Success in the Villiger family meets at the intersection of Motivation and Tradition.

Columbus East High School valedictorian Aaron Villiger is following in the academic footsteps of his brother, Jacob, and mother, Jennifer.

Jacob Villiger was valedictorian for the Columbus East Class of 2014. The boys’ mom, Jennifer, was at the top of her class academically in 1985 at Hauser High School.

“It’s cool to think that three people out of our family of four are valedictorians,” Aaron said.

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But her sons’ high school course loads have been more challenging than what she experienced three decades ago, Jennifer Villiger said.

“They are taking classes in high school that I took in my second year of college,” she said.

Besides high grade-point averages, another Villiger tradition is becoming well-entrenched.

Jacob is majoring in mechanical engineering at Purdue University. Aaron plans to attend either Purdue or Notre Dame University, also to study mechanical engineering.

And their father, Dan, is — you guessed it — a mechanical engineer at the Columbus-based global engine maker, Cummins Inc.


Aaron said he never felt any pressure to reach levels that other family members before him had achieved.“I thought if I studied hard and worked hard, I would be able to follow in line,” he said.

With a self-driven son, it was not necessary for Aaron’s parents to motivate their second-born son, Jennifer said.

With a grade-point average of 4.32 on a 4.0 scale, Aaron had that under control, even with a healthy helping of extracurricular activities.

Aaron maintained his grades while also performing in the Olympian Spirit Marching Band, Columbus East Jazz Band and his high school’s math and science academic teams, for starters. He was a top performer in those, too, earning a gold medal at the Indiana State School Music Association Solo and Ensemble competition.

The youngest Villiger credits organizational skills with helping him achieve his goals, with a little help from his older brother, also a scout in Troop 555.

“Since I was three years older than Aaron, I think that I was able to model the skills that I was learning and developing myself, such as servant leadership and cooperation with peers,” Jacob said.

But the work and continual push to improve were all on Aaron, his brother said.

Looking ahead

“He is one of those special people that have a dedication to being the best he can be,” Troop 555 Scoutmaster Brian Tyler said. “Aaron has always had the drive to look to the next skill, the next rank or the next outing.”And at the top of his Scouting to-do list was reaching the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in the Boy Scout program, which seven percent of all Boy Scouts earned in 2013, the most recent year available from Boy Scouts of America.

In order to achieve this rank, a Boy Scout must:

Progress through the ranks in order.

Earn 21 merit badges, including first aid, citizenship in the community, nation and world, personal fitness, emergency preparedness/lifesaving and more.

Hold a troop leadership position for at least six months while holding the rank of both Star and Life.

Find, plan, organize and execute an Eagle Scout project.

Take part in a Scoutmaster conference.

Successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review, which includes obtaining at least four letters of recommendation from people outside of his family.

For his Eagle Scout project, Aaron built shelves in an unused area of his church to store files and other items for the church community. This included petitioning the groups for space requirements, developing a plan and meeting with the groups for approval. Then he had to gather resources, find others to help and begin building and installation.

The skills he has learned in Boy Scouts will serve him well in the future, but “Aaron’s optimism and positive outlook will be his most valuable asset,” Tyler said.

“When Aaron achieved Eagle Scout was a proud a moment, but there have also been music and academic awards. I am most proud that he is a good, kind young man,” Jennifer said.

Aaron Villiger

Age: 18

GPA: 4.32

Parents: Jennifer and Dan Villiger

Brother: Jacob Villiger, junior at Purdue University

Hobbies: Band, East Academic Team, Boy Scouts, church activities, Parks and Recreation soccer

Elementary and middle school: St. Bartholomew Catholic School

What's next

Hauser High School’s Top 10 students will be published in June, after the semester ends.

Find Columbus East’s Top 10 here:

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5633.