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Engineering senior builds houses and community

Moses Pacheco with a child in Guatemala
Moses Pacheco with a child in Guatemala

Moses Pacheco has dedicated much of his UNL career to making the lives of people around him better. Pacheco, a senior civil engineering major from South Sioux City, Neb., went to Guatemala in 2013 to build houses for families in need. He also has mentored dozens of elementary to college age students. Pacheco’s trip to Guatemala was an alternative service break trip organized by UNL’s Center for Civic Engagement. The program enables students to travel and participate in community service while experiencing new cultures during breaks from school.

PACHECO AND HIS TEAM’S WORK IN GUATEMALA Pacheco saw the trip as an opportunity to use his engineering knowledge in the real world. He and about 10 other students spent a week in Antigua, Guatemala building houses for two needy families. One of the houses the team built was for a family of five who were living in a one-bedroom house without running water or electricity. “They were basically living in a metal tin can,” Pacheco said. The team was able to start construction on a three-bedroom house with an outdoor bathroom, providing running water and electricity for the family. Pacheco is a native Spanish speaker and is pursuing a minor in Spanish. His Spanish speaking ability allowed him to act as an interpreter while the team was in Guatemala. Along with building houses, the team members were able to interact with native families and have fun in their off time zip lining in the jungle. “Getting the experience to go to a different county is unique. You come back with a lot of appreciation for what you have. You come back wanting to do more for your community,” Pacheco said.

PACHECO’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE LINCOLN COMMUNITY

Even when Pacheco isn’t serving needy families in other countries, he finds ways to help people. Pacheco has volunteered for five different mentoring programs since beginning college. Currently he works with elementary through high school students, engaging them in hands-on projects that may spark an interest in engineering. Pacheco wanted to help give these students an opportunity he never had. “When I came to college I didn’t even know what engineering was,” he said. “I just knew that I liked math and science.” Pacheco also volunteers for Golden Warriors, a program offered by El Centro de las Americas. He helps mentor 40 at-risk youth in Lincoln. The program is designed to teach students responsibility and to provide a safe environment for them. Since beginning college, Pacheco has been influenced by people who set an example for him and encouraged him to achieve his goals. He wants to pass on the favor to the next generation of students. “I want to give these students an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.” Pacheco is involved in several campus organizations including his fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, the Mexican American Student Association and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, which he and two others founded.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE Ultimately, Pacheco wants to start a construction company that will sponsor the college education of undocumented and underrepresented students. Eventually he plans to pursue a doctorate degree in structural engineering. Find information about alternative service breaks at http://engage.unl.edu/asb. Find a list of all the registered student organizations at UNL and start getting involved at http://involved.unl.edu/student-organizations. – by Kathleen Anderson, junior journalism major

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/g4ey