News Release: McPherson High School Student Receives Scholarship Memorializing Former Sen. Bud Estes

Darriene Gibbs, a student at McPherson High School, was announced Tuesday as recipient of the first Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) Bud Estes Memorial Scholarship to honor the memory of the late Kansas state senator from Dodge City.

Gibbs will receive $1,000 to apply toward college expenses. He was informed of the award Tuesday at the JAG-K Career Development Conference at Barton Community College. 

A member of the JAG-K Board and one of the program’s most important supporters, Estes, passed away in February of 2021 from a long illness. Estes served in the Kansas Legislature from 2012 until his passing.

“There was not a stronger champion for JAG-K than Bud Estes,” said JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp. “He was dedicated to ensuring a great future for Kansas, and his work with our organization showed how passionate and selfless he was. The awarding of this annual scholarship will preserve his memory.”

“I’m very thankful for the opportunities JAG-K and my career specialist, Katelyn Loecker, have given me,” Gibbs said. “Without JAG, my life would look very different, and this scholarship was just another blessing added on to this great journey JAG has put me on.”

A participant in the McPherson High School JAG-K program for three years, Gibbs was selected by the JAG-K Board of Directors to receive the scholarship based on credentials that include that he is considering a career related to public service. Gibbs has expressed interest in teaching and coaching.

“Darriene is the perfect example of what JAG-K can do for our young people,” said Loecker. “In his earlier years, he really struggled with motivation and discipline, but has grown into a student who is ready to take on the world. He is someone who people are naturally drawn to. His big personality, smile, and positive leadership are contagious amongst others. He is highly determined, respectful and wants to take on new challenges.

“Darriene is someone who never expects handouts. He never wants to make excuses for himself, regardless of life’s circumstances, and is willing to push himself to become his very best. I am so proud of Darriene, and I am excited to see what his future has in store.”

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.