Rockhurst Welcomes New Faculty & Staff Members

Twenty-four new faculty/staff members have joined the Rockhurst community for the 2022-23 school year, but many of them are familiar faces. Between alumni, past faculty members, and Alum Service Corps (ASC) volunteers, several of them are returning to a familiar home.

Mr. Cameron Akagi is the new Director of Instrumental Music. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, Class of 2022. He has experience teaching music at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Liberty High School, Blue Valley High School, Raytown Middle School, Clear Creek Elementary School. and Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School. Most recently, Mr. Akagi worked at with the Olathe South High School band as part of his student teaching in spring 2022. He is also a published arranger and composer of concert band, marching band, and trombone ensemble music.

Mr. Andrew Becerra joins the Facilities group working in various capacities including plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and HVAC. His previous employment with National Tab had responsibilities in testing, balancing, and preventive maintenance in HVAC. He has worked for the Turner Unified District 202 as head custodian and maintenance technician.

Mrs. Katie Bland joins the Mathematics Department. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 2003 from Missouri University of Science and Technology and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2006. Upon completion of her master's degree, Mrs. Bland began her work with Burns & McDonnell as an environmental engineer, section manager, and associate process engineer. Desirous to use her talents and skill sets in new ways, Mrs. Bland, then, was hired at Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic High School in Lee's Summit in 2020 as an instructor of Mathematics (Hon. Algebra & Geometry) and of Engineering.

Mr. Ryan Brennan joins the School Counseling Department. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Justice & Peace Studies in 2005 from Creighton University.  Immediately following graduation from Creighton, Mr. Brennan donated two years of his life as an AmeriCorps Volunteer at Red Cloud Indian School (an apostolate of the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus) on Pine Ridge Reservation, SD, serving as a high school Spanish instructor and as Student Activities Director. He went on to earn a Master of Social Work in 2011 from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and was licensed in 2013, by the State of Missouri, as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Mr. Brennan has worked locally as a Qualified Mental Health Professional and Counselor, a Hospice Social Worker and Psychosocial Services Manager, and with his own private firm, Ryan Brennan Counseling, LLC, engaging in individual therapy for teens and adults.

Dr. Kevin Coker is the new Choir Director. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Belmont University, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Florida State University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Most recently, he served as the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Central Arkansas, conducting Concert Choir and the Chamber Singers and teaching courses in conducting and choral literature. Among 18 total years of teaching experience, Dr. Coker has 10 years of public school teaching experience and has taught at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. Prior to his appointment at UCA, Dr. Coker was the Director of Choral Activities at Henderson State University from 2018-2020, directed the University of Cincinnati Men’s Chorus from 2016-2018, and was the choral director at Blue Valley Northwest High School from 2010-2016. 

Mrs. Jane Cory came to Rockhurst last year as a part-time Administrative Assistant in the School Counseling Department. She now transitions into the role of Registrar and Academic Coordinator. She has more than 30 years of experience at SS&C (formerly DST Systems) holding a variety of roles in the financial services sector. Mrs. Cory comes well-qualified in the areas of data management and customer service from her professional experiences. Since COVID, Jane was a substitute teacher at St. Teresa’s Academy and she’s also an alumna from Rockhurst University. Her son, Joey, is a sophomore in Rockhurst's Class of 2025.

Mrs. Yulys Espinosa Acosta joins the Modern & Classical Languages Department as a Spanish teacher. In the spring she finished her sixth year of teaching Spanish and Religion at Holy Cross School in Kansas City, MO.  Mrs. Espinosa, a migrant from Cuba, holds an Associate of Arts Degree from Metropolitan Community College and a Bachelor Degree in Economics from the University of Camagüey in Esmeralda, Cuba, where she also taught Algebra and Financial Mathematics for two years. Her son, Flavio, is a freshman in Rockhurst's Class of 2026.

Mr. Pat Goodwin joins the Facilities group and will be taking over the HVAC duties at Rockhurst. For the past 16 years he worked for MC Realty in various roles of maintenance. Pat brings unique skills to us including HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and welding. His education includes Metropolitan Community College, Iowa Western College, and the Army. Mr. Goodwin served his country in the United States Army in the 82nd Airborne Infantry and currently serves in the United States Army Reserves. His son, Elliot, is a freshman in Rockhurst's Class of 2026.

Ms. Kelly Herdlick is the new Executive Assistant to the President. For the past 13 years, she has supported a number of administration teams in the Lee's Summit School District, both at the elementary and secondary level. Prior to her work in the education field, she enjoyed project management and account coordination for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.  Ms. Herdlick is from the Kansas City area, a graduate of Truman State University.

Ms. Kimberly Hoglund joins the Modern & Classical Language Department as the French instructor. She has 16 years of teaching experience at all levels, particularly in high schools. In 2004, Ms. Hoglund earned from Kansas State University a Bachelor of Arts in French (with honors), with a double major in International Studies. Also from Kansas State in the year 2006, she earned a Master of Arts in French with an emphasis in French Literature. In 2009, she earned a Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in Second Language Acquisition, as well as a Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning in 2020, both from K-State. Ms. Hoglund also undertook extensive study abroad experiences in France at both L’Institut Catholique de Paris and L’Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier.  For the past six years, she has been an instructor of French in the Olathe School District, with work previously as a French instructor in Kansas at Manhattan High School, Barton Community College (Fort Riley campus), and Kansas State University. 

Mr. Scott Hopke joins the Communication Arts Department. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2004.  Upon earning his degree, Mr. Hopke began his work as News Producer for WSBT-TV 22, South Bend, Indiana (a CBS affiliate), and then in 2008 moved to the Kansas City area to work as News Producer with KMBC-TV 9 (an ABC affiliate) where he also served as Special Projects Producer and Sports Producer. He left one professional career for another in 2015 to work as a Digital Media Production and Broadcast instructor at William Chrisman High School in Independence.  

Mr. Chris Hopper joins the English Department. He has 21 total years of English teaching experience in public and private settings, including 12 years at St. Pius X High School in Kansas City, and after spending the last eight years just outside Fort Worth, TX, as an AP English III / Pre-AP English II instructor and graduate student at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin where he recently earned a Master of Arts in English. He first earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1994 with a major in Poetry and a minor in Religious Studies. He also earned a B.A. in Education from Mizzou in 1999. Mr. Hopper has experience in teaching English I, II, II, and IV, yearbook, theater, and creative writing, and has recently been working as a dual credit Composition instructor, through Hill College, at Centennial High School in Burleson, TX. 

Mrs. Mary Kincaid is the new School Counseling Office Administrative Assistant. A graduate of Bishop Miege High School, Mrs. Kincaid holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Kansas and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Her extensive professional background in the legal and H.R. fields includes serving as the office and H.R. manager with her husband’s construction company. She recently worked as an Executive Assistant to the President of Donnelly College, Monsignor Swetland.

Ms. Elia Lima is the newest member of Rockhurst's Housekeeping crew. She attended Shawnee Mission North High School and moved to Guatemala her senior year. She furthered her studies to get a certificate in kindergarten teaching and enjoyed working with children. Ms. Lima recently moved back to the U.S. and looks forward to working here at Rockhurst. 

Mr. Joe Lindgren '04 returns to Rockhurst as the school's new Instructional Technologist. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Rockhurst University in 2008, and continued on to earn his M.Ed. in Secondary Education (Social Studies) from Rock U in 2010. Since then, Mr. Lindgren has been working at St. James Academy in Lenexa, KS. He has spent the past 11 years managing the school’s one-to-one laptop program and assisting students and staff there with technology needs. In addition, Mr. Lindgren taught a fine arts course covering the history of cinema, helped coach the SJA Scholar’s Bowl team, and served as moderator for the school’s Tabletop Gaming Club.

Mr. Billy Linscott '09 returns to Rockhurst (again!) as the Assistant Dean of Students. Mr. Linscott earned a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Biblical and Theological Studies from Wheaton College (IL) in 2013.  In the same year, Mr. Linscott returned to his alma mater to serve as the Assistant Dean of Students.  Mr. Linscott, while working at Rockhurst, earned a Master's of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) from Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City in 2016.  He left The Rock in 2018 to pursue full time work as a Minister of Membership & Community and Director of Ministry Strategy at Redeemer Fellowship Church in Kansas City.  After completing his time there, he moved to the United Kingdom to begin work on a Ph.D. in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Dr. Philip Nahlik, SJ, is one of Rockhurst's three Jesuit "regents" (along with Messrs. Ignatius Nguyen, SJ, and Alex Coffey, SJ). He graduated from St. Louis University High School in 2011, and then graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science (with Honors) in Chemistry in 2015 from Loyola University Chicago, whereafter he also earned a Master of Science in Chemistry in 2017.  A few months later, Dr. Nahlik joined the US Central & Southern Province of the Society of Jesus and professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in 2019.  He was missioned by his Provincial Superior to return to Loyola where he very recently earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry with a research focus on K-12 science education. Here at RHS, he will work with the Science Department.

Mr. Chí Nhân "Ignatius" Nguyen, SJ, is also a Jesuit regents new to Rockhurst. After emigrating to the U.S. from Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Louisiana Lafayette in 2007. The following year, he also earned a Master of Architecture from the same university. After moving to Dallas where he worked as an architectural consultant for a few years, Mr. Nguyen earned an Associate of Science degree and was certified as a Pharmacy Technician. He then spent a couple of years working for the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer in Carthage, MO.  Mr. Nguyen joined the U.S. Central & Southern Province of the Society of Jesus in 2017 and professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in 2019.  He was missioned by his Provincial Superior to matriculate at Loyola University Chicago where he earned a Master of Social Philosophy degree and a Master of Theological Studies degree.  Mr. Nguyen will join the Mathematics Department at The Rock.

Rev. Thomas Pesci, SJ, returns to Rockhurst as the President Emeritus; he served as the president from 1993-2004. Since that service, he has been involved in a variety of ministries including serving as President of Loyola Blakefield, Campus Ministry at University of Scranton, and most recently as Minister to the St. Joseph's University Jesuit community in Philadelphia. Fr. Pesci has been missioned to serve at Rockhurst once again where he will be assisting President David Laughlin and Rockhurst in the school's mission, strategic planning, Sacramental community life, and alumni/constituent relations.

Mr. Patrick Pribyl '10 returns to Rockhurst as the new Theater Manager and Technical Theater Support. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pace University in New York City, and he also holds a Certificate of Honors from the Summer Acting Conservatory at Rutgers University. Mr. Pribyl has served in a variety of roles, from corporate management and customer service to theatrical direction, teaching, and performance. He has worked in theaters in New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Notable credits involve LaMama Playhouse in New York City and Musical Theater Heritage and The Unicorn Theater here in Kansas City.

Mr. Cade Prins '17 returns to Rockhurst as an Alum Service Corps (ASC) volunteer teacher in the Science Department. He recently completed a Bachelor degree from Loyola Marymount University with a major in Biochemistry. In addition to his studies, Mr. Prins worked as a Resident Advisor and served as the President of The Crimson Circle, a service organization focusing on serving at-risk youth in the Los Angeles Area, along with a host of other service and Campus Ministry activities.

Dr. Tiffany Rinne is the new Director of Library Services. She has a B.S. in Biology from Wake Forest University, a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University. As a scientist, she's studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama, innovators in New Zealand, and received a Fulbright scholarship to study perceptions of genetic engineering in both the U.S. and New Zealand. After receiving her Ph.D. at the University of Georgia, she moved to New Zealand where she spent ten years working as both an anthropological researcher as well as an author of Young Adult Fiction. Upon returning to the States, Dr. Rinne enrolled at Emporia State to pursue her Masters, which she completed in 2019. She has worked for Johnson County Library as a youth information specialist for the last three years helping run the library's Young Adult Literary Council, the teen volunteer program and elementia, the teen literary magazine.

Mrs. Sarah Schulenberg is the new Assistant to the Dean of Students. She holds an Associates Degree from Central Missouri State University and State Fair Community College, and brings 25 years of experience in administration from elementary and secondary schools, specifically the Blue Springs District. For the last 12 years, Mrs. Schulenberg served as the Assistant to the Athletic Director at Blue Springs High School. Previously, she spent some seven years in a similar role with Marshall High School, where she also served as the Assistant to the Transportation Director. In addition, she brings specific experience as an attendance secretary and receptionist from her work at the Blue Springs Freshman Center and Lucy Franklin Elementary.

Mr. Mitchell Tran '18 returns to Rockhurst as an Alum Service Corps (ASC) volunteer teacher in the Computer Science Department. He completed a Bachelor Degree from Creighton University with a double major in Medical Mathematics and Data Science. Outside the classroom, Mr. Tran worked in both the fitness center and the tutoring center at Creighton and was also a data intern at Central States Health & Life Co. of Omaha. He is particularly interested in STEM/STEAM programming and is excited to help give back to his alma mater.