Husker Dialogues: Q&A with Paul Pechous

Friday, August 25, 2023 Husker Dialogues: Q&A with Paul Pechous

Paul Pechous [Photo by Craig Chandler, University Communication]

Last updated: August 29, 2023.

The annual Husker Dialogues is happening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. September 6 in the Coliseum. All first-year students are expected to participate in this community-building activity. Students will hear from their Husker peers before breaking out into small groups with conversation guides about how to build an inclusive campus for everyone. Meet one of the Husker Dialogues speakers, Paul Pechous.

As the ASUN President and a Husker Dialogues speaker, senior special education (7-12) and political science major Paul Pechous hopes to make a lasting impact on campus and in the Husker community. He believes in the power of each individual’s story in adding value to our university and the family within. Through his leadership on campus, Paul aims to uplift student voices through listening, learning, loving and doing more.

What drew you to become a Husker Dialogues speaker?

"Husker Dialogues was such an impactful experience for me as a freshman. For me, and perhaps it's like this for other students, it was one of the first times I had joined a greater community and really engaged with folks outside of my high school and hometown community. Having open and brave conversations with someone new might be a little scary – but that is ok! Embrace those feelings, tell your story, and learn from each other. It’s these experiences that made me want to give back and continue to learn."

Who or what inspired you to become involved in organizations and events such as Husker Dialogues?

"Throughout my first year, I had opportunities – including Husker Dialogues and racial literacy round tables – that made me realize the impact and importance of having brave conversations and taking ownership of your story. As I continued my time at UNL, I got involved with NSE where we talked a lot about Husker Student POWER. I was able to see firsthand the impact of ownership and sharing your story with others."

Explain why it is important to learn and connect with Huskers from all different backgrounds.

"We all come from different places: some of us from big cities, others from small towns. Some are from Nebraska; others are from across the country. Some students are joining us right after high school, others may have taken a break or transferred from another college. We come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, beliefs – each of us is unique. The students and peers that we engage with at Husker Dialogues are your classmates, your lab partners, they’ll become your friends. At the end of the day, we may not always see eye to eye with one another, but as Huskers – and as fellow human beings – it's important to learn from one another and to learn about yourself. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have more in common with someone than you think."

What does having “brave conversations” mean to you?

"Having brave conversations means being open to listening and learning from each other – and yourself. It might feel a little uncomfortable at times but lean into that feeling and take it as an opportunity to learn. Brave conversations mean being respectful and authentically yourself."

Explain why Husker Dialogues is such an important event on campus.

"Husker Dialogues is such an important event because it might be one of the first times students are able to engage in authentic conversations with their peers about who they are, what their morals are, and why they are. I think we often hear about events like Husker Dialogues as giving students a way to learn about their peers and those around them. That is undoubtedly important – but I think what is even more important is what you learn about yourself. Husker Dialogues is such an important event because it allows you to grow and learn about your peers and community, but also about who you are."

What impact do you hope to have on campus and in our community?

"I think the impact that I hope Husker Dialogues has on the campus community is that everyone’s story adds value to the Husker Family. I hope that students feel that they can make a true impact on our community by taking ownership of where they come from, their unique thoughts and ideas, and who they are."

What steps are important to you to build an inclusive campus for everyone?

"At Nebraska, we say that every person and every interaction matters. It takes us all to see that mission to fruition. Listen and learn from one another, seek out new thoughts and ideas, and be brave by making mistakes – it's how we learn!"

What is the best way for students to build connections on campus?

"Find your people! There are so many communities on campus who share interests with you and want to get to know you. Talk to friends, professors, staff members – put yourself out there. I think students will be surprised by how much the people of the university community genuinely care about their successes."

Who inspires you?

"I know this may sound cliché, but heading into my senior year, I realized the most inspiring people in my life are my peers that call the University of Nebraska home. Our campus is home to 24,000 individual stories. These stories have so many successes, create so much change, and work to create a better world. It’s the everyday successes that I hear about that leave me inspired: a friend acing a test after studying for hours, our Husker teams finding victory on their fields and courts, students rallying to support causes they’re passionate about. The power students hold is immense. UNL students are change-makers, leaders, and friends. Each day, UNL students help me to love more, to learn more, and do more."

What drew you to becoming ASUN president and what does this role mean to you?

"As a first-year student, I never thought I would become the ASUN president. Although I wanted to be involved with student government, being at the helm of the organization was never really on my radar – I always thought there would be too much on my plate with student teaching and my last year at UNL. As I became more involved, my friends, staff members, and advisors from around campus started to encourage me to think about pursuing something more; and after some careful consideration—as well as reflecting upon my time here—I realized what a great opportunity it was to give back to the campus that has given so much to me. So, what does the role mean to me? It means being an uplifter of student voices; it means being a listener and friend; but most of all, it means giving back and saying thank you."

How does ASUN impact the experience of all students and connect campus?

"ASUN is an organization that makes tangible change on campus. Yes, we provide resources and services to students, but we are also the voice of students. ASUN provides many ways to get involved. We’re an organization run by students for students, and we strongly believe in the mission of uplifting student voices."

What goals do you hope to accomplish as president of ASUN?

"Our team has lots of goals for this year. Our vision for ASUN and the student body is to become the most collaborative organization that we can be. We are working across campus to create systems (in-and-out of ASUN) that intentionally include members of our communities. We are working on projects to increase mental health resources and campus safety. Most importantly, we’re a voice for students."

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