The UNK Alumni Association has awarded the Outstanding Senior Award to deserving seniors since 1982. Applications are available each spring for students who will graduate by December of that year. An alumni committee will choose up to five outstanding seniors to be recognized in April.
Students who will graduate by December of the calendar year, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 overall, demonstrate leadership qualities, exude service to UNK and the community and is involved in a variety of student and community life can be considered for the award.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney Alumni Association recognizes four students with Outstanding Senior awards. The award honors UNK seniors for excellence in scholarship and leadership, as well as involvement and dedication to the university and Kearney community. Recipients were selected by a panel of UNK alumni.
Brooke Carlson, daughter of Kim and Gary Carlson of Elkhorn. Brooke graduates in May with degrees in mathematics and physics with an emphasis in pre-mechanical engineering. She will be attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where she will pursue a master’s in mechanical engineering and serve as a graduate teaching assistant.
During her time at UNK, Brooke was a member of the UNK Women’s Basketball team for five years. She served as captain, earned multiple MIAA conference regular season and tournament honors, and was a four-time academic all-conference and scholar athlete. Brooke was in the Honors Program, UNK Professional Development Academy, served as the Student Athlete Advisory Committee president, an FCA student leader and as an undergraduate research fellow. She participated in a Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) program that served as a charitable endeavor for elementary schools in the Kearney Public Schools system. Brooke completed internships with RD Industries and Baldwin Filters.
Joseph Hiatt, son of Jim and Sheryl Hiatt of Spencer. Joseph will graduate in May with a degree in political science and a minor in ethnic studies. He plans to complete the MBA program at UNK and will be working at the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce in investor relations.
While at UNK, Joseph served as a new student enrollment team leader, campus visit assistant, and honors program student coordinator. He also served as the chief of staff for UNK’s student government, president of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, Interfraternity Council president and president of the UNK Future Business Leaders of America collegiate chapter. Additionally, Joseph was active in the Honors Program, Chancellor’s Ambassadors, Mortar Board, Order of Omega, Pi Sigma Alpha honor society, Locke & Key Society, and was an undergraduate research fellow. He also volunteered his time for numerous organizations.
Tristan Larson, daughter of Brett and Belinda Larson of Trumbull. Tristan graduates in May with a degree in exercise science with a health science minor. Tristan will attend physical therapy school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center this fall.
During her time at UNK, Tristan was in the Honors Program, was a UNK Distinguished Scholar and was on the Dean’s List. She served as the student body vice president and multiple positions within UNK’s student government, was the student advisor for the General Studies Council, participated in the NU Alliance, was an undergraduate research fellow and resident assistant. Tristan was also active in Alpha Phi sorority, Circle K, and Chancellor’s Ambassadors. Additionally, she was a physical therapy technician at New West Physical Therapy.
Grace McDonald, daughter of Brent and Amy McDonald of Rockville. Grace will graduate in May with degrees in multimedia and journalism. She will be a multimedia journalist at 10/11 KOLN-TV in Lincoln.
At UNK, Grace served as the editor-in-chief of The Antelope newspaper, anchored and reported for the Antelope News Show, served as the Welcome Week coordinator, was a campus visit assistant and served as a counselor for the UNK Digital Expressions Camp. She was also involved in the Honors Program, Honors Student Advisory Board, Mortar Board, UNK Choraleers, and the Newman Center. Grace received multiple awards for her collegiate work including the Eric Sevareid Award for spot news, team multimedia storytelling, soft feature, story series, newscast and general reporting; NBA College Student TV for best news story; Nebraska Press Association for in-depth coverage; and six Golden Leaf awards. Grace has been a columnist for the Grand Island Independent and completed internships at the Kearney Hub and 10/11 KOLN-TV.