News Release: JAG-K Students Gather for Career Development Conference and Career Expo

More than 200 students from Jobs for America’s Graduates – Kansas (JAG-K) gathered at McPherson College on March 22 for the organization’s annual State Career Development Conference (CDC). The event was sponsored by the Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner, Synchrony Financial and the Taco Bell Foundation.

At the event, students elected officers for next year, competed in areas of job preparedness, and met with more than 20 potential employers at a career expo.

“The State CDC is one of the most anticipated and exciting events of the year for JAG-K students,” said JAG-K President and CEO Chuck Knapp. “Representing your school at state is a rare opportunity, and all these students should be proud of the work and preparation it took to get there.”

JAG-K participants across Kansas voted for statewide officers for the next year. Elected to serve as state officers were: President Charee Moore, Wichita Southeast; Vice President James Kingsbury, Larned; Secretary, Xavier Aquino, Shawnee Mission North; Parliamentarian Laila Horton, Junction City.

The 200-plus participants competed in events that showcase competencies attained in the JAG-K program.

High school students who placed in competition were: 

  • Financial Literacy: 1st Brooklyn Gilchrist, Kiowa County; 2nd Anthony Anderson, Hiawatha; 3rd Aidan Lemanton, Newton.
  • Creative Decision Making Team Competition: 1st Troy Charley, Jaden Exantus and Brooklyn Winder, Junction City; 2nd Hannah Greenleaf, Grace Thompson and Silas Hawkins, Kiowa County.
  • Prepared Speaking: 1st Zachary Phillips, McPherson; 2nd Mia Hellings, Basehor-Linwood; 3rd AJ Hase, Emporia.
  • Career Preparation: 1st Kameron Welch, Emporia; 2nd Anylah Jones, Shawnee Mission North; 3rd Alexis Phillipi, Junction City AE.
  • Project Based Learning Team Competition: 1st Cadence Sandlin, Laila Horton and Alyssa Williams, Junction City; 2nd Ashlynn Bradly, Gracie Loonard and Riley Miller, Holcomb.
  • Business Plan Team Competition: 1st Kierra Tallent, Kaitlyn Tallent and Ashalyne Tallent, Norton; 2nd Audrey Bunce, Adele Janssen and Makayla Wolfley, Kiowa County.
  • Employability Skills: 1st Raygan Heft, Kiowa County; 2nd Gloria Colbert, Field Kindley; 3rd Ashley Reddig, Great Bend.
  • T-Shirt Design: 1st Brooklyn Winder, Junction City; 2nd Kacey Milliagan El Dorado; 3rd Haley McCormick, Great Bend.

The top three finishers of the seven different individual areas of competition (minus the t-shirt competition) and the top two finishers in the team competitions earned the opportunity to compete at the National Career Development Conference in Orlando in April.

High school teams were also awarded recognition based on their collective performance. The top three high school teams came from Kiowa County High School (1st place), Junction City High School 1 (2nd place) and Great Bend High School 1 (3rd place).  

Competition in seven categories was staged for middle school participants as well. Kiowa County Junior High placed first in the team standings, followed by Winfield Middle School.

Students who placed in the top three in the middle school CDC competitions were: 

  • Financial Literacy: 1st Gavin Massey, Fort Riley Middle School; 2nd Kendal Cooper, Kiowa County Junior High; 3rd Brooke Bodine, Great Bend Middle School; 4th Elijah Sturgeon, Winfield Middle School.
  • Creative Decision Making Team Competition: 1st Adaira Hutto, Ashley Aliwiw and Danicka Kronmiller, Winfield Middle School.
  • Prepared Speaking: 1st Talia Humfeld, Hocker Grove Middle School (Shawnee Mission); 2nd Aviana Balbuena, Colby Middle School; 3rd Sauni Hsaw Hinn, Kiowa County Junior High; Ryan Wilson, Turner Middle School (Kansas City).
  • Career Preparation: 1st Aubree Gilchrist, Kiowa County Junior High; 2nd Sasha Booth, Hocker Grove Middle School (Shawnee Mission); 3rd Alyssa Bremenkamp, Colby Middle School; 4th Tru Neal, Chisholm Middle School (Newton).
  • Project Based Learning Team Competition: 1st Aaron Robinson, Daeja Tyler and Makenna Luckett, Westridge Middle School (Shawnee Mission).
  • Business Plan Team Competition: 1st Jaylynn Brakebill, Macy Cuevas and Renn Gibson, Winfield Middle School.
  • Employability Skills: 1st Natalie Banman, Kiowa County Junior High; 2nd Isabell Gibbs, Fort Riley Middle School; 3rd David Shattuck, Junction City Magnet Middle School; 4th Bree Kough, Colby Middle School.
  • T-Shirt Design: 1st Lesly Lopez, Carl Bruce Middle School (Kansas City); 2nd Mathias Steele, Winfield Middle School; 3rd Jess Williams, Junction City Magnet Middle School; 4th Thomas Twitty, Fort Riley Middle School.

Participants at the CDC event in McPherson had the opportunity to meet with representatives of more than 20 businesses and organizations in a career expo sponsored by AGCO Corporation, The Bradbury Group, Central Valley Ag, Dacus Auto Body Shop & Collision Repair, Goodland Tech, Robbins Banking Institute/Kansas Bankers Educational Foundation, and Viega.

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.