Public figure teaches public service

Juniors and seniors meet Chuck Hagel


Photo Courtesy of Giuliana Gagliolo

Chuck Hagel, was the 24th United States Secretary of Defense under President Obama and a former state senator for Nebraska. Every year Hagel takes the time to put on the Chuck Hagel Symposium at UNO, which was the school he attended, to allow students and teachers to ask him questions and learn more about public service.

Ariana Griffin, Catalyst Online Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, a group of eight students made a trip to UNO for the Chuck Hagel Symposium. There, students listened to a speech by Chuck Hagel about the importance of getting into public service, participated in breakout sessions (which ranged from joining the military to serving the public through journalism), and got to ask Hagel, former United States Secretary of Defense, questions about his opinions on current events and other things that may trigger their curiosity. 

Hagel holds this symposium every year since now he is no longer involved in politics. He still is willing to give advice and his opinion on current events. Not only did students get to ask questions, but teachers also had time in a room with Hagel to ask him questions as well. Teachers also participated in the breakout sessions.

“Teachers get to have an in-depth conversation, we are in a classroom with Hagel and so we get to ask him whatever questions we want,” U.S. history teacher Alyssa Watson said. “There’s usually about 25 teachers or more from around the metro area that get to be in a class with Hagel, so that’s always interesting and enlightening to see the perspective from a former secretary of state.”

The event inspired students who attended. Although not all of them want to attend UNO, they still learned quite a bit about the public service system.

“It felt very empowering,” senior Matthew Houlihan said. “There were a lot of ‘what can we’ and ‘what should we’ do to improve the political fate of the nation and to tie back together the American society.”

There were about eight different breakout sessions for the students to choose from. Not only did Millard West students attend the symposium, but so did other students from around the metro. The students had fun with their breakouts.

“We broke off into the sections that we chose and I chose ‘We the People’s first,” junior Sara Ziemba said. “That was mainly about voting, race, and just things to do when you’re older. I also chose ‘You be the Judge’ which I liked. It was about law cases and law versus ethics. In that class, we also went over law cases that had already happened.”

One of the students, sophomore Giuliana Gagliolo, is interested in UNO and was happy about seeing the campus and meeting some of the professors. 

“It was cool to meet Chuck Hagel because he is a big person in politics,” Gagliolo said. “So, it was just fun to see his life, his story, and what he did to become famous.”

The Chuck Hagel Symposium is an annual event, so students will be looking forward to the next UNO trip next year.