It’s why I’ve gotten this far

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‘It’s why I’ve gotten this far’

Google intern credits Raikes School

Search for this name on Google:

Maggie Witzenburg.

You’ll see she grew up in Omaha.

You’ll see she went to Marian High.

You’ll see she goes to UNL now and is a member of the Delta Gamma sorority and treasurer of an all-girls a cappella singing group called Boots & Cats, which made it to the semifinals of the college nationals this past spring. (“It’s basically just like ‘Pitch Perfect,’” Maggie says.)

Search for a YouTube video of the group, and you’ll see her sing and dance — she’s the tall, curly-haired one.

You’ll see she’s just going to be a senior in the campus’ selective Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, whose students have a median ACT score of 34.

And you’ll see she earned a prestigious internship last year:

Raikes student lands Google internship.

Maggie spent last summer at Google’s office in Pittsburgh working for Google Shopping. She loved it. She credits the Raikes School with giving her the real-world experiences and real-world connections she needed to land that job.

She loves Raikes.

She lives in the Kauffman Center, a brick building in the middle of campus that’s home to the Raikes School. It’s where she and the other Raikes students have their classes and meals and beds.

It’s where they bond, all hours of the day, in the study rooms and lounges and couches and suite-style living spaces.

It’s where they dream big.

The Raikes School, Maggie says, brings its students together in many ways — and in ways that help them succeed.

“I can’t picture myself anywhere else,” she says. “It’s why I’ve gotten this far.”

Search for this name on Google:

Raikes School.

You’ll see its mission is to prepare brilliant students like Maggie to become the leaders and innovators and product developers and entrepreneurs and CIOs and CEOs of the technology-driven world.

You’ll see it gives its students experiences that teach them how to solve real-world problems and how to lead others and how to work in teams. Design Studio, its capstone class for seniors, brings students together to do real projects for real customers.

You’ll see that Raikes School alumni have gone on to do some amazing things.

Search for these names on Google:

Hudl. The three founders of the Lincoln-based sports video software company – named to Fast Company’s list of 50 most-innovative companies of 2016 — met while students and friends in the Raikes School.

Cody Ebberson. He founded MedXT, a firm providing big data and analytic solutions for medical imaging groups. In 2014, MedXT was acquired by Box.

Chris Isaacson. He helped start Bats Global Markets, now one of the largest equity exchange operators in the world.

Rose Yao. She was an early employee at both Facebook and Google.

And you’ll see the Raikes School has a new director this year, Stephen Cooper, who came here from Stanford.

He hopes to grow the program to meet the high demand in the business community for Raikes students. He hopes to raise enough money so the school can attract more top-tier students because then more may plant their roots in Nebraska.

“One of the things that I’ve heard, mostly from employers, is that we’re too small,” Cooper says.

“We get outrageously strong students applying, but we say ‘no’ to students we should be admitting but we simply can’t afford the students. This is a hard thing.

“I believe we can grow and yet keep the ‘special sauce’ that makes Raikes so special.”

Search for this name on Google:


Spreetail is an e-commerce business with headquarters on the university’s Innovation Campus. The business has grown huge in the past few years. (“Make a Dent” is painted in big letters on a prominent wall its employees walk by many times a day.)

Brett Thome, its young CEO, loves to hire Raikes grads. He’d love to hire even more.

“One of our challenges as we grow into the future is we’re going to continue to need to exponentially increase the amount of software engineers and high-caliber business graduates each year,” he says, “and we just hope there’s more of them coming from the Raikes program and from UNL as a whole.”

Last year, Spreetail partnered with the Raikes School’s Design Studio students to build a local delivery application.

“We were really blown away at how fast and how efficient they were,” Thome says, “and how they were able to put together this practical software that made sense and was ready to be used right away.”

The Kauffman Center itself, Maggie says, seems to have been built to bring its students together so they can succeed together.

One night early in her freshman year, she says, the Kauffman Center was the site of some major soul-searching. She’d just failed her very first computer-science test. So had her friend.

“We just sat in the study room together and called our moms together and cried, which sounds terrible now,” she says. “But it helped us get through it because we were going through the same thing together.”

She smiles.

“I was very bad at time management my freshman year, and so was everyone else in my cohort. It was really nice to have that core group of people surrounding you who also were going through the exact same experiences as me. So it’s been really nice on the night before homework is due. We all sit in the lounges together and work on our homework until like 3 a.m.

“It builds a real sense of community and closeness, and it gives me a real sense of belonging — like you’re not just a number because you’re in that small community on campus.”

If you could talk to Raikes donors, Maggie, what would you say?

“I would really just say, ‘Keep investing in people like me and invest in the future with Raikes.’”

This summer, she’s again interning at Google. This time the job is in Chicago. And this time, it’s with another Google team she’s excited to join:

The team that supports Google Search.

Needs and opportunities are ever-changing at Nebraska, and through the N Fund, you choose to support what you think is most important. The N Fund allows alumni and friends to contribute to priority funds that support specific Nebraska colleges, as well as broader areas of need like student scholarships, faculty development and campus libraries.

One hundred percent of all gifts to the N Fund are used to improve the quality of a Nebraska education. By focusing on specific priority areas, we can advance the mission of the university, make private donations reach much further and ultimately help more driven and deserving students.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln would not be what it is today without the support of alumni and friends. Please make your gift today, and make a difference for Nebraska students.

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