inquired about the advising process and says Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss stayed afterwards to listen to her concerns. Several weeks later during enrollment time, Dean Heng-Moss emailed Sjeklocha personally to check in and see if her concerns had been resolved, or if she could assist in connecting her to resources.
“That’s when I was like, ‘CASNR is the real deal.’ A, she didn’t have to do that and B, the fact that she remembered so many weeks later to follow up with me, that was cool,” Sjecklocha said. “Also, I’m pretty sure she knows every single person’s name on campus. That's just one small example of the individualized experience CASNR provides.”
A third-generation Husker, Sjecklocha says she has always been inspired by her mom and grandmother, who both instilled values of leadership and work ethic, as well as a deep conviction of dreams and goals.
Following the footsteps of the women in her family, Sjeklocha dove headfirst into her love for creativity and business by joining The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program during her sophomore year.
“It is so easy to brag on Engler, but no other university offers an experience like this, where you get so much ownership of your experience, whether that be real world entrepreneurship experience in starting a business or leadership positions where you actually feel like you’re making a difference,” said Sjecklocha.
Looking to build a strong portfolio and combine her agricultural communications education and unique law and business strengths, the Engler program ultimately gave her the chance to combine all of her passions. She served as a teaching assistant for the Engler intro course, and as a member of the executive team.
While she was involved in lots of organizations on campus, such as the Husker Equestrian competition team, Greek life, and others, Sjecklocha says she feels she’s felt the greatest impact from the Engler program, in large part because of great mentors like Tom Field and Dave Lambe.
“He plugged into the coaching that was available, and it made it more of a personalized experience, for me because the invested in me as an individual, and what I wanted to do.”
While a portion of her education on Nebraska’s campus was cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions, Sjecklocha made the most of the pandemic continuing her work as an intern with KRVN and the Rural Radio Network.
Describing it as a push in the right direction, Sjeklocha made the experience her own, creating a podcast of her own for the network called Breaking the Barrier. As a nod to her roots, western traditions and love for the sport of rodeo, Sjeklocha geared the podcast towards trailblazers who are breaking barriers in and out of the arena.
“My experience with KRVN has just been really great because they have given me so much creative freedom that it makes me excited to go out and do my work,” Sjecklocha said.
Her work with KRVN and the Rural Radio Network ties perfectly into her advocacy role for Nebraska’s Biggest Rodeo and as a representative of agriculture in her current role as Miss Burwell Rodeo.
Sjeklocha has held many rodeo queen titles over the years, but even as she sets her sights for Miss Rodeo Nebraska one day, the title of CASNR alumna ranks among the top.