KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is recognizing seven May graduates with the Mary Jane and William R. Nester Student Leadership Award.
Established by former UNK Chancellor William R. Nester and his wife Mary Jane, the award honors outstanding seniors who have excelled academically and demonstrated exemplary service, character and leadership during their UNK undergraduate careers.
This year’s honorees are:
Emily Baxter of Bridgeport graduates Friday with a degree in chemistry with a health science emphasis. She will continue her education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine in Omaha, with plans to specialize in pediatrics.
Baxter was a member of the UNK Honors Program, Kearney Health Opportunities Program, Student Government, Alpha Phi sorority and Chemistry Club. She also participated in undergraduate research and tutored students through the UNK Learning Commons. During the summer, Baxter volunteers at the Roundup River Ranch in Colorado, a camp for children with serious illnesses and their families.
Her awards and honors include the UNK dean’s list, General Chemistry Student of the Year (2019), Organic Chemistry Student of the Year (2020), Analytical Student of the Year (2020), Biochemistry Student of the Year (2021) and Alpha Phi Freshman of the Year (2019).
Lydia Behnk of Elgin graduates Friday with a degree in business, marketing and information technology education. She will teach 7-12 business classes at Aurora Public Schools and lead an experiential learning program that connects students with local businesses.
Behnk served as president of the Honors Student Advisory Board and Secondary Educators’ Club, and she was a member of the American Democracy Project, Undergraduate Research Fellows, Christian Student Fellowship, UNK Leads, Circle K International and Phi Eta Sigma and Mortar Board honor societies. She also presented research at the Western Social Science Association annual conference and led a voter registration drive on campus.
Her awards and honors include the UNK dean’s list, National Business Education Association Award of Merit (2022), College of Business and Technology Outstanding Graduate of the Year (2022), Nebraska State Business Education Association Student Teacher of the Year nominee (2022), UNK Student Teacher of the Year nominee (2022) and College of Business and Technology commencement gonfalonier.
Nate Grimm of Fremont graduates Friday with a degree in psychology and a minor in coaching. He will pursue a master’s degree in sport, exercise and performance psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Grimm was a member of the UNK Honors Program, Chancellor’s Ambassadors, Undergraduate Research Fellows, Loper Leaders and Mortar Board, Order of Omega and Psi Chi honor societies. He served as president of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Greeks Advocating for Healthy Lifestyles, vice president of community service and philanthropy for the Interfraternity Council, vice president of the Psychology Club and human subjects coordinator for the Department of Psychology. Grimm also tutored students through the UNK Learning Commons, volunteered with TOPSoccer, Buddy Bowling, Habitat for Humanity and the Residential Assistance to Families in Transition program and served as an assistant track and field coach at both Gibbon Public Schools and Kearney High School.
His awards and honors include the UNK dean’s list, UNK Alumni Association Outstanding Senior award (2022), Greek Man of the Year (2022), International PIKE of the Month (November 2021), Interfraternity Council Leadership Scholarship (2021), PIKE of the Year (2021), PIKE Outstanding Member (fall 2019) and Fraternity New Member of the Year (2019).
Klaire Kirsch of Rapid City, South Dakota, graduates Friday with a degree in communication disorders. She will pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at UNK.
Kirsch is a member of the UNK women’s basketball team and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She participated in Undergraduate Research Fellows and the Summer Student Research Program and served as vice president of the Kearney Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association.
Her awards and honors include the UNK dean’s list, MIAA Academic Honor Roll (four times), MIAA Scholar Athlete (twice) and 2021 homecoming royalty finalist. A three-time All-MIAA Honorable Mention selection, Kirsch is UNK’s all-time leading rebounder in women’s basketball.
Truman Lauck of Bloomfield graduates Friday with a degree in middle level math education. He will teach eighth grade math at Schuyler Middle School while pursuing a master’s degree in education through UNK with an emphasis in STEM.
Lauck was a member of the UNK Honors Program, Residence Hall Association, Order of Omega and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies and Student Government, where he helped pass legislation ensuring UNK remains a safe and welcoming place for all students. He also served as president of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity and Interfraternity Council and helped organize community service and sexual assault awareness events.
His awards and honors include the UNK dean’s list, Outstanding Student Senator, Sigma Tau Gamma Man of the Year, Sigma Tau Gamma National Standards Board and Sigma Tau Gamma Outstanding Senior.
Noah Limbach of Kearney graduates Friday with a degree in exercise science. He will continue his education in the physical therapy doctoral program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with plans to practice in the Kearney area after completion.
Limbach served as UNK’s student body president and student regent in 2021-22, allowing him to champion initiatives addressing student affordability. He also served as president of the Exercise Science Club and held various leadership positions within the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Additionally, Limbach was a member of Chancellor’s Ambassadors, the NU President’s Sustainability Council and Mortar Board and Order of Omega honor societies.
His awards and honors include the UNK dean’s list, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Frank J. Ruck Leadership Award (2021), Exercise Science Student of the Year (2022), homecoming royalty finalist (2020), SigEp Member of the Year (2021), SigEp Sound Body Member of the Year (2020), SigEp Diligent Member of the Year (2022), Thompson Scholars Outstanding Student of the Year (2020) and Henning Family Foundation Scholarship.
Jacque Platt of Omaha graduates Friday with a degree in psychology. She will pursue a master’s degree in public health administration and policy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Platt was a member of the UNK Honors Program, Loper Programming and Activities Council, Cornerstone UNK, TRIO Student Support Services and Phi Eta Sigma, Psi Chi and Order of Omega honor societies. She served as president of the Panhellenic Council and held a variety of leadership positions within the Alpha Xi Delta sorority. As a member of Collegians for Integration and Accessibility, Platt helped plan Disability Awareness Week on campus.
Her awards and honors include the UNK dean’s list, Greek Woman of the Year (2022), B.M. Stevenson Family Honors Scholarship, MS Society Academic Scholarship, Dean’s Academic Excellence Award (2018-21), Alpha Xi Delta Living TFJ Award (2021), Alpha Xi Delta Outstanding New Member (2019), Alpha Xi Delta’s Kinsley-Slaymaker Academic Achievement Award (2019) and Board of Regents Scholarship.