News Release: JAG-K Students Compete at National Career Development Conference in Orlando

Several representatives of Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) placed in the top 10 in national competitions in Orlando last week, with two individuals medaling in their events.

JAG National hosted the National Career Development Conference (NCDC) Thursday through Saturday, with a contingent from each state affiliate attending for training and competition.

This year, 32 JAG-K students traveled to Orlando to participate in competitions that culminate Regional and State Career Development Conferences held in the spring in each of the 38 states with JAG programs. The seven competition categories are Financial Literacy, Creative Decision Making, Prepared Speaking, Career Preparation, Project-Based Learning, Business Plan, and Employability Skills. The results of the events were announced Saturday, April 22.

JAG-K students who received medals for finishing in the top three were:

  • Raygan Heft, Kiowa County High School, 2nd place, Employability Skills
  • Kameron Welch, Emporia High School, 3rd place, Career Preparation

JAG-K students and teams who placed in the top 10 in their events were:

  • Norton High School (Kierra Tallent, Kaitlyn Tallent and Ashalyne Tallent), 4th place, Business Plan
  • Kiowa County High School (Hannah Greenleaf, Grace Thompson and Silas Hawkins), 4th place, Creative Decision Making
  • Mia Hellings, Basehor-Linwood, 5th place, Prepared Speaking
  • Kiowa County High School (Audrey Bunce, Adele Janssen and Makayla Wolfley), 6th place, Business Plan
  • Junction City High School (Troy Charley, Jaden Exantus and Brooklyn Winder), 6th place, Creative Decision Making
  • Alexis Phillipi, Junction City High School AE, 7th place, Career Preparation
  • Junction City High School (Cadence Sandlin, Laila Horton and Alyssa Williams), 8th place, Project-Based Learning
  • AJ Hase, Emporia High School, 9th place, Prepared Speaking
  • Holcomb High School (Ashlynn Bradly, Gracie Leonard and Riley Miller), 9th place, Project-Based Learning

Kiowa County High School and Great Bend High School were recognized as Outstanding Career Association Chapters, which honored chapter excellence in leadership development, career opportunities and service-learning activities.

“JAG-K was well represented by some outstanding students at the second annual National Career Development Conference,” said JAG-K President and CEO Chuck Knapp. “These young people continue to impress and inspire, and they are a consistent reminder that our evidence-based model works. There is not another program that is as comprehensive in the competencies taught, personal skills learned, and life changing results achieved.” 

The National Career Development Conference awards presentations can be viewed at

Ryah Klima, 2022 Concordia High School graduate, completed her term as National Career Association president by presiding over the national event.

“It has been exciting to watch Ryah serve as the first-ever president of the National Career Association after she was elected by her peers at the NCDC a year ago,” Knapp said. “She has provided great leadership to the national organization over the past year and has made our state proud.”

Outgoing JAG-K Career Association President, Nuru Abdallah from Wyandotte High School, and Vice President Liberty Gilkey, Kiowa County, participated in business meetings representing Kansas.

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Royals Charities, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.

To learn more about JAG-K, visit, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.