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Rogers Scholars Aaron Hesse and Wesley Cares benefit from program

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Rogers Scholar Program among Center for Development’s camps that benefit Wayne County students

      Wayne County High School students like Aaron Hesse, Wesley Cares and Kali Powell know how to benefit from the Center for Developments summer academic programs.

      In fact, some of the programs carry over into the school year. Senior Aaron Hesse and Junior Wesley Cares are still involved in their Rogers Scholar programs. They are doing public service projects to help their community.

       Sophomore Kallie Powell participated both in the Rogers Explorer and Entrepreneur Leadership Institute, known as ELI. More recent Rogers Explorer students like Micah Burchett and Zachary Hesse participated last summer at the eighth-grade level for the three-day program focused on cultivating skills in leadership, technology, math, science and community service. Explorers are able to actively participate in practical college courses, fine-tune leadership skills, and develop a network of friends and resources throughout Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Area colleges partner with the center to coordinate the opportunities for students.

        The 2022 Rogers Scholar application for the next round of students is due soon, by midnight on January 31. Rogers Scholars – The Center’s flagship youth program – is open to rising high school juniors in Southern and Eastern Kentucky who are seeking to build their skills in leadership, career exploration, entrepreneurship, technology, and community service. The program provides valuable leadership skills and exclusive college scholarship opportunities for young people throughout the region. Students apply during their sophomore year.

         Normally, the week-long program is held during the summer on the campuses of Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY and Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. The pandemic hampered part of this program because students had to temporarily participate virtually.

         “The Rogers Scholars Program is a great resource for students who are focused on planning for their future,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “This program exposes them to a world of possibilities with the hope of keeping them in this region of Kentucky. Rogers Scholars is a great building block for success.”

            The Center for Rural Development partners with 19 universities to provide scholarship opportunities to the students who get accepted into the program. Those scholarships range from partial to full tuition at some of the state’s top universities.

            Senior Aaron Hesse, son of Emily and Matt Hesse, positioned himself in a great spot to be able to decide amongst the biggest state schools that are offering him full tuition scholarships. He is in the process of filling out college applications and trying to decide which state school will best meet his needs. Aaron thrives on community service and helping people. He has a 4.0 GPA and 4.245 weighted GPA. He has been on the golf and tennis teams, and joined back on the soccer team this school year. He is also involved with BETA, SGA, and has competed at region each year on the FBLA team.

           While he is active in sports, he has focused lots of his energy on academics. He and his sister Nicole, probably hold the record for being selected to Rogers Explorer, ELI, Rogers Scholar and Governor’s Scholar programs. He has benefitted from all these perks, even though he had to do two of them during the peak of Covid-19, therefore he completed them through zoom meetings, rather than being on a college campus.

           He attended Governor Scholar’s at Centre College where he majored in architecture. He particularly enjoyed the people he met making life-long friends he hopes to see again in college, He said the teachers were great and everyone was happy to be there. His favorite subject at Wayne County Schools is Math and he wants to pursue a degree in Technology or Computer Science next year in college.       

           Even though he completed the ELI and Rogers Scholar programs virtually in 2020, he took advantage of the opportunity and tried to get on every zoom meeting they offered. His ELI project working together long distance with students resulted in a great project. The winning project was timely with a product involving masks that did not fog up, however, Aaron’s project was an equally worthy idea to prevent young children from being left in the back seat of a car during hot weather. He devised a pressure plate placed between the seat and the car seat that alerted the owner if the plate became too hot.

          His Rogers Scholars community service project involved making over 100 handcrafted pet toys made out of recycled blue jeans donated by community members. Afterwards, he sold the pet toys to raise money to purchase 450 pounds of dog food for the Wayne County Animal Shelter.

           “There are around 6.5 million companion animals put in animal shelters each year in the United States,” he said. “My primary purpose of this project was to give these animals happiness again while using resources around us that could easily be overlooked as unusable. The pet treats I created will hopefully give pets in rescue centers a bit of fun and happiness again.  Additionally, with the money I raised and will continue to raise, I hope to help pet rescue centers continue to contribute to these precious animals’ lives.”

            His project is continuing as the community is still supporting Aaron’s project. He uses his parents’ Vision Care business as a point of contact to purchase the recycled pet toys throughout the year. He also received $500 worth of donations to buy dog food from area farm supply businesses which helped make his project successful.  He was a 2020 Rogers Scholar and Junior Wesley Cares is the 2021 Rogers Scholar. Wesley, the son of Sky and Virginia Cares, is doing a clothing collection project with the help of his JAG class that Brenda Hoover is teaching this year. New and gently used clothing can be dropped off at any of the school Family Resource Youth Service Center offices.

           Fortunately for Wesley Cares, he got to attend Lindsey Wilson College last summer for his Rogers Scholar experience, rather than doing it virtually. “It was a great experience meeting so many intelligent people from around the state.”

           He was part of the Rogers Scholars 36 graduates last summer that were selected from 45 Kentucky counties.

           One of the highlights during the healthcare activities was learning how to do sutures during some nursing instructions. He hopes to land in the health care field after college, so that was particularly interesting to him. He gained information from the speakers that contributed to his experience, including a talk from University of Kentucky's President Eli Capiluto. An etiquette dinner was another highlight where the students were taught all the proper table manners for a formal dinner. He got a taste of the college dorm life with two roomates. He had met one of his roomates at a track meet and knew several other people through playing sports. Wesley is an athlete and plays football and participates in track. He has already scored a 29 on the ACT and has above a 4.0 grade point average taking advanced placement and college classes during high school. He has also been enrolled in Wayne County's Project Lead the Way Bio Medical and Human Body System classes.

           It will be exciting to see where both of these talented students go to school and the career paths they take in the future. They have worked hard and taken advantage of the high school's academic course offerings, extra-curricular activities and opportunities through The Center for Rural Development.       

Aaron Hesse sharing his project at board meeting  

Aaron Hesse explaining his community service project to the board members.        

Board Chairman Larry Muse and Aaron Hesse

Board Chairman Larry Muse commended Aaron Hesse on his community service project at the December Board of Education Meeting.

Aaron Hesse with his pet project

Rogers Scholar Aaron Hesse with the dog food donation and a dog chew toy he made for a dog at the local dog pound.


Rogers Scholar Coordinator speaks to future applicants for Rogers Scholar program

Allison Cross speaking to students interested in Rogers Scholar

The Center for Rural Development Rogers Scholar Supervisor Allison Cross speaking to Wayne County High School students interested in Rogers Scholar. 

Allison Cross and 2 students interested in Rogers Scholar

Allison Cross and a couple of interested students checking out the magazine about the Center's summer programs.

Wesley Cares with Allison Cross

Rogers Scholar 2021 Recipient Wesley Cares shared his enthusiasm for the program with Allison Cross

Rogers Scholar member Wesley Cares

2021 Rogers Scholar member Wesley Cares

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