By: Cas Powell
Nicole Hesse, daughter of Emily and Matt Hesse, was chosen as the 2018 Roger Scholar from Wayne County. Nicole was one of 60 accepted students, and participated in the program. from July 8th to July 13th.
The Rogers Scholar program is a prestigious opportunity for Southern and Eastern Kentucky’s youth. Rising high school juniors are eligible for the program, which aims to teach these students the skills they will need to become business and entrepreneurial leaders.
U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers started the program in 1998 with the goal of helping young people from rural Kentucky find futures in their own hometowns. Students are selected from 45 counties to participate in a week of intensive team-building and self-exploration, most of which takes place at The Center for Rural Development. The students also receive interactive instruction from professional experts in many different fields.
While at the Rogers Scholar program, Nicole was given the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals, as they were split into groups based on their career interests, hers being healthcare. They were able to meet many guest speakers, varying from successful individuals such as Kenny Davis to representatives from local colleges. The students also participated in fun activities, including an etiquette dinner and a ballroom dancing class.
In order to access scholarships from the program, students spend a portion of their time deciding on a community service project to do afterwards. Nicole has decided to organize a community cleanup with other students from the Wayne County school district. The program has influenced her to be more active in care for her community, and she is currently working on a County Cancer Survivor Network to help survivors and caregivers of the disease have access to support and companionship.
This isn’t the first time Nicole attended a leadership program. In 2016, she was one of 210 eighth graders selected for the Rogers Explorer program, also run through the Center. During this program, Nicole spent three days at Lindsey Wilson College. There the students were given a chance to explore different careers involving math, science, and technology.
In 2017, Nicole was selected for the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI). While attending this program, she was part of a team called “The Community Creators,” which created a business idea to pitch to the program directors. Her team won the competition with their business concept, Econo-Pal, a non-profit geared to helping small businesses get started. She and her teammates received a Presidential Scholarship to EKU for their victory.
Aside from her impressive history with the entrepreneurial programs at the Center, Hesse is also involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. She participates in tennis, volleyball, and is a member of the Lake Cumberland Extreme Volleyball Club. She’s participated in cross-country since second grade. Nicole currently has a 26 on the ACT and plans to attend either the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky to become a Healthcare Geneticist.