Thursday, December 18, 2014

2009 Scholars: Where are they now?

By The Herald Staff | 5/16/2014

The Herald caught up with students who were selected as Elite Citizen Scholars in 2009. Five years later, where are they? What have the accomplished so far?


The Herald caught up with students who were selected as Elite Citizen Scholars in 2009. Five years later, where are they? What have the accomplished so far?


Ottawa High School

Briana Finch will graduate this weekend with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Though she is looking forward to working as a nurse at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, she didn’t leave Ottawa High School in 2009 with that goal, she said.

“When a friend of mine [from high school] got sick and I would visit her in the hospital, that’s when I decided I wanted to become a nurse and help others,” Finch said.

The daughter of Vic and Carol Finch of Ottawa, Finch was one of The Herald’s Elite Citizen Scholars of 2009. In addition to volleyball, Finch was involved with basketball, soccer, SADD, Pep Club, yearbook, National Honors Society, Link Crew, and prom and principal selection committees while at OHS, according to Herald archives.

After making the decision to become a nurse, Finch said, she completed her bachelor’s degree in public heath nutrition in three years, graduating in May 2012 from Kansas State University. That fall, she was enrolled in KU’s nursing program.

“What I find most rewarding is making a difference in someone’s life,” Finch, who has been working at the KU Hospital while finishing her degree, said.

Finch will begin her new full-time job as a registered nurse in June at the hospital, working in a progressive care unit, she said.

“You can have some great days and some bad days,” Finch said. “It’s hard to leave families and patients at the door. You are human, so you have empathy.”

Finch’s degree in public health nutrition will prove beneficial, too, in her current occupation, she said.

“It will help, because so many diseases can be treated and prevented with proper nutrition,” she said.

Working three, 12-hour shifts per week, Finch said a typical day would begin with taking reports and introducing herself to patients, examining charts to see what medications have been prescribed and reviewing doctors’ orders. In addition to dispensing medications, nurses also must prep patients for procedures and perform a variety of other tasks, in addition to filling out charts and making a head-to-toe assessment of each patient at 8 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. The 12-hour shift for Finch ends at 7 p.m.

An avid runner, Finch said she enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Finch is appreciative of the education she received at Ottawa High School, she said.

“I felt like I was prepared to take my college classes — some of my high school classes were harder than ones I took at college,” Finch said, laughing. “Teachers expected a lot out of you. Sometimes you don’t see it [while you still are in high school] but you know now they cared about you and expected you to do well.”

In the future, Finch wants to continue her education and become a nurse practitioner, she said. A practitioner is a nurse who is qualified to treat certain medical conditions without the direct supervision of a doctor, according to one health industry definition.

Finch encouraged students who are thinking about pursuing a career in the health field to stay true to their goals.

“Don’t give up and don’t think you’re not smart enough, because you are,” she said. “It takes hard work, but you can do it.”



Wellsville High School

If numbers are needed, Clint Newton is the guy for the job.

Newton, who graduated from Wellsville High School in 2009, has been a market analyst for INVISTA with Koch Industries in Wichita for about a year. He graduated in 2013 from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a minor in Chinese, he said.

“I like [my job] a lot actually,” Newton said. “Some of the day-to-day of what you’ve got to keep up on is the supply and demand of pricing. My group that I’m kind of involved with acts as a data hub for our organization. We collect a lot of data points from management and commercial and all these other groups in the company and compile it and come up with different strategies that we might be able to implement and regurgitate that back out.”

Newton, who was an Elite Citizen Scholar in 2009, is the son of John and Melissa Newton, Wellsville.

INVISTA is a subsidiary of Koch Industries and is one of the world’s largest integrated producers of polymers and fibers for nylon, spandex and polyester applications, according to the company’s website.

Though there are several other market analysts Newton works with, he has his own area of focus in the company, he said.

“I kind of have my own field,” Newton said. “I work primarily in demand. I control the pricing for various commodities that my company works in. I had someone come up to me just today and say, ‘I need to know the supply and demand of this product,’ and I say, ‘OK, I can do that.’ I have my own projects that I really work on for other groups in the organization.”

While Newton said he’ll see if he moves up in the company ranks after the first year, he is excited about the possibility of gaining more experience through working different positions within the company.

“People kind of bounce around from different positions,” he said. “They go from being an analyst to someone in commercial, so it gets you a lot of experience.”

While Newton continues his career as a market analyst, he encourages the up-and-coming Citizen Scholars to not just take advantage of opportunities, but to be involved in activities that they are passionate about.

“If I have any advice to give, it would be to find the opportunities that you can take advantage of and ones that you are passionate about and exploit them,” he said. “That is one thing I did throughout high school and college. In college, I was in two contrasting groups. I was in a student finance group, and that was something more academic and career focus. On the other hand,I joined the A capella group and sang throughout college, and with that one I actually got leadership experience from because I was an officer for a few years.”



Central Heights High School

Music always has been part of Bayley Kate Hartman’s life, she said, and soon she’ll bring two of her passions together to help children learn.

Hartman, a former Elite Citizen Scholar of 2009 from Central Heights High School, said she will be graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in elementary education in May 2015. Because music has had such an influence on her life, she said, she expects to use it as a teaching tool in the future.

“I’ve always known that I would work with children in some aspect, and my original plan was to become a speech-language pathologist or a deaf educator,” Hartman said. “However, after my first year at KU, I realized that I wanted to work with every child, regardless of background, and landed on Elementary Education with a TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Endorsement.”

Hartman is working toward a bachelor of science in Education and hopes to pursue a master’s degree from KU as well. She said she also works for KU School of Education as a pre-education advisor, an office assistant in the KU Department of Special Education, and as a job coach for a young woman with special needs.

Hartman is the daughter of Jim Hartman and Kelly Hartman and grew up in Lane. She said she tries to visit her mother frequently, who lives in Richmond, but they usually meet in Lawrence. Her father currently works as a teacher for the Baldwin City school district, and he was one of main influences in pursuing an education career. She said several teachers at Central Heights inspired her as well.

“My biggest role model is my dad. He is currently a secondary science teacher at Baldwin City High School, and he taught for several years at Central Heights,” she said. “I admire his passion and drive for knowledge and hope to be as great of a teacher as he is one day.”

But teaching isn’t Hartman’s only passion. She is also a long-time musical performer, beginning when she was a child.

“Music has always been a big part of my life,” Hartman said. “I have been performing since I was in elementary school, and began writing original music in high school.”

Hartman, who now lives in Lawrence, said she is a vocalist for the Lawrence bluegrass band Ashes to Immortality. She said the band met at a bluegrass festival in Winfield.

“We all became acquainted at the Walnut Valley Festival, in Winfield, Kansas, years before and started this band around four years ago,” she said. “We play the local Lawrence and Kansas City music scene — events, bars, venues, etc. — as well as festivals around Kansas.”

“Music is a large part of who I am, and I hope to incorporate music into my classroom someday,” she said.



West Franklin High School

Giving birth to her daughter forced Leah Henry to make decisions for more than just herself, she said.

“It definitely makes you grow up and you realize the decisions you make aren’t just for yourself but for your whole family,” she said. “That’s definitely something that’s changed since graduation.”

Leah Henry, a graduate of West Franklin High School in 2009 and Elite Citizen Scholar, gave birth to her daughter, who is now 14 months old, with her husband, Nicholas Henry. The two were married in September 2011 and now live in Topeka, but met in Emporia when Leah Henry was a student at Emporia State University. She said she and her family moved to Topeka because of her husband’s job.

No longer a student at Emporia State, she fell out of love with her then-major, she said. Henry planned to major in education at Emporia State, but today she focuses on another field of work, she said.

Leah Henry, daughter of Linda Kennedy and granddaughter of Phillip and Judy Kennedy, said she now is attending Colby Community College classes online studying to become a veterinarian technician. She said she owned two dogs, but had to re-home them because the family was moving to a smaller home situation.

“I’ve always loved animals. Ever since I was little I’ve always been surrounded by them,” she said.

“I realized this was what I wanted to do and I’ve been pursuing that,” she said.

She still wants to help the community, she said.

“I definitely want to work with a nonprofit when I graduate,” she said. “I want to give 100 percent back to the community and the animals.”

Although she doesn’t make it back to Franklin County as often as she likes, she tries to visit her grandparents in Ottawa when she can.

“I try to,” she said. “I have cousins and stuff that live there too. Whenever there are family collections, it’s in Ottawa.”

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