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HHS Wall of Honor inducts three

The 19th class of the Wall of Honor at Hutchinson High School features a trio of HHS alumni.

The 2017-18 honorees are Dr. Rick Bright, class of 1984; Sean James, class of 1987; and Dr. Susan Killian Myers, class of 1973.


Rick Bright


Sean James

Brief biographies of the honorees follow.

Dr. Rick Bright

            A native of Hutchinson – growing up in downtown Hutchinson – Bright graduated from HHS in 1984 and attended the University of Kansas for two years before finishing his bachelor’s degree in biology – medical technology – and physical sciences from Auburn University. He went on to get his Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis from Emory University.

Currently, Bright is director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and acting deputy assistant secretary in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the federal Health and Human Services. BARDA develops and provides medical countermeasures to man-made and natural threats including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases.

Starting his career at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bright was led to work in biotechnology industry positions for Altea Therapeutics and Global Influenza Programs at Novavax. He also joined the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, which allowed him to work globally.

He has also served as an adviser to the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Sean James

A 1987 graduate of HHS, James is a wealth manager and philanthropist. A four-sport letter winner during his career at HHS, James said his experience in sports is something that has helped mold him.

“Using the skills and experiences that I have learned through sports, education and business in order to empower people to strive to realize their goals and dreams while also helping others,” he said.

James was a member of the first football team in HHS history to qualify for state playoffs in 1986. He was a member of varsity basketball teams his junior and senior years that went 20-1 and 19-3, respectively, winning the Tournament of Champions his junior year and the McPherson Invitational Basketball tournament his senior year. In track, he had the longest jump in the state of Kansas his senior year during the KU Relays and set the HHS long jump record.

After graduating from HHS, James received his associate degree from Hutchinson Community College in 1989, his bachelor of arts in business in 1982 from Missouri Southern and his master’s in business administration from the George Washington University School of Business in 2013.

His advice for current HHS students is to get out of their comfort zones.

“The advice I have is as much a challenge as it is advice: Push yourself,” James said. “Put yourself in situations that might make you uncomfortable, because through discomfort comes growth. Take comfort in what and whom you know, but do not become complacent with them. And every time you reach a goal you have set for yourself, remember that the finish line for that goal is just the starting line for the next one.”

Dr. Susan Killian Myers

A 1973 graduate of HHS, Myers has been a life-long educator. Currently, she serves as superintendent of schools for Atchison USD 409.

After graduating from HHS, Myers received her Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1977 and her master’s degree in gifted education from Kansas State University in 1981. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in special education administration from K-State in 1986 and did graduate study for school administration at Washburn University from 1986 to 1988.

Dr. Myers found a home in music while at HHS.

“Treasured memories from HHS involve all things music,” she said. “My flute has played an important role in my life, helping me develop confidence, discipline and poise.  I loved playing in the band, orchestra and small ensembles during high school. I became lifelong friends with other students who shared my love of music. My most cherished memory was the HHS band trip to Dallas to march in the Cotton Bowl Parade. Adventures abounded on that trip!”

After graduating from KU, she became a teacher in the Basehor-Linwood school district. She also taught or was an assistant director for the Atchison-Jefferson Special Education Cooperative and the Three Lakes Special Education Cooperative. She became an administrator in the West Franklin USD 287 in 1986 and served as district superintendent from 1999 to 2007. She has served as Atchison’s superintendent since 2007.

What advice would she give to HHS students today?

“Never forget the roles your school, your parents and family, and your community have played in helping you become who you are,” she said. “Be grateful for all you have and look for ways to return to others the opportunities you’ve been given. Seek to keep your glass full, never only half-full, and certainly never empty.”