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A nurse’s care

Nebraska high school cowgirl headed for a nursing degree with full ride scholarship

By Ruth Nicolaus, for the Adams County Ag Society

BROKEN BOW, Neb. — A Nebraska high school rodeo cowgirl is getting her college education paid for.

Kenna McCaslin, Broken Bow, Neb., has been selected as one of 19 students from across the state for participation in the Rural Health Opportunities Program.

The program pays for her entire tuition and board at Chadron (Neb.) State College and guarantees her a spot at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Scottsbluff. In return, RHOP recipients must spend two to four years working in rural Nebraska.



The 18-year-old cowgirl competes in the breakaway roping, barrel racing and goat tying. A graduate of Broken Bow High School, throughout her high school career she played volleyball for a year, basketball for two years, and was a member of her school’s FFA chapter and Future Health Professionals. She is a member of the National Honor Society.

Tagging along with her veterinarian grandpa, Harold McCaslin, as a kid, she always wanted to be a vet. “I looked up to him in so many ways,” she said. “I loved spending time with him and at the farm.”



But as she job shadowed at the local hospital in high school, she changed her mind. “I did a 12-hour shift the first day and fell in love with it.” Being able to talk to her patients instead of guessing where they hurt, like with animals, made a difference. “I thought it might be nice to have patients that can tell you what’s wrong, instead of playing a guessing game,” she joked.

In addition to rodeo and her high school activities, McCaslin stays busy with several other activities. She loves her job at the feedlot and got her certified nursing assistant certificate (CNA) and will work at a local nursing home this summer.

McCaslin has qualified for the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo the last three years, finishing in the top 20 in the goat tying twice.

She will work towards a bachelors in science-nursing degree and is undecided if she will specialize in pediatrics or trauma.

High school rodeo teaches life lessons to students, she believes. “I think it builds character. It teaches you how to be responsible, because you’re not only caring for yourself but your animals, too. And you’re learning how to balance something that takes a lot of time, and staying on top of your schoolwork. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but it is possible.”

She is the daughter of Thomas and Ann McCaslin.

The RHOP program requires that recipients maintain a grade point average of 3.3.

McCaslin, along with about 150 other high school youth competitors, will compete at the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo in Hastings June 10-12 at the Adams County Fairgrounds. Rodeo performances begin at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 10-11, with the short round on June 12 at 1 p.m.

The cutting horse competitions will be at 7 a.m. on June 10-11 with the finals at 8 a.m. on June 12. The reined cow horse takes place at 10 a.m. on June 10-11.

For more information, visit AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or hsrodeo-nebraska.com, or call (402) 462-3247.


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