Chambersburg Transfer Student Explores His Legacy at IUP

Posted on 9/30/2019 10:27:47 AM

As almost 1,000 family members descended upon Indiana University of Pennsylvania for Family Weekend September 20 and 21, 2019, a select group were getting to know other alumni and their children who are current students.

Elizabether, Austin, and Kurt Widmann

Elizabeth and Kurt Widmann’s visit to IUP during Family Weekend 2019 included the Alumni Legacy breakfast in the Blue Room of Sutton Hall and watching their son Austin during his performance as a trumpet player in the marching band.

Kurt and Elizabeth Widmann, of Chambersburg, are one such couple. They came back for IUP’s Family Weekend to visit their son Austin. They told their story while sitting together in the Oak Grove. 

Austin is in his first semester at IUP, after transferring from another university where he was studying chemistry and finance. At IUP, he’s majoring in music education after realizing he missed music too much.

Not long into his fourth semester at the University of Pittsburgh, while he was struggling to find passion in his studies, Austin called his dad. “I need to leave. I need to do music,” Austin said, recalling the conversation. Austin knew he needed to transfer, and IUP’s strong reputation in education and music put it on his radar. “There wasn’t much of a search. IUP was close, and I’ve got the family connection.”

Kurt and Elizabeth Widmann met at IUP soon after they arrived on campus in 1989. They were members of the IUP Marching Band—commonly known as “The Legend.” She was in the flag and rifle line, he was a tuba player. It was spring semester of 1990 when the romance became official.

Kurt Widmann and Elizabeth Hall c. 1990

Kurt Widmann and Elizabeth Hall c. 1990

Just when exactly is a matter of recall. “We started dating in April of 1990,” said Kurt.

“Or January,” said Elizabeth.

“January?” he said. “Oh wow. Yep, she’s right. We went to a movie at the HUB. 52 Pickup. Worst movie ever.” 

Both Kurt, BA’93, and Elizabeth, BA’92, became teachers. Originally from Allison Park, Elizabeth is a second-grade teacher at Scotland Elementary in Chambersburg. Kurt is a principal at Chambersburg Area Middle School North. 
But Austin left high school wanting to be something different.

“I was adamant: I’m not going to go to IUP,” said Austin. “I wasn’t going to do exactly what dad did. That was me not being mature enough to say, ‘It’s not bad to be like your father.’ I wanted to set my own path and make a name for myself. Then I realized that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. But it’s not bad to be like your family.”

Elizabeth then sarcastically thanked her son for his candor. 

“Wow, that’s good to know, son. It’s not bad to be like your parents,” she said. “We keep saying to him you’re in the right spot. You know you’re in the right spot.”

Nate, Elizabeth, Kurt, and Austin Widmann

Nate, Elizabeth, Kurt, and Austin Widmann

In the four short weeks he’s been at IUP, Austin learned his mother was right.

“I’m enthusiastic about my classes. I never really did that at Pitt. I would just show up and go through the motions. Now, I’m genuinely enjoying my classes, which is a good feeling.”

Austin hasn’t wasted any time settling into Cogswell Hall, the home of IUP’s music program. An accomplished singer and a trumpet player, he’s in seven ensembles, including the marching band. “My favorite thing about IUP is the practice rooms. I never have to wait. I can practice anytime I want. It’s great to have the facilities and support for music.” 

Austin’s enrollment at IUP might not be the end of the Widmann legacy on campus. Kurt and Elizabeth’s youngest son, Nate, is a high school senior and is dual enrolled at IUP taking classes in English and economics.

Not surprisingly, IUP is one of his top two choices for fall 2020.