UNK Today | Community Connections

Students have moved into the new 130-bed Village Flats residence hall at UNK. Village Flats features 68 one-bedroom and 31 two-bedroom apartments that are fully furnished. UNK offi- cials said the building reached capacity quickly. 2018 HUB UNK Community Connections inside Enrollment predicted to increase despite cuts. page 10 THE LAST OF 4 FEATURE SECTIONS HIGHLIGHTING THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT KEARNEY Full capacity Finding her home away from home By TYLER ELLYSON UNK Communications KEARNEY — Lena Jans- sen loved Kearney so much she couldn’t stay away. The city is a home away from home for the Univer- sity of Nebraska at Kearney student who grew up in Papenburg, Germany, a sim- ilar-sized community locat- ed near the Netherlands. Her unique connection to Kearney was developed in high school, when she was an exchange student of sorts while spending a year with UNK economics lecturer Theresa Yaw and her hus- band Brent. The Yaws both worked for Baldwin Filters, and Janssen’s father was an employee in the compa- ny’s Belgium office. Their friendship led to a discus- sion about swapping chil- dren for a school year. “We kind of chickened out,” said Yaw. “Our kids just never learned German, so it would have been impossible for them to go to school there.” Janssen’s older brother also passed on the opportu- nity, but she was game for the experience. “I’ve always been inter- ested in America and how life is,” said Janssen. “It looked very different from what our life is like.” The German school system encourages students to spend some time abroad and English is taught early on, so Janssen already was fairly fluent in the language. At age 15, she made the trip overseas. “I was kind of surprised by myself because I never was that person who would do this kind of thing,” said Janssen, who felt comfort- able knowing she had the Yaws to lean on for support. She enrolled at Kearney High School and completely immersed herself in Ameri- can culture. Janssen participated in cross country, swimming, track and jazz band for the Bearcats. The extracurricu- lar activities were a bonus since they aren’t part of German schools. “I tried all the things I couldn’t do back home. It was a lot of fun,” said Janssen, who also was intro- duced to UNK during her initial time in Nebraska. Yaw, who has two chil- dren close to Janssen’s age and a third who already was out of high school, was surprised by her guest’s outgoing nature. “I was just so impressed that she put herself out there as much as she did and got involved as much as she did,” Yaw said. Janssen gives the commu- nity some credit for that. “Everybody is just so nice,” she said. “That’s what I always tell people when Kearney Hub Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 JANSSEN , page 2 By AMANDA PUSH Hub Staff Writer KEARNEY — The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s newest residence hall, Village Flats, was more than just a means to build additional housing to the campus. It was an opportunity for students to provide input into what they were looking for in a living space, said George Holman, the UNK associate dean of student affairs. “Way back to the plan- ning stage we worked with students to try and figure out what they wanted in an apartment and after getting that feedback we’d take that back to the architect and say, ‘This is what our students are saying,’” Holman said. Village Flats, located at 2201 University Drive, is just south of UNK’s Health Science Education Complex and West Center. It replaced the nearly 60-year-old Uni- versity Heights apartments that were closed and sold in 2017. It’s the first new housing project completed by UNK since 2007, with funding coming from $12 million in revenue bonds and $4 million from a UNK surplus fund. Planners tried to construct the building from the feed- back students were providing when it came to housing. “Students gave a lot of input,” Holman said. “That’s one of the challenges is to try and look at those trends of what they’re saying.” Among those trends were students wanting big closets, independent living, easy access to the internet, convenience and reason- able pricing. Village Flats features 68 one-bedroom and 31 two-bedroom apartments that are fully furnished with wireless internet, cable, util- ities and furniture included. Each apartment has its own kitchen, so a UNK meal plan isn’t required for res- idents, and the three-story complex also boasts on-site laundry facilities, meeting rooms, a clubhouse space and outdoor patio. Planners for the residence hall also looked at national housing trends and worked to identify how to staff the building, the check-in process and “think about the student experience from the day they move in to the day they move out,” Holman said. The $16 million resi- dence hall was designed to accommodate upperclass- men, graduate and nontra- ditional students from both UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It is the first building to rise from the former cropland south of U.S. Highway 30 as part of the University Village development. In the same area, 104 acres of UNK-owned land will be transformed into an urban community that combines academic, retail and office spaces with recreational amenities, restaurants and housing. During the building’s ribbon cutting event July 31, UNK Chancellor Doug Kris- tensen said the development was going to be the heart of learning for the institution. “It’s going to match with our academic needs and our academic goals for not only campus but rural Nebraska as a whole and the state of Nebraska,” Kristensen said. “This is a vision of a very collaborative learning space.” “I think it says that we’re dedicated to students, that we really are focused on the student experience,” Holman said when asked what the new development means to the university. “I also think it says that we’re about student needs and given the fact that we’re 99 percent occupancy starting (Aug. 1) we’re definitely doing what we need to — to meet student needs.” Holman hopes that the residence hall aligns with students’ wishes. “I hope they love them. A lot of time and effort has gone into creating a product that we hope that they want. Our students have high expecta- tions and I think we’ve met those expectations.” This article contains information from UNK Communications. amanda.push@kearneyhub.com UNK freshman from Germany finds ‘second family’ in Kearney Corbey R. Dorsey, UNK Communications Kearney’s friendliness, charm and the Yaw family drew Lena Janssen back to Nebraska after she graduated from high school in her home country of Germany. She is a student at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The nearly full Village Flats filled up fast thanks to feedback on students’ wants and needs Village Flats units are fully furnished and include wireless internet, cable and utilities. UNK Communications The three-story Village Flats complex includes clubhouse space, on-site laundry facilities, meeting rooms and a rooftop patio. “It’s going to match with our academic needs and our academic goals for not only campus but rural Nebraska as a whole and the state of Nebraska.” UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen