Student Spotlight: Karissa Heckens


Karissa Heckens has been active on campus through her various classes and activities from the moment she stepped on campus her freshman year. Heckens is currently a senior from Omaha, Nebraska majoring in Nonprofit Management with Spanish and Religious Studies minors.

Heckens chose to come to Morningside because they offered a Nonprofit Management major and it provided her with unique opportunities she may have not otherwise gotten. She stated, “I chose Morningside for many reasons! First, it has the Nonprofit Management major, which is unique and able to provide me with a variety of valuable skills for serving others in both my professional and personal life. Second, the people here are extremely friendly, and this was quite evident to me from my campus visits as a prospective student. It is nearly impossible to walk across campus without receiving a welcoming smile from at least one person, and this was not something that was common at the other schools that I visited. Third, the scholarships offered to me by Morningside were quite generous and truly helped with the financial aspect of college. Lastly, I felt as if God was calling me to come here so that I could help develop the Campus Ministry Program here.”

Heckens is very involved in campus activities. She is the founder and the president of Christ Connections, a Christian group that offers students worship services, small group nights, movie and game nights, and volunteering opportunities. Additionally, she is in Omicron Delta Kappa, where she is serving as the co-Vice President for Into the Streets, a member of the College Choir, a Writing Center Consultant, and a Second Year Experience Mentor.

She enjoys the opportunities Morningside provides to their students, specifically how students are able to have the chance to develop their strengths and skills and the wide variety of leadership opportunities that they have. Heckens stated, “Thus, I have been blessed here with the experience of developing a Campus Ministry group from the very beginning, along with many other leadership experiences that have shaped my growth and that will continue to affect my life long after I graduate.” Additionally, she appreciates the opportunities she has received to create meaningful and beneficial relationships with her professors because they are great at offering support, whether it be in the classroom, or when discussing internships, graduate school, and future careers.

Her favorite thing about the activities she is involved in is the relationships she has formed with students and faculty across campus. Heckens stated, “In addition, I am extremely appreciative for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others through my various activities.”

After graduation, Heckens plans to attend Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Kansas to pursue a Master of Divinity degree. Ultimately she hopes to be ordained in the United Methodist Church and practice ministry. While she is unsure what specific type of ministry she may want to pursue, she is thinking about either campus ministry, pastoral ministry, pastoral counseling, or even hospital chaplaincy.


Published in: on October 31, 2017 at 10:46 AM Comments (0)

Student Spotlight: Rachael Arnts

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This month’s Student Spotlight is Rachael Arnts. Arnts is a senior mass communications major and agricultural studies minor with a language arts cluster from Alta, Iowa.

Arnts chose Morningside for many reasons including its proximity to her hometown and the small community feel that Morningside gives. Additionally, she knew the great reputation Morningside holds and stated that many of her cousins have graduated from Morningside and are very successful in their careers. This made her want to check Morningside out and is one reason she eventually chose to attend.

Arnts stated, “I like how even though it’s a small school, there are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved. I really like the fact that my professors know me by name and take the time to get to know each student personally.”

Since her freshman year on campus, Arnts has taken every opportunity to get involved and be active in campus activities. Currently, she is involved in numerous activities, which include Alpha Lambda Delta, the freshman women’s honor society; Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership honor society; Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society; Alpha Epsilon Rho, the mass communications honor society; Agriculture Club; Campus Ministries; and NextGen College Student Leaders at Sunnybrook Community Church.

She loves being involved in the campus community and all the various activities and honor societies. Arnts stated, “My favorite thing about being in these organizations is that I get to meet new groups of people and form new friendships and networking opportunities.”

Arnts believes that all of these college activities have impacted her and have helped her to network and gain valuable leadership skills that she will use for the rest of her life.

Not only does she participate in these organizations, she also has taken on various leadership roles. She is the fundraising chair of Sigma Tau Delta, helping develop and plan fundraisers for the group. Additionally, she is serving as the Ag Club president and previously served as the club’s reporter. Arnts has also co-led Bible Studies on campus through NextGen.

After graduation, Arnts would like to get a job that incorporates both mass communications and agriculture and stay in the Midwest. She indicated that she would like to be either a writer that covers agriculture or work in public relations for an agriculture company.

Published in: on October 24, 2017 at 9:06 AM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Don Ambroson ’66

Don Ambroson '66

Don Ambroson has always had a life-long passion for the fine arts and music. This passion led him to Morningside College, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education in 1966. He later went on to get his Masters Degree from Claremont Graduate University in Violin Performance in 1972, followed by his Doctorate Degree of Musical Arts in Violin Performance from the University of Southern California in 1977.

Curtis Hayes Convocation at Eppley

Curtis Hayes convocation at Eppley Auditorium (1994)

Ambroson found his way to Morningside through Leo Kucinski. During just his sophomore year of high school, Ambroson, who attended Central High School in Sioux City, auditioned for Kucinski and was accepted as a pre-college violin student at Morningside College. Throughout Leo’s time at Morningside, Leo was Ambroson’s advisor and violin professor. Ambroson’s favorite thing about Morningside was that there was an active music department. During his time on campus, he spent most of his time in the practice rooms on the 3rd floor of Charles City, which was the music conservatory at the time. Additionally, he played in the Morningside College Chamber Orchestra, the Sioux City Symphony and the Sioux Falls Symphony. When he wasn’t practicing or playing music, he was in the coffee shop talking to friends or opposing the war in Vietnam.

DA with Eudice Shapiro at USC

Don with Eudice Shapiro at USC (1973)

Throughout his years, Ambroson has taught at many different colleges and universities around the country. During his senior year of college, he started his teaching career teaching violin at Briar Cliff College (now University). After graduation, he taught in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Public School System and part-time at Briar Cliff simultaneously.  By 1967, Ambroson was teaching at Briar Cliff full-time. In the summer of 1968, Don got the chance to play in the American Symphony Orchestra League’s conductor’s workshop in California. After that, he went to Augustana College where he taught from 1968-1970. He left there in 1970, as his two-year contract expired.

He followed this by going to Claremont Graduate University to get his Masters Degree then to the University of Southern California to get his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Violin Performance, which he received in 1977. After this, Ambroson taught at the California State University, Pomona until his retirement in 2004. During his time as a professor there, he was the Artist in Residence at California State Fullerton from 1989-1990. After his retirement in 2004, he continued to teach part-time.

Phillip Clarke and DA at Cal Poly

Phillip Clarke and Don at Cal Poly (1998)

His advice for current students? “Use your creative mind to find a way in which you can get the most out of what is available at Morningside and the Morningside sphere of influence.” Ambroson gave an example stating that he made a list of all the repertoire he covered between all the various orchestras and bands he played in over the years. By the time he left the Midwest in 1970 for graduate school, Ambroson had acquired 500-600 different pieces he had learned playing in orchestras in the area. He believes this experience helped him in violin performance and music history and literature courses when he went on to graduate school. Although that specific opportunity may not be available to students now, Don stated that “it is important to look at your environment and all that is given to you and use it to your advantage”.

Behind the Music: Don’s perspective

As you are probably    aware, Morningside College recently announced a re-prioritization plan developed by the board of directors, faculty and staff. This plan is designed to help control costs and make certain that the academic programs offered align with student demand. One of the majors that will be phased out from this prioritization plan is the Bachelor of Music Performance degree. Don Ambroson, a 1966 alumni from Morningside College who graduated in Music Education, had a few thoughts regarding the new plan.

Ole Bull Akadamiet at Ole Bull's home

Ole Bull Akadamiet at Ole Bull’s home (1987)

Ambroson strongly believes that the new plan is a good change for the college. He stated, “At first blush, I suspect that many might think that that inherent in this decision was a reduction in the commitment to having a strong music program at Morningside College.”  However, Ambroson believes that the plan is the best effort to make use of the personnel, and resources at Morningside College and will benefit the community as a whole. Additionally, he noted that what worked during his time here at Morningside, is not what will work now and it is important to make changes.

Ambroson has experience with the changes various colleges and universities face from his time as a department chair. He stated that, “Change is difficult for many to accept, but there comes a time where you absolutely must change or you will perish.”

The Music Performance major that is to be eliminated at Morningside College, has seen very small numbers in terms of size and graduated very few students in that major. Ambroson noted that when he was a freshman in 1962, his advisor Leo Kucinski told Ambroson that he should not pursue a Music Performance major because it was not realistic. Ambroson vividly remembers what Kucinski told him stating, “He said to me, ‘Young man, you need to take the Bachelor of Music Education degree. Taking the Bachelor of Music Performance degree is financially unwise because in order to make a living in music these days (keep in mind, he said this to me in 1962) one needs to be able to have the credentials to teach in public schools. Employment and money making opportunities may not be sufficient to pay your bills. Now, in order to have the benefits of the Bachelor of Music Performance program, simply take the additional courses required for the BM degree as you complete the BME degree.’” Ambroson took Kucinski’s advice and did just that. It turns out Kucinski’s advice to Ambroson was extremely helpful and his Music Education major took him further than a degree in Music Performance ever would.

Don noted that this new plan doesn’t mean the end of performing arts at Morningside. He stated that instead resources are simply being used in a better manner within the music department and giving students the proper tools needed to succeed.

Board members of Chamber Music Institute of Southern California

Board members of Chamber Music Institute of Southern California (2015)

His advice to fellow alumni on the future of the college was simple. He believes it is important for alumni to honor their beginnings and go back and help in any way possible.  Ambroson stated, “I try to do everything thing I can do advance (Morningside’s) cause because it is worthy. Small colleges and universities like Morningside need the support of alumni to help secure their future.”

Ambroson stated, “For me, it is important to acknowledge the successes I have experienced in my career. If it weren’t for Morningside College, the specific guidance of Leo Kucinski, and a few other faculty, I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing what I’m doing now.”

Overall, the new plan is about redirecting the college’s resources and getting out in front of change. Morningside College is making these changes from a position of financial strength, not weakness. This new plan is designed to invest in Morningside College so it can continue to evolve and thrive in the years ahead. Ambroson stated, “I have nothing but total support for the effort.”

Published in: on October 19, 2017 at 9:53 AM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy

Patrick J. Murphy (’97) learned at a young age that knowledge is power and that one should not only be intrigued by big unanswered questions, but also be wary of big unquestioned answers. This orientation inspired a life-long passion for scholarship, exploration, travel, and more that aligned with his Morningside College experience.

He attended Morningside after moving to Iowa from Washington state. “I visited campus and recognized a passion for learning and a love of the institution among students and professors,” said Murphy.

He recalls his experience as academically intense and socially-minded undergraduate education with strong roots in the traditional liberal arts.

Murphy majored in organizational psychology, which in the 1990s was a very rare major in undergraduate programs. Morningside College was one of only a handful of institutions in the country to offer one.

After graduating from Morningside in 1997 with a degree in organizational psychology and business administration, Murphy was admitted to the organizational and human factors psychology doctoral program at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and spent four months in Beijing, China as a foreign student. In 2000-2001 he was Organizational Development Specialist at Schneider Electric’s US headquarters in Palatine, Illinois. Unable to resist his passion for scholarship, he returned to academia and finished his doctorate in 2004 in the College of Business at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Murphy joined the faculty of the College of Business at DePaul University in 2003-2004. He was promoted to associate professor in 2010 and to full professor in 2013 – the youngest in the business school to achieve the rank. He has been the recipient of multiple DePaul teaching awards and has taught thousands of students and advised hundreds of entrepreneurial ventures. Based on original research, he authored a 300-page scholarly book with a colleague entitled Mutiny and Its Bounty. It examines the phenomenon of mutiny in today’s entrepreneurial ventures by mining 500-year old logbooks and journals from seafaring ventures during the Age of Discovery. It was published by Yale University Press in 2013.

In 2016, Murphy was named as one of ChicagoInno’s “50 on Fire” in the education category for his impact on the Chicago innovation economy. In 2017, Future Founders selected him as “Entrepreneurship Professor of the Year” from across eleven Illinois colleges and universities.

He has published over 25 peer-reviewed articles in top scholarly journals and he has lectured about entrepreneurship and related topics around the world. He serves as editor at the scholarly journal Management Decision and is President of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Cultural Alliance. He is former Chair of the Management History Division of the Academy of Management.

“The best part of being a Morningsider was the transformational quality of the undergraduate education I received here. It stuck with me. It is a foundation for almost everything I’ve done,” said Murphy. “Very few people receive an undergraduate education that is so personalized. For example, one time I asked the President’s office to fund my travel to a major research conference in St. Louis. I was not presenting there; I just wanted to go and observe. I was the only undergraduate student attendee. I roamed the conference by myself for four days and sat in research presentations for many hours. Morningside supported me when I made these kinds of unique requests for my own development. It meant a lot to me.

Whereas Murphy has not been back on campus in years, he keeps in touch with his professors and stays abreast of how Morningside is growing and changing. This fall he will be Morningside’s Entrepreneur in Residence and is currently on campus.

Published in: on October 10, 2017 at 10:57 AM Comments (0)

Morningside Community Service Day “Into the Streets”


Approximately 825 Morningside College students, faculty and staff left the classroom to go “Into the Streets” for a morning of community service on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Organized by Morningside’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a national leadership honor society, Into the Streets gives student groups and teams an opportunity to volunteer at over 90 different locations within the Sioux City area.

Volunteers received their agency assignments at 8 a.m. in Eppley Auditorium, 3625 Garretson Ave. From 8:30 a.m. to noon, they will accomplish a variety of service work, such as cleaning, painting, gardening, helping elementary school students and more.

Morningside students Kelsey Brenner of Schaller, Iowa, and Karissa Heckens of Omaha, Neb., are coordinating the service project with a student committee that includes Sam Anderson of Sioux City; Rachael Arnts of Alta, Iowa; Emalee Barton of Elkhorn, Neb.; Lucas Farrington of Rockwell City, Iowa; Rylee Frake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Kyle Kommes of Le Mars, Iowa; Nicole Langbein of Sac City, Iowa; Sara Larson of Sioux City; Lauren Lehmkuhl of Wakefield, Neb.; Katy Miller of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa ; Jesse Nitzschke of Le Mars, Iowa; Lexa Rahn of Sioux Falls, S.D.;  Suzanne Ras of Bancroft, Neb.; Kailyn Robert of Osage City, Kan.; Ashton Schweers of Wayne, Neb.; and Nikki Yablonski of Omaha, Neb.

This is Omicron Delta Kappa’s 11th year of organizing this event, which takes place each year during Homecoming week.


Christ Connections went to LaunchPAD Children’s Museum and helped out during toddler adventure time.


Some Mustang swimmers spent time with kids at Bryant Elementary in the library.


Sigma Tau Delta students lent a helping hand at the Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue Center and were able to take some of the dogs out for a walk.

Published in: on October 5, 2017 at 9:31 AM Comments (0)