Computer Science ’25
Early in my life, there was a pastor I looked up to. He spoke with such authority; he was inspiring and encouraging. Like him, I’ve tried to cultivate my gift for speaking and building connections. Over time I’ve come to realize those gifts can do good in many different fields, including technology.
Computer literacy and technical ability is the way of the future and combining that with an ability to build relationships will put me in a position to make an impact wherever I go. That is why I chose to study Computer Science at Clarke – that, and I was captivated by kindness. Everywhere you go on campus, there was this sense of welcome, even when I was just learning about the school over the phone.
At first, Computer Science can feel daunting. The way it all changes, you will literally never stop learning, but there is joy in that too. My professor, Josh Moris, also makes that learning and discovery fun. Like this semester, I told him I wanted to build a database that my dad could use in his business back home. Josh matched the idea with the course syllabus and now we are building it together. It is not perfect, but I’m learning a lot, and the tool keeps getting better.
Like Josh, there are so many people at Clarke who approach the world with kindness and have made it easy to find community here and in Dubuque. For example, I recently went on a camping trip with my church youth group. It was just three days basking in the beauty of nature without our phones or anything. There were rivers and lakes and rolling hills. At night you could see every star. I think moments like that speak to the college experience too. It is not just about what you learn in the classroom, but what you take from time spent with others.
That’s part of the reason I’ve gotten involved with the African Student Union (ASU) on campus. While the environment is welcoming at Clarke, there is still so much we have to learn about one another. The ASU wants to share our individual cultures and experiences. I have a unique perspective because I have been able to travel so much in my life. My parents are Zambian, but I was born in Botswana, lived there until I was five, and then we moved to South Africa. There is so much value in stepping outside of your environment and trying something new.
People say that knowledge is power, but it’s more than that. Knowledge is responsibility. You must act on your knowledge, or you take your potential to the grave. I believe everyone has a gift. It may take us years to find, or it may be revealed to us in moments. I want to take every opportunity life presents me, so I can share my gifts with the world.
Elementary Education and Mathematics ’25
I grew up in a small town south of Rockford, Illinois. In school, I saw friends and classmates struggle. Some of them looked at learning like it was a chore. Watching people around me lose their love for learning wasn’t easy. There was one way I knew I could make a change, and that was becoming an educator. I want to be a teacher who can make them feel pride and responsibility for their work, while also making school fun and exciting.
My friend Zoie Sellers ’22 came to Clarke for Elementary Education. When she talked about the education department’s philosophy, it aligned with what I was feeling. Every class here puts building a caring, kind community first. Professors like Lee Johnson bring that philosophy to life every day. He focuses on using special education strategies in your classroom. For example, something as simple as both writing out directions and reading them aloud may be considered a special education strategy, but it can help all learners. I’m starting my first Professional Development School block this semester, so I get to test these ideas in real life.
Building connections is important to me outside of the classroom, too. I am the Treasurer for Teachers for Tomorrow and a student worker for the education department. I also take a lot of pride in being a starter for the volleyball team. There is so much energy that comes from that sport – the touch of a finger can change the whole game. Plus, I’ve gotten to know so many players and coaches, not just with my team but all of athletics. I’ve even been able to work with students and coaches from other schools in the Heart of America Conference. Those connections are a powerful thing.
Then there is my work as a resident assistant in Mary Benedict Hall, along with my emotional support dog, Ollee. He is an Australian Border collie/Corgi mix. He helps me when my anxiety gets overwhelming, and I think he’s helped a lot of the students on my floor feel at home too. I want to be that resource for people, so they feel safe and accepted here.
In high school, I wondered if I had to change things about myself. There were people told me I was too loud or too much. Clarke has never made me feel that way. Instead, I decided to push for who I am and see where it takes me. I feel like I belong here, and I want to use my experience to help others. Not just the little citizens I’ll have in my classroom someday, but everyone who needs that resource and support.
Secondary Education and Mathematics ’24
When I was a sophomore in high school, a friend asked me for help in geometry class. As I started helping him, others reached out. Eventually, I stayed late once or twice a week with this informal study group, and I found I really enjoyed it. That’s how I decided I wanted to become a teacher.
My sister Shelby Kelchen is ’16, ’18M a graduate of the Clarke education program and knowing how much she enjoyed it; I knew it would be a good fit for me too. I’ve really enjoyed my professors and classes, especially the Professional Development School (PDS). Since I want to teach secondary education and mathematics, I got to spend time in classrooms at Senior High School and Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School. The professors give you a lot of autonomy with PDS. Over six weeks, you have opportunities to teach lessons by yourself. Some people only teach a few, but I really got comfortable in front of my classes.
During PDS, I also met Mercy Deryke ’22 and she told me about this awesome program she did, the ANKURI International Internship. Through the support of a Clarke alumna, she went to India for six weeks to teach English at a summer camp. With Cathy Stierman’s help, I got the internship this year and spent half my summer in Northern India.
There was one other student teacher running the camp with me and we had students ranging from 7- to 14-years-old. At first, it was a little intimidating because some of the younger students could understand a little English but did not speak it. Soon, however, we learned that we could work with the older children, and they helped us translate ideas. They became role models and all the students enjoyed themselves. I think this experience will benefit me in my own classroom someday because you will always have communication barriers – no one is a mind reader. As a teacher, you have to be willing to adapt and meet students where they are.
We tried to make the lessons fun and adaptable too. We found opportunities to talk about American culture and helped the students understand colloquialisms. For example, when first learning English, a lot of the students use superlatives like “excellent” to mean something is good. We were able to connect that with more common slang, like calling something “cool.” I went from being nervous in the classroom to having that time with the students be the highlight of my trip, even though I got to see things like the Taj Mahal!
I’m going to start my student teaching at Senior High School this semester and I’m excited to get into the classroom again. As a senior, I want to live that Clarke philosophy that I see in people like Cathy Stierman. I am here to help, no matter what, and I love this community.
What drew me to Clarke originally was the prestigious nursing program. When I visited Clarke and went on my tour, the nursing department made it known that their program was going to challenge me in every way imaginable. With a successful rate of graduating seniors out of their program and a reputation for fostering intelligent and respectable nurses, I was drawn to the challenge because it matches my own goals and values.
My goal is to bring better healthcare to the Philippines. I was raised in the Philippines for 9 years of my life. I grew up speaking Tagalog. However, once my family moved to the USA in 2012, I slowly lost my touch for the language. Though I am not able to fluently speak Tagalog anymore, I still understand it and I want to reconnect with that part of my life. A dream of mine is to bring a medical team to impoverished towns throughout the Philippines to educate citizens about healthcare and provide vaccines, medicine, and other supplies that they might not have.
I know I can get the skills I need for that dream from the professors here at Clarke. A professor that stands out to me is Brenda Schilling. I took Brenda’s Philosophy of Sex & Love course and even though it was only an 8-week course, it is one I will never forget for multiple reasons. We were not given busy work or quizzes that will not help us in our life. Instead, we were given the freedom to present about which topic interests us the most. With this ability to customize our course, we all learned from each other and had fun doing so.
I also learn from those around me. I am a Resident Assistant and a member of the Clarke Activities Board. This is important work because I know I am helping shape what the next four years at Clarke will look like for many people. I am also proud to be a member of the Women’s Basketball Team, which has built a dynasty here at Clarke, culminating in this year’s National Championship.
The whole experience at Sioux City was breathtaking and pushed the team to our limits. As I watched the clock tick away second by second, I vividly remember the confetti falling and the screams of the crowd and my team. Once the confetti fell on us and I saw Taylor Haase ’24 running at me at full speed, all of the workouts, practices, lifts, and conditioning paid off. To this day, I cannot pinpoint how I felt at that moment to a single word. Simply put, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. The pressure of bringing the red banner home was gone, and we all knew that our efforts had paid off. As we sat in the locker room after cutting down the nets, tears were rolling down a lot of people’s cheeks because we all knew that the group we had in that room was special.
I did not realize how much this championship meant to the community until we got back and saw stores with our flyers, hundreds of people greeted us on Clarke Drive, and little kids were asking for pictures during every celebration. People that I did not even know were congratulating me and when I went to clinicals, patients from the hospital knew who I was!
As I look ahead to the time I have remaining at Clarke, I want to keep all those good feelings going. My goals are to keep my GPA high, assist in a live birth as part of my OB clinicals, and make another run for the National Championship.
Biology & Psychology ’26
I had always told my parents that I wanted to volunteer, but in high school the hard part was finding organizations or projects to connect with. Clarke’s Campus Ministry gives me a space to do that. I remember attending mass during CONNECT weekend and Sister K (Kathleen Sinclair, BVM) let me get involved right away. Early on, I would bring up the gifts and participate in mass. Then I started with Into the Streets and Bible Study with Nathan Seutter ’23. I learned more about my faith than I ever thought I could. Nathan showed me around Dubuque, and we started going to different masses and meeting people. For example, we went to the Church of Nativity here in Dubuque and there was a church in Platteville, Wisconsin that had a mass all in Latin. Coming here, I’ve been a part of the church in a way I’ve never been before.
In the spring, I decided to go on the service trip to Joppa Mountain, Tennessee. Going in, I only knew Nathan and Sister K. I was hesitant too because that’s a long time to be gone, but I’m so glad I went. There were so many different religions and non-religious people and there was no judgement. It was very open and welcoming, and I think that’s true of the Clarke campus too. It was a great way to meet new people and branch out of my comfort zone. I loved it and I’ll definitely go again in the future.
I had grown up Catholic, and my parents did a great job of allowing me to find my own path in my faith. I’ve been able to build on that here, including choosing to be confirmed. Confirmation is choosing to be an “adult” in the eyes of the church, and I knew I wanted to do it, but hadn’t started sacrament preparation. Then my sister had her son and asked me to be his Godfather. You need all the sacraments to be a Godfather, so it reaffirmed my faith and that it was time to take this step. I was trying to find a time to do it in my home church where my parents were married and my sisters were confirmed, but I’m so involved here it just felt right.
As part of confirmation, you pick a saint’s name. The idea is, you choose a saint and kind of live by their values and that’s your presence in the church going forward. My middle name is “Colby,” so Father Vu recommended St. Maximilian Kolbe. I started researching him and got really interested. He was around during World War II and made a huge impact. Something that stood out to me was he was known to have been very peaceful when he was dying because he had that trust in God. That spoke to me, because taking this step shows my own trust in God. Now I’m trying to live in his light. My middle name is also in honor of my dad’s brother who passed away when he was 16, so it felt like a nod to his life as well.
My parents came in from Colorado for the mass and my mom was my confirmation sponsor. We’ve always been really connected through our faith. The whole house was busy, so sometimes it would be just the two of us going to mass on the weekends. We had some wonderful conversations and I look up to her, especially for her faith. I want to model my faith after her.
My family has done so much for me – yes, they bought my football and soccer cleats, but it’s more than money spent. They also sacrificed their weekends and nights. My family is so close and we’re all so tight, that prepared me to be able to come do my thing at Clarke because I had the best support system at home. Now I want to be involved in everything that I can. Clarke gives you so many opportunities to be who you want to be. I want to get more involved with Campus Ministry and volunteering and be more of a leader in that for Clarke. God has gifted me a great opportunity here to live through his name and him.
Graphic Design ’25
I have been a gymnast since I was 2 years old. When my family moved from Texas to Cottage Grove, Minnesota, I continued training and eventually started pole vaulting as well. That’s how I found Clarke; Track and Field Coach Bradley Johnson had seen some photos and videos from my meets and reached out. I hadn’t really heard of Clarke before then, but I thought a visit couldn’t hurt.
On my visit, I was immediately impressed by the family feel. Brad had a great rapport with all the athletes, and they are such an energetic and supportive group. It was the same around campus. Louise Kames ’77 gave my family and I a one-on-one tour and was so kind. I had visited the University of Texas at Austin as well and was blown away at how different it was. The people at Clarke gave me all the time I needed to ask questions and explore.
That’s continued during my time as a Graphic Design student too. My professors are all so supportive, like Eric Wold. Last semester I had a project in one of his classes that I was really struggling with. I was creating a 32-page book dedicated to explaining 80s slang to people who don’t speak English. I had so much fun researching and designing the project, but I had hit a wall in layout. I kept getting more and more frustrated. Eric was able to help me, but he also told me to go take a nap. He wasn’t worried about the deadline, he wanted to make sure I was OK first. I was able to walk away and when I came back, we fixed it together. I am so proud of how it turned out. Even when I felt like I was failing, I was ‘failing correctly’ because I was learning something and getting better.
It’s not just the professors in my major, either. I remember in Drawing I, I was sketching a hallway in Eliza Kelly that is filled with old theater posters and things. The third floor has offices outside the art department, and even those professors were so supportive. They would compliment my work as they went by or offer to adjust the lighting in the hall if I needed it. They made sure no one moved my chair so I kept the same perspective throughout the project. Stuff like that just cements how much people care here.
I’m always looking for ways to build more connections like that. I was in the choir, I’m on the track and field team, I submit art to the Tenth Muse Literary Magazine, and I’m an academic coach in the MARC. Getting involved, I’m able to pull lessons from all these different experiences and people. They make me a better student, athlete, designer, and person. Yes, it can be scary to put yourself out there, but if you keep doing things – even if you’re afraid – you will keep getting better.
Business Administration and Pre-Law ’24
On August 8, 2021, I left South Africa for the United States. Since then, I have missed things like the birth of my niece and my younger siblings growing up. The other day, I was on a video call with my younger brother and had to have my little sister hold the phone and make him stand by the door frame to prove he was almost as tall as me now. He’ll be looking at the top of my head by the time I get back.
These little things are hard, and they touch your heart, but I had always wanted to pursue an education in the United States. If something is important to you, you must be willing to work for it. Being away from home has been good for me in a lot of ways and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my time here. I am setting a path for those to follow me. I am showing my younger siblings and friends what an education can do.
I did find some comfort when I met Joshua Musonda, a Computer Science major at Clarke. We met at a campus picnic at the start of the fall semester and started talking. He said he was from South Africa and as we chatted some more, it turned out he was not only from the same city, but even the same suburb and estate as me. I thought he was messing with me until he started naming people I knew. We’d grown up just four houses away from each other and never knew it. My friends and I used to ride our bikes and “ding-dong ditch” his house! I told him to tell his parents I’m sorry.
Now we can share those experiences from home and it helps keep the connection strong. For example, there are 11 official languages in South Africa and it is common in conversations to mix parts of them. We call it Vernac. To be able to speak to Josh in my Mother Tongue connects me to home in a way that is hard to explain to anyone else. We share an essence, and we’re not forgetting our roots.
I also found community at Clarke through the Men’s Soccer team. I had originally come to the States to play at a junior college, and we had a friendly match against Clarke. I was the only person on my team to score on Clarke and the next week, Coach Mike Paye was visiting my school. It felt like a sign. Moving to Clarke was about more than the game, it was about the culture. It is deeper than friendships, it is a brotherhood that translates off the pitch. I know I can go to my teammates or my coaches to talk about life, they are there for the highs and lows. The teachers at Clarke are the same – people like Aimee Taylor and Josh Moris, and a lot of the other professors – they care about you, they will talk about life, not just school.
As I get to know more people on campus, they have shared their culture with me. They’ve introduced me to things like pumpkin patches and eggnog, which is a very strange drink. Those shared experiences can mean so much. I joined the Africa and the Diaspora Student Union to share parts of my culture with my new friends here in Dubuque. Every day, other African students and I are learning about the culture here, and we want to give back to this community through meals and stories from our home. These experiences also help to demystify Africa – we are not what you see on TV, nor is every part of Africa the same. Joining a club or attending an event like that can be a very powerful experience.
In college, I’ve met people from all over the world – Portugal, Italy, France, Russia, Japan and all these places. Getting that worldview is just as important as my studies in Business and Law. If you are willing to put yourself out there, you can learn so much. With what I’ve learned and what I’ve gained here at Clarke, I am confident that I can go out into the world and be successful. I will proudly carry the Clarke Pride banner with me.
Sport Management and Business Administration ’24
Quite honestly, I felt like my path to college was slightly backwards. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in – I was interested in athletic training, physical therapy, and even pediatrics – so I was having a hard time narrowing down my list of schools. My junior year of high school, I had a basketball tournament in the Kehl Center and Coach Boyd introduced herself to me. We built a connection, and then I started to connect with the team too. After a month, I knew I was going to end up at Clarke. The team gave me a hard time because I told Tina Ubl I was “in” in February and I don’t think I formally committed to the coaches until June, but I knew. Every time I stepped on campus, I was so excited.
While basketball brought me to Clarke, it also helped me decide on my major. I realized that the reason I had been interested in PT and AT was that I could work with athletes. I have always loved sports and so the idea of working in the sport industry someday was exciting, which ultimately lead me to decide to pursue a Sport Management degree. For specific classes I have taken, there are three that have had a big impact and offered confirmation that I chose the right path. First, Sport Marketing and Communication brought out my passion for marketing. In Financing Sport Organizations, I helped the Clarke Football team market their inaugural golf outing. I communicated a lot with the football coaches and my professor to make sure there was information posted on social media, posters were created, businesses were notified, and hole sponsor signage was ordered. I had a lot of fun getting real, hands-on experience planning an event and doing all the behind-the-scenes work. Finally, there was Facility and Event Management where a partner and I went to Cascade and did a full inspection of my high school gym. We looked for ADA compliance issues, and any other risks that were present. With this information, we created a presentation that we shared with the class. I’m really proud of all the work we put into that project and the learning points that I was able to take away.
I also work in the Marketing & Communications Office on campus. I am one of their video interns, along with Kainoa Gerard. He and Jenni Lehmann are amazing with video, and the whole team is so funny, kind, and supportive of who I am becoming. I have learned so much about creating videos and other things, and I have shown myself that I have the potential to do all the things they do.
As I look ahead to my senior year, I have recognized that these years are my absolute favorite, and I want to soak it all in. After having a perfect year, both in the classroom, earning a 4.0 GPA, and on the basketball court, winning a National Championship, going into my senior year I am looking forward to striving to achieve similar goals, but I also want to make sure I involve those around me. Being a successful student-athlete, you learn skills such as communication, time management, organization, and relationship building. As I have been able to learn and hopefully eventually master these skills, people start to look towards me for guidance and as a positive role model they can trust. I joined a basketball program that had leaders that I looked up to, even as a junior. That just goes to show the greatness of this program, that there is continuous leadership that everyone looks up to.
I hope to somehow fill those shoes as a senior, just as those before me did for me. I have found who I really am at college, and most importantly, through the people around me, I’ve learned what it means to not be afraid to be my true self. I’ve discovered what it means to be truly happy around people who are genuinely excited to be where they are. I’ve loved my time here at Clarke thus far. The past three years have been a dream come true, and I am excited to live out my senior year and graduate with my best friends. Everything happens for a reason, and I’m discovering that reason here at Clarke!
I remember when I first visited Clarke, probably three or four people said “hi” to my mom and I before we even got inside. Coming from a big city like Denver, Colorado, we weren’t used to that. At first, we thought it was weird, but the more time we spent on campus, we realized it was genuine. It gave me that family feeling right away.
Looking back on it now, I realize what a big step college is. You are suddenly independent and so far from home. That first semester I decided to go all in. I realized what an opportunity college is – neither of my parents were able to go to college, and I’m the first man in my family to do so. I had bonded with the guys on the football team right away, and I wanted more. I signed up for everything – Psychology Club, Culinary Club, Dungeons & Dragons – you name it. I was also fortunate enough to connect with Ali Boyd. She was one of the first people to see me for who I am and was very interested in my story. I became a tour guide for her and the team in the Admissions Office, and I still give tours.
Academically, there are many people who impacted me along the way as well. Aimee Taylor and her CU-100 course taught me a lot of the skills that I still use to be successful now. Teri Stratta was another one – her classes are interesting, and she cares about you outside the classroom too. Then there’s Tim Boffeli. Tim and I have an interesting relationship. I’m a Psychology major and when I started, I probably wasn’t taking school as seriously as I could have. Tim set me straight. He pushed me because he was invested in me. Now that I’m a senior, Tim has told me he is proud of me, and hearing that meant the world to me.
As I got more involved, I wanted to share that with other people too. As a junior, I made it my goal to meet a new freshman on the football team every day during camp. I know the difference a smiling face can make when you are new here. Sometimes when you need help, it can be hard to go to a professor or coach, but you can always go to a friend.
That’s part of the reason I became a Resident Assistant, too. I love being that smiling face and helping people out. Plus, you get to participate in Prayer Partners with the BVM sisters. I’m paired with (former Clarke provost and vice president of academic affairs) Joan Lingen, and (president emerita) Catherine Dunn joins us sometimes too. I remember geeking out when I met her, I was telling everybody it was “THE Catherine Dunn, from the apartments!” Joan and Catherine are great, their stories are amazing, and we learn so much from each other. They even came to my Senior Day football game to cheer me on. They found my parents while I was on the field and introduced themselves, and that made such an impression on my mom and dad. They always ask about Joan and Catherine now.
Of all the ways I’ve gotten involved, one that I really enjoyed was Black Student Union. Dubuque is a small, predominantly white community so having Black Student Union gives myself and others a place where we can be our genuine selves. We can ask some honest questions and keep things open. I was Vice President my sophomore year and President my junior and senior year. I’m working with Will Hudson, Assistant Director of Engagement & Intercultural Programs on our first Black Graduate Celebration, and we just interviewed for next year’s executive board, so I’m proud to see that continue.
With graduation coming, I can already feel the butterflies starting but I know I have a lot to be proud of. It wasn’t always easy. I’ve been forced to grow and let go of bad habits. I can and did overcome. I plan to take a year off before starting graduate school for sport psychology, yet my focus remains the same: each day, I wake up determined to make this day better than the last, and to be a blessing to those around me.
When I was in high school outside of Seattle, Washington, everyone thought soccer was going to be the path for me. I was the goalie for our team the year we won the State Tournament, and we were in a competitive division. But after years and years of training, I felt burnt out. I walked away and wanted to find something new.
I still had that competitive streak, so when I started playing the video game Madden, it was a natural fit. As an athlete, I’d always been focused on the strategy of the game and that’s what Madden is – you are trying to put together a football team based on statistics. It follows the NFL season and just like in professional football; the dynamics of the game change a little bit each year. In Madden 20 you were maybe looking for size, while Madden 21 favored speed. You can pull current and legacy players, so it really takes a lot of thinking and mental focus.
I qualified for my first Madden tournament in 2019 and when I was telling my mom about it, she immediately asked, “what scam did you fall for?” Yes, there is a kind of stigma around Esports, but people are coming to respect the scene. I train and practice like any other athlete. It’s not the stereotype of someone sitting alone in their basement. I have traveled and made friends with people across the United States playing Madden. There is a chat of 300-400 of the best players in the world going at all times. When things were shut down during COVID, Madden and other Esports tournaments were being televised on ESPN with major cash prizes, and interest has only grown since then. There are people out there making real careers around gaming.
I think Clarke University sees that – they’re investing in Esports as they become more mainstream. That’s part of the reason I chose Clarke, there are coaching and scholarship opportunities here that you can’t find other places, and I can still compete professionally. I also like that they have majors I am interested in. As a freshman, I am still deciding between Sport Management and Psychology because one day I’d like to scout for the NFL or work as a team psychologist. I am so interested in understanding that competitive mindset and maximizing my potential, and I’d like to help others with that as well.
That mindset doesn’t just apply to gaming either. It’s my first year in college and on top of training I was really proud to earn a spot on the dean’s list. In the last year, I set a goal to work on my physical health; now I’ve lost 80 pounds and I’m working towards benching 225. In all areas of my life, I thrive when I build in these little challenges and goals for myself. The Madden season will pick up again in August when Madden 24 releases, but between now and then I’ll keep doing the work so I can be at my best, no matter what.
Health, Wellness, and Behavioral Sciences ’23, MSW ’24
Being a part of the Women’s Basketball team has been a tremendous part of my experience at Clarke. When you are on a team, there is this natural sense of community; you are lifting, practicing, traveling, and playing together. Participating in a team sport can be a powerful and fun way to stay motivated and push yourself while also forming strong, lifelong relationships.
At Clarke, that sense of community also goes beyond the people on your team, or just the sport itself. I’ve been on the team for five years now and Coach Boyd instills in us the importance of being a good person, on and off the court. For example, I started volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dubuque. Their mission is to provide the youth of Dubuque with programs that promote health and wellness, character development, leadership, education, and social skills. Over time, I’ve been able to get the whole basketball team involved. This fall we had an opportunity to eat with the kids and have great conversation. After that, we went and played basketball in the gym. It may seem like this simple thing, but it meant a lot to those kids to have a safe space to go and play, and to have mentorship like that.
Aside from this experience, I was also able to lead a different project that involved an organization called “Oh Happy Play!” which is led by Clarke Assistant Professor of Education Jacqueline Hunter. They collect and donate “lightly loved” toys to families in our community. I involved the Clarke Women’s Basketball team by inviting their family and friends to participate in a toy drive that would be held at two of our home games, and we had a great turnout.
I’ve always wanted to get more involved in my community but was afraid of putting myself out there. With the help of my team, family, and friends, and organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and “Oh Happy Play!” I was able to face my fears and do something I have always wanted to do. Now I’ve gotten involved with Dance Marathon and the Clarke Inclusive Games as well. This year I was even selected for the Clarke Compass Award, so I’ll get to take on a new community service project with a group of students and mentors. We have come up with some pretty amazing ideas in order to help other people in the community and I can’t wait to see how successful this group will be!
This is my senior year and while I am hoping this is the year we bring home a national championship, I’m most focused on giving my all to Clarke and making memories with my best friends. Graduation won’t be the end of my time here though – because I had completed most of my Health, Wellness, and Behavioral Sciences course work, I added some Social Work classes this year and fell in love. I will be completing an internship for Social Work this spring and into the summer, and then I’ll begin my Master of Social Work with Clarke in Fall 2023.
Until then, I hope to continue volunteering and being involved in my community. I grew up just 15 minutes away in East Dubuque, so I know that what I learn here, be it from my professors, coaches, volunteer opportunities, or the amazing group of friends around me, I can use that to make my community better. We talk a lot about “Be a Better Human” at Clarke, and it’s true. Everything I’m learning helps me and others, and it’s very rewarding.
I came to Clarke as a transfer student from Kirkwood Community College and at first, I was worried about making connections. I thought it might be harder because I was coming in late, but the atmosphere here is great. With the small classes, I’ve gotten to know my professors, classmates, and my advisor really well. That includes my coworkers too. It’s funny, my first semester at Clarke I was coming into the Campus Store almost every day for a coffee and would just hang out and chat. One day, the manager, Sarah, pushed an application across the counter with my coffee and I’ve been working there ever since. I love it, and it’s helped me get to know even more people on campus.
On top of that, my Psychology professors and classmates really understand me. We can be open about our mental health and how we’re doing. We support each other through class, study groups, and outside of the classroom. I’m a first-generation student as well as a transfer, so counting on people like my advisor, Tim Boffeli, has been so important. He’s encouraged me and helped with so much, especially as I consider my master’s degree. The Psychology students joke that we need to order “What Would Tim Do” bracelets to wear once we all graduate, to remind us to think outside the box in our own practices.
Tim also encouraged me to do an internship over the summer. It’s not required for Psychology, but it can make a huge difference on a graduate school application. I worked at the Teresa Shelter serving women who have been affected by homelessness. I loved the one-on-one conversations with women. We talked about where they came from, where they are now, and where they want to go. Once they knew they were safe and cared for, you could see these women blossom.
At the same time, it is hard to face some of these situations. There is something called “compassion fatigue” and I didn’t really know about that concept until I learned about it in class and felt it in my summer internship. You want so badly to help, but you are limited in your time and energy as well. Knowing that, our professors emphasize the importance of self-care, and they build it into our courses. For example, in my Behavior Modification course, we picked one attribute in ourselves that we wanted to work on, and we focused on it all semester. I’m also taking a Positive Psychology course and one day, we all chose to meditate in class. We incorporate these practices into our work, but also in caring for ourselves.
I’m graduating this December and it’s a big day for my family. My parents have been my biggest cheerleaders and I know they’ll come in from Clinton (IA) to celebrate. The day after I complete my last final, I’ll be starting as a Behavior Technician at Hills & Dales here in Dubuque. I also plan to start graduate school in the fall, hopefully in Loras’s Mental Health Counseling program.
While I’m considering other schools as well, I’d love to stay in Dubuque. Even though Dubuque is a bigger city, it still has a lot of aspects that help it feel small. There are fun things to do here, but you can still get to know everyone. I worked on campus, but I also worked in the community at River Lights Bookstore and Trendsetters Boutique. People joke about retail therapy but working those jobs has helped me build connections and relationships with people. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve had these amazing support systems and it has made Dubuque feel like home.
Sport Management and Business Administration ’24
Coming to Clarke and Dubuque, Iowa was a big change from Las Vegas, Nevada – especially the weather. I’m used to waking up at 7 a.m. and it is 80 degrees outside and now I wake up at 7 a.m. and it is 40. But I really enjoy seeing all four seasons because in Vegas you get summer and just a sliver of winter. You don’t get to see things develop and change like you do here.
Besides adjusting to the weather, finding the right friend group was a huge part of coming to college. I knew I wanted to be involved in the community, so I found others who wanted to do the same. (Anthony) King is the big Admissions guy. He’s always giving tours and stuff on campus, and now I’m a Student Ambassador too. Sean is the photographer who goes to everything, and Darius is so well-known around campus. I surround myself with positive people and they keep pushing me to better myself.
I know I can rely on my guys and football teammates, but I put myself out there in other ways too. I’m the secretary of the Black Student Union and that’s probably one of my favorite things I’ve done here because I get to learn so much, things that they don’t cover or talk about in high school. I hear other people’s experiences and it’s exciting to be able to learn from each other, especially when I see younger students come in.
I’m part of the Clarke Student Association too. I joke that we’re the bosses of Clarke, because when there is an event on campus, everyone turns to us. It’s fun, but you also have to think things through and be responsible. I think it’s made me a better leader.
My first and second year at Clarke, I wanted to be involved but I also realized I wasn’t great at time management, so I started going to the MARC. I have to give a big shoutout to Gina Burkart because she really worked with me. Every week, we would set my academic goals and my personal goals, and it’s helped me so much in the classroom and with staying on a schedule. Now that I have a system, I feel like I have more free time because I get the work done first.
Sometimes when people hear “the MARC” they think it’s tutoring and it’s this formal thing. It’s more like having a buddy who checks in with you. Yes, Gina was there for the academic stuff, but if I needed to rant or just run through things with her, she’d talk about anything. We’d usually go over our time because we were having such good conversations.
I’m the first in my family to go to college, so there were a lot of people I reached out to. The Clarke Admissions and Financial Aid staff really showed me the best options for my family and I, so we knew what we were going to have planned in the future. My advisor, coaches, and other staff helped too.
A lot of people at Clarke are like that. They are always stopping in to check on you. I’m a Sport Mangement major, so I work with Teri Stratta all the time. She’s just so down-to-earth and engaged, I love my classes with her. I was also surprised how fascinated I’ve been by Nutrition and Food Science. I didn’t know much coming in, and you actually get to cook and chop vegetables and really experience your senses in class. But what really gets me is Sunil – we’re doing stuff like practicing our knife skills and he just looks like a proud dad. He takes pictures and has this big smile on his face. You know he’s enjoying the moment too.
I’m a junior, so I’m still figuring out my plan for after college. I would like to coach, but the more I do in my major I’m finding I really like the photography, videography, and marketing side of Sport Management. It’s not something I’d experienced much prior to Clarke, but I enjoy it and I know there is a big demand for it. When people are trying to get recruited for college or that next level, they want that paparazzi moment or highlight reel.
For now, I just take it one day at a time. Even when things get stressful, I just jam out to my music, smile, and think about how blessed I am. I’m thankful I get to go to class, to put on my uniform. I get to do things that so many people wish they could do. I’ve been blessed with opportunities, and I want to make the most of them.
Sport Management and Business Administration ’25
In the spring of 2021, my mom was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. She had a really aggressive treatment schedule and even though the chemotherapy left her so tired, she came to my prom and attended my graduation. She was always there for me and my siblings, even when she was so weak she couldn’t pick up my youngest sister.
I remember when her hair started to fall out. My mom always had this long, pretty blonde hair and she was so proud of it. She was so upset, and my grandma told me I had to shave it for her. So here we were, out in the backyard shaving my mom’s head and it was so hard, but through all of it my dad just kept telling us, “God has got your mom. He’s made her strong. And when she can’t be strong, she’s got us.”
Knowing my mom was going through all that made it hard to move away for college, but even on my first visit I felt at home at Clarke. Like I’d been here for years. I’m only an hour and a half from Waterloo so if I need to go home I can, but because I’m not living with my parents, I’ve grown up a lot. I’m learning to do all this stuff on my own like manage my time and my money.
The MARC has been a big help with some of that stuff. Coming from Waterloo, you can get a chip on your shoulder, and it can be hard to ask for help. That’s how it is where I’m from. You can’t show everyone who you are right away. Now, I feel like I have a better attitude. Then there are the professors like Deann Petitgout, Kent Anderson, and Brenda Schilling. Teri Strata is so funny and amazing. I remember one time we were at study tables and it was 8 p.m. and we could not figure out our assignment. So, we texted her and she called us and walked us through it. You don’t get that support at other places.
Being on the softball team has been a big part of my experience. Coach Garland and I talk all the time. He’s from Waterloo and understands where I come from. My teammates and I are always together too, whether it’s games, practice, study tables, or just hanging out at someone’s house. I feel like we’re a more mature team this year, and that’s because Coach pushes us, and we push each other. Like the other day, the Miracle League had a game while we were practicing. Coach gave us a 10-minute break and told us to go cheer those kids on as loud as we could. We ended up playing with them for a while and had a great time. We didn’t do it because people were watching, we did it because it was a kind thing to do. It meant something to them and to us.
The same thing happens at our games. We wear ribbons for different causes, we will dedicate games to people. The day I found out my mom was cancer free; I wasn’t able to travel with the team, but they still dedicated that game to me and my mom.
Every day, I always wear two bracelets – one for breast cancer awareness and one for Black Lives Matter because they are both causes that are important to me. One time in Waterloo, I got pulled over. It was just for an expired tag, but the cops started asking my boyfriend at the time, who was Black, all of these questions. Some people think that’s a one in a million story, but it’s not. Instead, you could be the one in a million to stop stuff like that from happening.
In Waterloo, sometimes we have to grow up for different reasons. It’s not always positive. But if you put in the work, you can make things happen. I think I’d like to be an Athletic Director one day at a high school like Waterloo East. A lot of the kids there don’t understand that their sport can help them change their situation. Sometimes they think a D1 scholarship is the only way out, but there are so many opportunities out there. I’m going to a four-year college with a scholarship. Do the work and you can make it happen.
Social Work and Psychology, minor in English ’24
I grew up in Pikeville, North Carolina. Coming from a small town, learning how to branch out and make new friends was extremely difficult. My whole life, I felt as though I was stuck in the friend groups that had been created early on and had nowhere else to go. Breaking out of this mindset was something I did not learn until I came to Clarke.
I began playing volleyball my freshman year of high school. I was on the team in middle school, but I definitely rode the bench and did not have fun. It was just something I did because it was expected, as I was very tall for my age. My high school/travel volleyball coach Tangela Faulkner truly fostered my passion for the sport. After our first school ball season together, Tangela recruited me for her travel team, Carolina Shockwave Volleyball Club. This woman is the entire reason I am so determined to become, not only the best player, but the best overall person I can possibly be. I have no idea where I would be in life without her guidance and leading me to volleyball.
Being a student athlete has called for a lot of time management, especially when I am in season. Traveling for games in the fall semester is the most difficult portion. Finding the motivation and willpower to do work on the bus while also staying mentally ready for the upcoming match is a skill that took me a bit to master. Consistently communicating with my professors and not being afraid to ask for help has also been critical to my ability of staying on top of my studies while also participating on a sports team.
Having an academic advisor that specializes in my preferred field at Clarke has been a huge help in navigating what programs and courses would best assist me. Tim Boffeli has been honest with me, and I truly feel as though he wants to see me succeed. He and Tom Riley have had large impacts on how I view my college education. Both of these professors are fully invested in teaching their students more than the course work — they truly want to make us better, rounded individuals. They are always engaged and excited for lecture, and willing to work with your schedule when you need office hours.
“One Clarke, One Community” was something I had heard many times prior to starting my freshman year, but I didn’t know just how integrated this statement truly is. Being able to have discussion with the lovely ladies in the Dining Hall, getting to know my professors on a more personal level, and being able to call the President of Clarke by his first name and attend his inauguration are all critical parts of what Clarke is. It truly does feel like home, and I know I have all the support I could ever need here.
It was difficult coming to Clarke my first year not being as involved in the community as I would have liked. My father is high risk for Covid, and my family always took safety as seriously as possible. The Campus Ministry Service Trip to Walls, Mississippi was the first volunteer project I participated in, and it felt so good to be able to do my part once again! My group helped de-shingle and re-shingle a roof, as well as do landscaping for a woman who was wheelchair-bound. Our project took about a week to complete and seeing the joy on Mrs. Mack’s face prior to our departure made it completely worth it. I am glad to have been able to get both doses of the Covid vaccine, so then I felt safe to attend the trip.
I also got more involved on campus, as I obtained the position of secretary for the Clarke Association of Student Athletes, worked in the MARC and for Athletics under Casey Tauber. I meet a lot of students and make connections with faculty through that job, and I’m super happy to have it. I have also attended more on-campus events, such as basketball games, the Teddy Swims concert, President Thom’s inauguration, winning first place for the Clash of the Classes Bake-off, and Clarke Fest.
This upcoming academic year, I will officially be an upper classman. I hope to be someone younger students can look up to and not be afraid to reach out to. Having these kinds of people when I first came to Clarke made a world of a difference, and I am extremely blessed to have had their guidance and knowledge. Being able to give back in that way to incoming students would mean everything to me.
I always do my absolute best to make sure no one feels left out or apart, because I know exactly how bad this pain hurts. I was severely bullied by my peers up until junior year of high school. Instead of becoming bitter because of my negative experiences, I became overly kind and extremely socially aware of other people’s emotions. I would try so hard to make others like me, even if it was to my own demise. Through almost a year of dedicated, weekly therapy sessions, I can confidently say I have gotten to a point in my life where I have remained kind and wanting to help others, but I also am aware I need to take care of myself too. I am very grateful for the current relationships I have with people, as they are getting to meet and know a healed, healthy Victoria.
I do attend therapy through Clarke University Counseling Services. I previously went to an outside clinic in Dubuque, but the therapist I was seeing was not beneficial to me in the long run. I started seeing them in April of 2021 and continued to up until August 2021. Over the summer, I met with them twice a week via Teams. They were knowledgeable, but a “yes-man”. It came to a point where I thought I was making progress, but it was loosely fabricated, and I quickly fell apart upon returning to school. I am beyond grateful to have reached out to counseling services on campus. I have seen different therapists in my search for growth and the individual I currently see is the first person I have been able to connect with on every level. This is another way Clarke has shown me just how much they care about a student’s full well-being.
As someone who has experienced traumatic events in their lifetime, I am a strong advocate for mental health and well-being. I believe being able to discuss mental health and illness can help others be unafraid to stand up for themselves and get the help they may need. The road to becoming healthy is challenging and nowhere near easy, but it is not impossible. I once thought it was true that I would be unhappy and damaged forever, but I am now standing on the other side and have found consistent peace. I know there will still be times I get into a hijacked state and become overly emotional, but the knowledge and tools I have obtained in my journey have enabled me to effectively take care of myself.
Post getting my undergraduate degree, I plan on pursuing my master’s in social work at Clarke. I hope to go into therapy/counseling with adolescents who have a troubled home life.
Thuy Vy Tran
Psychology and Religious Studies, minor in Philosophy ’22
I entered the convent with the Vietnamese Dominican Sisters when I was just 18 years old. I felt called to pray, to study and to share their ministry. In the convent, a sister’s assignment depends on the needs of the community. I was assigned to come to America and advance my education.
In 2016, I came to live with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. I did not speak English when I arrived — in Vietnam, I studied grammar, not much spoken English. The Sinsinawa sisters taught me English. They were so kind and patient, just like my grandmas. They worked with me for a year. Then they helped me obtain a scholarship to Clarke University and continued to support and accompany me in my learning journey in the U.S.
My advisors and my professors were so helpful, they would record the lectures so I could listen again to the material. Every class presented a whole new vocabulary for me, so to be able to listen again and again, helped me with the course material and with learning the language.
Even though American culture is different from mine, I have felt at home at Clarke and with the Sinsinawa sisters. Everyone has been so kind, friendly and helpful to me. My professors and classmates really care. Even people who do not know me, when they see me in the Atrium or the library, they greet me warmly.
I was able to complete an internship at Clarke that involved service with and for the elderly Dominican Sisters. Each week, I helped with two groups. One was a scripture sharing, where we read scripture together. We brought diverse understandings of the meaning of a passage, discussed them and supported each other in our understandings.
The other group was a group for people living with dementia. It was my first time working with people with dementia. I have found that even though it is a very challenging disease, yet those who suffer from it still have so much joy in their lives. They helped each other to live their lives with hope and grace. These sisters really touched my heart. I was able to use what I had learned at Clarke to help the sisters. Religious studies, Psychology and Philosophy classes were particularly helpful. The experience was a blessing and gave me a greater appreciation for the cognitively impaired elderly.
If there is one word for my experience at Clarke and with the sisters, it is gratitude. I will graduate this May and return to Vietnam. I do not know what my assignment will be after that, but I know that what I have learned here will help me in my ministry whatever that turns out to be.
I wish you all the best and I will miss you!
Graphic Design ’22
Hi, I’m Diego from San Diego!
I committed to Clarke sight unseen. A good friend with the nickname “Gonzo” was coming here to play football and he told me to apply. We both made the football team and earned scholarships, so it was a smart choice.
I remember landing in Chicago and driving to Dubuque with Gonzo. I think we both had a few moments where we thought, “what did we get ourselves into?” because it was so different from where we grew up. That first semester, I was homesick, but I pushed myself to go out and explore. My teammates helped too – we really formed a brotherhood and looked out for each other.
While I was exploring Dubuque, I also started exploring my major options. I started in Pre-Athletic Training, but it didn’t feel like the right fit for me. When I switched to Graphic Design, I found that passion right away. I enjoyed the work, but I was still adjusting to being on my own and would sometimes procrastinate. The faculty, especially Eric Wold, pushed me to do better. They gave me constructive criticism and told me to shoot for things outside my comfort zone.
Eric was the one who encouraged me to send my designs to the Dubuque Area Advertising Awards this year. I won three silvers and a judge’s choice award and it felt amazing, almost surreal. I’ve gotten more confident in my work over the years and to have other people recognize that is a real accomplishment. I know I’ve matured, and I look at things with a more critical eye now. Even the faculty have told me that I’ve grown a lot and that they’re proud of me.
Now that I’m a senior, I try to share some of what I’ve learned with other students, too. After 15 years of playing football, I decided to try something different and that was joining the Esports team. That’s been a cool experience because not only do I get to play video games and get a scholarship, but I get to meet new people and come into my own as a leader. Some of my teammates are in the same position I was when I came here – they are trying to find that balance with school and being on their own. I work to help them be more outgoing and make those connections on campus and in Dubuque.
I’m on track to graduate in December 2022 and I’m proud of what I’ve done in my time here. I feel like I’m really prepared for life after college, and I’ve grown up a lot too. I have two jobs, I live on my own, I’m winning awards for my work. My dream job would probably be to work for the Los Angeles Chargers, but wherever I end up I know I’ll be ready.
Sports Management and Business Administration ’22
I started bowling almost on a whim. My aunt suggested it as something to do on a Saturday morning when I was just six or seven years old. At the time, I never would have guessed how important it would become to me.
When I was graduating high school, I knew I wanted to keep bowling at the collegiate level. I sent my tapes around to several schools and the coach from Clarke stood out to me. Our conversation wasn’t just about the Men’s Bowling Team, but the whole college experience. He really sold me on the campus and what I could do here.
I moved to Dubuque from Monroe, Michigan. They are both small towns, but there was still an adjustment to learning a new city and being away from my friends and family. But Clarke felt like a family right away. A good example is my buddy Tucker – we will hang out and watch sports because he is from Ohio and I’m from Michigan. It’s a really fun rivalry. There are so many people here that I know I can go to when things are tough or when I just want to talk.
I’ve made a lot of friends through my interests in sports and video games here, but even the professors care about you. Like Teri Stratta – she really cares about everyone in her Sports Management classes. I joke that she set me up with my girlfriend Sam because she paired us up in classes. Teri can always bring a smile to your face, and she’ll stand up for the things she cares about. You know she’s in your corner.
That attitude applies to my team, too. We really think of the Men and Women’s Bowling Teams as a family. Sure, we argue like siblings sometimes, but we’re always there for each other. We’ll watch game tapes together and go over techniques. Some people may not know that each bowling ball is different. Different techniques and balls work better on different floors. I have 12 or 13 balls that I use regularly, and more at home. Bowling takes a lot of skill and our team works hard to find where everyone shines.
Last summer, I did an internship with my coach where I got to join him on some recruiting trips. We ran a coaching clinic in Wyoming for students who love the game, but don’t have an organized high school team to compete with. Then we went to Indianapolis for the national high school tournament. It really gave me insight as to what it means to be a coach – how you have to balance helping individuals while always thinking about the good of the team.
Now that I’m in my final year at Clarke, I’ve really been focused on better understanding myself. Next year I won’t have school to give me structure, so I’m paying more attention to how I prioritize my responsibilities while finding time for fun and relaxation. I want to coach bowling and I’m open to wherever that might take me.
Music, concentration in vocal performance ’21
I was homeschooled growing up, so for me singing in church was my outlet, my connection with other people. My family used to be its own mini choir. We all love music, all the way back to my grandparents and great-uncles and great-aunts.
My brother Sam came to Clarke to major in music and compete on the bowling team. We have a lot of shared interests and he seemed to like it here, so I chose Clarke as well. Coming from Richmond, Virginia, the size of Dubuque was shocking – and the cold! My friends will tell you I hate the cold and that means anything below 70 degrees.
I never got used to the cold, but the city started to grow on me. Although it was a lot smaller and lacked the racial diversity I was used to, the Clarke campus was a comfort. It felt like a safe space while I explored this culture that was very different from where I grew up. I made friends, including those who had grown up in mostly white communities, and we were all open to learning. We could all talk and listen to one another about race, society, and other things. As I got to know them, I felt safe and supported.
The professors and staff were also open, welcoming, and supportive. A lot of us in the music department joked that Dr. Amanda Huntleigh was the mom of this crazy little family. She’s such a stable presence, even when things are at their most stressful state. I also loved Dr. Rachel Daack – both as a teacher and as a person. I’ve always had an interest in society and culture, and her courses validated that and gave me the desire to keep learning. I had a great internship, too. I will be pursuing library science for public librarianship next fall, and working with Dr. Emily Goodman on the Library of Congress’ Radio Preservation Task Force helped prepare me for the program, as well as sustained my love of media and working with the community.
I had a lot of connections on campus outside of class too. Just like back home, I sang at Mass almost every Sunday and I performed on campus a lot with the Collegiate Singers and Wind Ensemble. I volunteered with LGBTQIA+ Alliance and the MARC, and I was a two-time Tuckpointer, helping with CONNECT Orientation. Prior to graduating in December, I also got to experience my last Christmas Dinner at Clarke. It is one of my favorite Clarke traditions and I was totally fangirling when Mr. and Mrs. Claus appeared. Clarke really tries to make things feel like home.
There were a lot of people involved in getting me to the finish line for graduation. I have a huge support system of family, friends, faculty, and staff – I could make a very, very long list. Being a part of this community means I will always have someone I can reach out to, and I’m thankful for that.
Secondary Education and History ’21
When I was looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to play softball, but I wasn’t sure about my major. I originally thought I wanted to be a physical therapist, so Clarke’s 3+3 program really stood out to me. I liked the idea of being able to do it all in one. Coming from a bigger high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I wanted a college experience where I could have personal, one-on-one time with my professors. I came to campus for a tour and had a “this is it” moment. Walking Clarke’s campus, I knew this is where I was meant to be.
As my freshman year went on though, I wasn’t happy in my science classes. School wasn’t exciting me like it used to. I remember I was sitting in the dugout at one of our away games and I could see the first base coach. She was so excited and happy – you could see that she loved her job. That’s when it clicked – I loved school, and I loved coaching; that’s what I wanted to do. When I got back to Clarke, I worked with my advisor Tony Breitbach to explore my options. He was supportive and helped me connect with Cathy Stierman and Ellen Spencer. Getting into education classes, my excitement for school came rushing back. You start getting in-classroom experience your sophomore year, and the professors treat you as a peer. They listen to your ideas and will help you in any way they can.
Coach Garland saw my passion for teaching and coaching and really wanted to help me as well. He took me on a recruiting trip for the softball team with him when I was a junior, and I connected with Paul Hunt, the Head Softball Coach at Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas. He had a graduate assistant position open and really wanted me for it. I was so nervous – could I really do this? How was I going to finish my student teaching? But everyone at Clarke was immediately supportive. This was the first out-of-state student teaching placement for the department, and Cathy and Ellen were determined to make it work for me. I had cheerleaders everywhere, from the education department and softball team to the Admissions Office where I worked as a tour guide, to Mary Ellen at the front desk – everyone was in my corner.
I’ve been in Kansas since August and I’ve loved it. I finished my student teaching and graduated from Clarke this December. Now, I’m working on my Master of Arts in School Leadership with Benedictine College, all while subbing at local high schools and coaching a softball team of 22 amazing women. It feels like I’m on the path God intended for me. Even though I’m far from Iowa, I know I still have support from the Clarke community. I think about the friends I’ve made, all the time I spent in the Gantz Practice Facility, taking part in the Softball v. Baseball challenge, late nights in the SAC after cheering on the basketball team, taking part in the Clarke Inclusive Games, or just playing hacky sack out in front of the atrium, and know I was a part of something special.
My parents and my whole family have supported me through all of this. I could not have made it this far without them. I really talked Clarke up to my cousin, Emmett Schwartzhoff, and he attends Clarke as a cross-country runner now. I was lucky enough to see him run a half marathon in Atchinson and beat his personal record by five minutes last weekend. Yes, I was in Benedictine gear, and he was in his Clarke apparel, but we’ve grown so much closer because of this school. Clarke is a part of our story, and it will always be a part of my life.
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.”
“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.”