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Omaha Magazine

From the Editor: Voice and Identity

Sep 27, 2022 04:43PM ● By Nick Moore

For almost 40 years, this publication has given voice to Omaha, the Metro, and Nebraska. As our city grows and changes so does this associate editor; a sharp career change into a role I was born in Omaha to fill. My promise to my publisher, my staff, myself—and you, dear reader—is to continue that tradition. 

However, I have long believed that one thing Omaha lacks is a true sense of identity. Sure, we’re known for business and beef but that’s just part of what we are, not who we are. Although a “Nebraska Boy” at heart, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world, but have grown fatigued by snide comments about “flyover country” or “cows and cornfields” when asked about my hometown. And although many Nebraskans do identify with aspects of those images, I believe we have more to offer and be proud of. 

In this issue, we will introduce you to a stunning array of Omaha identities—a patchwork if you will—of our shared one. 

Our A+C Theater section features actor TammyRa’ telling the story of following her dream to appear on the stage. She got there and has earned much acclaim by being her authentic self and giving the characters she plays an authentic voice. 

The Active Living article in the 60+ section examines how a teacher from the landlocked Midwest pursued a career and a passion for the ocean. Though now retired, Pat Purkhiser remains an avid scuba diver, ecologist, and most of all, a beloved mentor.

Teacher retention is the focus of our main feature, and no, the answer is not their pay. What several teachers and administrators interviewed affirmed was that the exodus of talented and compassionate teachers is due to a lack of support, not money. Joel Stevens examines what schools, parents, and the community can do to make sure their voices are heard.

Dr. Joanne Li is the first Asian American woman to helm the University of Nebraska at Omaha as Chancellor. In this feature, she discusses her experience as a minority in academia, as a student, a professor, and now as the boss. She also explains her reluctance to be seen as an icon.

More in continuing education (pun intended), the Giving Feature highlights the Scott Scholars Program through the University of Nebraska system and how students are not just earning the opportunity to learn, but lead.

For a lighter taste of Omaha’s identity, we are transported to Armenia in the Dining Review, where Omaha Kebabs is impressing local palates with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. Then we’re off to the Balkans in the Adventure article where a father and son take an epic motorcycle tour and learn life lessons about opening their hearts and their hearth to “the stranger.”

Diversity of interests, talents, and personalities will shout with voices stentorious the true and strong identity of Omaha—I hope you enjoy this, my first issue as editor, as much as I did working on it; together we’ll figure out who we are. 

This article originally appeared in the October 2022 Issue of Omaha Magazine. To subscribe, click here.

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