Business Administration and Sports Management
Emphases in Finance and Marketing ’22
I grew up in a small town, La Feria, Texas. No one has ever heard of it and it’s funny, that’s how I felt about Dubuque at first. A guy I grew up with, Aaron Fernandez, had come here and was really trying to get me to consider playing football at Clarke. Then Coach Regalado called and he drew me in immediately. One phone call and I knew this was the program for me.
When I first accepted, I didn’t know what Dubuque, Iowa was. I didn’t know what the weather looked like, I knew nothing. I just took that journey. Growing up in South Texas, I was used to a very diverse community and Dubuque was 97 percent white – I thought, “what did I get myself into?” Thankfully CONNECT orientation helped a lot. Having all that time with other new students broke the ice and help me bond with people right away.
My first day walking into class and seeing how small the classrooms were took the edge off, too. I knew I could get one-on-one experience with professors and actually get some of my questions answered rather than sit in the back of a classroom with 100 or 200 students for a lecture.
Coach Regalado and his staff also place a lot of importance on building community. They helped connect us with resources on campus like the library or the MARC. Academics always come first. More than that, they want us to be leaders in the community. We volunteer at the Dubuque Rescue Mission, we have helped with meals at different churches. One time, we served 250 plates in just a few hours. We really want to make a difference.
I’m also in the Peer Mentoring program and that’s something I really enjoy and look forward to. We guide these students in every aspect, whether that’s mentally, physically, or emotionally; we’re here to help. I try to push other students – not just my mentee – but all students to take advantage of places like the library, the MARC, even Mary Ellen and people in the Financial Aid Office and Student Accounts. People are always willing to help and students should never feel worried to ask a question. I’ve worked with four students as a Peer Mentor now and that’s something I will never forget.
Athletics and community involvement are helping bring more people into Clarke. We are building the Clarke culture while bringing in international students, and students from all over. Recruiting for athletics is focused on finding people that fit Clarke, that fit our team – not just the best local kids. When they say, “One Clarke, One Community” that’s the truth.
I’m a first-generation college student and I’ve got four younger siblings at home. I really want to be a good role model for them. I chose my majors because I really like working with numbers and data, and after graduation I want to take those skill and work in law enforcement. Where I’m from, state patrol and border patrol have a big impact on the community and while I can learn from what they are doing now, I also think I can use my education to make those organizations better.
As far away from home as I am, I love it here and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love the community around me, my coaches, everyone who’s here to help me. My message to everyone would be, ‘don’t be afraid to take that next step.’ Take a chance, make that ‘what if’ decision. Coming here is something I take a lot of pride in and I don’t ever regret.
Health, Wellness, and Behavioral Sciences, Pre-PT
minor in Nutrition and Food Science ’24
When I was a junior in high school, my dad tore his ACL and I started helping him with some of his physical therapy. I became really interested in it and started looking for PT schools. I had never heard of Clarke, but once I visited, I found connections everywhere. It always seemed like someone had a sister or friend who had come here. When comparing it to other schools, I just kept coming back to this sense that Clarke was right, it felt like home.
At Clarke, I am on the cross country and track teams, so as an athlete I know nutrition can impact your performance. That’s what drew me to the Health, Wellness and Behavioral Sciences major, but it was my Compass Seminar II that helped me decide on my minor in Nutrition and Food Science. I took “Soulful Work” with Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Susanna Cantu Gregory. It gave me the opportunity to explore and figure out how my general education classes connected to Physical Therapy, and it helped me discover that nutrition is an area of specialization I care about.
Outside of classes and running, I also have two jobs on campus. One is with Campus Ministry, and one is as a student assistant with Professor of Chemistry Sunil Malapati in his Introduction to Food Science course. I took the course last year and really enjoyed it, so when Sunil asked me to help out it was really cool. I help him set up and take down equipment in the lab and help students throughout the class. This week, I helped him make a meal as an example of the final. Seeing the class from both sides helps me understand the process in more detail, and it is good experience for my future career.
Last year I also took part in some of the community outreach with the Introduction to Food Science class. I toured Convivium Urban Farmstead and later volunteered there for a few hours at the end of the year tearing out their tomatoes and composting them. It really gave me an appreciation for the food cycle from start to finish. More than that, it helped me see concepts from class in action. I’ve read about food deserts, but to realize it exists in my community and that there are things I can do to make an impact gives a real purpose to what I’m learning.
I’m only a sophomore, so there is a lot more I want to do with my time at Clarke. I am a Clarke Student Association Senator, and I’m looking to get involved with COSPT next year. I also have the early assurance acceptance into Clarke’s DPT program, meaning I can keep building relationships with faculty that I know and specialize in pediatric physical therapy. Plus, I get an extra year of eligibility, so I can stay involved as a student-athlete.
Elementary Education, endorsement in Special Education ’22
The spark to go into education started for me in the third grade when I was in Miss Springlemeyer’s class. She was the most amazing teacher I had in elementary school. She made learning fun. She let us learn while doing things that we enjoyed. Ever since then I knew I wanted to be an educator.
I decided I wanted to be endorsed in special education my freshman or sophomore year of high school after spending time with a family friend whose son had some mental and physical disabilities. He changed my whole life. I will never forget one time he and I were walking at my brother’s hockey game, and he went up to a parent from the other team and went to give them a hug. The guy looked at him and pushed him away and said, “Whose kid is this, get him away from me.” At that moment, I knew I wanted to be an advocate for people like my friend who are often misunderstood and face so many daily challenges.
After I graduated from East Dubuque High School in 2018, I went to Highland Community College in Freeport, Illinois where I got my Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education. In 2020 I transferred to Clarke because Ellen Spencer made me fall in love with the education program here. Ellen helped me plan the next two years of my degree before I was even committed, and that truly eased my mind and made my decision so much easier.
While I love the program, there have been challenges to, like time management. Besides your class schedule, you have to think about your Professional Development School time, lesson planning, and creating classroom activities. Plus, I am a member of the softball team, so I had to learn to stay on top of everything. With a schedule that runs from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., I had to learn how to use my time and breaks wisely. It’s helped shape me into a better person.
I couldn’t do all this without the support of my friends and professors. I have made great friends through the education program, and I have all of my professors’ personal phone numbers. I know if I had a question at 10 p.m., they would answer as soon as they could. I also know that after I graduate, I will still have my professors to text or call five years from now when I’m teaching full-time. They truly do become your extended family.
That’s what being a Clarkie is all about – being a family. Everyone helps everyone. I hope to carry that into my own classroom someday.
Biology, minor in Mathematics ’21
I have always been interested in the sciences, and I think what sparked my interest the most is the idea that I could use my biology degree to become a doctor and help people all over the world. I think that it is fascinating to have seen how and why things work the way that they do!
Science is so exciting and challenging and rewarding and stressful all at the same time. From the lows of being stuck on a problem for days to the highs of when you finally solve the problem makes my major so amazing. The students and professors are also a very big part of making the science field interesting. The professors at Clarke work hard to find creative and intuitive ways to make science fun and interesting! I think the most impactful professors that I have had have found ways to light a fire in each student’s heart individually. They find out how each student learns and adjusts their teaching habits to accommodate each person’s needs. It really brings out the best in each and every person that pursues a career in science.
I think that the biggest challenge that I had before college was figuring out what exactly I wanted to do and what field I wanted to go into. I knew that I loved working with kids, and I wanted it to have something to do with medicine, so that’s how I decided I wanted to become a pediatrician. Another challenge I faced was figuring out how to juggle basketball and academics. For the career I am pursuing, it is important that I have as high of a GPA as I can, so I’m always striving to get A’s, but there are also times where I find it hard to focus because we have a big game that day or we are on a road trip.
My experience with basketball has taught me so much that I don’t think that I can sum it up without writing a book about it! The game of basketball has taught me how to persevere and push through adversity, and it has taught me that patience is not only a valuable skill but essential to getting what you truly desire most in life. The things that I have learned through basketball are the reason I am who I am. Without it, I don’t think I would’ve made it anywhere near where I am today. There is always a family feeling when at Clarke. I think what I have enjoyed most about my college experience is the people I have met and the connections that I have made with people from all over the globe! I have made friendships that will last me a lifetime.
My advice to high-school students is that it’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out yet. You don’t need to. As the game of basketball has taught me, it’s important to look into the future, but you should always try to live in the moment as much as you can. So, be adventurous. Try new things while you’re still young and have the energy, time, and faculty of wonder to do so. Always be kind to others, and if you’re going to do something, then go all out and do it for real.
Lastly, always remember where you come from. I have lived in Dubuque my whole life and a lot of my family and friends still live here. My dad was a college basketball player and that’s where my love of the game started. I always wanted to be like him. I was too young to remember seeing him play, but just hearing people talk about how good he was and how they admired him on the court gave me goosebumps. My mom, grandma, and my sisters have been so supportive of me being in college and playing sports, and my friends always tell me how proud they are of me for going put and getting an education. My girlfriend, Alana Cooksley, has been one of the most impactful people in my college life. She always pushes me to be the best student and athlete I can be and is always there for me whenever I need it. And last my certainly not least, my mentor, Otto Krueger. He has been with me since I was in third grade. He has molded me into the young adult that I am today, and I couldn’t have done all the things I have done without him by my side.
That’s something I like about the Dubuque community — the people that you make bonds with last a lifetime. It is a smaller city, so everyone knows everyone. We have an understanding that we are a family. We play basketball together, hangout together, mentor the youth together, and a whole bunch more. We are one community, one Clarke, one family. And if I had a choice, I wouldn’t choose anywhere else to be but Dubuque.
Psychology and Business with an emphasis in Finance ’21
At Disney I am doing various tasks and events during my internship. My current job location is Magic Kingdom, where I have the opportunity to network with leaders and coordinators who have been working at the Walt Disney company for decades. I have the privilege to interact with guests with various backgrounds and experiences. I help with food preparations, stocking, communicating with co-workers and other interns. One of the most memorable experiences thus far is learning the history of Disney and their investment financially into interns’ educations. Disney also provides a ton of networking events, and opportunities for interns to grow within the company. They also provide college interns the opportunity to be trained in different locations throughout the resort.
Becky Herrig and the Career Services Office have been extremely helpful and flexible with me to complete my two internships and have them count as credit at Clarke. Many students may not know that the job you are working right now could fit the requirements of an internship. I suggest talking to Becky and she can help you. In regard to why internships are important, they are important because you get on the job experience, you learn professionalism first-hand. For example, Disney is extremely strict when it comes to professionalism and I’m thankful that Clarke has prepared me and helped me become successful with Disney. My internship experience has and will continue to open many doors for professional and full-time positions after graduation. I firmly believe an internship is the most life-changing class/credit one can take.
I am planning on graduating early in December and my goal is to stay with the Walt Disney Company by working for ESPN. I love sports and not playing volleyball this year was a tough decision but having the opportunity to work and grow with the Walt Disney Company was an opportunity I couldn’t walk away from. I want to thank my professors for working with me, administrators, and coaches for guiding me to this amazing path.
Some advice I have for future students is to dream big, but to never forget that with a dream comes hard work. Also, if a class is difficult, please talk to your professor! All the staff here want you to succeed and will be willing to help you. Tim Boffeli and Loren Rice have been two professors who have gone out of their way to help me and navigate me on the best path not only career wise, but for life. Get out of your comfort zone because you never know what opportunities may be created from that one moment.
I am so incredibly grateful to my family and the staff at Clarke, from Becky, to my advisors, to my coach for all helping me create this dream into a reality.
Biochemistry & Mathematics ’20
My classes and research experience prepared me for the rigor of graduate level chemistry classes. I participated in many activities including golf, student government, math club, chemistry tutoring and more, which, in conjunction with my schoolwork and a part time job, prepared me for balancing my current course load, participating in active research, and teaching general chemistry labs. The work life balance that I learned at Clarke has helped me to stay grounded and keep my priorities straight.
In high school I was always involved in most clubs and athletics. I felt as though it helped me maintain a healthy extracurricular life. I wanted to go into college with the same mind set. I went through the list of clubs and choose which ones I was interested in and went to the next meeting! To give my advice for any incoming freshman I would suggest not being afraid to be the only new person in a room! It allows you to meet new people independently and can help you step out of your comfort zone. At a place like Clarke, you will always be welcomed into the room with a smile!
Among the many lessons that I learned at Clarke, these few have made the greatest impact on my life: First, I learned that your future does not solely rely on a college degree. If you want to achieve your life goals and dreams other skills and traits, such as the ability to adapt and communicate when you are struggling, are necessary as well. I learned that if you do something the first time and do not succeed, it does not mean that you do not know the information. It means that you need to look at it from a different viewpoint and try again.
This perseverance was not something I had when I went into college, but something I learned along the way. In my first semester at Clarke, I was taking 18 credits and struggling in the one class that I really enjoyed going to most, General Chemistry. I remember about halfway through the semester I went up to my advisor, Dr. Tony Breitbach, who also happened to be the professor of the class and told him that I planned to switch my major from a B.S. in Biochemistry to Undecided. I’d come to this decision because I felt that I could not apply the material in a way that allowed me to be successful in his class. I remember him looking at me and saying, “you can change if you want to and switch to a degree that is easier for you, or you can stay and get a degree in something that challenges you. I just want to make sure that you don’t look back in four years and regret this decision.”
I won’t say that from that moment on staying with chemistry was a breeze, because it took a lot of hard work and dedication, but that conversation has deeply impacted my life. Going from high school to college was not easy but neither has been going from Clarke to graduate school. I am very grateful that I came from a university where the professors push you to accept challenges instead of backing down from them.
Since graduating from Clarke University, I have become a graduate student at Iowa State University. I am currently on the track to get my PhD in Chemistry and work on the enrichment and electrochemical detection of disease biomarkers under the advisement of Dr. Robbyn Anand. In addition to starting graduate school this year I have also became an aunt of a beautiful little girl (whose parents are also alumni of Clarke) and have gotten engaged!
Health Wellness Behavioral Science ’20
Men’s volleyball is what initially attracted me to Clarke University. I spoke to a few different schools about being a college athlete at their university and after all those conversations, I knew Clarke was the place for me because of how they valued relationships. I received my AA at South Puget Sound Community College and knew that I enjoyed psychology courses, so when I began speaking to Dee Higgins about the various majors they offered, she mentioned the Health Wellness and Behavioral Sciences major. She explained that this major was an inclusive health degree that looked at psychological aspects, physiological aspects, and nutrition and finance aspects as well. After hearing the description of this major, I knew it was for me because it allowed me to help/understand people in multiple aspects.
The biggest challenge that I faced at Clarke was building my confidence in my application of knowledge and knowing that I was a competent individual who could run things on my own in the professional world. Tim Boffeli, one of my advisors (now mentor), was the primary person that I leaned into during this struggle. He helped me to understand and then change my cognitive processes so that it focused on the positives and controllables. With these changes I became more confident, happy, and comfortable in leading. The affirmations of my growth in these areas by Tim and Dee Higgins really solidified my new confidence and perception of self.
It’s really hard to pick one specific memory at Clarke because there have been so many wonderful experiences with a variety of people. I really enjoyed the warm welcoming community that Clarke is. I have been hosted by various faculty and staff members for holidays because I could not afford to go home. These holidays are special moments to me because these families really captured the caring community that Clarke is. I never would have thought that I would be asked by my statistics professor or the office manager in athletics at my university to come over for a holiday, but I am very fortunate that I was because I have now formed great life-long friendships.
As I close the Clarke chapter in my life, I will be moving back home to Washington state to be with my family and friends. My next job occupation will be a psychiatric childcare counselor for the state. I am looking forward to helping young adults on their paths in life and will do my best to be a positive impact. The psychology field is intriguing to me and is a field that I am passionate about. I am hoping to stay at this position for a while and soak up all the knowledge and experience that I can! I also plan to obtain my masters in some psychological field after I try out this position for a few years. During this time, I will also be playing as much volleyball as I can in competitive tournaments and leagues!
I am truly thankful for the Clarke Community and what it stands for. I have experienced tremendous growth as an individual here and couldn’t be happier with my college experience. I am confident that this community will continue to help people as they have helped me and that I will help people as I walk into my new adventures.”
Sport Management ’22
Physical Therapy ’23
Not everyone comes to college equally prepared. Attending classes at Clarke or a university in general is more challenging than classes in high school. For starters, you need to be far more self-reliant. This was definitely my biggest challenge. Professors typically do not bug you about studying or completing assignments on time. It is honestly easy to fall behind in your coursework if you do not use your time wisely. I have been able to overcome this challenge by working hard and spending extra time studying. It is great to see everything paying off, especially when looking at my grades!
Clarke has given me a better understanding of how I view the world. Clarke has shaped me as a young adult and changed my whole mindset. My family and friends have noticed changes within myself and I noticed them as well. I am now applying my knowledge to my everyday life.
I am currently the president of Clarke’s Black Student Union, a member of Clarke’s dance/cheer team, and I am involved in Campus Ministry. Clarke’s Campus Ministry helps me as a person, especially when it comes to my religion. I am a psychology major, and I think religion and psychology are closely related. In fact, I like to think of psychology as religion. In engaging with others in Campus Ministry’s Small Groups, I enjoy observing how faith affects other individuals’ behavior and thinking.
Since coming to college, I have become more independent. While I still prefer being with friends and others over being alone, I enjoy being independent. It is nice to be able to walk around, schedule meetings, and even cook dinner on my own. College allows you to have so much independence. My goal is to complete an internship and find a good job. When you are a college student, not only do you need to worry about the career path to take, but you also have to think about settling your college loan. This is why many students take part-time jobs and internships to earn money and gain experience. Even if you work an unpaid internship, the learning experience is something that future employers will take into consideration. This helps you develop a good level of responsibility, too.
Secondary Education & English ’21
Social Work & Psychology ’20, MSW ’21
I have faced many challenges to get to where I am today. In high school, my parents got divorced, which impacted me in a negative way. Additionally, a week before I began my senior year in the social work program at Clarke, I found out I was pregnant. I thought of just taking the year off at that point, but instead, I decided I would push through it. This was not easy by any means, because I was sick every single day of my pregnancy while completing a 440 hour internship. There were many occasions where I wanted to give up, but luckily I had an amazing amount of support from my professors and peers which kept me motivated. I cannot thank them enough for that.
I was born and raised in Dubuque, so I decided it made sense for me to attend college in Dubuque as well. I chose Clarke over the other schools in Dubuque because Clarke was the right fit for me. There are many things I love about Clarke, such as the welcoming environment, small class sizes, closer attention from professors, and the fact that all the lecture buildings are connected. Since I live off campus, it was a little more difficult to stay as involved as I would have liked at Clarke – but I have participated in the Social Work club. I love that Clarke offers so many clubs and hosts events that are both fun and educational. My favorite memories from Clarke are meeting my new life-long friends. I cherish all of the close connections I have made.
Clarke has changed me for the better. Courses I have taken here have helped me cope with the events that have happened in my life and motivated me to work to promote the common good. Clarke has instilled behaviors within me that will carry on throughout the rest of my life. I have become a more calm, collected, and understanding person, and a better version of myself overall. I have also become a better critical thinker. Professionally, Clarke has prepared me to be more task-oriented, organized, and a better communicator. I now feel very confident to enter the workforce.
After I graduate with my Master’s degree from Clarke, I intend to be a counselor at a private practice. I hope to obtain my license to be an independent clinical social worker (LICSW). I would like to work with both adults and children with a focus on mental health, relationships, and family. I believe I will help others in the future thanks to my education and experiences at Clarke.
Psychology ’20, DPT ’22
Elementary Education ‘17, M.A Education ‘20
As I have settled into my classroom these past couple of years, I have made so many connections to what I learned during my time at Clarke. I vividly remember going into local Dubuque schools as a Clarke student; teaching literacy using the balanced literacy approach, reading, planning, writing IEPS, and creating and implementing interventions. When I do these things now in my own kindergarten classroom, I can almost always make a connection to what we learned and practiced at Clarke. It was an easy decision to continue my Master’s degree here. My courses well prepared me for teaching in today’s world because the courses, professors, content, assignments, etc., were all so relatable and worthwhile. I never felt like I was doing work just to do it, and always wanted to fully apply myself. The education I received from Clarke has not only helped me improve my teaching, but has also given me confidence going into the classroom each day. I am motivated to offer my students the best learning experience I can, taking into account not just academics, but also my social & emotional well-being.
My time at Clarke helped me become more confident. I’ve learned to believe in myself and trust my instinct. As a teacher, I advocate for my students and feel confident in my ability to offer them a safe, welcoming, and supportive classroom. I also matured as a person in my seven years at Clarke by becoming more self-aware, appreciative of my faith, and understanding of my values. Education courses and working after school most days kept me pretty busy, but I was involved in the Teachers for Tomorrow club and Campus Ministry. I attended and helped with the Antioch retreats, which was always a good time to get away and reconnect with my faith.
Since I was little, I knew I wanted to be teacher. At orientation for my own kindergarten students, I showed them a picture I drew as a kindergartener that said, “When I grow up I want to be a teacher,” and told them that from even the young age of five we can start chasing our dreams, no matter how big or small. With the support and encouragement from family, teachers, and friends, I have been able to do what I love, and continue to learn more while I earn my degrees at the same time. I hope to foster passions and excitement in my own students.
My favorite memory from Clarke was the summer reading camp. As education students, we were able to set up our first “classroom,” create a schedule, meet families, plan activities, and work with students. This hands-on experience was the first time I felt like a real teacher, and excited me even more for what was to come in the future.
I am a bit of a perfectionist. In the past, my perfectionism has hindered my success in athletics and academics, but Clarke has helped me learn to accept mistakes because I am pushing myself to achieve more. Part of how Clarke has prepared me professionally is how I have learned to accept my peers as part of my team in working to be successful together. I have really appreciated the family atmosphere at Clarke since the beginning of my time here – coming to Clarke made my transition from high school to college easy.
The main reason I chose Clarke is that it is only 25 minutes away from my hometown of Dyersville, Iowa. I have always been such a homebody and still never like to be away from home for too long. Despite that, I found that once I came to Clarke I did not go home very often. Being in Dubuque has made me more independent because Clarke has become my home away from home. The amazing group of friends I have made here have also helped me step out of my comfort zone. My favorite memory was winning Air Band with my CONNECT group! I remember being super nervous because I am not an outgoing person, but I had a lot of fun and was proud of myself.
As a nursing major, I want to help people the way that Clarke has helped me. Clarke has prepared me to be a nurse by showing me the positive impact that others can have in my life. I was given the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities where I get to work with others who share similar interests, such as in Clarke’s Activity Board (CAB), Clarke’s Association of Nursing Students (CANS), Page Turners, Dance Marathon, and the Culinary Club. After graduating from Clarke, I am still deciding if I would like to get a Master’s or Ph.D., but I know that I have an overall dream to become a neonatal nurse. I work as a CNA currently, as this has always been a passion of mine. I would be open to working at Mercy Hospital or Finley, because I would love to stay in Iowa.
Social Work ’22
Athletic Training ’21
Since I began attending Clarke, I feel like I have grown so much as a person. College had always seemed daunting to me because I was not sure if I would fit in. I thought coming from an extremely small hometown and high school would have had a negative impact on my transition to college, especially since I am not a very outgoing person. I was worried about feeling lost, or not being able to make friends. However, I was wrong. Clarke’s small class sizes and smaller campus made me feel right at home. Being here, I get a sense of living in a closely-knit community where you know everyone and know that they care about you. During my CONNECT Orientation in 2017, I met some of my closest friends. I have kept these friends for the past three years and have experienced some of my favorite moments with them.
Clarke has not only helped me a lot personally, but with my professional development as well. I have always been an active member of Clarke’s Athletic Training Society (CATS), which has given me the opportunity to work within the community of athletic training by volunteering at Mount Carmel. The AT program at Clarke has prepared me for my future in many ways. Upon graduation, I will have worked through nine different clinical rotations in both high school and college settings. More importantly, I had the chance to work with a wide variety of clinical instructors, athletes, and sports that I was not super familiar with. My favorite memory from Clarke is surprisingly school related – it is just being able to practice what I love; my athletic training skills. I always appreciate the time we get to practice various techniques such as ankle taping, massaging, or stretching.
With all of these experiences, I believe I have made positive changes in how I communicate, socialize, problem solve, manage money, and perceive life. Clarke has pushed me to take more risks. I am more open to starting conversations with people as well as trying new things because the Clarke community is so welcoming and caring. Once I graduate, I would like to get a Master’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration. My ultimate goal is to become an athletic trainer for the military. Otherwise, I would also like to work at a high school or college as an athletic trainer or athletic director.
Mathematics & Computer Information Systems ’21
I have always had to be pretty independent because most of my family lives in Japan. The only family I have in the U.S. is my younger brother who lives in California, which is where I lived before I transferred to Clarke. It has been difficult to be thousands of miles away from my family and not being able to rely on them as much, especially since the pandemic began. Thankfully, all of my family members in Japan are staying safe and healthy as well as my brother in California. My brother and I will most likely not go see our family in Japan this winter like usual, but that is a small price to pay compared to putting everyone at risk. We previously have used technology to stay in touch and see each other’s faces, so that part is not anything new. Being so far away from my family is part of the reason why Clarke has been such a great fit for me. My entire time here, the Clarke community has made me feel welcome and Clarke has definitely become a home away from home.
As a more reserved individual, Clarke has allowed me to improve upon my communication skills with my peers and professors. I appreciate having such supportive professors that are only an email away for help when I need it. I have seen the benefits of working with my peers in groups in my recent classes, and I have learned to enjoy it as well, which is something I did not expect at first. Overall, I feel as though Clarke has helped me grow as an individual and become more resilient. My favorite memory so far has been attending the Christmas Dinner. There, I could truly see how closely connected Clarke is as a community, and it is always nice to see and spend time with the new friends I have made.
I am an infielder on the Clarke baseball team and I participate in Clarke’s Mathematics Club. Clarke has given me the chance to be a well-rounded student-athlete while working towards my goal of becoming a data scientist. After graduating from Clarke, I plan to obtain a Master’s degree to put me on the path of becoming a data scientist and to build on the experience I already have. With graduation approaching in a year, I am continuing to look into the future while feeling prepared with the skills and knowledge I will have gained from Clarke.
Social Work ’21
I am originally from Darlington, Wisconsin, and I previously obtained my Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Southwestern Technical College. I really enjoy being involved in extra-curricular clubs at Clarke because it gives me that opportunity to be social, meet new people, help people, and have fun. My favorite memories at Clarke are just the times spent with my friends and the new relationships I have formed. I find that Clarke has been a great fit for me because it suits my personality. The transition was super easy. I am currently involved in Clarke’s Inclusive Games, Clarke’s Social Work Club, and the Wind Ensemble. Outside of Clarke, I also work at the Hodan Center in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
At a young age, I was diagnosed with cancer, which made school a lot more difficult for me. I had to miss many days of class – however, going through that experience and coming out on top has taught me how to adapt to tough situations and to accept challenges that come my way. These are skills that have not only helped me excel in college, but have allowed me to take a steps to become the best version of myself. As a social work major, I highly value the close relationships in my life and I hope to build more relationships with others in the future.
One thing I love about Clarke is that I am able to gain experience as well as knowledge. The social work courses I have taken here have broadened my knowledge of social work, which has built confidence in my ability to become a successful social worker. I have seen how my hard work pays off here.
After I graduate from Clarke, I plan to stay with the Hodan Center for the time being and see where that takes me. I feel that continuing my education at Clarke has prepared me to get a job once I am out of school. I know for sure that I would like to work with people who have disabilities – I am open to any new opportunities that might come my way!
English, Business, & Philosophy ’21
When I think back to myself as a scared first-year student at Clarke, I realize how much I have changed. I’m a commuter student – I remember always driving home immediately after class freshman year because I felt like I had no reason to stay on campus. Even though I did make friends, I didn’t get involved in anything until I joined the Scholar’s program and became part of the Tenth Muse staff my sophomore year. From that point on, I found myself staying on campus for hours before and after my classes so I could hang out with my friends or do homework.
Transitional periods in my life have always been difficult. I did not expect much to change with my involvement moving from high school to college. At first, I struggled with the change of workload, and increased importance of time management. However, I found a “new normal,” and have definitely found my place here. I am currently the president of the Scholar’s program, treasurer of Page-Turners, co-editor-in-chief of Tenth Muse literary magazine, and an academic writing coach and tutor in the MARC.
As I look back on the beginning of my time at Clarke and how I was eventually able to flourish and utilize my strengths, I realized that clinging to the familiar held me back from so many great opportunities Clarke had to offer. I wish I had known that during my freshman year and taken advantage. I have grown so much personally as well during my time at Clarke. After my first semester here, I found that my perspective on life had changed in ways I didn’t expect. I was able to put myself in others’ shoes and learn a lot about the diversity of people who come from different backgrounds. To me, that lesson is invaluable.
My favorite memories from Clarke are the dinners with friends at the end of each semester. I truly enjoy reflecting on everything we have accomplished over the course of the semester. The food is always great as well! Coming to Clarke gave me the chance to meet so many new people, some who will be my lifelong friends. The bonds I have made here are ones I will forever cherish. Aside from these new relationships and personal growth, Clarke has prepared me professionally as well. I owe a lot of gratitude to my professors who have taught me everything I know. Through course curriculum I have learned many transferable skills, such as how to read and think critically, and write analytically. I plan to use those skills in my professional career as well as in any additional schooling. Being here has also helped me build an outside network of connections with local professionals.
Once I leave Clarke, my goal is to essentially be happy and successful in whatever I find myself doing. I do have a goal to attend law school, but I can accept that my future plans are ever-changing (my advisors would agree!). No matter where I end up immediately after graduation, I have hopes to raise a family in the Dubuque area eventually.
Clarke has provided me with countless opportunities already as a freshman, and I know there are still many more to come. I am involved with the Clarke Association of Nursing Students (CANS) as well as Clarke Inclusive Games, where I have been nominated to be the treasurer. Some of my favorite memories at Clarke so far have been taking part in Inclusive Games because it is so rewarding knowing that I am impacting others in a positive way.
As an aspiring labor and delivery nurse, I have been doing everything I can to set myself up for success, with the help of Clarke. I currently work at the Hills and Dales Residential Center – volunteering with Clarke Inclusive Games inspired me to apply. This could open more doors for me in the future since I plan to stay in the area once I graduate. After graduation, I hope to return to Clarke to obtain my DNP after I gain some experience in the workforce.
I look forward to being accepted into the Nursing Program because I know that Clarke will prepare me professionally just as they have academically. The transition from high school to college was not easy at first (especially being a nursing major), but Clarke’s courses such as the Compass Navigator and 16 Weeks to College Success taught me everything I needed to know to be successful here. I also particularly loved the Introduction to Nursing course because it showed me what being a nurse will entail, which has made me even more excited to achieve my goal of becoming a nurse.
I am always excited for what is yet to come, but I am also really fortunate to have a supportive family who has stuck by my side through my transition to college and moving to Dubuque. I moved from Cassville, Wisconsin – also a small town – to Dubuque to live with my father and step family. It was difficult, however the move has made me into a more independent and outgoing person, just like coming to Clarke has. I am super happy I chose Clarke and I will continue to take advantage of any new opportunities that I am given.
Sport Management & Business ’20
It has honestly been a challenge trying to figure out my end career path. I have many different skills and love sports (mostly golf), photography, and welding. For the time being, I have chosen to pursue a career in golf, which is partially what led me to Clarke – I played on the Men’s Golf team all four years. I applied to 8 golf courses during the Fall Semester of my junior year at Clarke and had opportunities to work for the Colorado PGA Youth Division or the Club at Cordillera (also located in Colorado), which was the opportunity I decided to pursue last summer. It was an amazing experience, but it was weird being very far away from home for the 1st time. I just moved out to Avon, Colorado and will be working full-time at the course that I had my internship at last summer.
Clarke has given me opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and pursue things I honestly had never thought of pursuing before. For example, my freshman year I began working for Clarke’s Marketing department. I initially would hang up posters and do other office work, but the Marketing team quickly realized my love for photography could be a help to them as well. I began taking photos at many events on campus, such as Musical Menus, Mackin-Mailander lectures, and music performances. I also started taking photos at Clarke athletic events, which got the attention of Jerry Hansen, Clarke’s Sport Information Director. Soon after, I joined him in the Athletic Department as a photographer. I took all kinds of photos – headshots, team photos, action photos, etc. I loved being able to capture these memories for my fellow Clarke student-athletes.
My time at Clarke isn’t quite over yet – I’ll return next Spring to play my senior golf season since this year’s season was canceled due to COVID-19. I have many favorite Clarke memories, especially the study abroad trip I took the summer after my freshman year in 2016. I went to New Zealand and Australia with 11 other members of the Clarke Community. The trip was absolutely amazing. We were able to see the jungles, Great Barrier Reef, Hobbiton (part of the Hobbit movie set), and many more places. It was truly a trip of a lifetime! I also loved trips to tournaments with the Men’s Golf team and taking photos at nearly every Clarke sporting event. I’ll miss being there to cheer on the Pride.
In the future, I have several goals for myself. I would love to be able to work in an industry that allows me to be involved in the outdoors, like golf. I would also like to establish my own photography business and visit/golf in all 50 states, though Alaska might be tough to golf in.
Doctor of Nursing Practice ’23
I initially came to Clarke to earn my Bachelor of Science in Nursing with the goal of continuing my education through Clarke’s DNP program afterwards. When I originally enrolled in the DNP program at Clarke, I planned to finish the program in three years. However, prior to starting the program for my first year last August, I discovered that I was pregnant with my son, Sullivan. This obviously altered my plans, but with the support of my friends, family, and husband, I decided to stay enrolled in the program and complete the program in four years. I am extremely grateful and lucky that Clarke has been able to accommodate my needs at this time and still make it possible for me to complete my degree within a reasonable time frame while being a new mother.
Clarke has done an excellent job preparing me for the nursing profession by providing multiple clinical experience opportunities alongside the outstanding nursing faculty. I thoroughly enjoyed my undergrad program and honestly believe that if Clarke did not offer a DNP program, I probably would not have even considered continuing my education. Currently, I am working full-time at Mercy One hospital in Dubuque while taking part in the DNP graduate program part-time, all while figuring out how to be a mother! What I have learned over the last few months is that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. As a new mother, by going back to school you are not only actualizing your own educational and career goals, but you are also inspiring your children to believe in the power of a good education. I hope to inspire my children to dare to be brave, reach higher, and dream bigger.
When graduation finally approaches in May 2023, my goal is to remain local and start my career in a more rural area. I hope to be working in a family health care or acute care setting. I have been lucky enough to engage with Clarke alumni who have helped me gain so much knowledge and support, which has allowed me to envision myself as a preceptor for Clarke in the future. I have deeply enjoyed my years at Clarke and I am so grateful that I am able to continue my learning from its professionals.
Business Administration ’21
I am originally from Hawaii, so the transition to Dubuque definitely had its challenges. I learned to adapt to the people here a lot easier than the weather. Clarke is smaller than both my high school and junior college, but coming here allowed me to see just how welcoming the community was and gave me the opportunity to be more socially interactive. I feel that Clarke strives to build students’ communication skills. As a business administration major emphasizing in marketing, having that skill is really helpful. Getting exposure to talking with people in the business workforce makes me think more about what options I have for the future, and what I would like to do after graduation.
I am super proud to be a member of the first-ever established football team here at Clarke. It was always my dream to play football in college. I had all the skills to do so, but getting here was definitely not easy. I tore my ACL in my junior year of high school, which took a long time to recover from and also made me question if I would still be recruited to play football at the collegiate level. I came back my senior season and finished strong both athletically and academically, but had no interest from any coaches nor any scholarship opportunities. Luckily, I was able to walk-on at College of the Canyons, a junior college in California. I did not find nearly as much success as I had hoped there, but still received 10 new offers at the end of that year from NAIA schools. I actually found Clarke through Twitter. After one conversation with Coach Regalado, I was all in. I received All-Conference honors after my first season at Clarke; I had finally found a home. My favorite memory from Clarke was playing our first football game on ESPN. I had never experienced playing in front of such a large crowd, which was phenomenal.
After I graduate from Clarke, my ultimate goal is to be a self-employed marketer. I really enjoy video production and would like to incorporate that into commercial and video marketing. I currently have my own YouTube channel with over 50,000 subscribers – I love to be able to make videos as a creative outlet and it’s very rewarding to have people appreciate what I do. I am also interested in owning my own college recruiting business for athletes in Hawaii who are struggling to find their place like I once was.
I grew up in a single-parent household for most of my life. My mom was such an amazing role model for me. We’ve navigated through life together since I was five. Not having two parents was challenging at times – I wouldn’t say that my journey this far has been tough, but it was certainly not typical. I have become more resilient from this experience and learned that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I believe that whatever life throws at me, I will come out stronger on the other side.
When I first began my journey at Clarke, I was eager for a fresh start and to meet new people. I was quiet at first and not likely to step out of my comfort zone. I was worried that I would struggle to get involved and be social – however, that was not the case at all. My freshman year, my roommate and I became inseparable and I got involved with the Clarke University Dance Marathon (CUDM), where I served as the co-morale executive. I also worked in the admissions office giving tours to potential Clarkies. Getting involved on campus connected me to some of my best friends and has helped me grow from being a quiet leader to someone who is well-known on campus. One of my favorite memories at Clarke was attending my second CUDM. I went from being a morale captain to being on the executive board the second year, which was a life-changing experience. If I were to mention every one of my favorite Clarke memories, I could write an entire book!
It has been a goal of mine since my sophomore year of high school to obtain a doctorate degree in physical therapy. I am extremely excited to attend graduate school at Clarke in the fall and eventually walk the stage with that degree. After graduating from PT school in 2023, I would love to move to downtown Chicago. I have family in the surrounding area and I would love to be able to visit the city more with my mom.
Clarke has prepared me for the future in many ways, both professionally and personally. Clarke cares just as much about our individual development as they do our academic preparation for life after college. The close connections I have established with my professors have given me the opportunity to be a strong student in the classroom, and extra-curricular activities prepared me with everyday life skills.
Nursing & Philosophy ’20
I am the eldest of nine children, born on the Caribbean Island of Dominica. I was raised by my single mother and late grandfather. My mother struggled and worked hard to provide for our family, but as I saw her hard work and resiliency pay off, I understood that I needed to do the same if I am going to be successful in life. As a child, I was told that I would not and could not do anything significant, and as a young man, I was often ostracized for my affiliation with the LGBTQ community. However, the adversity I have faced has pushed me even further to become great. I feel blessed to have had my family’s support, and new friends I have made since coming to America. My journey eventually brought me to Clarke, and through the nursing program, I have found a profession that I am drawn to that allows me to care for others.
During my time at Clarke, I have been a member of the collegiate choir and have served on the Collegiate Choir Student Board. Presently, I am the senior class representative of the Clarke Association of Nursing Students (CANS). Additionally, I am an inducted member of Phi Sigma Tau, which is the Greek honor society celebrating and investigating the values of philosophy and its application to the community. Clarke has allowed me to open up beyond the limits I had set for myself, truly self-actualize, explore the unknown, and reach my untapped potential.
The values, experiences, and friendships I have acquired here at Clarke have helped me develop personally, spiritually, and academically. On a professional level, I have realized the value of an investigative mind. To fulfill the common good, one must not merely work in society but have the awareness and competence to impact the lives of others. After I complete my journey at Clarke, I intend to take the NCLEX exam in hopes to pursue a career in nursing. It is also my goal to obtain a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree and eventually become a family nurse practitioner, specializing in the care and management of HIV/AIDS. Aside from that, I want to motivate others to recognize their own potential.
My fondest memories from Clarke involve the wonderful friendships and people I have come to know, love, and cherish. I will remember the laughs, the tears, and even the tougher days because they have helped me in becoming a well-rounded individual. During these tough, unprecedented times involving COVID-19, I was disappointed to have to say goodbye to all of my friends and colleagues so abruptly. Luckily, I already had my clinical for the nursing program completed in the Fall semester. As a nursing major, it was difficult to adjust to online classes at first because our courses have a hands-on aspect that is hard to replicate online. Outside of school, I am still working at Finley Hospital where I try my best to bring as much comfort and support to patients as possible. I believe that these times are a test to humanity, and I hope that we emerge stronger in the end.
Athletic Training ’21
I feel like I did not have a lot of the same opportunities as other high school students transitioning into college. Coming from a small town and a small high school of only 30 others in my graduating class, I did not have the option to take a wide range of courses or even have access to a track to run on. In my senior year of high school, I took some college courses from UW-Platteville just to make sure I was going to be on the right path with athletic training. Although I played three sports in high school, our lack of facilities hindered my chances of continuing track and field in college because our practices were held on a gravel parking lot. Luckily, Clarke still saw my talent and also gave me the chance to pursue athletic training and physical therapy. While facing those challenges, I learned to see them as opportunities.
Managing my time has often been a challenge because of all the commitments I have as an AT student, but my hard work is definitely paying off. Over time, I have learned how to balance being an AT major and student-athlete while also enjoying college life at Clarke. As I am almost finished with my undergraduate degree and am looking forward to the DPT program, I have acquired many new skills. I have learned how to properly work with and interact with athletes on a daily basis. It helps a lot that I can relate to them, as an athlete myself.
I have definitely changed a lot during my time at Clarke. Learning how to prioritize my time to have a good mix of spending time with my friends, focusing on track, and focusing on academics has helped me be successful. These are skills that I will use once I begin the DPT program as well as for the rest of my life outside of school. I truly feel that Clarke has prepared me well for the DPT program and for life, because of the work ethic I have built and the success I have already seen. Also, participating in Clarke’s Athletic Training Student Association (CATS) and Clarke University Organization of Student Physical Therapists (COSPT) has helped me get more involved with other students in my major.
I have had so many great memories at Clarke, but I have loved attending track meets the most. The track team has become like a second family to me. Spending long periods of time on the bus has allowed me to build close relationships with them, and have lots of fun too. I will always cherish the memories that I have made with my team and at Clarke.
One of the biggest challenges that I have had to face to get where I am now is figuring out the best path for me. My passion lies not only in caring for and nurturing people but animals as well. I went back and forth trying to figure out where my gifts would best be used. I ultimately decided on nursing, as that is a career where I can use my skills, empathy, and compassion to help and support others.
Since coming to Clarke, I have been involved with many different activities, including CANS and volunteering in the Dubuque community. My favorite volunteering experience so far has been at Cozy Corner Adult Day Services because I found it very rewarding to help individuals with special needs. I was able to interact with these adults with different activities, games, and small conversations.
Clarke has really helped me prepare for my future both personally and professionally. The caring, kindness, and understanding of the professors have enhanced my own desire to help others. This was actually the driving force that solidified my desire to become a nurse. I have grown so much as a person at Clarke and I know to use this will help me in my future career. I have become more studious and focused during my time here. The atmosphere of the classes and the University, in general, has had a positive effect on my academics. The professors here have been very encouraging and given me a desire to work hard.
After I graduate as Alison Roach RN, BSN I hope to land a job as either a NICU nurse or an Emergency Room nurse. I hope to then go back to school and receive my Nurse Practitioner degree. If I fulfill this dream, it would be an honor to work with my mom and two sisters at Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.
I was born and raised near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and never would have expected to end up in Iowa. Toronto has a population of about 7 million people, so coming to Dubuque was quite a culture shock. However, I believe to this day that coming to Clarke was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am a junior this year and will graduate early next fall with a BA in psychology. I participate in the psychology club when I can, but spend most of my time as the captain of the women’s volleyball team. Volleyball was initially what had drawn me to Clarke, but even after my first season and first semester of school, I realized that Clarke was so much more.
Clarke has both changed me and prepared me well for my future in a way I never would have expected. I attended public school my entire life and did not know what I would get out of a private, Catholic, liberal arts college. Some students complain about having to take elective courses, but I greatly enjoyed them because I got to explore other topics of interest such as U.S. history, music, and art, at a college level. I feel as though I have become an even more well-rounded person, and have gained a broader understanding of religion and spirituality as well.
Being an international student definitely has its struggles, because it can make just enrolling in school, traveling home, or even small things like getting a phone plan a lot more complicated. As a non-American citizen, I didn’t have some of the same scholarship opportunities, specifically from FAFSA, which I know helps many students afford college. There were many more adjustments I needed to make as well. For example, I had to prepare to take the SAT test in high school, which does not exist in Canada, adjust to a completely different grading scale using a GPA, and remembering to spell it “favorite,” instead of “favourite.” As my years at Clarke have gone by, I still struggle financially because the exchange rate between Canada and the United States is quite poor, and especially because my mom is a single mother who is supporting two kids going to college in the states. I would not be here if I was not given the many scholarship opportunities I have been awarded from Clarke.
As most of the world is currently fighting against COVID-19, this also means a couple of things for me in my situation. The U.S/Canada border is now closed, and only Canadian citizens can enter Canada from the U.S side. I am still able to enter Canada and return home since I am a Canadian citizen, however, my parents are most likely unable to cross the border to come to get me. I live near Toronto, which is above the state of New York, so it is not really possible for me to get home at this time. It has been unsettling knowing that I am far from my family and in a different country, but even more so that they are physically unable to get me. I also know that when the time comes I may have difficulty crossing the border. Luckily I live off-campus, so I do have a home for the remainder of the semester. Clarke’s faculty and staff have also been super supportive during this time. Like always, they have said to let them know if I need anything.
After graduation, I hope to attend grad school in California to obtain my Master’s degree in forensic psychology, and possibly a doctorate degree later on. I am fully confident that Clarke has prepared me to not only be successful in grad school, but also in the rest of my life. I feel as though I have really matured here, and have developed a newfound excitement to learn. When I eventually look back at my time at Clarke, I will say that my favorite memories were every win on the volleyball court that I cherished with my teammates. I am lucky to have established new life-long relationships and have made some lifelong memories.
Coming to Clarke as a transfer student from Puerto Rico has been a little tough for me. Leaving my hometown to become a student-athlete in another country has brought some challenges – the language barrier, for example. Since my first language is Spanish, I’ve had a little trouble expressing myself with others when I really need to. But, thanks to the community that Clarke has, I’ve managed to get used to it and I’m starting to notice better results with my speaking abilities.
Growing up in a Puerto Rican family was a wonderful experience in itself. Being part of a huge family where the number of cousins reached almost 100 is shocking for some people, but for me, it is something that I truly value and distinguishes myself from others. There were so many of us that in any big family gatherings I would meet new cousins that I didn’t even know were related to me. I used to spend 5 to 10 days in one of my family members’ houses almost every summer just to be with my cousins before starting school again.
The Puerto Rican warm weather has always been one of my favorite things about my culture (besides the food). The combination of warm weather in the outer parts of the island and the cold, cozy weather in the mountains is one of the best qualities that Puerto Rico has. It’s something I really miss about home.
Clarke has taught me a lot of things despite the fact that I have only been here for a short time. Since the day I moved in, I realized what a community is really about; which is caring. All the people who work here show their passion for what they do, and most importantly, they try to make you feel like you’re part of it even though it might be your first time visiting. Clarke has become my home away from home.
My favorite memory about Clarke that I will never forget is the first time I saw the microbiology lab at the Marie Miske Center for Science Inquiry. I completely fell in love with it and I can’t wait to work on my senior research project there.
After graduating from Clarke, my primary goals are to enter med school and go on to pursue a career as a Clinical Microbiologist.
Elementary Education ’20
When I first started looking at different colleges and universities, I did not want to stay in the area I grew up in (Bellevue, Iowa). I wanted to get as far away from this area as I could. However, the minute I walked onto Clarke’s campus, I knew this was going to be the best fit for me. I chose Clarke on a gut feeling, and it was the best decision I have ever made. I have never felt more prepared to begin my future as an educator. The Clarke Education program has given me the support, resources, and love to be as successful as I can be while at Clarke and after.
Ever since my first year, I have been involved in anything and everything. I am currently the student body President, the family relations director for Dance Marathon (CUDM), and a member of Teachers for Tomorrow and the Spanish Club. I have been given great opportunities to grow and better myself in my education and as a person. Planning CUDM 3,4, and now 5 has given me the skills to organize big events, and working with students around campus for CSA has improved my personal skills. I have grown into a person I would never have thought I could become.
I have always struggled to be myself when it comes to experiencing new things. So, coming to Clarke with no one from my hometown in my class was really challenging. As I participated in CONNECT weekend, I gained some great friends that helped me stay true to myself. If it were not for Clarke, I would not have met my friends who support me tremendously.
As I continue on with my life after Clarke, my goal is to become a classroom teacher in an elementary or middle school. I would like to teach for a couple of years and then try to get my administrative master’s degrees to become a principal in a school.
It is really hard to pick just one memory from my four years at Clarke, so I am going to share my favorite places that hold amazing memories. My first favorite place is the fifth floor of Mary Ben Hall. It was the floor I lived on my freshman year, and it was where I met my first real and lifelong friends. The second place is G02 in the Catherine Dunn Apartments. The apartment I live in now is one that holds so many memories. My final favorite place is Callie Clark’s office. Whenever I walk into her office, I know that I will be greeted with open arms and a helping hand. She has been my rock all four years at Clarke and I do not know what I will do without her next year!
If I could say one thing to an incoming freshman or anyone reading my post, it’s that life moves so fast that you HAVE to cherish every moment you have. I could not tell you how fast these four years have gone. So please do not wish college away. Before you know it, you will be signing up for graduation and saying goodbye to the best friends you will ever make. Life is short. Time is fast. No replay. No rewind. So enjoy every moment as it comes.
Clarke was a big move for me. I came here from NICC as a non-traditional student. I’m a mom of two, a wife, and I work part-time on the Labor and Delivery unit at Finley Hospital. Throwing all that into the mix of a full-time college student is a challenge itself. It was after having our daughter at 33 weeks at the University of Iowa Hospital that I realized I needed a change. Working a 9-5 office job wasn’t enough for me anymore, but I wasn’t a young spring chicken either. I was nearing 30! I started at NICC because I thought it would be a better fit for me as a non-traditional student. Some days were easier than others, and I had moments where I thought about dropping out. My experience transferring to Clarke from a community college was amazing. My admissions counselors helped me with every step, answered all my questions, and made the switch very smooth. My professors have been great, everyone is helpful, and my academics have shown this was the right path for me. Earning my AA before coming to Clarke was cost-effective for me, and I was able to go at my own pace.
Clarke has helped me find the resources I need to really thrive in and out of the classroom. My time here has helped me become more successful and social with my fellow students via creating study groups. This has led to an increase in my self-confidence, which helps me professionally because it gives me confidence in my future career as a nurse. I’ve also become more confident in my current job when it comes to asking questions to better educate myself.
My number one goal is to get on a high-risk Labor and Delivery Unit, hopefully at the University of Iowa Hospital. They hold a special place in my heart. I have a long-term goal of earning my master’s degree, and hopefully one day becoming a DNP.
My favorite part of Clarke has been the acceptance from my fellow students. I was so worried I would stand out and be looked at differently because I’m significantly older than a majority of the population at Clarke. It hasn’t been like that at all. I’ve already made some great friends, established good relationships with Clarke staff, and feel as if I was meant to be here all along.
There was this great philosopher named David Hume. He believed that we know and understand things by our impressions of those things. In other words, we remember things not by the substance, but by individual moments and our sensations and reflections in those moments.
I had a great childhood. Great friends, amazing parents, and family. I am very proud of where I come from. On the other hand, throughout my life, I have struggled with finding out who I am or why I am here. In coming to Clarke, I thought I had it all figured out. As silly as it sounds I thought it was simple as, get my degree, get a job, get married. As with most things, it hasn’t always gone according to plan. I have changed thanks to the moments I have had at Clarke.
Halfway through my Freshman year, I walked into a chiropractor recruiting event going on in the ground floor of CBH. At that moment, I knew what I wanted to be. With many hours of shadowing my own chiropractor on top of working as hard as possible in the classroom, I am currently applying to the top chiropractic schools across the country.
I have always been a huge sports person – soccer means so much to me. My teammates, coaches, and the game itself have had a huge impact on me during my time here. There is one game I will never forget. Culver Stockton, our rivals, last game of the year. Winner moves on. Score: 0-0. 30 seconds left on the clock. We score. Storm the field. Happy tears. It’s one of those moments that makes you feel like you are living in the movies. And that’s what I chase; the times that make you think of nothing – nothing on your mind but what is happening in that exact moment.
Another moment: After a hard week of school, stress, etc. my friends and I were sitting around the dinner table in our little apartment feasting on what food we could scramble together with our college budgets. Toasting. Laughing. Smiles. I remember how happy I was to have such amazing friends that I could share these moments with.
I thank Clarke for opening my eyes to endless opportunities, lifelong friends, and moments. Clarke has changed everything from my original plan and I couldn’t be happier, even if that meant I had to face some very hard times. I am now involved in the scholars program, HIPPO society, culinary club, and I am a class senator. I also tutor students in human anatomy & physiology. I may not know why I am here and honestly, I may never know why, but at least I have these moments. These amazing moments that I can keep with me forever and point me to the right path in finding out who I really am.
The biggest challenge I had to face when coming to Clarke was my age. I graduated high school two years early and started my freshman year at Clarke at the age of 16. I faced a lot of adversity and was told countless times that I would not be able to adapt to college life. I was told that I would not be able to achieve the goals that I had set for myself because I was “too young” to know what I wanted to do with my life. There were times where I would be discouraged by the negativity, however, I knew that I could achieve my goals as long as I worked hard and did not allow other people’s opinions to define my ability.
Although I am only a sophomore, I have made many connections with people within our community. As a nursing major, I have had the opportunity to volunteer at various places within the community, as well as meet people from health care facilities in Dubuque and the surrounding areas through the Nursing Career Fair.
I have been involved in a few different things at Clarke during my time here, but my favorite is dance marathon. Since moving to Iowa in 2012, it has been a dream of mine to work in the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Though I still have a while before I graduate and can directly work with the children, I can help children and their families through CUDM.
During my time at Clarke, I have learned a lot, both academically and personally. I was homeschooled up until I went to college, so I had to learn how to adapt to learning in a classroom environment quickly. I have learned to articulate myself more effectively both in speech and in writing, learned how to work in groups, and how to manage my time more efficiently. Clarke has allowed me to explore different interests that I had, from biochemistry to creative writing, and everything in between.
My favorite memory from Clarke is when I went on my first tour of campus. I had toured other schools, but I had never felt at home the way I did at Clarke. After talking with the professors and faculty on my visit, I knew that Clarke was the place where I belonged.
I want to graduate with my BSN, then continue and obtain my DNP-FNP. After that, it is my dream to have my own practice. Throughout graduate school, I plan to work in a local hospital.
Nursing and Psychology ’20
I am from Chicago originally. I moved to Dubuque about 5 years ago when I was given an opportunity to go back to school. As a single, working parent of two boys (ages 7 & 9), and with my mom and most of my family many miles away, it was a great challenge. There are many struggles involved with being a parent attending college, including finding childcare I could trust, dealing with behavioral challenges with my youngest son, sacrificing studies, and staying up late to study so my babies would still have my presence in their lives.
Personally, my biggest adjustment with returning to school at age 34 was getting back into writing papers and test-taking. Although it was tough at first, I was determined not to fail. The best thing that helped me on my way was developing a time management schedule with help from the MARC at Clarke. This, along with gaining support within the Dubuque community (like the Dream Center), provided the help my family and I needed. Although I faced setbacks to get to where I am now, I have no regrets. It is never too late to follow your dreams.
Attending Clarke has enhanced my desire to help others. I enjoy giving back to my community any way God allows me. I have volunteered at the Multicultural Family Center’s teen night, Cozy Corner, and Four Oak’s Supervised Community Treatment (SCT). I also studied abroad in the Dominican Republic with Clarke’s Nursing program, learning of their culture, and helping them with their healthcare needs. I try my best to instill a “helping” attitude in my boys as well. Our household motto is “it’s nice to be nice.” From passing fruit out in the community to helping someone with yard work, our motto has helped my boys have appreciation and joy in their hearts. I am also on the parent committee of the Dubuque Dream Center. Being a voice for other parents in the community, my number one commitment is to continue being present in my boys’ lives and an active parent in their school and programs.
My greatest memory of Clarke is the diverse group of friends I have made while attending. I enjoyed learning about other cultures through these friends made and it has added great insight to the curriculum taught at Clarke about diversity. I can take this along with me in a clinical setting while caring for clients. I am also thankful for the Nursing and Psychology faculty that has empowered me throughout this journey, they have impacted my life more than they will ever know.
Clarke has prepared me to gain knowledge to contribute my skills to the world. I have the ability to utilize problem-solving skills and evidence-based practice in a healthcare setting. I would like to specialize in Mental Health Nursing, advocating for mental health clients, and breaking the stigma that is currently portrayed. I would like to further my education by receiving additional certification within mental health. I also have an interest in becoming a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E. Nurse), and later possibly specializing in Forensic Nursing.
Pre-PT and Biology ’23
I am a single mom who bartends for a living. I had to pause school for four years to raise my son and make sure I didn’t miss all of his firsts – first steps, first words, etc. Financially it has been a struggle. People think it’s so easy for single moms to get financial aid, but in reality, it’s not. The availability of programs made to help single parents to go back to school isn’t as big as it used to be. My mom has been a huge help in watching my son at night when I need to do late-night study sessions or school activities. I honestly wouldn’t be able to be as successful as I’ve been here if it wasn’t for her help.
My favorite memory of Clarke is actually from when I was a little kid. My mom was enrolled here at Clarke and she would always bring my sister and me into the clay lab while she worked. I remember roaming the halls of Eliza Kelly and being awestruck at how massive the stairs were and how tall the building was. I remember smelling the kilns firing and feeling how warm the lower level would get.
One morning within my first few weeks as a student at Clarke, I could smell the kilns firing in Eliza Kelly. I texted my mom right away to tell her how happy I was to smell the clay. Clarke was almost like a second home when I was a kid. To be back here as a 3rd-generation Clarke student means the world to me.
Although I’m still in my first semester, I have already noticed a change in how I approach larger group conversations and presentations. I have become a take charge, “Type A” personality. I volunteered to be co-president of CU Benchwarmers because I have so much Clarke spirit and want others to feel the same way.
I have a few goals that all line up. Get my bachelor’s degree, get into grad school, and graduate with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, so I can work as a physical therapist and help people. I have always been good at helping others; it’s a natural instinct for me. I feel like physical therapy will be where I fit in.
One of the biggest challenges I had to face when coming to Clarke was adapting to city life. I grew up on a farm in Goose Lake, Iowa, which is about an hour south of Dubuque. All my life, I had only ever lived in a rural area, so moving to an urban area for 4 years was a culture shock. Back where I am from, everyone knows everyone and you can make conversation with anyone whether or not you know them. The nearest gas station or store is about 15-20 minutes from our farm. My family runs a cow/calf operation, raises chickens, and we have show cattle as well. The weekends that I am not in Dubuque, I go home to help on the farm.
If you were to ask any of my friends, they would say I am the most outgoing one. My parents call me the “wild child” because I know how to have a fun time. I think every student is nervous when they first come to college, but Clarke is probably where I have changed the most. I can talk to anyone, whether I know them or not. I always like to joke around with my friends that I could talk to a wall if I had to. I guess that is just the type of person I am. Knowing that something could happen tomorrow, I live every day to the fullest.
For the last three years, I have been involved in an organization called Clarke Association of Nursing Students (CANS). This organization is for all nursing students to get involved – not only on campus but in the Dubuque community as well. I served as a sophomore representative when my sister (Clarke Class of ’18) was president, and this year I am president of the club. Being in charge of an organization takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Some of my roles include overseeing our weekly meetings, contacting local businesses, managing finances, and more. CANS hosts many events throughout the year, including our annual bake sale, breast cancer shirt sales, and talent show. Every year during the month of October, we raise money for breast cancer awareness and donate it to the Wendt Regional Cancer Center. We also donate money to other non-profit organizations such as Hills and Dales and Camp Courageous. Taking on this position, I did not know that it would be so rewarding. My leadership skills along with the help from my executive board make this organization so successful. I could not have been more honored to fulfill these positions during my time here at Clarke.
I would have to say that my favorite memory at Clarke was living in the dorms. This is where I made many friends, and I don’t know what I would do without them. People say that the dorms are where you meet your lifelong friends and I agree with that 100%.
Upon graduation, my plan is to work through the Genesis Health System back in Eastern Iowa. I have loved every area of nursing besides a select few, so I am going to wait and see what jobs are available when the time comes.
Computer Information Systems ’20
I have changed in a lot of ways since coming to Clarke. As a freshman, I was closed off and not a very social person at all. I would spend most of the time in my dorm just doing homework or playing video games when I wasn’t at volleyball practice. Near the end of my freshman year, I came out of my shell and began to branch out more and try to make some friends. Now, nearing the end of my junior year, I can hold a conversation with so many people here on campus, even outside of our team.
Being on the team is like having a second family. We do a lot together and get along with each other very well. We really are our own breed of odd, but we embrace it no matter what because we are just comfortable being our very goofy selves. Through my coaches and teammates, I can say that I have learned what it means to be disciplined and have a strong work ethic while also being able to enjoy the time spent in the gym/on the court. Year after year, I see more growth in myself in the classroom because of what I have learned being part of our team. The lessons of keeping a strong work ethic and doing everything “all the way” have been ingrained in all of the upperclassmen and we have been encouraging the underclassmen to follow our footsteps.
Clarke has really helped me prepare for my future by not only helping me create a strong resume and background for any future jobs/careers I could have but by also allowing me to build a portfolio of all projects I have completed within the Computer Information Systems (CIS) program. This portfolio holds everything from database work to a Mario-style video game that I created myself, and even an app or two. From a personal standpoint, I think that my decision to go to Clarke was a smart one. I was never a fan of how big my high school was, about 3,000 students, and felt that I needed to go somewhere smaller. The class size and overall welcoming atmosphere here at Clarke has been something that has helped me meet new people every year and create lasting relationships with the students and staff.
After graduation, I want to become a software developer, network administrator, or cybersecurity specialist using what I have learned at Clarke, and I plan to stay connected with the Clarke community.
My favorite memory at Clarke is the moment that my brother told me he had decided to attend Clarke as well. We are both on the men’s volleyball team and knowing that we have three members of our family (my brother, my cousin, and myself) here is something that I will always cherish.
Graphic Design and English ’20
I feel like I live at Clarke, even though I’m a commuter student. As an art major, I am usually on campus working on projects in the graphic design lab or helping set up galleries. I am in the Scholars Program, which I absolutely love. Through the Scholars Program, we do several activities throughout the year including an Academic Conference and Dance Marathon. I have submitted poems and artwork to the Tenth muse since I was a freshman and I will be joining the production team next year. I became a writer for the Crux last semester as well as an officer in the Dungeons and Dragons Club where I run some of the campaigns as the Dungeon Master.
My experience winning at the American Advertising Federation (AAF) awards was completely and utterly out of this world. I still can’t believe that it happened. Before this year’s competition, I had won Silver honors in the Regional AAF competition and one Judge’s Choice award, so I only had a vague idea of what happened beyond Regionals. When I entered my poster, Ed’s Chuck Wagon, it was like suddenly the flood gates were opened. I received my first Gold award, a Judge’s Choice award, and Best of Show for Regionals. At District 9, I was awarded the Gold honor and then went on to earn a Silver award in the National Competition.
I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams that I could get so far in the AAF awards. It is hard to describe the feeling when the thing you have been training for gets recognized by the top of your field. It’s like every single time you were frustrated, angry, upset with yourself, or felt like you would never be good enough, was worth it, because it pushed you to work harder. As an art student, I feel validated in my decision to become an artist. I made the right choice to pursue my dreams, and everything I have learned at Clarke has enabled me to get to the National competition in Florida where I met the designers and the heads for advertising for companies like Coca-Cola and Adobe. I feel more than ever that I know what I want to get from my career as an artist. It was very inspiring, seeing these head designers emphasizing the idea that advertising can change the world, and showing it through their work.
I was homeschooled in high school, so going from that to Clarke was a big adjustment. I have gained a lot of confidence through my time at Clarke. My friends and family have all commented that they feel like I have really blossomed here. I believe that Clarke has prepared me for my future professionally and personally. Just seeing the work of both students and professionals in my field at the AAF Nationals shows that the values taught by our teachers hold up to what could be considered the national standard. Our teachers don’t just focus on advertising or traditional art, but they also place emphasis on teaching their students a range of skills so not only will they be able to have any position they want in the art field, but they can also communicate with other fields and understand their languages.
The teachers here at Clarke want you to be able to feel confident talking with superiors or colleagues about work as well be able to be a professional freelancer that could manage everything singularly. For example, all art students take a photography class so we can properly document our work and know how professional cameras work. We all learn how to work the machines in the woodworking room and are all well-versed in the attributes of various types of paper, printing methods, and what is preferred for any given task. It really is a program that wants you to be well-rounded. You are taught how to think like a designer, how to come up with compelling ideas, then you are taught the 2D and 3D skills needed to create the idea, the camera skills to professionally capture that work, the Adobe programs to arrange it, typography, website design, copywriting, production layout, and printing techniques. If I needed to, with the skills that Clarke taught me, even though I still have another year to go, I feel confident that I could create an entire brand by myself.
I think my favorite memory from Clarke would be all the times I had to stay up late in the lab with my friends. I know it sounds weird, but having everyone together, working on the same project, blasting music, and taking breaks here and there to wake our legs up makes those long nights not so long. We can joke around and throw around some ideas for our project. It also gives the different class years the opportunity to mix, get to know each other, and to pass down some knowledge and best practices.
Business Administration and Sports Management ’20
Motivation is key for me. Knowing I’m the first in my family to go to college really motivates me. I want to get good grades and graduate to make an impact on my family. In the past, my family and I were homeless for a period of time. So now, ultimately, getting a good job and being able to take care of my parents is really important to me. My work ethic has become very strong. My brothers are hard workers and they have been amazing examples for me. I take pride in being a student-athlete. Being in college is rough, and being a dedicated student-athlete is very challenging. I balance my time between academics, sports, and working outside of campus, and am so thankful for the support of my coach and team.
When I was a child, I struggled reading easy material. Fast forward to high school, I was in a program called an IEP, which helped me obtain special help in my academic life. As I got older, I made it a goal to not need this program. By the end of my junior year of high school, I was off the IEP. I was very excited to be a regular student with advanced level classes. Looking back at my struggles gives me the strength to continue achieving greatness and working hard to keep a positive mindset.
Clarke has prepared me for the future on the professional side by giving me all the knowledge to be successful with anything I do. On the personal side of being at Clarke, I found the true Josh Sanchez by finding faith and love with the people that I surround myself with. Also, Clarke showed me how to have fun with all the campus events during the week.
My favorite memory at Clarke was the final game of the World Series in 2016, when the Cubs took the title from Cleveland Indians. During the whole game, everyone in Mary Jo was going insane because the Cubs were getting closer to a world championship. Once the game ended with the third out, everyone in Mary Jo went into the hallway to celebrate by yelling, going crazy, and (my favorite) running up and down the hallways rejoicing with excitement. This celebration went on at least one hour after the game finished. I laughed so hard that I cried with tears of joy, because at that moment I knew that God wanted me to find Clarke with the purpose to impact anyone that I come in contact with by my positivity.
I currently work as a Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic. I am in the process of applying to graduate schools with the hopes of becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I was a little unsure whether to apply at first, but in true Clarke fashion, my former nursing professors supported me and told me to go for it.
During my time at Clarke, I was on the track and field team. This might sound crazy, but some of my favorite memories are the long, difficult workouts I had to go through with my teammates. Those challenging moments really brought us closer together as a team and helped to form lasting friendships.
My favorite thing about Clarke is that the campus community feels like one big family. My professors truly cared about me and they would go out of their way to make sure my classmates and I were doing ok, both inside and outside of the classroom. I have a special bond with Tim Boffeli that has lasted to this day. He helped me out tremendously during my first year at Clarke and I will always be thankful for that.
Some backstory: the summer before I came to Clarke, I had a near-death experience in the Atlantic Ocean. When I joined the track and field team at Clarke, one of our workouts took place in a swimming pool. After getting into the pool, the feeling of the water triggered a flashback to my near-death experience and I had to stop the workout instantly. I went to Tim for help and he developed a plan for me to cope with the trauma and ease into being in the water. I have since been back to the ocean and I do not know if I could have done it without Tim’s kindness and generosity.
Last September, I went on a mission trip to Cucuta, Colombia. While I was there, I provided medical care to Venezuelan refugees. My job was to make sure each patient would see the correct doctor for whatever ailment they had. We helped roughly 250 patients per day of all ages, young kids to the elderly. In the evenings, we would play soccer or do other activities with the kids. It was so rewarding to be able to make a difference in these people’s lives, especially since they had been uprooted from their homes. I think the values of service instilled in me at Clarke had a lot to do with that.
Business Administration & Psychology ’20
Thinking back, I would have never seen myself studying here in Iowa. Coming from the northern suburbs of Chicago, moving to Iowa was a tremendous adjustment freshman year. I enjoy adventures in the outdoors! I quickly turned my Chicago downtown adventures into Mississippi river walks and hikes at the Mines of Spain. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with what Iowa offers.
My parents were born and raised in Poland. I am the first generation daughter to move away from home and go to college. I come from the most diverse high school in our district, Maine East. All of my friends back home speak multiple languages. This was definitely my toughest transition to adapt to at Clarke because I no longer had my daily practices of speaking my native language. But being different here at Clarke allowed me to get more involved by teaching others about my roots. I will forever be grateful for being bilingual. One thing that has remained constant throughout my life is the difficulty others face when trying to pronounce my last name. In addition, it will never get old to see people’s reactions when they first hear me speak Polish. Teaching others about Poland and speaking Polish to new people is actually my favorite memory from freshman year.
Being a student-athlete here has taught me how to discipline myself in terms of time management. Freshman year was a difficult challenge to learn how to do homework late at night while traveling back from an away game or taking an exam earlier because of travels. If it wasn’t for volleyball, I would not be the person that I am today. Not only have I learned a lot about myself these past years, but I have also grown. I have met the most amazing friends and teammates that will be my lifelong best friends. I have learned how to take care of myself independently by having a job, living in an apartment, and simply finding time to do what I love to do. In all honesty, college goes by even faster than the four years of high school. I have learned how to truly follow the phrase, “Enjoy it while you can!” I encourage others to out and try something new. For instance, I have always wanted to learn to ski, so I did, Now, I ski every winter. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, because you may really surprise yourself and discover something completely new about yourself.
After Clarke, I plan to earn a Graduate degree in Sports Psychology. I have a strong passion for sports and a desire to help others. I hope to continue improving people’s mental health and creating a positive environment for others around me.
Sport Management ’22
I am majoring in sport management and will graduate in 2022. I am a member of the sport management club along with being a member of the scholars program. Clarke has taught me so much about how to grow and mature professionally. I have learned how to take hold of opportunities that come my way and market myself to future employers. Clarke has shown me the importance of making connections with people, and I have already started that. I have definitely gained a greater amount of responsibility by living on my own. I am now much more organized with my personal life, school life, and football. I have improved on time management skills and completing my assignments on time.
I am thrilled and proud to be a part of Clarke’s first football team. We are the ones to lay down the foundation for what the program is to become. Every day we have been working hard, and there is one thought on all of our minds, which is August 31. I cannot wait until we step foot on that field for the inaugural game with the stands packed to cheer us on to a victory over Central Methodist University! My favorite memory of Clarke so far is when the football team got to take pictures in our brand new uniforms on the field. Everyone loved that day.
I have always been pushed, even as a little kid, to do everything with my best effort. I could clearly see this challenge me throughout my years of high school in the classroom and on the football field. At times I may not have liked putting in all the extra work, but now I see the progress that I have made and only hope to improve upon that. Once I graduate from Clarke, I hope to find a job in the sport management field and work my way up into a college university position. When the time is right, I hope to get married and start up my own family one day.
I currently live and work in Israel, where my wife is from. I work as a Sales Development Representative for an Israeli high tech startup company that is a Language Service Provider (LSP). The company is called One Hour Translation and they focus on business solutions for translation of company websites, mobile apps, and business and/or legal documents into over 90 languages. I am continuing my education in Israel to obtain a master’s degree in Government with a focus on Diplomacy & Conflict Resolution as well as a subspecialty in Contemporary Middle Eastern Politics.
I graduated from Clarke in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Clarke prepared me for my future by providing me with a high-class education, excellent professors, and ideal class sizes which allowed me to develop myself intellectually as well as professionally. On a more obvious level, it allowed me to apply for jobs like my current one which requires a minimum of a BA, and which is allowing me to continue my education at the master’s level. My favorite memories of Clarke have to do with the great class discussions with the professors and student peers who always managed to bring varied ideas or new ways of looking at issues from all sides. I appreciated the freedom to discuss complex and sometimes difficult topics in an honest and respectful manner.
I have faced many challenges in life to get where I am now. Immigrating into a foreign country and leaving all my family and friends to start a new life halfway across the globe were challenging. But I also faced one of the most difficult challenges, complacency. Meaning I had to take chances and be willing to continue to grow, face new challenges, and never be satisfied with the status quo. My goals for the future include becoming a better husband, perhaps even a father in the next few years. Also, and more immediate, it is my decision to further my education and become more involved in world politics in a diplomatic capacity. Eventually, I hope to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor, not unlike the great ones I encountered at Clarke such as Tim Boffeli and many others.
Master of Social Work ’19
I find myself identifying as a multitude of things. When people see me, they assume that I am a female and I am in a wheelchair. But there are a lot more things that identify me. I am a student, a social worker, a disabled person, woman, mother, partner, aunt, and sister. I have lots of different elements about me that you’d never know by just looking at me. I wasn’t always disabled. I have been in a wheelchair for just the past four years. Growing up, I was an average kid. I came from a very broken home. My father was abusive and controlling to my mother, and my mom had a lot of mental illness. That was my childhood.
In high school, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy (MD), and I didn’t really even know what it was. I started being a teenager who acted out and was rebellious. And, at 17, I ended up pregnant and homeless. I was kicked out of my parents’ house for choosing to have my baby. I managed to get by and found a place to live and work. I was a single mom, raising a little girl, not connected to my family at all. If you look at me, you wouldn’t know these things that define me and made me want to help others.
My goal is to work with people who need help or are facing challenges. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that my MD condition deteriorated and I needed to be in a wheelchair. Around this time is when I decided to go for my dream and earn my Master of Social Work (MSW) from Clarke. My message is, don’t judge a book by its cover, because everyone has their own story, and just because they look a certain way or act a certain way doesn’t mean that’s who they are and how they got to where they are.
Now, I have graduated with my MSW degree and plan to start working right away, I am due to have another daughter soon, and I am very happy with my life partner. Things have completely changed for me and I feel very successful.
History and Philosophy ’19
I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome in the summer of 2009 after a referral to a geneticist and a blood test to confirm karyotype. I am from Calmar, Iowa, but had to spend time in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Rochester, Minnesota, seeing geneticists, cardiologists, audiologists, and orthopedics. I had several x-rays on my spine which showed mild scoliosis. I was bullied in elementary and middle school because I did not fit in with the other children. I am only 4 feet 11 inches tall and was always much shorter than my classmates. I also did not understand the jokes they tried to make even if I was the brunt of that joke. I had to take growth hormone injections which limited my ability to enjoy sleepovers because the medicine had to stay close. During middle school and high school, I had issues with math classes which eventually led to my second diagnosis of a Nonverbal Learning Disorder. This disorder affects my communication and social skills which makes it hard to interact and take directions from others. I have to tell people that I take most directions literally and can’t detect sarcasm as easily as others.
None of this has stopped me from graduating close to the top of my high school class and graduating from Clarke with honors. I am going to law school at University of Iowa in Iowa City. After graduating with my J.D., I want to practice law as an immigration and child’s right lawyer.
At Clarke, I was involved in music for campus mass. I was also part of both Scholars and Phi Sigma Tao Honor Society. I was a small faith-sharing group leader and was involved with two campus ministry mission trips, one to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one to Memphis, Tennessee. During our Memphis trip, we helped refugee children, prepared a church for MLK 50, and gave eye exams to underserved children in the Memphis School System. Also, I traveled to Costa Rica with my philosophy class, which allowed me to interact with more people who spoke Spanish which will be relevant to my career as an immigration attorney. My biggest involvement at Clarke was with Peace, Betterment, and Justice Club (PB&J), where I learned invaluable communication and advocacy skills which will greatly help me as an attorney. I served as secretary and president for one year each. In the PB&J Club, I set up meetings to focus on social advocacy issues and provided service opportunities such as teams for Into the Streets, which I participated in three times.
I also took part in Dance Marathon every year I was at Clarke. This event holds a special place in mine and my family’s heart as my cousin, Trever Block, is one of Dance Marathon’s Miracle Kids.
Clarke provided me with so many opportunities to grow. One of these opportunities that stands out was an internship with Reynolds and Kenline L.L.P. I got to watch jury selection, create my own exhibit for a focus group, watch two other focus groups, and make sure all of the files made it into the online system by scanning the paper versions. Clarke also put me in touch with Americorp, which challenged me to even better my communication skills with those who work on a professional level while feeding my drive to help children. I was able to help children learn how to read every day, which made me happy.
Psychology and Physical Therapy ’20
During my time here at Clarke, I have involved myself in track and field and a couple of clubs including Benchwarmers, Psychology club, and Clarke Organization of Student Physical Therapists. Since coming to Clarke, I have been able to improve upon my track career, my schooling, and myself. In the three years I have been here, I have worked with six different coaches, each time having to adapt to different coaching styles. It was very difficult to stay motivated when going through so many coaches, yet I learned a lot from the situation. I finally realized that a coach did not define how I felt about track. I was the only person I could rely on to reach my goals. Once I learned to switch my motivation from a coach to myself, I became steadier in my thoughts and more confident in myself.
Gratefully, I became a 2x All-American in triple jump my junior year. This experience has prepared me for my future because it taught me that I have myself to rely on and if I stay motivated and don’t rely solely on others as my motivation, then anything is possible. This perspective of my motivation was the biggest change I made after becoming a Clarkie. Another way I have changed throughout the years is that I have come to accept the scary feeling of change and learned to live in the present. I have always been one to plan everything and be stuck in the future or in the past. It made my mentality quite sad, and I overlooked the things happening right in front of me. When I realized my thoughts, I worked on myself and found greater happiness when I focused on the present instead of just the past and future.
My goal is to spread more awareness about staying in the moment and finding happiness in different situations. I want to do that through my Physical Therapy occupation and help those going through difficult times to find their own motivation and find happiness in their situation. I’m glad I chose Clarke University because it allowed me to develop into the person I have always wanted to become.
Biochemistry and Biology ’15
I graduated from Clarke in 2015 with undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Biology. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program (FRRBP) at the University of Iowa. I first learned about this program at a Pre-Graduate conference at the University of Iowa that I attended with other Clarke students and professors. With help from professors at Clarke, I was hired as an undergraduate research assistant in the FRRBP the summer before my senior year at Clarke and was accepted into the graduate program following graduation. Clarke really prepared me with the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to become a successful scientist. The emphasis on developing proficiency in written and oral communication at Clarke has proven especially valuable for me in graduate school.
I am currently working with my professor Dr. Prabhat Goswami on figuring out why cancer risk increases with age. Specifically, we are focusing on the cells and environment around the tumor and how it affects cancer risk and progression, rather than studying the tumor itself. This area of cancer research has become a hot topic lately. Graduate school is inherently challenging and requires tenacity, determination, and patience. My education at Clarke helped me hone these skills and when things get tough, I am happy that I have these skills to lean on to get through difficult times. My goal is to graduate with my Ph.D. in 2020 and transition to a post-doctoral position where I can continue studying cancer metabolism with the hopes of becoming an NIH-funded principal investigator.
I remember my final semester at Clarke very fondly. From an academic perspective, my scientific curiosity was beginning to mature while taking several exciting courses. From a social perspective, I spent most weekends with friends from my class enjoying Dubuque hiking Mines of Spain, hanging out downtown, and experiencing riverboat cruises.
“I have a passion for nursing and cannot wait to begin my profession as a lifelong nurse. I have grown as a person and strengthened my skills at Clarke. Clarke places an emphasis on critical thinking, and I became aware of this in my first week of college classes. Critical thinking is a lifelong learning skill that requires me to apply my knowledge, experience, and competence. My future job as a nurse will entail problem-solving, decision making, and clinical reasoning. Each of these duties will require me to think critically, and quickly, on the job. My time at Clarke University has encouraged me to think at a higher level. My spirituality has also been enhanced while at Clarke. My Humanities course, Faith and Doubt, challenged me to reflect not only on what I believe but why I believe in God.
I am the secretary of Clarke’s Association of Nursing Students (CANS). Our group organizes different events to give back to our community. For example, we host a spring bake sale, and the profits made from this event are donated to Camp Courageous, a camp that provides year-round recreational and respite care opportunities for individuals with special needs.
This semester, I participated in Clarke’s Into the Streets event. I went to Sinsinawa Mound, which is a Catholic Dominican Sisters home. The Mound offers retreats, conferences, and workshops. My volunteer hours were spent outside in a garden. I prepared the gardens so that the Sisters are able to plant when the time comes. I raked leaves, picked weeds, tilled the dirt. One sister worked alongside me. My time flew by as I chatted with her. I was thanked numerous times for my work and left the Mound feeling like I had made a difference.
My favorite memory from Clarke was traveling to the Dominican Republic last summer. The trip was called Nursing in the Dominican Republic. Over the week-long trip, I stepped out of my comfort zone and immersed myself in the Dominican culture. We stayed at a school in San Jose de Ocoa. We were provided with tour guides and translators, and our days were planned out for us on an itinerary. Each day was different. The first day we traveled to Los Martinez. The leader of the community spoke to us (in Spanish) about the people, their healthcare services, and the production of produce including their irrigation system. The people look after each other; they provide their produce to those in need within the community before selling it for a competitive price. They are self-sufficient, humble individuals who welcomed my classmates and me with open arms. In the following days, we toured the healthcare facilities in Ocoa. These settings included the clinic, hospital, rehabilitation center, and nursing home.
The Dominican people make the most of what they have. Everyone seemed to wear a smile. Touring the different healthcare services was eye-opening. I couldn’t help but compare their setting to what I was used to in the United States. For example, I am used to hospitalized patients assigned to a private room. Here, the hospital had large rooms of one bed after another. The adult female patients were put in one room while the males in another. We participated in a nurse exchange and had the opportunity to ask their nurses questions while they asked us questions in return. We also visited local schools. The children ran to us wanting hugs — what a special feeling that gave my heart! Our days were long and busy, but we were welcomed by everyone. I remember a healthcare professional at the hospital said, ‘This is your hospital too, you are welcome here.’ My trip was a life-changing experience. When I want to complain about something materialistic, I think back to my trip and how the people in the Dominican make do with what they have. I left the Dominican with an open heart and an open mind and learned that I need to disconnect to connect.”
“After Clarke, I earned my Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Iowa in 2018. As I neared graduation with my dental degree, I started to look for employment. My wife and I are both from the Dubuque area and knew we wanted to land back in the area. I also knew that my hometown dentist was nearing retirement and decided to reach out. Through a very long process, we had things in place for me to take over his practice following my graduation. Dr. Neumeister started his practice in East Dubuque, IL, following graduation from the University of Iowa in 1983. I took over late summer of 2018 as the owner, operating as Weimerskirch Family Dental, still at the original location that Dr. Neumeister started in 1983.
The chemistry department at Clarke did a great job preparing me to be an effective communicator through oral presentations and on paper with numerous reports and poster presentations. Early on at Clarke, presentations made me anxious, but as I made it into my junior and senior years, my confidence grew along with my experience. When I got to dental school, presentations were a non-intimidating process. Likewise, through trial and error, I became very skilled with Excel and PowerPoint as I crunched numbers from Sister Diana Malone’s analytical chemistry class and put them on a poster for presentation. These skills may seem insignificant in comparison to a biochemistry degree, but I truly think they were influential for the foundation of my success. Additionally, I had near-unrestricted access to research-grade chemistry instruments. I gained an enormous amount of respect for these high-dollar pieces of equipment. At one point, I was asked to perform the periodic maintenance and minor repairs. I can’t think of a better way to understand instrumental methods than to take an instrument apart. There are some similarities between changing a gas chromatography column and a blown airline in a dental delivery unit during the middle of the day.
Getting into dental school was tough. It was a very long and expensive process. Once accepted into dental school, there were some hard weeks. Clinical boards were a nightmare and something I would never wish upon another person (that’s a topic for another discussion). My most recent challenge was acquiring the loan to purchase the practice. I met with several local banks with my plan, but I had no money. I was requesting a loan with 0% in equity – the banks listened but most politely declined to say they would not be able to carry the loan. Finally, I met with Fidelity Bank & Trust who were able to put together a very complex loan for me to purchase the practice.
My favorite memory from Clarke is probably walking into the research lab and finding Sr. Diana smoking in a fume hood in the dead of a frigid winter. Aside from that, probably building a spectrophotometer as part of my final research project in Dr. Glover’s Spectroscopy course. Living with a group of good friends from high school was a blast as well.
My future involves continuing to build the busy practice that I took over in East Dubuque. That, along with spending time with my family and finding some free time to do more mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, and hunting.”
Biology and Graphic Design ’16
“I graduated from Clarke in 2016 with a BS in Biology and BA in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design. I am currently finishing my second year of veterinary school at UW Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. I will be graduating as a DVM in May of 2021. Clarke allowed me to have a schedule flexible enough to complete both of my majors, even though there wasn’t much overlap between them. My professors really went out of their way to make sure I had the best opportunities possible to pursue my unique path. I firmly believe there is no other university that would have been as accommodating and thoughtful, and I am forever grateful to my professors, advisors, and coaches for making sure I could complete all of my goals in four years.
I didn’t know I wanted to apply to veterinary school until I was about halfway through my undergrad education. That meant I was behind on getting the field and research experience necessary for my application. I had a bit of a wild transition to add in a bunch of science courses alongside my art curriculum. Getting into vet school was challenging, but the good relationships I made at Clarke really helped when it came to support and letters of recommendation. I’m currently in my second year at UW, so I’m just starting to get to do more hands-on activities. I neutered my first cat this semester — my first surgical procedure! We are learning how to suture tissue and will be doing our first spay surgeries next year. There are a lot of hands-on labs, including Ultrasound and Large Animal Handling. We can go down into the hospital at any time and observe procedures (dentals, surgeries, client appointments, etc). I’m doing research this summer with a Veterinary Anesthesiologist exploring how to intubate rabbit patients and keep them safe under anesthesia. There are as many opportunities and as much outreach as you could ever want. I have gotten to do behind-the-scenes tours at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
My favorite memories from Clarke will always be the time spent with my volleyball teammates. Long practices in the gym, lifting sessions, and riding a bus for hours and hours to different tournaments don’t always sound fun on paper, but getting to do them with my teammates meant constant adventures, laughs, and fun. I made lifelong friendships that have extended far beyond our time on the court! My primary goal now is to finish my final two years of veterinary school and finally become Dr. Harris. After that, I hope to have a happy future practicing medicine and doing art on the side. I’m very excited about whatever the future throws at me.”
Elementary Education ’20
“Around the age of 5, I had my first panic attack in the middle of a shopping store. I will never forget the fear of not understanding what was going on in my body. From that moment on, things didn’t get easier; it was a constant battle of fighting against myself. What people would state was ‘anxiety’ stopped me from many things throughout my childhood.
I couldn’t be without my mom; I felt as though my mom was my security blanket and without her, something terrible would happen. This became a constant fight with myself as I was growing up; days would come to go eat with other family and I would feel my heart racing and start to scream because I couldn’t express in words how I was feeling. Even throughout elementary school, I would have panic attacks and teachers wouldn’t know what to do, so my only source was to cry to at least let some of what was happening out.
I lived with this same feeling throughout my high school career; however, I was tired of it. I was tired of letting the little girl inside of me stop me from living my life. When I started high school, college was never a thought of mine, but once I saw my friends applying to colleges, I took a drastic measure and looked into Clarke University. Clarke has been in my family for years, but no one really talked about it out loud; so, I applied all on my own.
I received my acceptance from Clarke and nothing at that moment made me happier. However, when the day before me leaving California to start a new life in Iowa came, my anxiety got the best of me. I didn’t want to leave, because this would be a huge jump from having my anxiety stop me for so many years to finally not letting my anxiety get the best of me. I experienced many loved ones tell me how I shouldn’t go away because I would come home shortly after. I was exhausted from letting things hold me back. The next day, I jumped on a plane to start a new adventure.
I made it through my first two years, — something I never thought I would do. However, as my junior year came around, times were hard; I felt the same way I did in that shopping store when I was five years old. My anxiety was getting the best of me. However, I can say I have been truly blessed to have a coach and education professor guide me to ask for help and talk to someone, something I should have done years ago. In November of 2018, I was diagnosed with anxiety.
Mental health is no joke. Growing up, I felt that no one understood me. When I would express myself to my friends, they all looked at me as if I was what one would say ‘crazy.’ However, coming to Clarke opened doors for me that I never thought I would open; with the help of both my coach and my education professor, I was finally able to stand up against my anxiety and not let it win over me.
Recently, I had the privilege of going with the education department to Eastern Kentucky to visit the David School. This opportunity continued to push me to grow from the challenges with my anxiety. I had professors push me to do things I would have never been able to do without their help. I listened to a student express her social anxiety to a large group of people and stated that her voice needed to be heard. This amazing experience helped me realize that my anxiety does not define who I am. I used to constantly let my anxiety take over me, but Clarke has given me experiences and opportunities to meet people who understand my anxiety and care enough to stand by my side through troubling times.
Before coming to Clarke, I would have never been able to talk about how I felt growing up. Because of the people I have met here, I feel I have finally found my place that makes me feel comfortable enough to be myself and not be ashamed of my mental health. I am tired of feeding the fire within, and I am proud of the person I have fought to be today.”
History, Philosophy, & Pre-Law ’18
”I’m from Maryland, and I chose Clarke without ever even visiting the Midwest! I came to Clarke to play lacrosse and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I was a history and philosophy double major with an emphasis in pre-law. I played on the Women’s Lacrosse Team, I mentored at Senior High school, I participated in meetings for Inclusive Dubuque, I was part of Phi Sigma Tau (Philosophy honor society), and I was part of the Education Policy Committee at school.
I have been through a lot to get to where I am today. I was born in El Salvador, and I came to this country when I was 11 years old. Coming to a new country with a different language and culture was not easy. Coming to a country that was not my home was also not easy, but I was determined to make the best out of the situation for my future. Yes, I actually thought about this at 11 years old. I knew I had to learn English, so I did. I knew I had to do well in school, so I did. I knew I had to go to college to achieve the goals I have set for myself, so I did. I have been able to succeed and do things my family has never had the chance to do. Going through the whole college experience beginning with applying to college was a challenge because I had to do it on my own. My family did not know how it worked, and even if my parents tried to help, they could only do so much since they know very little English. Therefore, I had to figure it all out by myself and somehow, with the grace of God, I was able to attend college. There have been and there are many more challenges and struggles in my story but I know that I will overcome each one of them.
Clarke helped me be better prepared in every aspect of my life. My history and philosophy classes pushed me to do better and to think outside the box. The critical thinking expectations for my classes helped me grow in ways I never imagined. Clarke gave me many opportunities to grow such as an internship, summer programs with other schools, and mentoring. Being involved in the community helped me grow professionally and personally.
Now that I’ve graduated from Clarke, I plan to attend law school. I want to obtain my Doctor of Jurisprudence degree and be a practicing lawyer. I realize now that when I played the position of midfielder on the lacrosse team, much of what I learned on the field ties back into my study of law. And, in every class, I was encouraged to critically think and find solutions to problems. Similarly, in lacrosse, I was thinking about every move I was making and how it affected my team and the other team. In the practice of law, I apply the same thinking methods. During my time at Clarke, I met beautiful people, inside and out, and they have made my journey worthwhile. The people at Clarke, including professors, have truly had a great impact in my life.”
Piano Performance (Music) ’21
“When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with autism. The doctor that day had told my parents that I would be incapable of receiving God; I wouldn’t be able to hold a job; my entire life would need to be authorized and executed by my loved ones. In that way, my family and I were set up for failure.
Therapy started soon thereafter. During elementary school, supplemental speech and social skills classes were the most prevalent in my curriculum; however, I was also well-consolidated into the regular classroom schedule of my peers. My behavior, at times, was considered “improper” and “inappropriate,” but while my little self was flailing, kicking, and screaming, my mind was trying to communicate all of the emotions I was feeling at the same level of comprehension as my peers. I was incapable of this expression at that time and that made my academic career and my home life a struggle for those involved.
When I was in sixth grade, I attended a diabetes walk in support of my great friend Kyle. My mother took me aside from the commotion and sat me down on a dusty, wooden table. She explained to me that I was different and she revealed to me how. At that moment, I locked eyes with my mother and began to walk away. She beckoned for me to come back and I did as she said. I didn’t really want to go away — I only felt that if I walked far enough at that moment, maybe my autism wouldn’t be able to catch up. As I returned into her embrace, I recognized that she was not just holding my tiny frame – she was holding my autism, my feelings, and my fear.
Over the years, the symptoms of my autism began to wane. Though I remain conscious of what people may think of me, day by day I grow more convinced that this condition of mine doesn’t have to define me for the rest of my life. I started studying music theory and piano and joined the church band; I started writing my own music; I participated actively in orchestra, band, and jazz band; and I immersed myself in the world of sonic creation. Everything that I couldn’t communicate before — all of the raw feelings of hopelessness and struggle — could now be expressed in a way that everyone can hear. I consider my immersion in music the most important step in accepting myself, diagnosis and all.
At Clarke, I’ve been blessed to be able to continue learning about music through the brilliant minds of Amy, Sharon, and Amanda, as well as my wonderfully talented peers. Moments of weakness still occur, but I know that my incredible family, my awesome friends, my kind professors, and my God are there to catch me when I fall. Going to Clarke was one of the best decisions in my life because even when I’m away from home I still have the support I need to succeed.
In 2021, I plan to graduate as a piano performance major. I’m involved in Campus Ministry, the Peace Betterment and Justice club (PB&J!), and many events from Clarke’s Music department. In the future, I want to be able to spread the joy of life that God has given me through the medium of jazz. I also want to be able to advocate for the autism community by increasing awareness, participating in programs, and representing them within the local government. No matter where God places me, I want to be able to change the community for the better.”
“While I am only a freshman, I have to say this is one amazing school. I came to Clarke mainly intending to focus on being a lacrosse player, and I have gotten involved in so much more. Clarke has already prepared me to be a more caring person and one who works with others.
Overall, in my short time here I’d have to say my favorite memory thus far is just the first semester as a whole. I’ve met so many friends and teammates I will have for a lifetime and been in so many amazing classes that have pushed me into new ways of thinking. The small campus atmosphere has been ideal for me. I always joke with my parents that the best part about this school is that I know/am friends with 90% of the people I pass in the hall.
Currently, I run a website called dai-lifestyle (dai-lifestyle.com) which is all about photography and video production that provokes emotions in the viewer. “Dai” is Italian slang for “The next adventure.” Over my first semester, I developed a relationship with the Five Flags Center staff, where they allowed me to shoot all the concerts I wanted in order to build my portfolio and provide The Crux with unique music images. In addition to that role, I have also just started a position managing social media for the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.
Both my parents are photojournalists, former college professors, and now mental health healing specialists, with my father also being a published author. Having parents like this blessed me with a sense of adventure. I have traveled to every state in the U.S. with the exception of Alaska. In my junior year of high school, I ended up moving to Italy to play lacrosse in the Italian Lacrosse Federation and teach youth through community outreach while my father taught study abroad courses. These experiences have truly shaped who I am today.
After Clarke, I’d like to work in the documentary film or journalism industry. My passion is telling a story through a video or image and evoking emotions in the viewer. I’d like to also have a coaching career in college lacrosse. Overall, my goal after leaving Clarke is to leave a positive lasting image on anyone with whom I interact.”
Social Work & Psychology ’19
“I was born when my mother was just 16 years old. At that time, my father was very involved with the street-life and was in a gang. He was doing things he shouldn’t be doing when he knew he had a son on the way. My father was incarcerated in 1997 and has been in jail 21 years this March. My mom has been working two jobs since age 16 because she had to grow up quickly and be the head of the household. It was very hard for both of us. I was never able to spend time with her because she was always working. And, now, our relationship is not as close as I’d like, simply because I am unable to see her because she is always working to provide for me. But, watching my mom work so hard these past 20 years has really made me want to excel and make her proud. This is why I work so hard in school, so I can make sure to provide for her as she did for me.
Life was never easy growing up. I have had a lot of challenges being me – this person who was not comfortable with my sexuality and did not mesh well with other African American kids. I always had better relationships with people who were of a different culture. As I got older, people would ask me: “Do you like girls or boys?” and I honestly didn’t know the answer. I became very involved in school activities. I didn’t want to be that person to not take advantage of all the opportunities offered. But, by keeping myself so busy, I didn’t have time to focus on myself and figure out who I was. I didn’t find myself until midway through high school.
When I came to Clarke, I was welcomed with open arms and people made me feel comfortable. During my first year, I came to the realization that it was time to come out and be accepting of the skin I am in now. I didn’t do it the best way – coming out to people. I should’ve done it in a way that didn’t create drama. I did it as everyone else did; I went on social media and posted about it. There was negativity, but I was surprised by how much support and love I received for being homosexual. Coming to college and actually making that decision to come out made me feel like a new person. Being at Clarke where homosexuality is accepted and the LGBTQ community is present has inspired me to be accepting of who I am.
I have also met a lot of great people and professors at Clarke. I have been really involved on campus in my past three years here, and when it comes time to graduate next year, I know I will have made my mark from all the leadership roles and volunteer work I have done. I know that when I leave Clarke, I will accomplish all of the goals that I have made for myself post-graduation. I plan on getting my master’s in social work and becoming a licensed clinical social worker. I want to go into a field where I can help people and make a difference. I want to make people’s lives better than the experience I had growing up. I want to help them with my own challenges and experiences.”
Psychology/Spanish minor ’19
“I came to Clarke thinking that I was going to graduate as a physical therapist. This was not the case, however. I think most students who come to college have a general idea of what they want to do and think that idea is the only option. When I was halfway through my first semester at Clarke, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to pursue physical therapy. I felt like I was letting myself down. I went to Psychology Professor Tim Boffeli’s office and explained to him that I wanted to drop PT, and he helped me work through my options. When I later decided that I wanted to be a Speech Pathologist, I again went to Tim’s office, and together we came up with a plan in which I was able to graduate a year ahead of the typical four-year plan. With that said, I think the biggest change that I have experienced in myself since being at Clarke is figuring out who I am. I can now confidently tell people what I want to do with my life and why, and the best part is, it makes me excited for my future. With the help of my professors, family, and my friends that I gained from Clarke, I am a much stronger, more confident individual and it is all thanks to my experiences here.
After graduation, I plan on going back to my home state of Wisconsin and applying to UW-Whitewater’s graduate program for their Science of Communication Disorders program. My goal is to tie together what I learned at Clarke in terms of Psychology and be able to help the traumatic brain injured communicate again.
I’ve made so many memories at Clarke. I participated in Track & Field as a pole vaulter, and I danced on the Clarke University Dance Team. I am also a Clarke Ambassador which allows me to give tours of our campus to incoming families and students. One of my favorite memories from Clarke is when my friend, Daisy Lemus, and I were tired of studying on a Sunday night and decided at 3 a.m. to pile on winter clothes and go outside in a winter blizzard so that we could sled together. We had so much fun fighting the cold and sledding up and down the hills in front of Clarke that now we have plans to do it again this winter! All the spontaneous things that my friends and I have done over the past three years at Clarke have been amazing memories that I am very thankful for. Random car rides in the early hours of the morning, ordering pizzas together at night because we didn’t want to make food, staying up until the next morning doing homework and watching movies are all things that make the college experience what it is. I could not have had the experience I did at Clarke without the friends I’ve made.”
Business, Marketing Management ’19
“I already knew I was coming to Clarke before the story I’m about to tell happened.
My sister attended Clarke before me. I was able to see her success throughout her four years and observe the sense of community in a small school environment. Clarke was an opportunity for me to move away from my home in New Mexico, play soccer, and earn my degree.
Three years ago, my dad passed away from cancer. At the time, my family and I were all preparing for my graduation from high school and my sister’s graduation from Clarke. We were trying to figure out a way to get everyone from New Mexico to Dubuque for my sister’s graduation. We planned on my dad being in good health, but he took a turn for the worse.
We decided he would attend my sister Mileva’s graduation at Clarke but not mine from my high school. Then my dad got worse. It became evident that he wouldn’t be able to travel from New Mexico to Clarke. He made it clear to Mileva and me, though, that no matter what happened, he wanted us to attend our graduations.
Clarke faculty and staff did an amazing thing. They arranged a personal graduation for Mileva and set up a live feed that my dad could watch while she received her diploma. Her “graduation” was held in the chapel, and while it wasn’t a surprise for Mileva, she had no idea that so many Clarke people were going to be there. She walked in and the whole church was packed with all her friends and faculty at Clarke.
The day we had to leave to come to Clarke for her actual graduation ceremony was the day my dad passed away. He was able to see both of us graduate, though, which was incredible.
Clarke went above and beyond for my family, and I feel like I am forever in their debt. Clarke touched not only my family but the people in my area and in my small town in New Mexico. Being able to see Clarke impacting areas outside of the state and in a completely different culture was amazing. A lot of people in my town have a connection to Dubuque and I have been able to see how Clarke’s outreach can affect a community. Through their good acts of helping my family, it helped my whole community and town as well.
I am happy that I am able to talk about this now as a story of coming together. I am forever grateful to Clarke for being able to do this for my dad.”
Music Education ’21
“I came out as transgender in my junior year of high school, but only to close friends. However, by the end of the year, the word got out and spread through the school, and I was bullied. During my senior year, I just focused on college and scholarships to keep my mind busy. I felt depressed. I was surviving but was not living. I wasn’t happy or living my life to the fullest.
I came to Clarke identifying as Grace already, but it was ‘under the radar’ because I didn’t openly come out here. Then, eventually, it was October, and I emailed all my professors and asked them to call me Grace and use certain pronouns. That is where it started on campus.
I found I couldn’t afford to live on campus, so I commuted for the first semester. I moved onto campus the second semester, and this was the time I started being myself. I changed my wardrobe and bought more gender-affirming clothing. And, I legally changed my name from Joey to Grace. Clarke has really helped me feel more accepted here on campus and feel like I have a home here.
Moving onto campus allowed me to make my life more congruent with how I feel on the inside. I was scared at first because Clarke is a Catholic school; but, when I came here, I learned Clarke is an opening and welcoming campus. Clarke made me feel accepted, which helped me to openly identify as Grace. Now I feel happier because I don’t have to hide anything, and I can go outside and not be judged. I can go somewhere in a full face of makeup and dressed up, or I can go to classes in a sweatshirt and sweats.”
Elementary Education with Endorsements in Special Education and Reading ’18
“On a whim, I knew two things: I wasn’t happy where I was at with my old university, and I wanted to teach. So, I made the decision to move home to be closer to family and friends, took a semester off of school to re-evaluate, and was told by numerous people that Clarke was the school to go to for education. Their hands-on program has been the perfect fit for me, and the amount of experience that I will have in classrooms before graduation, thanks to the PDS blocks, has made me very confident in my teaching. Transferring to Clarke was the best decision that I have made with my college career.
In June 2017, Clarke gave me the opportunity to travel to Mount Kenya University and connect with their students, sit in on classes to compare/contrast our educational experience to theirs, tour the huge campus, and learn about their university. Clarke and MKU have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with one another, and it was exciting to be with the first group of students from Clarke to visit MKU. We also visited Kinangop, the village where professor Mary Gitau grew up. While there, we established a library at the village primary school, donating and logging 487 books, painting, creating artwork for the walls, putting in benches and tables, and creating a new and exciting space for the school to use.
While at the school, we also interacted with teachers and students, along with community members who came to help us. The final academic thing we did was host a conference for rural Kenyan teachers. The conference was two days, and I presented on classroom motivation. It was the first educational conference that I have attended, so I was pretty lucky that I got to present at it. It was fun to talk to Kenyan teachers and see how their views and educational philosophies differed from mine. They were all knowledgeable and had something to offer me as a young professional. The trip ended with a three-day safari at Maasai Mara.
In reflection, I think that I had culture shock the entire time. While at MKU, I could not walk 10 feet without someone asking to take a picture with me because I was a “mzungu” (a white person), and they asked if they could stay with me when they come to visit Clarke. In the village, I was lucky enough to help with my host families’ daily tasks – milking the cows by hand and cooking dinner, etc. It was neat to see how they live, and that put in perspective all of the technology that we are lucky to have here. We spent every night in the living room at Mary’s mom’s house singing and dancing; in fact, we taught all of her family the cupid shuffle. We moved all the furniture in the living room and danced for what seemed like 50 times in a row.
On our last night in the village, we all made a great meal together by butchering a goat and making other African dishes such as rice, cabbage, and chapati. I learned that my host mom, Ann, learned English for almost a year just to be able to communicate with me when I arrived.
This trip was the most eye-opening experience I have ever had. I had done long-term travel before, but this was my first time being out of the country. It made me appreciate everything that I have so much more – it also made me resent myself a little bit for all of the things that I take for granted, such as my family, clean water, always having food on my table, a roof over my head, indoor plumbing, and the education that I am getting at Clarke. The term “it takes a village” comes to my mind and is a perfect way to describe the experience, the community and pride among the people, and the love that they shared for one another. Upon returning from my trip, I have tried to complain less and remember that almost everything that I have is a privilege because there are things that many people go without. I also try to remember that relationships with people around me are so important and a huge part of what will drive me to be happy and successful in my life.
I have a travel bug, and finding support from Clarke and my professors has made me want to pursue my interests in traveling even more. Education is my main passion, and Clarke has provided me my opportunities to mix travel and education; and, the fact that my professors have encouraged it helps me be more confident with it. Upon graduation, I hope to travel more and even possibly teach abroad, and Clarke has helped prepare me for that through their education program, support from professors, and travel experiences.”
Social Work ’19
“On November 8, 2017, my husband and I received a call that, after a long fight with alcoholism and depression, my father-in-law had taken his life. My brother-in-law had already passed away, so my husband, my sister-in-law, and I had to handle the situation. We lived in Dubuque, and he passed away in Mason City, so we traveled five hours and stayed there for four days before we were able to get him back home to Dubuque. It was the middle of my junior year at Clarke and I was preparing for finals.
I was so afraid that because I was absent and would be behind in my work, my professors wouldn’t be understanding. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Before I even got back to town I had people at Clarke that I had never even met before reaching out to me. I was receiving condolence cards from departments that I had never stepped foot in. Other departments sent flowers to the funeral home. Every single one of my professors accommodated me.
I confided in one of my professors about the details of my father-in-law’s death because, at 21-years-old, both my husband and I had no idea what we were doing legally regarding my father-in-law’s different assets or how to handle death certificates. It was all new to us. My professor told me that she would help with whatever she could. A few hours later, I had a lawyer reach out to me offering to help us. I was also able to get connected with a counselor at Clarke right away and she really helped me cope with what was happening.
I’m now a senior at Clarke. I am the captain of the women’s bowling team and I am the president of the Social Work Club. I am majoring in social work and will graduate in May of 2019. I will then be heading straight into my Master of Social Work (MSW) at Clarke, graduating in May of 2020.
I have always planned on entering child welfare, but after I watched what my father-in-law went through, I wanted to learn more about substance abuse and how to interact with people that suffer from alcoholism. My Clarke graduate advisor made sure that I am able to take a course pertaining to substance abuse because of my experience. I am very grateful to everyone who supported and encouraged me through this experience.”
“Before coming to Clarke, I was just a normal kid. I was coasting through life and I was just here because I felt I was obligated. The saying is “go to college, get your degree, and life becomes easier after.” I just lived as an average student. I wanted to pass but didn’t want to put any effort into my studies or really anything for that matter. My junior year changed that. Why? Because I was forced to take a semester off for not being diligent and making sure all my paperwork was completed before the first day of the semester.
When I received the call saying I would be forced to wait a semester before coming back to college, I was devastated. I thought about the extreme effort my family had put forth to get me this far, all the work I had done in the past, and all the memories I made at Clarke. The thought of all of it being erased made me break down. The thing about greatness is that you never know how strong you actually are until you are at your lowest point. That moment matured me. It made me look at not only school but life as a whole, completely differently. I became more responsible, I worked harder at every task assigned to me, and I even gained a promotion at my job during that time.
Transitioning back into school was hard, but when I returned to Clarke, I had the highest GPA that I’d ever had. Fast forward two years later, I now realize how important it is to not be average but to work hard and stand out amongst your peers. Just going to college won’t ensure you anything. It’s a privilege to go to college, not something required of you. If you don’t take it seriously, no one will take you seriously. Without Clarke, I don’t think I would have ever learned this lesson. I am pleased and honored to say that because of this I will always love this school.”
Psychology & Philosophy ’19
“Living on campus during the summer is a great way to experience Dubuque, Iowa outside of a ‘school’ setting. You’re able to explore the Dubuque area, attend community-wide events, and discover unique locations because you’re not so busy with schoolwork. Also, living on campus for the summer makes you feel like you’re really responsible for yourself because the resources you would normally have during the school year are not available during summer break.
During the summer, it is also easier to find the time to hang out with the other students who are living on-campus for the summer break. I got lucky with the people I live with in my apartment; we are all great friends, so it’s nice having them to spend most of my time with when I’m not working. We all go out to eat, watch The Bachelor and Riverdale, and just hang out in the living room together. I could not have asked for better summer housing roommates.”
“I am a daughter of two immigrants who came from Mexico about 22 years ago. For as long as I can remember, I had to take on a big role because I am a first-generation United States citizen who became the translator for my family. My dad speaks English, but if he has to talk over the phone he gets nervous. So, I have to talk for him. It is worse for my mom because she can hardly speak English. This is tough for me. When I came to college, I gave the responsibility to my little sister while I am away.
But, it is also hard for her because I have always had this role of being in charge. In addition to that, my parents always were more comfortable with letting me translate. So, my parents still request my help today; they will call me and ask me to make appointments for my grandpa or figure out a billing issue. I feel like I was sheltered growing up because I had to care for my family and act as a role model for my siblings.
Whenever I have to call and make appointments for my grandpa, the hospital refuses to provide me with information because my mom is in charge of him, not me. But, when I try to relay this message to her, she just doesn’t understand. This is tough not only on me but also on her.
I have come to recognize that school is a privilege for me. I would not receive the education I obtained here in the United States if I was born in Mexico and grew up there. I do go to school for myself, but I also do it to give my parents a better life, a life they gave me. I have learned a lot from being a first-generation college student and having immigrant parents.
When you are a child of immigrants, you live in fear every day that one day they may be taken away and be gone forever. My mom has been here for 22 years, and she is just starting the application to have residency here in the United States. My parents have talked to me on numerous occasions that if something happened, they want me to stay in school. But, I couldn’t be comfortable staying here knowing my siblings are left alone. Even though my parents conveyed to me that my aunt could have custody of us, I would still feel the need to go home and take care of them.
This is not a topic I like to talk about with people because of what is going on in the United States currently. However, I agreed to share my story because I think immigration is an issue that deserves a continuous conversation. There have been serious remarks made about Hispanics lately. But, these accusations are just not true. My parents are good people. They raised their kids to go against the negative stigma that Hispanics are bad people. We, as in Hispanics and my family, are better than that.”
Nursing & Psychology ’19
“My sister went to college here at Clarke University and graduated in 2008. During this time, my mother was in prison. My little brother was one year old and I was about 9-10 years old. My sister had legal custody of my brother when my mother went away to prevent him from going into foster care. My little brother resided mostly with our grandma. However, my sister did a lot for my brother and me, especially while she was going to college at Clarke.
My sister would take us almost every weekend she could. She took my brother to his first days of preschool, kindergarten, and up. She did a lot for us as kids, and as I have been going through college here at Clarke, I am amazed at how she was able to balance work, school, and the task of taking care of us. My sister inspired me to go to college and showed me that we are not limited by our circumstances. She never once complained about having such a huge responsibility or having to take on the role of our mother. I believe I have acquired many of these qualities from her.
Shortly after my mother was released from prison, when I was about 16 years old, my grandmother was dying of cancer. My grandma was very special to all of us because she practically raised us all. I lived with and was raised by her until I entered first grade, and then I moved in with my father. While my grandma was slowly dying of cancer, I remember spending time at the house taking care of both my little brother and my grandma when my mother went to work. I believe having this type of experience, helping take care of my grandma, is what partly led me to pursue Nursing.
All of these personal experiences led me here to Clarke. I truly believe God was behind it all. He wanted me here for a purpose. As a freshman in college, I was afraid, fragile, and broken. I also had many questions about life and the evil in the world. I took the course “Foundation of Spiritual Life,” taught by Sr. Paulette Skiba. This course helped change my outlook on the world; it introduced me to many different beliefs and spiritualties. As a result, I no longer viewed the world as an evil place.
After my freshman year, I finally left a three-year abusive relationship, thanks to a few words that resonated with me from Psychology professor Tim Boffeli. Without him really knowing it, his words saved my life. One day they rang in my head, and it was as if I had woken up and realized that situation was not what I wanted. However, after finally leaving the relationship, I became clinically depressed. I did not want to recognize that I was in an abusive relationship. It took two months after leaving that relationship before I finally sought help from Clarke’s Counseling services, thanks to an anonymous professor who saw that I was slowly drifting away. I will admit that I felt like I was drowning and no one could see me, but someone here at Clarke did and they, too, saved my life.
With time, I was able to heal from that experience. I was able to grow and become the person I am today. I am now set to graduate in May of 2019 with a double major in Nursing and Psychology. Without all of these experiences, I would not be pursuing either of these two majors. As a result of the abusive relationship, I have been interested in studying abuse and its effects, advocating for victims, and telling my story. I want to educate others and tell them they are not alone. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Without Clarke University I do not know where I would be or how this story would have panned out. I want to thank all those here at Clarke who have helped me to get to this point of graduating. I truly believe God had a plan within it all.”
Elementary Education ’19
“I spent six weeks this past summer in Dehradun, India, in the state of Uttarakhand, working with an internship known as the Agency for Non-Konventional Urban Rural Initiatives (ANKURI). I arrived in India along with Dr. Ellen Spencer, Clarke University Assistant Professor of Education, who was there to help guide the beginning of the program. While I was there I was able to work with over 50 children aged 4-16.
Along with interns from the University of Michigan and several universities in India, I ran a summer camp at a local school. I was in charge of designing the curriculum for these children, planning each day, and helping my fellow interns become comfortable teaching. We ended our five weeks of teaching with a final performance for the community that included students practicing their public speaking, sharing their goals for the future, participating in group dances, and even a short play!
This experience has impacted me greatly as I have made friends that I still speak with regularly, and have a new family on the other side of the world that I know I will be involved with moving forward. The experience has also shown me that international teaching is something that I want to do with my life outside of college.
My major is Elementary Education with Endorsements in Coaching and Special Education. I am involved with Clarke Men’s Lacrosse and am a member of Teachers for Tomorrow and Clarke Inclusive Games.
I will be student teaching next semester, and following my completion of that, I will be graduating. Upon graduation, I will be looking for jobs teaching and coaching abroad, as well as coaching lacrosse at the college level in the United States.
With support from a Clarke alumna, a student participates in the ANKURI internship each year. I feel so fortunate to have been chosen. By giving me this experience, Clarke opened up an opportunity for me that previously I would not have known about, and that I wouldn’t have been able to afford. It showed me that Clarke’s opportunities are truly available to all of the students and Clarke can help make your dream a reality.”
Psychology ’17, MOL ’18, MBA ’19
“When I was 16-years-old, the Dubuque colleges approached me and offered me the opportunity to take college classes for credit while still in high school. I started at the University of Dubuque, went to NICC next, then to Loras College, and finished at Clarke University. I will say, I did not intend on staying in the area; I had intentions of going to UW-Madison, but once I realized I had three years of college done already, I knew UW-Madison wouldn’t accept all my credits. So, once Tim Boffeli reviewed my transcripts and told me I was two classes away from getting my Bachelor of Art’s degree in psychology, I was persuaded to stay here at Clarke and in Dubuque.
After I graduated in May 2017 with my degree in psychology, I then started working towards my master’s at the age of 19. I am currently working on my Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL), in which I will graduate in May 2018. After getting my MOL, I will then work towards my Master of Business Administration (MBA), and I will graduate in May 2019 when I am 22-years-old. If I would have been a traditional student, I would have gotten my Bachelors of Arts degree in May 2019, but by taking courses in high school and doing the Early Access MOL, I am able to do eight and a half years of education in four years.
When I first started graduate school, I was kind of intimidated by the experience of the other students in the master’s program, but the people are amazing professionals, and they have taught me so much from their experiences. I love the program now.
After I have my two master’s degrees, I am taking a ‘gap’ year – well, just a break from everything for a year – and backpacking Asia for eight months, Europe for three months, and then Africa for one month. I am an aspiring traveler, and I’ve been working full time since 17 to fund my traveling. After my ‘gap’ year, I intend on owning my own national franchise of group homes for intellectually and physically disabled adults.”
Barbara Welbes Rivera
Secondary Education ’19
“I entered the United States Air Force Basic Military Training immediately after high school graduation. Through my experience within the military, I gained lifelong friendships, awesome memories, an opportunity to see the world, and my college education (B.S. Computer Science at UNLV) via Montgomery G.I. Bill. I loved every minute of my military service.
When I made my ‘career change’ decision to become a secondary education teacher, I asked around to weigh my education institution options. I knew I wanted to get my teaching license. I already had a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I needed a separate bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education to pursue my end goal of being a teacher. I heard positive feedback about the educational program at Clarke.
I feel that as a human being, a parent, and a future educator, I have grown a lot at Clarke. I have gained tools and knowledge as a future educator to pass on to my students as well as my own children. The world has changed considerably since I was an elementary and secondary student, and my time at Clarke has enabled me to reconnect with my “youthful” self. I feel that Clarke has an awesome outreach program for incoming students. Clarke has adapted to my life, and faculty are understanding if I am late or unable to attend class. I have received support, understanding, and open-mindedness at Clarke.
My advice to other and future nontraditional students is, it is never too late. Non-traditional students come in all shapes, sizes, and age brackets. One of the big adjustments that I had to make when going back to school is being the eldest in the classroom and handling the generation gap.
Out of all the experiences I have had in my life, the most important is being a mother to my son and daughter. It is not always easy being a working mom who is going back to college and pursuing a career change, but the reward outweighs the work.”
Business Administration & Sports Management ’21
“Growing up for me was very hard and I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother had to take care of three of us on her own. My father was never there and has been out of my life since I was born. My mother struggled very hard to keep the lights on and made many sacrifices just so that we could enjoy things she never had the chance to.
I always valued my education because without it, I am nothing. Education is very key in my household. The attitude is: “You are going to college.” I struggle to pay for school by myself. I worked winter break and throughout the summer just so I could come back for my sophomore year.
It’s funny because as teenagers, people normally want to buy things and stay updated with the new trends, but I have always looked beyond that. I want a future and a better life for not only me and my family but others as well. I am a helping and caring person, and I believe that everything has to be worked for. I’m always willing to lend a hand to those in need because I understand what it is like to live in poverty.
Throughout my journey, I have stayed confident, positive, and motivated to achieve new things. College was never out the question, but after being cut from my high school basketball team twice, I thought my hoop dreams were over. This is what I was told by former students and coaches. I knew that I had to prove people wrong. I told myself that I will go to college and I will play college ball. Nothing would stop me.
I also knew this was what I wanted to do after watching my mother struggle. I didn’t want to depend on her for everything, and I wanted to give her the chance to see the finer things in life. My mother works so hard to this day and has never complained … never! I kept telling myself to keep my head up high and when things get tough, remember who I was doing it for. I knew there were a lot of people cheering me on to this path of success. Sometimes I would cry because I’d see a lot of people taking their education for granted. Some don’t realize how many people would die to be in their situation and receive an education.
Clarke has had a great impact on me. I was able to meet new people as well as get out of my comfort zone and use my connections. Clarke taught me how to use my resources and how to network when the time is right. They taught me to never give up when things get hard. I have some professors who push me beyond my limits. They go beyond classwork to use real-world situations in their teachings as well. Clarke University let me know that anything is possible, and when things get hard, people are willing to help you overcome all challenges being faced.
My plans for the future are to either become a businessperson working in the sport industry or to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I really want to help the youth and give back to those in need. I want to be as humble as possible and let those who struggle know, “I once was where you are and I worked hard to get what I needed.” My goal is to provide for the youth and feed them with so much knowledge that they know anything is possible. I want to let them know to never let anyone tell you, “You can’t do it,” because it’s not true.
I feel like my story impacts everything I want to do because a lot of people don’t know the life of Rashaud Colbert. People may see me and think things that are not true. This is why I choose to always hold myself up to high standards. I am a team player who loves to make people laugh.
At Clarke University, I am double majoring in business administration and sport management. I will be graduating in the year 2021 hoping to fulfill both degrees in order to make my family and friends proud. On campus, I am a part of the basketball team and do community service for the museum downtown in Dubuque. I recently had the opportunity to receive the title of Mr. Clarke Guy, which was a huge honor. I love my life. I would never want to change any of the struggles I went through because they made me stronger and I placed them all into the hands of God. As long as I stay focused, I can do anything I put my mind to.”
Social Work ’15, Master of Social Work ’18
“I actually went to Clarke back in 1993 right after I graduated high school. I was in the first-ever physical therapy class, but I decided three years later that it wasn’t a fit. So, I transferred to the University of Iowa and happened on their paramedic program. After graduation, I moved to Kansas City and worked there for 10 years. This is where I met my ex-husband.
I hurt my back fighting a fire, and I didn’t know I hurt it as badly as I did. I suffered for a few years trying to not have surgery. But, when I did need surgery, I moved back to the Dubuque-area, and my fiancé at the time came with me. It is funny, you hear stories of people saying things were fine when they were dating, but things change when you get married. I don’t know what clicked in his mind or changed for him, but as soon as we got married, his drinking increased and there was an addiction there. I know he wasn’t happy in Dubuque, but that is no excuse.
It was two months before my son’s third birthday when he hit me for the first and only time. It was fast, violent, and scary. It forever changed my son because when he feels threatened, his body remembers that moment, and goes back to that time. People say he is young, he will get over it, and while we have moved on, even at two years old, it affected him. But, I found my way back to Dubuque and to Clarke’s Master of Social Work program, and my son has come to a lot of my classes. All the social work faculty have known him since 2013 when he was four years old. It’s a relief to see the confidence in a kid in a place he probably shouldn’t feel confident. He is totally himself at Clarke, and I think Clarke has done the same thing for me. I have gained my confidence back. It slowly eroded over the years with my ex-husband. I was pretty confident as a female firefighter. I had a ‘no fear’ attitude. Now, even my mom says I am back to my better self again.
I think over all those years I didn’t have a voice with my ex-husband. He was good at gas-lighting, in which he would turn my reality upside down, and I’d ask myself if I was crazy. He was manipulative and controlling; and, the fact that he did it slowly is why I didn’t know it was happening.
Having that experience as a firefighter and paramedic in an extremely urban setting made it an easy road to go to social work. I have always been a good student, and this was a good choice. Finding my niche and having faculty support, encourage, and show genuine interest in me helped me realize, or re-discover, I can do things. I am currently employed at Crescent Community Health Center. I work with the Dubuque Pacific Island Health Project. So, I am the social worker for the people from the Marshall Islands. This group has suffered so many losses, and they are in trouble. They’ve left the islands out of necessity, and they come to a country that doesn’t understand their culture, language, struggles, or why they are here. They have difficulty accessing basic needs like housing and food but also healthcare and education. I completed a project called FACING DIVERSITY: MARSHALLESE STORIES in which I paired storytellers from the Marshall Islands with community volunteers to write down their stories. The book, which was released last year, is in English as well as Marshallese and was a success in distributing 500 throughout the community. The goal is to connect the community through storytelling and discover that we may come from different backgrounds and identify with different cultures, but we are all facing the same issues like caring for our family members, wishing the best for our children, and wanting to live a happy life.
This year we are doing FACING DIVERSITY: LGBTQ+ STORIES, in which we will have about 20 stories, with several from Clarke students, faculty, staff, as well as Dubuque community members. This project reflects my education at Clarke and how social work can bring people together, discuss our differences, recognize our similarities, and learn from each other. It will be launched the weekend of graduation.”
“I decided to live on campus this summer because I was offered a summer job in the admissions office. Because of this job offer and summer housing, I had the opportunity of getting to know the town of Dubuque and the admissions team. The atmosphere is different living on-campus during the summer than the school year. Since there are not as many people on campus in the summer, you really get to know the people that are living in Dubuque for the summer.
Being here in the summer made me feel like I was a part of the Clarke and Dubuque community. I was able to participate in events around the Dubuque area, explore Dubuque, and get to know those who are around the Clarke campus. I also loved getting to know my roommates and gained amazing friends by living here during the summer.”
History & Secondary Education ’19
“Growing up, I wasn’t able to play physical sports because of my heart and hip. At times I felt like I didn’t have a lot of friends. My hometown was a big sports town, and everyone was way into Friday night football. I didn’t feel a part of that. I was an average kid. I got average grades and played in the band.
Now, I’ve been encouraged to engage in physical activities, but it’s difficult because after 20 years of not participating and always being ‘careful,’ I am now conditioned to think I can’t do things. Every day I have to tell myself that I CAN do it.
I looked forward to college because I knew it would be different than high school. I knew what I needed to do to be successful. I am learning so much in college. It is super cliché, but I don’t feel average here at Clarke – I feel unique. Clarke is a small school, so I can have real relationships with professors and students. This school is a community. I am also able to be involved in the activities that I choose. I am President of the Culinary Club and work as a Tuckpointer to engage new students.
As a future teacher, I know there will be kids like me who have faced challenges and struggled, who get average grades and are in the middle — they know they aren’t doing badly, but they know they could do better. I’ve been there, in that situation, and I can encourage them. I can assure them that they will discover who they are and become individuals who reach success. Ultimately, THEY determine their own level of success.”
“I was born and raised in Dubuque, and Clarke has given me the opportunity to integrate myself into the community like never before. Through clinical and volunteer work, I learned more about my community than I have ever before. Honestly, Clarke has given me opportunities I don’t believe I would have pursued myself.
In fact, Clarke just gave me an amazing opportunity. In January, I and a handful of other nursing students traveled to Nicaragua to participate in the Limon Project. This was my first time out of the country, and I went on many adventures and had numerous learning opportunities from it. This trip not only furthered my professional experience but also helped me gain insight into the world outside Iowa. This trip is something I will never forget.
Even though I am from Dubuque, I live on-campus with five of my best friends. I will always fondly remember the time spent in my apartment with them and the ever-present guests we have, as well as the random adventures and the planned ones. I live for movie nights and car rides. In my apartment, my friends and I have celebrated my acceptance into the Nursing Program, my acceptance for the Nicaragua trip, birthdays, etc. We have shared countless laughs and cries. I cannot pick just one fond memory at Clarke because I have loved almost all of my time here.
What I do know is the thing I will miss most about Clarke: the people. I have a family here that continually offers me strength and support. I will miss seeing my best friends every day upon graduation. But, even though I graduate from Clarke in May, I intend on working in the Dubuque area for a couple of years, so I may establish myself and build a foundation for a successful nursing career. I also plan to take trips and see the world while I can; and, because of this, I have been looking into travel nursing. Also, someday, I would like to adopt a dog.”
Athletic Training ’21
“Being away from home for a long period of time is definitely not easy, but Clarke has helped me get through this time in my life. I am always supported by my wonderful friends and the faculty. Clarke has also helped me transition education-wise. I have realized college is not like high school. I have to put in a lot of time in and out of class, and I had to learn how to manage my time wisely. Fortunately, my peers and professors have helped me transition into college life. It can be really hard at times when you miss the people you love, but being surrounded by a great community helps you feel better.
I really enjoy the community because it honestly feels like family here. I can always count on someone to help me when needed, and I always feel supported. You never feel alone, which was one of my biggest fears to face in college. I was scared to not have any friends, but that doesn’t happen at Clarke. Everyone cares about everyone, which reflects Clarke’s values.
Clarke has offered me many opportunities to be a leader within the university. I am a freshman class senator on Clarke Student Association (CSA). This position allows me to speak for the freshmen class and our school as a whole. I thought I would just vote my friends on and it would be a club we can all be in. But, it turned out to be a lot more than that. I learned I have a voice in issues I never thought I would before. Within CSA, I have been given the chance to teach Zumba next semester. I have had my license for almost a year and finally being able to use it makes me feel empowered. I feel my leadership skills will grow throughout the next few years, and I will be able to connect with more people on campus.”
Philosophy & Math ’21
“My number one goal in life is to reach my dreams because of my mind, not because of my skills with a bowling ball. As I started my college search during high school, I was nervous about getting accepted into the schools I applied for and being able to pay for college. I added a lot of stress to myself during my junior and senior year about picking the right school and worrying about meeting the criteria to get in. To add to that, I am a bowler who faced some knee problems going into my senior year. I looked at bowling as the only way to help me pay for college outside of other scholarships; so, I became very worried I would hurt it even more and not be able to compete. Those combined factors made it hard for me to focus on the big picture, which is my future. In the end, all of my worries made me a better person by raising my levels of determination and dedication in school.
Coming to Clarke has changed my views a lot as a person. Clarke has taught me to open up, create relationships, and accept help because those relationships you build can lead to great opportunities in the future. Building relationships is an important aspect of life; and, here, I’ve built countless relationships with some great people. This school has also opened my views on the world because Clarke is so diverse. Being at Clarke has made me more open-minded and optimistic towards certain situations in life.
This school makes being a good distance away from home a lot easier because the environment at Clarke is so upbeat and happy all the time, and it brings joy to the day. The people at Clarke are amazing as well. All the faculty and staff, as well as the students, are very friendly, and they make sure your day is never just simple. It’s really nice to see everyone walking around cheerful and smiling most of the time. I love the way the Clarke family speaks to one another and asks, ‘How’s your day going?’ Nice, simple gestures on a regular basis go a long way. Clarke is very inclusive and practically everyone knows everyone.
When I came to Clarke, I decided I was going to join at least one club and dedicate some time to it because I wasn’t involved beyond athletics in high school. I reached my goal and ended up taking on a lot more, and I love everything about it. This was due to everything Clarke has to offer. There are so many things to get involved in and play a role in that I couldn’t just choose one organization. I was pretty nervous being away from home and becoming involved when I came to Clarke, but the Clarke family accepts everyone into any club they wish to join.
In the academic aspect, I love that the faculty and staff go to endless measures to help a student in need. Everyone always hears the stereotype that no college professor cares, but the Clarke faculty contradicts that without a doubt. Coming in, I was a ‘do-it-yourself’ type of student. I never wanted help or to be on a team, but Clarke quickly changed that. I love the idea that there are a million different ways I can get help inside and outside the classroom. The MARC, the SWAG sessions, and the office hours professors provide all make it really easy to get extra help if you’re struggling or if you just want to stay on top of things.”
“I’m all about support. Whether I’m supporting my fellow basketball teammates, being a leader in the classroom, or acting as a role model for the guys in my hall where I’m a resident assistant, I’m thinking about being a positive influence for them to look up to. I’m a nice guy. I like that about myself.
I tell my guys, grab your life, and take charge. Make your own decisions, speak up, and strive to be the best. That’s what is going to make you a success in life. It’s so cool being an RA. It has really pushed me to be a leader and prepared me to take on managing roles and consider different managing techniques for different personality types. It’s been great figuring out that balance between friend and mentor with my guys. I almost feel like a parent figure in a way. I find myself telling the younger guys in my residence hall, don’t quit right away. Don’t give up. Have no regrets and stay true to yourself. Through this role, I’ve developed the skill to read people. Being a good listener is important not just in the work world but in the human world. You can create confidence in another person by listening to their voice. People respect you when you are 100% yourself.
I also use my leadership skills on the basketball team. Our team is a true family. We support each other. We make mistakes and we move on. We try to lift each other up. Everyone needs to practice — on a team or in a leadership role. Now’s the time. When you are in college, you can practice your leadership skills in so many ways without the possible repercussions that might pop up when you are in an actual work setting. I think the dynamic of being on a sports team is similar to working as a team in your workplace. Sometimes you have to pass the ball. Sometimes you have to take the shot.
I can’t say enough about how Clarke, and the business department especially, has prepared me to go out there and be a leader in the community, in the business world, in this country, in humankind, really.
Goals for after Clarke? That’s easy. Work hard, travel the world, and retire early. I’ll be good.”
Elementary Education ’21
“This year is my ninth season in lacrosse. It was a dream of mine to play a college sport and raise money for a charity. I talked with a couple of organizations about helping raise funds, as well as did some research to see where my impact would be the greatest, and I chose Compass to Care, an organization that helps with travel arrangements for children with cancer. I first talked with Compass to Care last fall when I met them for freshmen orientation.
I reached out last spring semester and told them I want to support them. To support Compass to Care, I bought shoelaces for my lacrosse team to wear during our games. I also did an incentive play, in which I would donate money every time our team won, I made a shot, had a shot on goal, or I started. This incentive play concept pushed me harder, and every time I would slack, I would think of these children with cancer and the battle they go through on a daily basis. This would push me to do better for them.
I do not have any connections to children with cancer. But, I thought that if I could help children to travel and not have the burden of travel costs, then I would do it. It is one less thing they have to worry about. I feel strongly about supporting children who have to travel far for treatments.
Compass to Care invited me to the benefit banquet at the beginning last May to present a check to them. They also surprised me by inviting my mom and dad, who live in the suburbs of Chicago, to come to the benefit banquet. Neither Compass to Care nor my parents knew how much I raised until I presented the check. I gave a speech about what I did, and at the end of the speech, I presented them with the check. A few days before the banquet, I was at half my goal of $1,000, so we did not know if I would reach it. But, I got last-minute donations and matches to reach $1,144. Everyone was shocked, surprised, and happy.
I have continued to volunteer with Compass to Care this fall, and the lacrosse team and I have been working on ways to make it another successful season with them. It is great to help. I feel if I could help families and a charity, then I could do good and leave a legacy behind. I want to leave something behind for other athletes to follow.”
Psychology & Pre-Physical Therapy ’18
“I am a psychology major and I want to be a physical therapist, so graduate school is definitely in my future. I love my major, and I actually have a therapy plant named Alan in my room — I talk to him about his emotions and problems as practice for my major. I’m not joking! I really do!
I have become very involved on campus. I sing in the women’s choir, am a Resident Assistant, and am involved in campus ministry, the psychology club, and the Spanish club. I am also participating in an internship on campus, and I work at a hospital here in Dubuque. I have met so many friends and made a lot of contacts through my involvement, both on and off-campus. I love being able to connect with everyone and see familiar faces everywhere I go
In addition, I have participated in volunteer and service opportunities in the community including serving food at the Dubuque Rescue Mission. I find this work really meaningful. For me, it’s about more than handing a plate of food to someone in need. It is important for me to also sit down, eat, and have conversations with people from all walks of life. I want to learn their stories and think about how I can help. I want them to know they are being heard and they matter.
My advice for incoming students is GO OUT THERE AND HAVE FUN! Dip your toes in many different activities. You will learn from your experiences and it will all come together for you if you are not afraid to take a chance. You may find your passion in a very unexpected place!”
“This is my second summer living at Clarke. Last summer, I did not work at all because I took four summer classes – two at Clarke and two at a community college. This summer, I am not taking any summer classes, but I am working about 29 hours a week on campus. Both summers I have been able to stay on campus completely free due to credit hours or work hours, which is amazing. I always tell people that I do not have to pay to stay on-campus in the summer, and they are always shocked. It is nice because it allows students to save money in the summer instead of having to pay rent, utilities, etc., and it also provides students from areas further away from the opportunity to stay in Dubuque.
Even though there are not a lot of students on campus, I still see people quite frequently and have become even closer with the staff because I see them daily around campus while I’m working. I love working for Clarke because of the staff, and free housing is just an added bonus!”
Biology & Pre-Physical Therapy ’18, Doctor of Physical Therapy ’20
“I can’t say enough about the classes I’ve taken at Clarke. I mean, yes, they were sometimes difficult and a lot of work, but I learned SO MUCH. I can’t emphasize enough the value of speech and writing and the amazingness of my professors. I learned to write accurately and concisely with a critical eye. I thought I was a pretty good writer in high school, but my first paper in college was destroyed by the teacher. So, I discovered, as with most things, that I had to mess up to get it right. I learned to be good at speaking in front of a group and how to present myself and be self-aware, which I know will help me in my career as a physical therapist. I am better prepared to help my future patients and to educate them to help themselves when I’m not around. I can’t wait to graduate and put my skill set to use. I am a little worried about paying back loans, but my mom always tells me, sure, you may have college loans, but you are investing in your future. And, at Clarke, that couldn’t be truer.
I’m involved with a lot of activities on campus. I’m in the Biology Club, Nature Club, I’ve been an RA for three years, I’m a TA for anatomy, and give campus tours. Seriously, I love Clarke. I love that I know everyone on campus and can say hi to every person I pass. I don’t like to have my phone out when I’m walking between classes because I want to appreciate the face-to-face time seeing and talking with REAL PEOPLE.
The advice I would give an incoming freshman is, don’t drop your cup at lunch. But seriously, get involved. Clarke offers a small community atmosphere where you have the support to get involved in as many things as you want. Communication is everywhere. It’s in the world around us. It’s how we interact with each other and live and work in society. Don’t be afraid of speech class or writing class. You can do it. And at Clarke, you’ll have the support to succeed.”
Art History ’18
“Thoughts seem to constantly swarm around inside my head. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. As long as the gears in my brain continue to crank, then I know nothing is wrong. There is something about me that I find unique: my creative mind. Whether it’s coming up with ideas for a school project, thinking about a new story to write, or perhaps deciding on how a certain character should look, my mind is always circulating new ideas for me to use.
It all began when I wrote my first book. Although it was short, it contained a well-developed plot and concrete characters. I am a fan of all types of fiction. I used to tell stories to my cousins and would continue the same story each time they spent the night at my house. If I had never told stories, I never would have become interested in art.
I decided I wanted a clear visual of my characters as I had described them in my stories. My best friend taught me the basics, and from there I learned other drawing skills on my own. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that good at first. I have improved a lot since then, and I am proud to see that the characters look like genuine human people.
Through writing, I began to create art, and through both of those skills, I began to realize what I wanted to do with my life. I have been told that my art will never be good enough to land me a job as a concept artist for video games, but I don’t believe that. I believe the skills I have will assist me in the future. I have come a long way to where I am today. I have always gone by the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and I believe that. Art may not come naturally to me, but writing and research do. Concept artists are required to do an extensive amount of research, and I do that during my free time. Before I create a character, I do research on potential subjects to get a more accurate insight into how I believe this character should be portrayed. The research in the job is the most important aspect of it.
Overall, even though my mind never stops moving, much like a shark having to stay in motion in order to survive, I have never had a problem with it; I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. The skills I acquired will certainly come in handy when I land that concept artist job. I know they will. There is nothing wrong with having a wild imagination because that is where the best stories come from.”
Athletic Training ’18, Doctor of Physical Therapy ’20
“I am currently a first-year graduate student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program here at Clarke University, but I am also a senior athletic training (AT) major. I am doing the 3+3 DPT program; and, the way this works is the first three years are strictly AT, the fourth year is a crossover of AT and physical therapy (PT), and then the final two years are strictly PT. So, I am doing my AT capstone this year, which is looking at shoulder range of motion in colligate baseball pitchers and the prevalence of ulnar collateral ligament injuries in those who have a limited shoulder range of motion. The AT background certainly helps me in the DPT program because I have some patient-care background and experience working with injuries and rehabilitation. I am thankful I went the AT route instead of another way.
The opportunity to finish the DPT in six years is nice because I can begin my career and post-graduate life earlier than those who go the eight-year route. I really like the University’s DPT program because of the professors; how quickly the program can be complete; and how the information is condensed together, so it is a lot of information in a short period of time. During my three years in the DPT program, I will complete five internships that will take place throughout the United States, and these internships will allow me to get a ton of experience in different PT specialties. Once I graduate with my DPT, I have hope to work in a pediatric clinic in either Colorado or Tennessee.”
“The second I stepped onto Clarke’s campus for my first visit, it felt like I was walking into some familiar place. I visited other schools, and my immediate feeling was to try and fit in, and there was this pressure to try and be something I am not – like this greater version of myself. However, walking onto Clarke’s campus, I felt as though I fit right in, and there wasn’t this pressure to be someone else and that being myself WAS the greater version of me. I chose Clarke because it allowed me to be the best version of myself without making me think I had to change or live up to another’s standards.
We are all here because we all have our own unique way of benefitting the community. Besides having the ability to be my own person and the best version of myself, I believe my favorite thing about Clarke is that almost everything is attached, and it takes you about 10 minutes tops to walk anywhere on campus (eight minutes if you high-tail it)! The connectedness of the buildings reminds me of the sense of community and oneness at Clarke.
I graduate this upcoming spring, and the things I will miss the most about Clarke are the Atrium during the Christmas season; the hot fudge sundae bar on Fridays; the gluten-free monster cookies; the support I have from all of my professors; Mary Ellen and her coffee; the extensive DVD collection in the library; but, most of all, I think that I will miss the community and all of the friends that I have made while I have been here.
With being a senior, my time at Clarke is coming to an end. And, my plans beyond Clarke include attending graduate school to complete a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. Although, where I will complete this degree remains a big question mark. Clarke has helped me tremendously in some ways that I can’t even explain, but most of all, it gave me the confidence that I needed to achieve my goals.
Clarke has helped me realize how much potential I have and how I can use my knowledge to help others. Tim Boffeli, especially, has helped me realize what I am capable of and helped lead me onto the path that I have set forth currently. This school has been a huge benefactor in helping me grow as a person and maturing to realize how to take the knowledge that I have and use it to help others.”
“I lived on-campus this summer to take a nursing class. It was nice being able to come back to my apartment and do homework instead of having to commute or work online. Being here gave me the opportunity to meet new friends and build stronger relationships with my classmates. We created a lot of fun summertime memories.
Compared to the school year, residing on campus over the summer was definitely quieter. I did find myself missing the bustle of the school year where I am constantly saying hi to people I know, but I am thankful to be ahead of the game in my coursework.”
Social Work ’19
“Social work is a huge part of my life. I studied abroad in Ecuador and learned to interact with Spanish-speaking individuals, even though I did not speak Spanish myself, and they did not speak English. We made it work, and we learned so much from one another.
I recently traveled to New York City to attend the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. The commission is based on the 5th Sustainable Goal, which is Gender Equality and the theme was Rural Women and Girls. I attended this conference with Assistant Professor of Social Work, Sherry Warren, and another student. It was a two-week conference with events set up in a panel style. These events are a way to connect with other people from all around the world and continue the conversation about the issues. I met many different people. I especially enjoyed meeting some high school girls – it was so impressive to me to see what the younger generation is doing to change things. I was proud to represent Clarke at CSW. The experience taught me that yes! – three people can make a difference. It also made me hopeful for change in the future.
I also love to volunteer locally. Each year, I spend time at Easter Seals summer camp for individuals with special needs. It’s so rewarding to help people who need an extra hand. I also visit with the Sisters at Mount Carmel. The sisters possess a serene view of life, a tranquil perspective that is new and different to me in my hectic world. In addition, I enjoy serving food at the Dubuque Rescue Mission.
My advice to incoming students? Get out there! Become an extrovert. You have a support system at Clarke. Mission trips and volunteer opportunities are a way for you to get out of your own bubble in a safe way.”
“This year, I received the opportunity to do an independent chemistry lab for four to six hours a week. In this lab, I work with a spectrophotometer, a centrifuge, and computer software to discover the International Bitterness Units (IBU) of a specific beer. The beer samples I use are provided by 7 Hills Brewing Company here in Dubuque, and I could not be more thankful for their contributions; their generosity has made this independent lab possible. To sum up my independent lab, I put the beer solution in test tubes; centrifuge the beer solution with an organic solvent; load the samples into the spectrophotometer, which uses UV light to measure the absorbance level; and, in the end, I find the IBU levels of the beer. Once we – as in the Clarke University Chemistry Department – master this completely, it will allow Clarke to be a resource for 7 Hills Brewery to give them another way to determine the IBU levels in their beer.
I was nervous coming into this lab because I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into; I didn’t know a thing about the equipment and software involved. Now, I feel more comfortable standing in this lab and working with the equipment and software. Honestly, this is an unbelievable opportunity which will be a great thing to have under my belt for my future. I really appreciate how the professors at Clarke strive to make sure Clarke students stand out more, and this is my opportunity to shine a little. I definitely feel if I was at a different university I would not have an opportunity like this.”