By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Does Aidan Weidner know everybody at the University of Nebraska at Kearney?
His friends seem to think so. They often kid him about it while walking around the close-knit campus.
“I just love talking to people,” Weidner offers as an explanation.
The Humphrey native picked UNK because he wanted to branch out after high school and develop relationships with people from outside his hometown.
“I made it a goal to meet somebody new every day,” he said.
That’s pretty easy to do at UNK, where there are countless opportunities to get involved through student organizations and activities.
Weidner has taken full advantage of his time as a Loper, allowing him to create connections that will last a lifetime.
“The best thing about being a student here is this is literally home,” he said. “When you’re looking for a college, you want to find a place that you feel safe going to and feel excited to go to. I just love the environment here and I love the opportunities.”
A junior majoring in elementary education with minors in special education and coaching, Weidner is one of the most visible student leaders.
As a campus visit assistant, prospective students meet him during their tours, and he helped incoming freshmen transition to college last summer as a New Student Enrollment leader. Weidner recently joined UNK’s Office of Student and Family Transitions as the student coordinator for Blue and Gold Welcome Week, so he’ll help organize next year’s back-to-school events, including the annual Blue and Gold Showcase and Destination Downtown.
He also serves as the facilities, campus development and sustainability chair for UNK Student Government and event programming co-chair for Loper Programming and Activities Council, a position that oversees planning for the upcoming spring concert, and he’s involved in Christian Student Fellowship, the UNK Honors Program, Elementary Education Club, intramural sports and University of Nebraska President’s Sustainability Council.
Off campus, he volunteers at local elementary schools, leads a youth group at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Kearney and works as a Nebraska School Activities Association-certified basketball and volleyball official and speech judge.
Weidner views these activities as preparation for his career as a teacher – a job that will require him to wear many hats.
“I see all of these organizations as breaks from school and a time for me to interact with other people,” he said. “They’re not distractions from my coursework. They’re breaks so I can focus on something else and grow in new ways.”
He’s evolving as an educator through the Teacher Scholars Academy, a program that provides professional development opportunities, academic support and financial assistance for future teachers. Weidner receives a full-tuition scholarship, plus $8,000 annually for expenses such as housing, books and food.
“I’ll be debt-free when I graduate,” he said. “That’s been a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.”
There’s one more big benefit.
Weidner’s most important relationship also came from the Teacher Scholars Academy. That’s where he met his fiancée Kylie Miller, an early childhood education major from Lincoln. The couple got engaged on Oct. 25 – two days before Weidner was named UNK’s homecoming king – and they’re planning a September 2023 wedding in Kearney.
“Because we wanted to start our lives together here in Kearney, that’s where we wanted to get married,” said Weidner, who knows plenty of people to put on the guest list.