Last fall, in a new partnership between Creighton University and Union Pacific Railroad, the first eight Union Pacific Scholars arrived on campus.
Through the Union Pacific Diversity Scholarship Program, the high-achieving students engage in peer-to-peer mentoring, connect with community partners to grow their networks, and have valuable access and exposure to leaders from across both organizations.
“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.
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.
“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 Creighton’s inaugural class of Union Pacific (UP) Diversity Scholars. 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.”
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.
College of Arts and Sciences
Class of 2024
Polk City, IA
“I have always been driven to help others. As a UP Scholar, I feel like I have a voice. I’ve been interested in pharmacy since grade school, and I have always been confident in my abilities in math and science. I know I can make it through a doctoral program. I am lucky to be a part of the Creighton community and grateful for all the opportunities provided by Union Pacific. I cannot wait to make a positive impact.”
College of Arts and Sciences
Class of 2024