Bellevue University Student to Receive Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association Spirit of Youth Award
Bellevue University’s Nicole Abbott has been selected to receive the 2021 Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association (NJJA) Spirit of Youth Award.
The junior criminal justice major is a first-generation college student who spent most of her life in the foster care system in Nebraska. She eventually aged out of the system when she turned 18.
Through her journey, Abbott has looked to pageantry and her experience in the foster care system as motivation. In 2016 and 2017, Abbott competed in Miss Nebraska Teen USA. She also competed in Miss Nebraska USA in 2020.
“Receiving the 2021 NJJA Spirit of Youth Award means so much to me because it is my passion to educate people about criminal justice and youth in the foster care system,” Abbott said. “I’m happy all of my hard work is going to be recognized and that I am making a difference in the juvenile justice system in Nebraska.”
The Spirit of Youth Award recognizes a young adult who has made great strides following involvement with the juvenile justice system; has overcome personal obstacles; and is making significant contributions to society.
Abbott will receive an honorary plaque and a $500 scholarship to apply toward any Nebraska post-secondary institution or training program of her choice. She will be honored during an awards luncheon during the NJJA Conference in Kearney on Thursday, May 6. Abbott was selected via a nomination process coordinated through the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association Board of Directors.
Abbott plans to graduate from Bellevue University in 2023 and would like to move to New York City to pursue a modeling and acting career. She’d also like to continue to be involved in juvenile justice work because communities need to understand it and how to make it better, she said.
Founded in 1966, Bellevue University is a non-profit university with more than 60,000 graduates worldwide. The University is a recognized national leader in preparing students for lifelong success with career-relevant knowledge and skills, while making college affordable. Routinely ranked among the nation’s top military and accessible institutions, the University serves residential students at its main campus in Bellevue, Nebraska, and everywhere online with more than 80 degree programs uniquely designed for working adults. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (hlcommision.org).