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Academics, Student Spotlight, Valedictorian

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From Tinkering to Triumph: Tyler Widener's Journey to Valedictorian

In a world that often measures success by the ability to weather storms and keep forging ahead, Tyler Widener, the valedictorian of the University of Advancing Technology's Class of 2024, embodies resilience, determination, and a boundless spirit of curiosity.

"I keep getting back up because that's kind of what life is about," Widener reflects in a candid moment captured from a recent interview. "It's just how many times you can get back up and the drive to keep doing that and keep going despite whatever comes in the way."

Widener's path to academic excellence through a degree in Robotics and Embedded Systems is a tale of perseverance amidst change and challenge. As a military kid, he traversed the map, experiencing more of the country in his formative years than many do in a lifetime. "We moved around like every two years," he recalls, a testament to the transient nature of military life. Yet, it was within this ever-shifting landscape that Widener's passion for robotics began to take root.

7957226310961251378"I really liked helping my younger siblings... working on my own personal projects," he shares. "That's really how I came to love robotics—just tinkering around with stuff." It was this fascination with building and creating that sparked a vision: turning a childhood hobby into a lifelong career.

But Widener's journey was not without its hurdles. Being homeschooled, he admits to dwelling within a "nice safe little bubble," where extroversion thrived. Stepping beyond the confines of this bubble into the vast expanse of the world was a seismic shift—one that demanded courage and adaptability.

His transition to the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) proved pivotal. Here, amidst a community of like-minded individuals, Widener found his stride. "It's really easy to connect with people," he asserts, emphasizing the importance of reaching out, getting involved, and embracing opportunities for camaraderie and collaboration.

Indeed, Widener's impact extended far beyond the confines of the classroom. Immersing himself in campus life, he assumed leadership roles, including the presidency of the Nerf Club—an experience that not only enriched his own journey but also fostered a sense of belonging and camaraderie among his peers.

IMG_20220831_132342486_HDRAcademically, Widener excelled, diving into coursework with a fervor that belied his years. "I sunk into the work really easily," he acknowledges, attributing his success to a combination of diligence, early preparation, and a willingness to engage with faculty members in pursuit of shared goals.

Yet, amidst the accolades and accomplishments, Widener remains grounded, drawing inspiration from a deep-seated faith and a commitment to service. "A lot of my drive and inspiration honestly just comes from my belief in Lord Jesus," he confides, citing a guiding verse: "The joy of the Lord is my strength."

For Widener, the title of valedictorian is not merely a testament to personal achievement; it's a testament to the transformative power of perseverance, community, and unwavering faith. "When I learned I was selected as valedictorian, I was honestly very surprised," he admits. "It was really great to know that I didn't just survive College... I won."

From tinkering to triumph, his journey serves as a beacon of inspiration—a reminder that, with courage, determination, and a steadfast belief in oneself, anything is possible.

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