For most Kansas grads, There no place like home

  Friday, January 18, 2013 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

For most Kansas grads, There no place like home

Data released by the Kansas Board of Regents this week confirms that Pittsburg State University graduates are playing an important role in rebuilding Kansas’ economy, according to Mindy Cloninger, director of career services at PSU.

“We are proud that Pittsburg State University graduates are working in and providing leadership for businesses, industries, schools and organizations as varied as they are,” said Cloninger. “It is especially pleasing to note that most of those graduates have chosen to work in Kansas.

Cloninger said PSU graduates, alongside graduates from the state’s other universities and colleges, are a key component to the state’s economic recovery.

“PSU graduates help ensure that Kansas has a well-trained workforce and are helping the state’s economy recover from the recession. They and those who follow in their footsteps are an important asset when companies and businesses consider expanding or making Kansas their home.”

Cloninger pointed to Christian Gerken, an advanced manufacturing engineer with AGCO in Hesston, Kan., as a good example of a PSU graduate who is helping his company succeed.

Gerken, a native of Goddard, Kan., earned a bachelor of science in technology degree with a major in mechanical engineering technology in 2010. He went right to work for AGCO in Hesston, Kan. AGCO is a global leader focused on the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery, and Gerken has quickly risen through the company ranks.

Like so many Kansans, it was family and a love of his home state that made it important for Gerken to find work in the Sunflower state, although there were likely options elsewhere.

“It was important for me to find a good job in Kansas,” Gerken said. “My wife’s family and my family are all in the Wichita-Goddard area and we wanted to be near family.”

Cloninger said many native sons and daughters choose to live and work in Kansas, despite the lure of opportunities in big cities and exotic places.

Dr. Jesse Niederklein (BS ’02), an anesthesiologist at Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, said he and his wife were eager to return to their home state and family ties helped influence their decision.

"My wife and I are both Kansans. After moving around to several areas of the country for medical school rotations and residency, we were excited to have the opportunity to come back to southeast Kansas to raise our family," Niederklein said.

“We want all of our graduates to succeed. We want them to have outstanding careers and happy lives wherever they go,” Cloninger said. “That may not always be Kansas. This most recent data tells us, however, that most of the state’s graduates are finding opportunity in Kansas and that’s good news for the entire state.”

In their release, the regents compared graduation data to data from the Kansas Department of Labor. They determined that nearly 74 percent of Kansas residents who graduated from one of the 32 public higher education institutions were employed in Kansas one year after graduation.

“The jobs of today and the future require a college education,” said Andy Tompkins, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents. “By the end of the decade, more than 60 percent of Kansas jobs will require some level of higher education attainment. By meeting the needs of Kansas employers through highly skilled graduates, higher education supports economic development and offers a sound return on state investment.”

For more, visit the Kansas Board of Regents website at



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