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Building community on and off the field

By Clarke News  |  October 18, 2021

After graduating from Western Dubuque High School, Max Steffen had followed his love of football to a large state school. Yet after a year on campus, he felt disconnected from his classmates and professors. When Clarke University launched their football program, it not only offered the wide receiver and biology major the chance to transfer closer to home, but to find a place he could build a sense of community on and off the field.  

Coach Regalado and all the coaches that I have had since I stepped foot on campus have made a significant impact on my life. Not only did they bring back my love for football, but they have taught me how to stay positive during adversity and to always put 100% effort into everything I do. To be honest when I first started the transfer process, I was not totally sure if I wanted to play football anymore,” Steffen said. “Now looking back, I think that it was the best decision of my life to continue playing football because it brought me to this great University where I have made lifelong friends.” 

The football team is far from the only way Steffen has found community on campus, however. The sense of belonging extends to the classroom and beyond, including his classmates and his professors. This was especially important when Steffen lost his grandfather and found himself struggling to focus on his classes. Something as simple as his anatomy professor, Michelle Slover, checking in with him after an exam allowed Steffen to open up about his struggles. 

Having her there for me then helped me a lot. She talked to me about how she went through a very difficult time with her family and that eventually with the help of family and friends you will get through it,” Steffens said.

It showed me that anywhere you go at Clarke there are people that will be there for you when you need it most. I think if I were to pinpoint what has made me stay it is not only the football staff, but the entirety of the Clarke staff for making me feel welcome from the day I got here.

Now as Steffen prepares for graduation, he is also looking for ways to support those around him. This includes offering advice for prospective students who may be considering Clarke.  

“For those who want to attend a bigger university, Clarke can give you that feel if you go out and participate in on-campus activities. On the other side of things, Clarke is a lot smaller than the state schools and that has so many benefits. The main difference that made me love this school is how I can build relationships with my professor rather than just being a number in a large class,” Steffen said. “The whole university wants to see you succeed and they are always looking out for your best interest.”