Valenta after work knitting on her bed

According to the Living Wage Calculator, a single adult working at minimum wage in Nebraska would need to make at least $14.93 an hour to cover their necessities.  However, Nebraska’s minimum wage has not changed since 2016, remaining at $9.00 an hour. 

Along with Nebraska’s minimum wage remaining the same for the last 6 years, the economic tragedy that Covid-19 has brought over the last 2 years has added hardship on top of that.  

Shelby Valenta is a sophomore fine arts major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  A full-time student, Valenta also works as the manager at the Hot Topic store in Gateway Mall.

Even as a manager, Valenta lives off little more than Nebraska’s minimum wage.   

With these long hours maintaining a life outside school and work can be a challenge, despite Valenta’s best efforts. 

Her days usually consist of the same routine.  Valenta starts her day off around 6 a.m picking out an outfit and putting on her signature eyeliner. 

After that, Valenta’s first task of the day is walking her dog, Buddy.  Once she has done that, Valenta will make herself some breakfast and get ready for the rest of her day at school and then work.   

Once Valenta is at school around 8:30 a.m. Valenta will have class until about 11:20 then will have to go to work at 12:30 p.m. and After work, Valenta will take her dog out once again for another 20–30-minute walk.  Then, Valenta has additional tasks to keep her busy.

Having a schedule filled mainly by school and work has made Valenta’s college experience lackluster, she said, especially the social aspects.

For this reason, Valenta is very passionate about the need for Nebraska to raise its minimum wage, especially for individuals that struggle to live off it.