Rock Hills alumni featured in Kansas Leadership Journal


Two Rock Hills High School alumni, Bergen Mauerhan and Mezvah Nobi, were recently featured in a Kansas Leadership Journal (KLJ) story about the best and brightest high school graduates in Kansas. Featured along with alumni from Burlington, Liberal, and Olathe Northwest, it was a notable feat to have two students from the same small high school on the list.

Mauerhan was the recipient of both the $40,000 Dane Hansen Leader of Tomorrow scholarship and the $40,000 Hagan Scholarship. She is currently majoring in biochemistry/premedicine at the University of Kansas. Nobi is also at KU, majoring in biochemistry/premedicine and plans to become a neurosurgeon. He too was chosen for the Dane Hansen Leader of Tomorrow Scholarship worth $40,000 over four years. Both students are 2018 graduates of Rock Hills High School, and both are from Mankato.

The KLJ article reads in part; While about three-quarters of the students at state universities receive in-state tuition, less than half of the 2016 graduates (44 percent) got jobs in Kansas following graduation. That reflects a steady decline from 54 percent of 2009 grads who reported staying in Kansas.

Government officials want to persuade grads to stay close to home. In July, Gov. Jeff Colyer announced the Land in Kansas initiative, a review of economic development programs to strategize new investment and shift the state narrative from flyover territory to a destination.

In a news release, Gov. Colyer said, “As governor, one of my top priorities is growing our economy and ensuring our children have access to the jobs of the future right here in Kansas.”

That is the key. Most of the graduates interviewed by The Journal said they would like to settle close to family as adults, but they would follow opportunity wherever it led.

Jenny Russell, Jewell County Community Development Coordinator spoke to the advantages a small high school education can provide in these type of competitive environments in the development of students secondary education and future endeavors.

“I think that this article highlights some of the great advantages of being raised in a small town and going to a small school, like Jewell County and Rock Hills High School.  Not only can scholars stand out in their educational accomplishments, students are also so well-rounded because of their involvement in other activities beyond school work. Northwest and North Central Kansas are starting to be a premier location because of all of the opportunities offered by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation through scholarships like Mauerhan and Nobi obtained and the grant opportunities for our non-profits and municipalities,” Russell said.

In addition to being successful in academics, both Mauerhan and Nobi were extremely involved in sports, clubs, and in community work.

Sam Meyers, Principal at Rock Hills Junior Senior High School commented, “I believe that the article featuring Bergen and Mezvah is a great recognition of their hard work and dedication as students. We are proud to have been able to provide that foundation here at Rock Hills. Their achievements really validate our districts hard work in ensuring that there are ample opportunities within our curriculum to provide for advanced coursework as well as the abundance of concurrent college course work to prepare students such as Bergen and Mezvah for post-secondary success. It truly serves as an example that the highest level of education can be provided in a small school setting such as Rock Hills.”

The full Kansas Leadership Journal article can be found at the link below.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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