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

More than 200 students from Jobs for America’s Graduates – Kansas (JAG-K) gathered at Barton Community College in Great Bend on April 5 for the organization’s annual State Career Development Conference (CDC).

At the event, held in person for the first time in three years, students elected officers for next year, competed in areas of job preparedness, and met with potential employers at a job fair. The event was conducted virtually in 2020 and 2021.

“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.”

New Officers Elected

JAG-K participants across Kansas voted for statewide officers for the next year. These four officers will attend the National Student Leadership Academy (NSLA) in Washington, D.C. later this year.

Elected to serve as next year’s state officers were: President: Nuru Abdallah, Wyandotte High School; Vice President: Liberty Gilkey, Kiowa Co. High School; Secretary: Hailee Black, Hutchinson High School; Treasurer: Ta’Mijha Nichols, Shawnee Heights High School.

Results of High School Competition

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 Angel Diaz, Goodland; 2nd Phoenix Reisner, Shawnee Mission West; 3rd Tristan Romero, Winfield
  • Creative Decision Making Team Competition: 1st Grace Thompson, Hannah Greenleaf, Cayden Pore, Kiowa Co.
  • Prepared Speaking: 1st Ryah Klima, Concordia; 2nd Madison Carter, Great Bend; 3rd Jackie Martinez, Garden City
  • Career Preparation: 1st Melanie Varela, Garden City; 2nd Anylah Jones, Shawnee Mission North 1; 3rd Mercedes Ladwig, McPherson
  • Project Based Learning Team Competition: 1st Cadence Sandlin, Anthony Attieri, Charles Seamans, Junction City AE; 2nd Liberty Gilkey, Connor Pore, Karina Martinez, Kiowa Co.
  • Business Plan Team Competition: 1st Mylee Gerber, Jack Shaffer, Airam Fernandez, Pratt; 2nd Chiquisia Clemons, Mackenzie Kendall, Aeris McGee, Field Kindley (Coffeyville)
  • Employability Skills: 1st Ashley Reddig, Great Bend; 2nd Keadan Kearn, Concordia; 3rd Natalie Radke, Garden City
  • T-Shirt Design: 1st Nadonna Baggett, Hutchinson 1; 2nd Natalie Castro, Arkansas City 1; 3rd Ryah Klima, Concordia

The winners of the seven different areas of competition (minus the T-Shirt competition), earned the opportunity to compete at nationals in Dallas in May.

Teams were also awarded recognition based on their collective performance. The top four teams came from Great Bend (1st place), Concordia High School (2nd place), Kiowa Co. High School (3rd place), and Garden City High School (4th place).  

Results of Middle School Competition

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

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

  • Financial Literacy: 1st Jace Dye, Independence; 2nd Adalynn Baldwin, Junction City Magnet; 3rd Haydynn Friesen, Kiowa Co.
  • Creative Decision Making Team Competition: 1st Maliyah Bell, Adairo Hutto and Cordell Patrick, Winfield
  • Prepared Speaking: 1st Breana Maxwell, Winfield; 2nd Cameron Roberson, Westridge (Shawnee Mission); 3rd Adalynn Lehrman, Chisholm (Newton)
  • Career Preparation: 1st Caden Perez, Westridge (Shawnee Mission); 2nd Gabriela Gonzales-Tamayo, Hocker Grove (Shawnee Mission); 3rd Cowen Jabben, Independence
  • Project Based Learning Team Competition: 1st Alexis Fletcher, Raymond Redding, Gabriela Roby, Hocker Grove (Shawnee Mission)
  • Business Plan Team Competition: 1st Addison Higbie, Bristol Britton, Adele Janssen, Kiowa Co.
  • Employability Skills: 1st Kylie Coombs, Westridge (Shawnee Mission); 2nd Regan Greenleaf, Kiowa Co.; 3rd Braxton Fenton, Junction City Magnet
  • T-Shirt Design: 1st Sauni Pyu, Kiowa Co.; 2nd Haylei Greene, Colby; 3rd Desi Rodriguez, Westridge (Shawnee Mission)

Job Fair

Participants at CDC had the opportunity to meet with representatives of more than 20 businesses and organizations in a job fair sponsored by the Young Bank Officers of Kansas.

“The Young Bank Officers of Kansas recognize the benefit of helping Kansas employers connect with talented and trained young employees,” said Alex Orel, Senior Vice-President of Government Relations for the Kansas Bankers Association. “We are excited to help JAG-K introduce students to prospective employers and to educate them about career opportunities in 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 40 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, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, John Deere, the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Stormont Vail Health, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation and Walmart.

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