Meet real role models working in various industries who have found success through alternative pathways after high school — and what they like about what they do!

  • Adam Gierhan

    Ag Service Technician

    "I always wanted to follow in my grandfather's footsteps and be a farmer. Growing up on the family farm brought a sense of purpose and passion for taking care of the land and animals. Taking care of something that would take care of others brought me a great deal of joy.

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  • Ajala Anavberokhai

    MRI Technologist

    "When I was a child, I wanted to be the next Oprah. I loved watching her on TV and seeing the impact she made. I knew I wanted a job that could make a similar difference with people. Then when I got to high school, I really got interested in joining the military. I took a basic first aid course...

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  • Amber Melton

    Veterinary Nurse

    "As a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was always bringing home stray cats and we also had dogs, rodents, reptiles, and rabbits, so I was familiar with a lot of species and was always intrigued by their different needs and personalities. 

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  • Bana Stelk

    Bank Operations Specialist

    "I really enjoy young kids, so growing up I always thought I’d become a teacher. I started down that path in college, but soon discovered it wasn’t for me. While in college, I started working at Walmart, which gave me some great experience with handling cash and working with the public.

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  • Ben Loewen

    Heavy Equipment Operations Manager

    “I didn’t really have construction experience before working at MJE, but a friend told me I should apply, and the money was great, so I did. I’ve always felt like you can learn whatever you need on the job — work ethic matters more than anything. My willingness to show up every day and get the job...

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  • Ben Whitten

    Project Administrator

    "I graduated early from Manhattan High School and started working at Timberline Cabinetry the following day. I have had a passion for creating things and woodworking ever since my freshman year when I built a bed with my dad. In high school, I took woodworking and engineering design courses that...

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  • Breiton Pfannenstiel

    Heavy Equipment Operator

    “My dad’s an electrician. Growing up in Hays, I always wanted to be just like him. He’d do side work for friends, and I would tag along, get some experience watching and helping him. I liked doing that. But as I got into high school, I started to learn about other possibilities through career days...

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  • Brooke McDonnell, BSN, RN

    Nurse Manager

    Brooke McDonnell always knew she wanted to help people. Today, she does just that at Stormont Vail Health. 

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  • Connie Wagers, MBA, RT(R), RDMS

    Director, Medical Imaging Services

    As a teenager, Connie Wagers volunteered at Stormont Vail Health. Connie's mother saw how much she enjoyed her time there and encouraged her to apply to the radiology program. Today, Connie is the Director of Medical Imaging Services. 

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  • Corporal Emma Bañuelos

    Police Corporal

    "My freshman year of high school, I took a law class that started me on my law enforcement journey. The teacher had previously been a police and corrections officer, so he’d always tell us stories that intrigued me and made me realize that was what I wanted to do. Throughout the rest of high school...

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