Inaugural Community Leadership Challenge to welcome 20 students to Hastings

The inaugural Walter Scott, Jr. Community Leadership Challenge at Hastings College begins the evening of Friday, February 2, with 20 students from across Nebraska arriving on campus.

The application process drew 90 applicants, which made the selection process challenging, but also rewarding.

Graphic with bronco head that says Community Leadership Challenge 2024.“The number of applicants exceeded our expectations and made the process narrowing to the final 20 a difficult one. But this also shows how many young people have a strong desire to make a positive impact in their community and invest in further developing their problem solving and leadership skills to do so,” said Dave Rippe, director of the Scott Scholars Program at Hastings College.

The Hastings College Scott Scholars developed and are implementing the program in partnership with the City of Hastings, the Hastings Chamber of Commerce, the Hastings Economic Development Corporation, the Hastings Community Redevelopment Authority, the Hastings Community Foundation and the Suzanne & Walter Scott Foundation.

“It is encouraging to see such tremendous interest in our pilot program, and we want to thank all who applied. We are excited to see how the weekend challenges participants to think deeply and creatively about strengthening communities in Nebraska,” said Dr. Laura Miller, director of education for the Suzanne & Walter Scott Foundation.

During the weekend conference and workshop, students will explore the components, meaning and importance of community while using design thinking to solve real-world, community-based problems ranging from economic to social to developmental issues. They’ll connect with local and state leaders, as well as other like-minded students.

“The City of Hastings is thrilled to be part of an initiative that identifies and nurtures the potential of the state’s young people,” said Chad Bunger, development services director for the City of Hastings. “By participating in the challenge, these students will further develop the skills and mindset needed for effective leadership. I’m excited to witness their creativity and innovative thinking, and the positive energy they’ll bring to our community.”

The Community Leadership Challenge will take place at Hastings College and The Lark (809 W. 2nd St.) in downtown Hastings. After arrival activities on Friday, students will participate in team building and workshops on Saturday, followed by culminating presentations that begin at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 4 at The Lark. Doors open at 9:00 a.m.

Students selected for the inaugural Walter Scott, Jr. Community Leadership Challenge are listed below.

  • Samuel Acosta Castellanos of Grand Island
  • Irene Burrell of Creighton
  • Lucy Carey of Lincoln
  • Kayleigh Cetak of Lexington
  • Abigail Fielder of Hastings
  • Allison Haney of Grand Island
  • Stella Heapy of Curtis
  • Brooke Johnsen of Fort Calhoun
  • Sara Malcom of Roca
  • Rhett McFadden of Purdum
  • Breanna Miller of Grand Island
  • Caitlyn Mitchell of Hebron
  • Signe Morrow of Lincoln
  • Ashtian Nielsen of Minden
  • Rebekah Reynolds of Hastings
  • Delaney Rogers of Dunning
  • Carley Shaw of Omaha
  • Constance Stober of Kearney
  • Meharit Tewahade of Chadron
  • Avery Usher of Lincoln

Hastings College is a four-year residential college that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. Discover more at

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