KU Scholar Athlete of the Month: Jessica Sunnenberg

For Jessica, Hard Work Is Music to Her Ears

JessicaSchool: Henry Clay High

GRADE:  12  SportS:  Volleyball

Academics: Jessica has a 4.47 weighted GPA, scored 28 on the ACT and has taken eight A.P. classes. She also plays violin for the school chamber orchestra.

Parents:  Janet & Rob Nutt & Mike Sunnenberg


The 17-year-old senior volleyball player scored 28 on the ACT and carries a 4.47 weighted GPA in an eclectic array of classes at Henry Clay’s Liberal Arts Academy.It’s not like Henry Clay High’s Jessica Sunnenberg has tons of free time to evaluate the many options her versatility has created.

She has taken eight A.P. classes including literature and calculus II this year.

She also takes advanced micro-heredity and is serving an internship at a local magazine because she’s interested in media business.

A violin student since third grade, she plays in the school’s chamber orchestra and has qualified two years in a row for the State ensemble competition.

With all these interests, it’s no wonder she has yet to choose a college.

“I want to play volleyball at a Division I college, and I might study business or engineering or criminal justice,” she said.

“I just want to make sure I go to a strong academic school.”

Wherever she lands, her college will accept a hard-working student accustomed to putting in maximum effort.

“The night the volleyball team played in the Regionals, Jessica came home and went right to work on her schoolwork,” her mother Janet said.

“She stayed up until 3 in the morning to get it done. She doesn’t quit. Perseverance is one of her strong points.”

Said Jessica: “I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times.”

Writing her college essay was such a time as she plowed though multiple drafts and revisions.

Jessica brings the same dedication to the volleyball floor.

A 5-foot-11, right-side hitter, she is a four-year starter for Henry Clay.

In 2016, the Blue Devils became only the second public school to advance to the State volleyball final and the first to win a set from a private school.

Jessica, co-captain of the team as a senior, was an All-Regional selection and won the team leadership and team player awards.

The highlight of the season for Jessica came in the semifinals when Henry Clay defeated Mercy to advance to the State final.

The memory of Coach Dale Grupe’s wife who died during the season fueled the players.

“We won for ourselves, of course, but we did it for Coach Grupe and his wife,” Jessica said.

“Coach Grupe was so strong throughout his wife’s sickness and he was always there for us.”