Editor's Note: This is the next in a series of articles that will be published during Sam Redfern’s summer internship at the York County Development Corporation.
Redfern’s series spotlights people who were raised in York County and came back as adults to develop their careers and raise their families. “A place can only be as fantastic as its people,” Redfern says, “which is why the personal histories and current successes of these individuals show us the true heart of York County.”
YORK -- Jane Brogan is always headed somewhere. Growing up in York, she recalls often heading across the alley to school, which was located just a few short steps away.
If you talk to Brogan today, it’s no surprise that she spent a lot of time at school. Whether it was on the playground or in the classroom, she credits the upbringing York (and its educators) provided.
Now a teacher in those same high school halls, she sees things a bit differently than she did at age 17. Pulling from her interesting background and fascinating travel experiences, Brogan shares a perspective of appreciation for her home town, which she is happy to still call home today.
After graduating from York High School, Brogan headed to college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. There she studied business and began to see her hometown a little differently. In fact, she has realized over the years that any time there is distance between her and York, she begins to appreciate it more.
After graduating with a degree in business at CSU, she started to think about attending law school. This was the start of a few interesting years of long hours and a crazy schedule.
Before heading into courtrooms, she took to the skies as a flight attendant. This allowed her to widen her horizons and see more of the world, from a bird’s eye view. She met people from all walks of life and saw areas of the country that probably would have never made her summer vacation wish list.
Additional travel and sightseeing has happened later in her life as well. Bike tours in Nebraska and throughout the country have allowed Brogan to see the heart of many small towns. Impacted by a recent trip this summer that took her through Kentucky, she was shocked at the amount of poverty and lack of economic activity in many of the towns they rode through. Blocks of downtown areas were shut down and many fields were sitting idle during prime growing season. On the long (very long) bike rides, she began to compare York County to other areas of the country.
Through the flights and the rides, one thing has been clarified for Brogan -- she believes she won the jackpot by being born in America, having Nebraskan roots, and living in York.
She said, “Once I was able to travel, it just made me appreciate what I have and where I am from.”
She pointed out that York’s downtown is full of valuable businesses and dedicated agriculturalists ensure the fields in this county are not underutilized. This economic activity, including the great location provided by the interstate and highways, helps produce good jobs, new housing and expanding opportunity.
In a recent graduate sociology course, Brogan had to explain how she would introduce someone to her hometown. She highlighted the impressive parks and appealing retail options that any visitor should see. But more importantly, when she was asked what areas of town a visitor should avoid, she didn’t have an answer. She argues that she feels safe walking anywhere in York alone, even at night. Some of the small towns in Nebraska she has biked through did not give her that same feeling of safety.
Brogan is confident that when compared to many other communities in the country, and even the state, York is economically in a solid position.
When asked why York is home, Jane Brogan argues “this is a real gem” and the space and feeling of York is something that one just can’t quite capture, no matter how many planes or bikes they get on.