Ten Students Awarded 2023 High-Demand Jobs Scholarships

Ten Students Awarded 2023 High-Demand Jobs Scholarships Main Photo

28 Jun 2023


This is the tenth year of PCDC’s high-demand jobs scholarships, and 10 students were awarded a share of $30,000 to study fields such as agriculture, nursing, and education.

The high-demand jobs scholarships are part of the Phelps County Development Corporation’s efforts to create a quality local workforce. The students will return to Phelps County after graduation to work. This year, scholarships ranged from $1,000-$5,000 each.

Three of this year’s recipients are 2023 high school graduates, and the other seven are already in college or are non-traditional students.

Sierra Burrows is the Circulation Manager at the Holdrege Public Library, and she received a $1,000 high-demand jobs scholarship to pursue a degree in library science. Sierra began working at the library 15 years ago while in high school and served as president of the Friends of the Library for 13 years. She recently earned a Library and Information Services certificate through Central Community College. She is now working toward a Bachelor of Science in education with a library science major and a public administration minor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She hopes to become a library director someday.

“My goal with my education in library science is to learn all that I can about the emerging trend of 21st Century Libraries,” Sierra said. “The colleges have even changed the curriculum for the library science classes within the last couple of years to reflect this changing era.”

She is grateful for the PCDC scholarship.

“This scholarship is a seed that can help not only me grow through education, but also grow our community from what I learn and incorporate back into the library,” she said. “Receiving this scholarship will allow me to continue chasing my dreams!”

Scholarship winners sign a contract stating their intention to return to Phelps County and 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 students to pursue work in local high-demand jobs: nursing, 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. Education was added this year as area school administrators say the field of teacher applicants has dwindled the past few years.

PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said the organization plans to review the scholarship application process for 2024 to make it simpler for more students to apply, regardless of their level of comfort with essay writing and technology.

The 2023 scholarship winners are Alexis Billeter, 2021 Loomis High School graduate, elementary education, University of Nebraska at Kearney, ($3,000); Anna Pelton, 2021 Bertrand High School graduate, occupational therapy, Oral Roberts University ($2,000); Bryce Philips, 2022 Bertrand High School graduate, agriculture,  Northeast Community College in Norfolk ($5,000); McCartney Elliott, 2022 Holdrege High School graduate, pre-pharmacy, University of Nebraska at Kearney ($2,000); Hanna Swearingen, 2023 Holdrege High School graduate, elementary education,  Fort Hays State University ($3,000); Jersie Hermanson, 2023 Loomis High School graduate, radiography, University of Nebraska at Kearney ($5,000); Kaeley Klein, 2022 Holdrege High School graduate, pre-nursing, University of Nebraska at Kearney ($1,000); Kazia Nelson, non-traditional, elementary education, Western Governors University ($3,000); Reece Vinzant, 2023 Bertrand High School graduate, biology,  Chadron State College ($5,000); Sierra Burrows, nontraditional, library science, University of Nebraska at Omaha ($1,000).  

In the ten years that the scholarships have been offered, $267,000 and 95 scholarships have been awarded.