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Hoisington Native Barton Alum Helps Children and Families as a Social Worker


By Joe Vinduska, Barton Community College


GREAT BEND, Kan. — While many children grow up in a supportive and nurturing family environment, that is not the case for all children, and Barton alum and Hoisington native MyKayla Burgess has found meaning in providing comfort and stability to those less fortunate as a social worker.

“I chose social work because of my history and my struggles in my own family, as well as seeing what other kids went through and wanting to do and provide better for them,” she said. “Social work is rewarding every day in different ways. Sometimes, it’s as simple as watching a kiddo learn to brush their teeth or tie their shoes for the first time. Sometimes it’s watching kids receive all their proper documentation to be able to age out and be able to be a successful member of society.”

Burgess attended Barton as a high school student through the TRIO Program, which helps students in need obtain resources and support so they can have educational opportunities they might not have otherwise had due to monetary or social roadblocks. She then graduated from Barton in 2019.

“At first, I was nervous because it felt so big,” she said. “Then, as I got accustomed to it, everyone was so inviting. Even as a high schooler, I was welcomed by so many professors, advisors, and students. No matter the class size, I always got one-on-one attention, even when I didn’t seek it out. I became super close with several people at Barton, from my advisor and instructors to the cafeteria staff and even the vice president of student services. I will never forget the impact they made on my life. I struggled with a lot of personal loss at Barton, and I am so thankful I had such a supportive community around me.”

Burgess said everyone’s educational journey is different, and Barton’s agility to accommodate all kinds of students was very apparent during her time there.

“Barton understands that there isn’t a ‘typical type’ of student, and they want to make sure they have options for everyone,” she said. “They offer degrees and certificates. They have evening and morning classes. They are continuing the transition to more affordable classes that don’t require expensive textbooks. They have so many resources such as the first-generation student program, free therapy sessions that can provide referrals if needed, student clubs, a free tutoring lab, on-campus daycare, and the number of student jobs on campus is amazing.”

Through her job as a student ambassador, Burgess was able to experience a wealth of experiences.

 “I learned so many useful professional skills, as well as things about the community I didn’t know,” she said. “You get exposed to so many different people, cultures, problem-solving situations, and ways to continue your education beyond Barton if that’s what you want. If you choose a course that does not require education outside Barton, they make sure you feel confident in your ability to perform at a professional level.”

Burgess has advanced to her current position as a Case Manager at KVC Kansas in Topeka, where she makes a difference daily.

“My goal when working with children is always to make them feel heard, seen, respected, and wanted,” she said. “In this world, a lot of people grow up and become adults who still don’t feel that way, and I’m hoping that if I can create a foundation while they’re young, then they will know that they’re wanted.”

Burgess said she would like to eventually branch out and help residents in correctional facilities with their mental health and reintegration into their communities upon release.

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