Lane Weidner describes how he felt in the months before he started classes at Northeast Community College quite simply: “pretty devastated.”
In May 2015, Lane, the son of Mark Weidner, Norfolk, and Michelle Weidner-Jordan, Crofton, graduated from Crofton High School with excellent grades and an ACT score of 32, which means he scored higher than 98 percent of all test takers. He said he was offered scholarships from several colleges, but he had bigger plans in mind: the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.
Lane went through a rigorous application process to earn a spot at the academy, including securing a nomination from a member of Nebraska’s congressional delegation. His interview in Omaha involved several generals and business leaders.
“I was freaking out just watching him,” said Mark Weidner.
Despite the pressure, Lane succeeded and by that June, the month after his graduation from Crofton High, he was on his way the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Lane said he was not at the academy long before he knew it was not a good fit for him. By August, he was back in Nebraska.
Even worse, Lane said, he had lost all of the scholarships he had been offered before he began at the Air Force Academy. He said he found it particularly disheartening because “I knew I had worked hard to get what I was offered.”
Mark said he felt for his son.
“He gave up a lot of scholarships to make an attempt at the academy, and then to come home, and nothing’s there. We came back, and we were in a bit of a pinch.”
Lane said he was considering taking a year off before starting college, but his father visited with Eric Johnson, associate vice president of the center for enterprise at Northeast Community College and a family friend, about the possibility of his son attending Northeast.
Mark said the late J. Paul McIntosh, Norfolk businessman, developer and longtime member of the Northeast board of governors and college foundation board, also met with Mark about Lane’s situation.
“They really got the ball rolling, and I really feel indebted to both of them,” Mark said.
Lane and Mark both said their tour of the Northeast campus in Norfolk further convinced them the College may be a good option.
“It’s not the school that I toured in 1986,” Mark said, remembering his own teenage years.
Less than three weeks before the Fall 2015 semester was set to begin at Northeast, Lane enrolled in the College’s pre-engineering transfer program.
“Because the classes were small, I could make friends really quickly,” he said. He also said the small class sizes allowed him easy access to help from his instructors. Being able to contact my teachers directly, and getting the help I needed when I needed it, were perfect.”
Lane excelled at Northeast, earning a Nucor (Steel) scholarship in his first year and the Ken Iverson Memorial Pre-Engineering Scholarship in his second. He was also active in Phi Theta Kappa, an international academic honor society for two-year colleges that requires its members to achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.5 or above out of a 4.0 system.
Mark said he could recall many evenings when Lane would visit for dinner and could not stay long because of schoolwork.
“Lane loves a challenge, and he got challenged at Northeast. You don’t lose any academic ground at all going to Northeast.”
Even though Lane earned many accolades in his two years at Northeast, an honor from another institution may be his biggest yet. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has offered him a Regents Scholarship, which awards full tuition for up to 135 credit hours or the completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Lane said he plans to continue in engineering at UNL, where he will study mechanical engineering.
“Northeast has prepared (Lane) well for the next level…even more than I anticipated,” Mark said. “I think he’s going to be mildly surprised in a good way when he gets to UNL and he’s running with the pack.”
Mark admits he and Lane did not initially consider Northeast, as Lane went from college hopeful to
Air Force Academy cadet and back again.
“Sometimes the best thing is in your own back yard and you don’t even realize it.”
Submitted by Northeast Community College