Kevin Chavira (pink shirt) and Edgar Chavira (white shirt) compete in a "Souper Bowl" cook-off with the MPCC rodeo team.
Attending Mid-Plains Community College is becoming a tradition for the Chavira family of Imperial.
Kevin, Jony, Edgar, Brandon and Eric are cousins who represent three families of Chaviras. Kevin and Jony are brothers, and Edgar and Brandon are brothers. All either obtained or are currently pursuing a postsecondary education through MPCC.
When Kevin graduated from Chase County High School in 2015, MPCC wasn't just one of his choices for college – it was his first choice.
"It just made sense," Kevin said. "Mid-Plains was close to home. It was affordable, and I had taken some classes at the MPCC campus in Imperial when I was in high school, so I was familiar with the system. I knew MPCC had some amazing instructors."
The fact that Mid-Plains had a rodeo team didn't hurt anything either.
"I had opportunities to play soccer in Kansas, but I knew that if I went to MPCC, I could team rope, which was what I really wanted to do," Kevin said. "Also, because I was from a small town, I wanted that same atmosphere in a college. Going to a university would have been a huge change for me, and I doubt I would have enjoyed my college experience as much as I did."
Kevin ended up taking classes through MPCC in North Platte where his efforts were rewarded with a Business Student of the Month recognition.
Kevin graduated in May of 2017 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business with an Agribusiness emphasis. He is now back in Imperial working as a personal banker and training to be a loan officer at Pinnacle Bank.
"I definitely recommend MPCC," Kevin said. "A large part of the reason I was as prepared as I was for the job I have now is because Mid-Plains instructors were always there for me. They wanted me to be the best I could be. Two of my biggest role models, Angie Chittick and Cathy Nutt, really took the time to get to know me. They knew what my potential was, and if I wasn't living up to that, they would push me. They more or less taught me as a friend."
Edgar Chavira tutors another student while attending college in North Platte. Edgar graduated from Mid-Plains Community College in 2017.
Edgar has only been in Imperial for five years.
He graduated from Murray County High School in Chatsworth, Ga. in 2011 then attended Dalton State College in Dalton, Ga. on a soccer scholarship.
"I initially studied criminal justice, but was unable to finish because my family moved to Nebraska," Edgar said. "When we arrived in Imperial, I really got into agriculture. I hadn't been exposed to it much before, but working with animals and everything that goes along with that has been a life-changing experience."
The amount and variety of work in agriculture in Nebraska and surrounding states continues to impress him.
"There's so much productivity around here, that there's a lot of job security," Edgar said. "It's a very progressive industry."
When he found out Kevin was going to study agriculture at MPCC. Edgar decided to join him.
"It was close to home, but more than anything, I liked the flexibility of Mid-Plains," Edgar said. "I was able to take classes while continuing to work at Imperial Beef."
Like Kevin, Edgar graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business with an Agribusiness emphasis in 2017.
"The classes at MPCC were very advanced compared to those I had taken before," Edgar said. "They were hands-on and focused, and the instructors were just amazing. They provided one-on-one instruction that I can apply to my current job. I'm still at Imperial Beef, but I'm in a better position now than before I went to Mid-Plains. I used to be just a laborer. Now I'm the shipping and receiving coordinator as well as the safety coordinator."
Edgar's goal is to one day manage his own ranch or feed yard - preferably in the Imperial area.
Eric Chavira studies for finals week at Mid-Plains Community College.
Eric also works at Imperial Beef as a pen rider. His job is to check, doctor and ship cattle.
"I've been working in feedlots since I was about 15," Eric said. "I just fell in love with it. I would eventually like to try to get into higher management at a feedlot, and hopefully, stay in the Imperial area."
He's using MPCC to help him do that. Eric graduated from Chase County High School in the spring of 2016 and began taking college classes in North Platte the following fall.
"I chose MPCC because it was affordable, and because it was close enough to home that I could come back and work," Eric said. "It helped that Edgar and Kevin were already there. I visited them a couple of times when I was a senior and became familiar with some of the instructors."
He appreciated the size of the campus – especially compared to others he had visited.
"I liked how Mid-Plains has a small-town feel to it," Eric said. "That's what I was used to. When I was visiting UNL and some of the other universities, it was kind of overwhelming because everything was so big. At MPCC, I knew everyone and my classes were easy to find."
Eric took a semester's worth of MPCC dual credit classes online and through the college's campus in Imperial while he was still in high school.
"That put me way ahead and will save me a bunch of money in the long run," Eric said. "I needed nine of those credits for my associate degree and the others for my bachelor's degree."
His plans are to transfer to Fort Hays State University, earn a Business Administration degree through MPCC's reverse transfer program and obtain a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business from Fort Hays.
"The advisors at MPCC made transferring really easy," Eric said. "When I started, I didn't know what I wanted a bachelor's degree in, but that was important so that I didn't waste money. My advisors helped me figure out what classes I needed to take and made the process really smooth. At MPCC, everyone cares about you and wants you to succeed."
Thoughts from Brandon
Brandon Chavira takes a call from a customer at the ALLO store in North Platte. Chavira is studying information technology through Mid-Plains Community College.
Brandon is currently attending Mid-Plains with Eric. By the time he graduated from Chase County High School in 2016, he had also taken advantage of MPCC's Imperial campus and knocked out a college speech class.
"That definitely helped," Brandon said. "It's one less class I have to take now, so I'm one step closer to being done."
The fact that Kevin and Edgar enjoyed MPCC so much, and the fact that Eric was planning to go there, played a large part in Brandon's decision to enroll at Mid-Plains, too. Brandon also appreciated the college's proximity to home and affordability.
He is studying to be an information technology specialist – a program he's already seeing the benefits from.
"I work as a business customer representative at ALLO in North Platte, so I have to know all the basics," Brandon said. "When a customer calls with questions about Wi-Fi or hardware, I'm the first line of defense. The skills I gained through the IT and business classes at MPCC help me every day."
Brandon plans to go directly into the workforce after he graduates from Mid-Plains. He would eventually like to open an IT shop.
Jony Chavira swings a loop from his horse. Chavira is taking dual credit classes through Mid-Plains Community College.
While Jony hasn't had the on-campus experience that his brother and cousins have, he has followed in their footsteps by taking MPCC classes in his high school classroom.
"I'm going to be a senior this year in Imperial," Jony said. "I've already taken Personal Finance and this fall will take Info Tech, Art Appreciation, Speech and Accounting. I'm going to have to take them at some point, so I might as well take them now and save some money."
The chances of him attending Mid-Plains after he graduates are high.
"I know I want to study Agribusiness, and I've heard a lot of good things about MPCC," Jony said. "I've been impressed by the school so far just by how far ahead of schedule it put me with the dual credit classes. That was a great opportunity, and I'm excited to see what other opportunities the college has in store."
More information about MPCC, its programs and dual credit offerings can be found online at mpcc.edu.