Students Earn Share of $26,000 in High Demand Jobs Scholarships
22 May 2019
Ten students studying construction, agriculture, nursing and automotive repair received generous scholarships because they plan to return to Phelps County to work after graduation.
The high-demand jobs scholarships are part of the Phelps County Development Corporation’s efforts to create a quality local work force. This year, $26,000 in scholarships were awarded ranging from $2,000-$4,000 each.
Scholarship winner Dylan Nelson is a 2019 graduate of Holdrege High School and plans to attend Southeast Community College in Milford this fall to study automotive collision repair technology. He said it was always his plan to return to Phelps County to work after his education.
“I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else because it just feels like home here,” Dylan said. “All the people I love and care about are here.”
Dylan said he enjoys life in a small close-knit community.
“There’s not a time I don’t feel at home,” he said. “I can walk into any place in town and not feel like I’m out of place. I just kind of like how everyone knows everyone.”
Dylan said auto-body repair has interested him since he was younger. He started a detailing business when he was a sophomore in high school and cleans, buffs and details anything from cars and trucks to boats, tractors and semis.
“I kind of developed a meticulous lifestyle about my vehicles and how they look,” he said. “I just like stuff to look good.”
Dylan said his goal after college is to work full-time in auto-body repair for five years and then combine his auto-body work with farming after that.
He said the scholarship made sense for him because of his future goals to return to Phelps County.
“It’s kind of a good agreement to keep me motivated to further my knowledge in auto-body,” Dylan said. “I thought it was a good all-around scholarship, and I’m glad I received it.”
Two of the 2019 scholarship winners are siblings to previous winners. Dantley Edgren is the brother of former scholarship winner Colter Edgren, and Tyler Bialis is the brother of former scholarship winner Jamie Bialis.
Dantley also plans to attend Southeast Community College in Milford to study automotive collision repair technology.
“I grew up always interested in cars, me and Colter both,” Dantley said. “He was interested in the mechanical, and I was more interested in how the cars looked.”
Dantley’s current part-time job at Turner Body Shop in Holdrege reinforced his decision as he fell in love with the work he does on vehicles at Turner’s.
Colter received the high-demand jobs scholarship in 2015 and now works full-time at Dannull Engine.
Dantley said he and Colter dream about someday combining their talents to open their own business, and the local scholarship helps them take another step closer to making that happen.
“I’m going to be paying for college myself, so the scholarship means a lot because it gives me a head start and makes it a lot easier and less stressful,” Dantley said.
Scholarship winners must sign a contract stating their intention to return to the county to work after their education. The scholarships are funded through LB840 sales tax funds, private donors and matching funds from the Phelps County Community Foundation.
The scholarships are intended to encourage graduating seniors and non-traditional students to pursue work in local high-demand jobs: nurses, agri-business and technology positions, diesel mechanics, engineer technologists, mechatronics engineers, injection mold technicians, electro-mechanical technologists, machinists, tool and die makers, construction trades, welders and commercial truck drivers.
The 2019 scholarship winners are Hunter Brenn, Holdrege High School 2018 graduate, studying agriculture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (second-year recipient); Tyler Bialis, Holdrege High School graduate, studying agriculture at Southeast Community College in Beatrice; Drake Johnson, Holdrege High School graduate, studying agriculture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Mackenzie Koch, Holdrege High School graduate, studying nursing at BryanLGH (second-year recipient); Sarah Pelton, 2018 Bertrand High School graduate, studying nursing at Bryan LGH (second-year recipient); Dylan Nelson, Holdrege High School graduate, studying automotive collision repair technology at Southeast Community College-Milford; Seth Connell, Holdrege High School graduate studying carpentry/construction at Southeast Community College in Milford; Alec Lovitt, Holdrege High School graduate, studying carpentry/construction at Central Community College-Hastings; Dantley Edgren, Holdrege High School graduate, studying automotive collision repair technology at Southeast Community College-Milford; McKayla Meyer, Loomis High School graduate, studying agriculture at Central Community College-Hastings.
In the six years that the scholarships have been offered, $150,000 has been awarded to 59 students. While several students are still completing their education, at least 13 have already returned and are employed in the county including Andrew Daily, Evan Dow, Kelly Thorell, Jill Gabriel, Jamie Bialis, Alex Hamling, Colter Edgren, Boe Barnett, Levi Woodring, Lex Swanson, Ethan Johnson, Blake Johnston, Nolan Breece, Trevor Smith and Christina Ledbetter-Butler.