Life away from The Kee
April 1, 2016
While most of us grace the stage at graduation, and walk into a new life at a state or out of state college, Mikaela Jagim, Michael Jacobson, Conner Boatman, Ella Gehrke, and others chose to take a different path. While they have stepped away from the normal college experience, Jagim, Jacobson, Boatman, and Gehrke know where their roots are and have their eyes set on the future.
From the moment she could take two steps, Waukee High School graduate Mikaela Jagim was pirouetting and sashaying her way through life. Starting in the oak floored, mirrored wall studios of West Side Dance Academy, she began her journey from rehearsal to competition working to become the best dancer she could possibly be. Once a young girl with a passion, Jagim’s dreams have recently become reality.
As an official resident of Los Angeles, California, Jagim’s life is anything but typical. While most graduates are running around college campuses with their noses shoved in books, Jagim spends her days in the dance studio. “I am working as a commercial dancer, which means I do many different shows, performances, and videos,” Jagim explained. “I take a lot of dance classes, and do a lot of networking to meet other people in the dance industry.”
After working towards her goal for the majority of her life, Jagim is finally at a place where she feels confident. “I have been working towards this goal for a very, very long time. I have devoted so much time and energy into my dancing and have spent most of my life preparing for this opportunity,” Jagim reflected. “It still doesn’t seem real that I am now living my goal.”
Though Jagim is at a place of serendipity, she still struggles with something we all face: self doubt. “Anyone that tells you they don’t doubt themselves is lying in my opinion,” Jagim stated. Working through self doubt is a bump in everyone’s road, but Jagim knows that self confidence is key. “I have to remind myself that judgement doesn’t matter as long as I am being true to myself.”
Though it may seem like all of her goals have been met, she still has more to add. “In the next five years, I hope to be back-up dancing on tour, in a dance based movie, or traveling the world teaching and dancing,” Jagim disclosed. “I also would like to own a dog, or 12.”
As she continues her journey to achieve even more, Jagim has one motivator: God. “I’m going to quote Drew Lienemann when I say that when I die I want to be able to look at God and tell him I did the best I could with the gifts He gave me.”
From the dribbling on the floors of the Waukee fieldhouse to dribbling under the lights of Pinnacle Bank Arena, Michael Jacobson is shooting, scoring, and winning his way through the craziest four years of his life.
After signing with the Nebraska Cornhuskers to continue his basketball career just over a year ago, Jacobson’s life has been flipped upside down. “The experiences are unreal,” Jacobson said. “[I love] getting to play on national television, in front of 16,000 people, the atmosphere of college basketball with the fans, and playing in places and against people you’ve seen and watched on television your whole life.”
As a starting power-forward for the Huskers, Jacobson has big goals and his eyes set on bringing the Huskers future success. “My goal is to make the NCAA tournament, play a lot of minutes, and contribute to my team’s success,” Jacobson voiced. Though he’s content with collegiate level basketball for now, he is focused on the future. “Personally, I want to make the NBA after college, but that’s a little down the road.”
Between practice, games, and travel time, Jacobson had to learn quickly how to balance the time demands while still maintaining good grades in the classroom. “If you don’t manage your time and cut out some things such as friends, girls, video games, etc., then you won’t be able to take care of your academics and athletics,” Jacobson revealed. “It really takes a lot of preparation and planning to make sure you get everything done.”
Unfortunately, trade-offs must be made when there are simply not enough hours in the day to be a division-1 athlete and live out the ‘normal’ college experience that most freshman strive to achieve. “It’s been a long time dream of mine to play college basketball, so when the opportunity came about, I had no problem giving up the regular experience.”
Through the next four years as a starter for the Huskers, Jacobson will take time to reflect on how he got to where he is, and use it as his motivation. “I learned early on, that you can’t have any doubt, worry, or fear in your mind and heart,” Jacobson noted. “One of my favorite quotes is ‘Fate loves the fearless.’”
Jacobson encourages all high school athletes looking to further their career to step out in the deep-end and see what’s out there; “If you get the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to, go for it.”
After a short first semester at Iowa State University, Waukee allum Conner Boatman has officially broken free of Iowa’s borders and traveled west to the Golden Coast to pursue a career in music. Starting as just a dream, Boatman’s dreams are now reality as he is fully engulfed in LA life and working his way to the top of the Billboard Top 100.
“I am currently signed to Island Records with a boy band,” Boatman explained. “We are accumulating songs for upcoming music.” Known for his vocals, seen and heard via Instagram and YouTube, Boatman is excited to take his talent to the next level. “Signing a record contract and the whole process leading up to it out here was an awesome experience,” Boatman revealed. “It feels absolutely awesome to be chasing my dreams.”
Though Boatman is loving his new life and doing what he loves, 1,438+ miles is quite the distance. “I miss seeing all of the green, all of my friends and family everyday, and I also miss the colder weather… at times,” Boatman divulged. “My parents have known I wanted to move out here and sing, but they wanted me to have a plan in place before moving,” Boatman continued. “Moving out here was definitely there right choice for me.”
With a possible future in the spotlight and in the public eye, Boatman has already began taking steps to fighting off the self doubts and possible criticisms that may be surrounding him. “I do doubt myself sometimes just because there are so many other talented singers out there doing the same thing. It is easy for me to cope with though because I know that I am in great hands,” Boatman gushed. “I also make sure to surround myself with positive, like minded people.”
Two months have passed since making the big move and Boatman has already acquainted himself with a list of well known voices on the radio. “I have met some of the other recording artists with Island Records such as Demi Lovato, Shawn Mendes, Nick Jonas, and Tove Lo,” Boatman revealed, claiming to have no issues with being star-struck.
With a clear head, professional work ethic, and a bright future ahead of him, Boatman is working his hardest with his dreams right in reach. So keep your ears peeled the next time you’re jamming out in your car to Hits 99.9 or KISS 107.5, the next song could be featuring Waukee’s very own Conner Boatman.
Graduating from Waukee in 2013, Ella Gehrke had absolutely no idea what her plan was when she became an official student at Iowa State University in the fall. The unknown slowly came into focus as she signed onto the global resource systems program and partook in the World Food Prize’s Iowa Youth Institute. Now a junior in college, Gehrke has traveled the globe, crafted countless connections, and became the cofounder of a company intended to combat world hunger one impoverished village at a time.
“I am currently working on a startup company that myself and three peers created a year and a half ago called KinoSol,” Gehrke explained. “We have engineered and designed mobile solar dehydrators for subsistence farmers in the developing world to tackle the issue of food waste and malnutrition.” Thus far, KinoSol products already reached nations in need including Uganda and El Salvador. “To have validation of your hard work is one thing but to see that you created something that has the potential to help even one person is an extraordinary feeling.”
Starting with a clouded eye in the fall of 2013 at ISU, Gehrke began to blaze her own path after having a small interest in health care — inspired by her parents — and ending up in an animal science class. “[The World Food Prize] inspired me to take a more encompassing look at the world’s resources and the problems that plague our earth,” Gehrke revealed. “It was the perfect fit for my interests and allowed me to really find my footing in college, which guided me towards global health.”
On top of her plans to fight world hunger, Gehrke is also on the road to med-school. “I am on the pre-med path, which requires me to take a number of classes that are heavier in the sciences to meet the pre-med requirements,” Gehrke explained. “In five years I hope to be finishing up medical school and planning for a residency, but we will see…fingers crossed!”
Gehrke has had the opportunity to hop on a plane and jet off to countries in need to study their culture and seek out possible communities to implement her product, which she finds to be an extreme honor and pleasure. “Through both my majors and my interests, I’ve made a lot of opportunities for myself to travel around the world,” Gehrke gushed. “I have an insatiable thirst for culture and so any time I’ve gotten to see a new way of live, I feel very privileged.”