Finding a niche does not always come naturally. For Emily Weidner, her niche was a surprise. Weidner is currently an adjunct instructor of the Fine Arts Department and the director of the Benedum Fine Arts Gallery.
Weidner graduated from Waynesburg University in 2017, studying visual arts and art administration.
“Waynesburg is definitely something that God put into my life very early on,” she said.
During an interview, she recounted the story of when she found out about Waynesburg University.
Weidner went to a music festival with her church’s youth group in junior high, and there was a booth that was advertising for the University. At that moment, she knew she was going to end up going to school at Waynesburg University.
After graduating from Waynesburg, she went on to continue her education and receive a master’s degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She chose both schools for the factor that she did not have to choose a medium. She has an interest in every type of art.
Throughout her time at Waynesburg as a student, she founded the art club, she worked side-by-side with Professor Andrew Heisey as a work study student, she assisted in the construction of the galleries displayed throughout the year, along with maintenance to the gallery. This allowed her to become the perfect candidate for the director of the Benedum Fine Arts Gallery in 2020, soon after she graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 2019.
“I did not want to be a teacher,” Weidner stated. “When I graduated I could not get a job at any museum, whatsoever. I was able to get a job while I was in school, but once I graduated, I could not. I was like ‘what is going on?’”
Once she was offered a position at “Paper Source,” to teach workshops, it felt like the only option. With no experience teaching, she was pushed out of her comfort zone and she slowly learned and adapted for that position. She ended up loving it. For less than a year, Weider worked there until Heisey reached out about the position at Waynesburg.
“She is passionate about Waynesburg,” Heisey said . “She really likes this school, so she is a really good advocate for what we’re doing here. She wants the program to grow.”
Heisey is very excited to see Weidner grow into her position more. He believes that she has a lot of potential to direct towards her classes. What is unique about her situation is that she is teaching the same courses that she once took as a student here.
Once she began her position here, she had some concerns about being an instructor at her age. “I was honestly concerned about my age, because I look young,” she continued,
“I was concerned that students wouldn’t take me seriously or that I would have issues with that.”
She is relieved that she has not had a problem with that here and the students all give her the respect she deserves. Heisey described her as a positive, mature and encouraging person, which he believes that these qualities are a strong embodiment of who Waynesburg is.
Currently she is teaching several courses including American Art History, Women Art History, World Art History and Studio, Early Education Visual Arts and Printmaking. She says that since she has begun working, her view of Waynesburg has changed for the better. She loved her experiences as a student, but now being a part of the staff, her appreciation has grown.
“I think I’ve grown to appreciate [Waynesburg] more. Just because now, I know everything that goes into our programs. All the behind-the-scenes things that have to happen, all the work that our teachers do, I am more aware of that now than I was as a student here,” she said.