Firefighter, unicorn trainer, president; kindergartners are full of ideas as to what they want to be when they grow up. Usually those ideas change and became more elaborate, depending on the imagination of the child.

However, one young kindergartner set her mind on what she wanted and never veered from that decision. Today, Atchison native Jennifer McDermed is a meterologist with KMBC in Kansas City.

Imagine a young girl saying, “I want to be a meteorologist!”

This girl loved watching the WeatherChannel at night and would run out into a hailstorm with a bucket over her head to collect hail stones. Then she sliced the chunks in order to see the ice layers.

A graduate of Maur Hill-Mount Academy, McDermed said that even now, her heart begins to pound whenever she sees a storm coming.

“The feeling isn’t from fear or happiness, but the excitement is from witnessing something so delicate and pure,” she said.

McDermed added that she has a love/hate relationship with dangerous weather.

She’s fascinated and intrigued by tornadoes, but the truth is that the aftermath of these storms can be devastating. Her ability to help keep her community safe from Mother Nature’s danger is one of the reasons she intends to continue with her career for a very long time.

“The atmosphere can create beauty, but it can also create disaster at that exact same time,” she said. “Meteorologists want to help give lead time and alerts to the public so they have enough time to prepare and react to severe weather.”

When she talks about her life at Maur Hill, she emphasizes her gratitude that the school introduced her to many different cultures that she wouldn’t have been exposed to at another school. She said Maur Hill also gave her opportunities to have a great education and to live surrounded by faith.

“Not many 16 year olds can say that their best friends are from South Korea, Russia, or even Africa. I appreciate that while living in a small community in a small town, MH-MA was capable of introducing me to other parts of the world.”

Phil Baniewicz, current president of Maur Hill, had nothing but praise for McDermed. While he wasn’t president of the school while she was in attendance, he has been a friend of her family for years. In high school, Baniewicz said McDermed was involved in National Honor Society, student council and school ambassadors — not only that, he said, but she was captain of the volleyball, basketball and dance teams as well.

Baniewicz said McDermed still comes to Maur Hill’s sporting events to show her support for the school. He said she even hosted the League of St. Maur dinner — the largest fundraiser of the year for Maur Hill.

McDermed said she had an amazing childhood in Atchison, thanks mostly to her parents, who raised her in an environment that was heavy on family and faith.

“I’m still growing and developing into the person I want to be, but having role models like my parents, as well as my siblings, have certainly helped me be successful,” McDermed said.

“I am very proud to call Atchison, Kansas my home and I am very honored to be surrounded by the family and friends that God has given me.”

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