BRIGHT FUTURES — Nederland senior Kansas Jenkins uses new family bonds for academic success

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021

NEDERLAND — Senior Kansas Jenkins has overcome some long odds.

She has spent much of her life without her mother and currently lives with a friend’s family.

“My dad got remarried,” she said.

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“We still have a great relationship, but he moved to Liberty with my stepmom. She has an autoimmune disease and she always feels off and on. So I live in a little mother-in-law suite in the back with my cat, Peaches. I just do my own thing. I have been able to make a lot of family that is not blood.”

Jenkins said her mom used drugs when she was younger.

“She was going into rehab, but when she got out, it was a vicious cycle. She got to a point where she wanted to move to get away from all of it. She lives in Oregon,” Jenkins said.

“She will text me sometimes. We don’t have a great relationship because of the distance but we are civil with one another.”

Kansas Jenkins, left, credits her calculus teacher, Catherine Baker, for making math fun. (Chris Moore/The News)

Despite the ups and downs life has dealt Jenkins, she currently ranks 16th in her class and has already made college and career plans.

“I am going to Texas State and I am going for radiation therapy,” she said.

“After that, I am going to do the Dosimetry Program at M.D. Anderson. I have flirted with the idea of going into healthcare for a long time. I didn’t want to get a doctorate, because I don’t think I could hold the motivation to go to school for another 12 years and be in debt. My dad is a RAD tech, so he introduced me to that. I thought that was cool, but I didn’t want to do imaging like that. I’ve always like helping people.”

She said the program also allows her to use math, at which she excels.

“It really started when I went to algebra in the eighth grade,” Jenkins said. “Then, I got into Mrs. Catherine Baker’s class. She is so smart and makes it really fun. When I was in geometry my freshman year and my friends were talking about how it was really hard, I was like ‘Do you want me to help y’all?’”

The classroom isn’t the only area where the senior does well.

Jenkins has played the clarinet since the sixth grade.

“Not to brag, but I am pretty good at it,” she said, laughing. “I am in the top band, so we are required to go to all region and solo and ensemble every year. I have gone every year and made first division each year. I have advanced to area a couple of times, but that is with the 6A schools, so it is a lot more competitive.”

Jenkins began working at Buffalo Wild Wings during the height of the pandemic.

“I started working there during March of last year,” she said. “I was hitting overtime every week. We were so short staffed. I got my savings account up during that time. I was not complaining.”

Jenkins likes being able to have perspective and see how far she has come.

“Sometimes it is good to realize that not everyone has gone through that stuff and done what I have done,” she said.