Developing confident leaders

Aug 05, 2021

Last fall, in a new partnership between Creighton University and Union Pacific Railroad, the first eight Union Pacific Scholars arrived on campus.

Featured Testimonial About Creighton University

The UP scholarship is one of the  most important reasons I’m here. I needed financial aid to attend college, so with UP, it all came together. This scholarship gave me so much confidence.

UP Scholars

Union Pacific Diversity Scholars, left to right: Christian Purnell, Jayden Liu, Mackenzie Spigner, Ophelie Koffi, Jenna Kristan, Roland Onwona-Agyeman, Rebekah Alvarez, Luke Estrada

“WE ALL SCREAMED; WE WERE SO EXCITED … IT WAS CRAZY.” That’s the  reaction that Roland Onwona-Agyeman and his family had when he learned he would enroll at Creighton University.

On that February afternoon in 2020, Roland had played soccer with his local Polk City, Iowa, club in Omaha. When he returned home, his mother and father  were waiting for him with a package  from Creighton.

“My parents have always loved Creighton. When my dad handed me my mail, I just knew it was about the scholarship.”

Roland is one of eight freshmen in the inaugural class of the Union Pacific Diversity Scholarship Program. He says in high school he considered soccer  scholarships at other universities, but the UP award solidified his decision to come to Creighton.

“The UP scholarship is one of the  most important reasons I’m here,”  Roland said. “I needed financial aid to attend college, so with UP, it all came together. This scholarship gave me so much confidence.”

Roland Onwona-Agyeman

For the Onwona-Agyeman family, education is a top priority. Roland says  that his parents have always been a source of inspiration for him.

“Watching my parents and knowing their journeys inspires me. They opened my eyes to the importance of education and showed me that school is about more than grades. It’s about access,  opportunities and success.”

In 1993, Dr. Ahmed Agyeman and Rhoderline Onwona-Agyeman emigrated from Ghana to Iowa. Both graduated from Iowa universities and are active members in their community through programs such as the Iowa International Center, the Ankeny Community Network, Urban Dreams, Polk County Childhood Iowa and the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa.

“Because of my parents, I set high  expectations for myself,” Roland said. “I try to be a good role model for my peers and my siblings, through volunteering and through my own education. The Creighton Heider College of Business is the best in the country, and I know I’ll  be challenged here. I know I can set a good example.”

In high school, Roland was active with Youth Congress and Oribs, a project management program that strengthens skills in leadership, problem-solving  and communication.

“I learned how to use my voice, and I  realized that I can make an impact,” Roland said. “I can’t change the entire world, but I learned that I can really  help in my community. And that while I’m helping others, I’m also growing as  a person.”

While COVID-19 impacted his first year of college at Creighton, in his second semester he started playing intramural soccer, joined a fraternity and started a role as a campus tour guide. And in May, Roland began an internship with UP. 

He says he now looks forward to taking  advantage of all the opportunities offered by UP. His long-term goal is to earn his Master of Business Administration degree.

“I know that experiences with UP will  be amazing, and hard work is critical.  I want to always be learning and to enjoy every minute I have at Creighton and with UP,” Roland said.

With roughly 31,000 employees across the nation, Union Pacific, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in the heart of downtown Omaha, engages students who can articulate and promote workplace leadership in diversity and inclusion for  a more just world.

“At Union Pacific, we believe diverse perspectives drive stronger idea generation  and spark creativity that, ultimately, fosters innovative solutions in today’s rapidly changing world. This scholarship program is a step toward strengthening our  future workforce and creating a diverse,  equitable and inclusive community,” said Lance Fritz, Union Pacific chairman,  president and CEO.