Alex Wiedemann, a senior from Rogersville, was recognized as “Student of the Block” for the seventh block at Tusculum College in recognition of his academic achievements and involvement on campus.
Wiedemann, a mathematics major who has minors in chemistry and biology, was presented the honor during a ceremony in the Living Room of the Niswonger Commons, where a plaque recognizing his accomplishments will be displayed. The award was established by the Office of Student Affairs to recognize students for their academic achievement, leadership on campus and contributions to the college community.
Graduating later this month with summa cum laude honors, Wiedemann has made his mark in the sciences and has become a great force of educational outreach on the campus and greater community.
He served as a teaching assistant in General Physics I and II for Dr. Katherine Stone, assistant professor of mathematics and geology, the first paid teaching assistant for the College. Wiedemann has served as peer tutor for mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology as well as a tutor for students from local high schools and other local colleges.
Dr. Stone nominated him for the award, writing that “Alex’s professionalism, scholarly pursuit, and his overall demeanor sets him [apart]. Alex is the first teaching assistant that Tusculum has ever employed. Alex planned and led problem sessions, roughly nine hours per week, presented supplementary lectures, created study guides and clarified lecture material as requested. He did this on top of the Student Services tutoring hours.”
She noted that Wiedemann attended the Mathematics Association of America Southeast Regional meetings and competed in team mathematics competitions for the past two years. Wiedemann, along with fellow student Christopher Armstrong, was awarded the Appalachian College Association Ledford Award, which is granted to individual students performing research at member institutions of the association. The students presented their work at the Appalachian College Association 2012-2013 Summit in Knoxville.
“There is much more to Alex than his ‘book smarts,’” Dr. Stone also wrote. “Alex has been active in so many student activities and is well liked by everyone who meets him. I can’t find the words to express how honored I am to have been part of Alex’s life.”
In addition to his academic accolades in the classroom, he secured a prestigious internship with the Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport. “I received this aggrandized internship position through the generous help of (Tusculum) President Nancy Moody and Dr. Larry Brotherton (a 1970 Tusculum alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees),” he said. “It is our hope that this opportunity I was afforded will open doors for internships and jobs at Eastman for future Tusculum College students — especially with the chemistry major being added.”
During the past year, he has served as president of the Tusculum College Chapter of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society and has served as president of the Pi-oneer Union. He served as a work-study student for the Office of Academic Affairs. He is also a member of the President’s Guild, Society of Physics Students, American Physical Society and Voices Against Violence.
A first generation college student and son of a German immigrant, Wiedemann was born into a military family, which moved to Rogersville when he was six. Not academically challenged in school, his parents decided to home school him. He was homeschooled through middle school and self-taught through high school.
These distinctive educational journeys allowed Wiedemann to experience and pursue a variety of interests, which translated to his current passions. He owns and currently operates a small bee farm for profit, which he founded at 14.
His experience as a homeschooled student was an influence on his decision to choose to attend Tusculum. “The block system is, in essence, how I already did my schoolwork at home, so I assumed it would be easier to become acclimated to a school atmosphere if the structures were similar,” he said.
As he settled into Tusculum, Wiedemann found a supportive environment. “The faculty, staff and administration of Tusculum have played a major role in changing my life, he said. “I cannot count the number of people, from adjunct faculty to President Moody, that have taken a personal interest in my development as both a student and an individual, going above and beyond in helping me succeed. The personal relationships I hold with many of the professors have greatly affected my life goals, and I see many of them as role models.”
Wiedemann plans to continue his education and will be attending the University of South Carolina in the fall to pursue a doctorate in mathematics. His future goal is to become a professor at a research university and be an advocate for science education for underprivileged or underrepresented minorities.