Alumni Spotlight: Jason Gehling (’03)

 

Jason Gehling has quickly become a leader in the Sioux City community since graduating from Morningside College in 2003.

He was even named to the “10 under 40” list of young leaders in the Sioux City community that was published by Siouxland Magazine in 2016.

Gehling is market president and business banking manager for Wells Fargo in Sioux City. He serves as vice president of the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation Board. He also serves on the Siouxland Habitat for Humanity Board and the Sergeant Bluff Little League Board and is an advisory member of the Iowa Small Business Development Center and the Iowa Bankers Association.

Gehling said he loves to stay active in his community and with his family.

“My wife, Cheri (Jorgensen), a 2003 Morningside graduate, and I stay very active with our four kids,” Gehling said. “We enjoy boating, camping, baseball, football, basketball and, most recently, archery and sporting clays.”

At Morningside, Gehling majored in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. He also was involved in Phi Beta Lambda, an organization that helps students prepare for business careers through relevant career preparation and leadership experiences. He said he had a great experience in college.

“I appreciated the close relationships I was able to develop with the professors and also enjoyed the engagement of the students,” he said.

Gehling’s advice to young alumni was to find a mentor that will be honest with you and that you trust. His advice to current students was to connect with students and professors on campus.

“Take time to get to know your fellow students. Many of them you will cross paths with later in life,” he said. “Do not take the direction and advice from professors lightly. They can provide a condensed version of life’s lessons without the calories from mistakes.”

Published in: on April 25, 2018 at 1:34 PM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Dustin Cooper (’05)

After working as an English teacher and basketball coach in Phoenix, Ariz., Dustin Cooper is happy to be back home in Sioux City.

The 2005 graduate of Morningside College returned to Sioux City in 2015 to teach and coach boys’ basketball at his alma mater, East High School. He is married to Gretchen (Wickey), a 2001 Morningside graduate, and they have three children.

In the few short years that he has been back in Sioux City, Cooper has co-founded the We Got Next foundation, which serves Siouxland youth, and HCC Enterprises, the company behind a new Siouxland project, The Arena.

The Arena is a $13.5-million project to build an 80,000 square foot multi-sports complex in the former Sioux City Stockyards that will host sports-specific training, leagues, tournaments and major events. Cooper will serve as executive director of The Arena, which is set to open in the summer of 2019.

At Morningside, Cooper majored in English education, and he was a member of the men’s basketball team. He played NCAA Division II, independently during the transition year and then the first year in NAIA Division II.

“I chose Morningside because it was close to home, I knew the academics were second to none, and the basketball program was very strong,” he said. “The classes were small and the professors knew me by my first name. From the professors to the administration, everyone wanted to see me be successful and was willing to do whatever they could to see that happen.”

After graduating from Morningside, Cooper moved to Arizona and earned a master’s degree in administration from Northern Arizona University.

Cooper’s advice to students was to take advantage of the experiences that college offers.

“Soak in the phenomenal education being provided to you, but also immerse yourself in the total college experience,” he said. “Go to academic seminars and athletic contests. Take advantage of the opportunities that get you out of your comfort zone. When you step off campus with your degree, you will find yourself in a world that is not comfortable at times. Learning how to thrive in these situations now will set you up for success later.”

Cooper’s advice to young alumni was simple.

“Thank the professors, administrators, coaches and staff that touched your life in a positive way,” he said. “Those two words go a long way.”

Cooper is grateful for the lasting impact Morningside has had on his life.

“As a former Morningside College student-athlete, I am proud to have been afforded the top-notch education and athletic experience that I did,” he said. “I am grateful to all of the professors, administrators and coaches that helped play a role in molding me into the man I am today.”

 

Published in: on April 18, 2018 at 1:59 PM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Pete Haack (’96)

Pete Haack is using his degree in mass communication from Morningside College to work as a video producer for a large healthcare facility in La Crosse, Wis.

He also competes in Masters Track and Field meets throughout the country and coaches sprints for the local high school and for adults in a local track club. He is involved in his church through choir and various committees.

These are some of the same interests he pursued while a student at Morningside.

“I chose to attend Morningside because they have good mass communications and music programs,” said the 1996 Morningside graduate. “I also wanted to have a chance to run track.”

During college, Haack was involved in the Student Communications Committee, Student Government, Dimmitt Hall Council, KMSC Campus Radio Station, Acacia Fraternity, Morningside Activities Council, Track and Field, Cross Country, Student Life Committee, Concert Chorale and Vietnamese Tutoring Program. He also was a Resident Assistant.

Helping to start the Acacia Fraternity at Morningside is a very special memory for him.

“It was a very talented and motivated group of young men who worked very hard to get the fraternity going,” he said. “Having Gene Ambroson as our advisor was a true blessing. He has been a life-long mentor to me and so many others, and I am truly thankful to have had him around during that time in my life.”

Haack’s advice to current students is to get involved in the community.

“Take advantage of the opportunities to get involved in many different activities that attending a smaller school can offer,” he said.

He had similar advice for young alumni.

“Think about ways you can give back to your community and get involved,” he said. “You will make it a better place to live for you and your neighbors.”

 

Published in: on April 11, 2018 at 2:47 PM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Jackson O’Brien (’16)

Jackson O’Brien credits his Morningside education for his success in law school and his burgeoning legal career. The tools he developed during his studies in history and political science have placed him at the top of his class at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa, and secured him an ongoing clerkship with the respected firm Whitfield & Eddy.

“I believe that students considering law school should look to Morningside for comprehensive preparation,” O’Brien said.

While at Morningside, O’Brien was heavily involved on campus. Some of his roles included president of Student Government, president of Omicron Delta Kappa, vice president of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and resident assistant for Residence Life. These activities were in addition to his training in history and political science, which developed his reading, writing and critical thinking skills.

“The expert advising at Morningside helped me shape my career goals and develop a realistic strategy to get there,” he said. “These steps included internships at a local law firm, the Woodbury County Courthouse, and in the United States Senate. I learned to organize, work proactively, and seize opportunities through my education.”

O’Brien graduated summa cum laude from Morningside in 2016, receiving the award for Outstanding Student in the Humanities in his class, and went on to Drake University Law School.

Currently, he is president of the Drake Law Student Bar Association, member of the National Moot Court Team, production editor on the Drake Law Review, and an executive in student organizations such as Drake Law Women and Drake Association for Child Advocacy. Additionally, O’Brien is a research assistant with Professor Andrew Jurs and a teaching assistant in the legal research and writing program.

This involvement, along with his academic success, has resulted in a clerkship at the Des Moines and Mount Pleasant firm Whitfield & Eddy, where O’Brien works on a variety of legal matters, including litigation, estates, family law, construction, and financial services. O’Brien is now interviewing for a clerkship with federal judges in the region to work in their courts after graduation, with plans to enter private practice in Des Moines afterward.

O’Brien feels strongly that Morningside set him up for success.

“Law school requires students to read copious amounts of complex material, organize their thoughts in persuasive arguments, and communicate their positions in writing,” he said. “Moreover, the legal profession often (but not always) necessitates sound presentation skills. Students entering law school, therefore, must be organized, proactive, and motivated.”

“I encourage students interested in law school to attend Morningside and take courses that challenge their reading comprehension and writing skills,” he continued. “Courses in history, political science, or English will help develop students’ organization and attention to detail. Involvement in theatre and the arts will also help students in their presentation skills and give them confidence in themselves. These skills can also be furthered by networking on campus and getting involved in student activities.”

O’Brien said he is thankful for his Morningside education every day. Morningside students should feel free to contact O’Brien through Morningside Connect with questions on how to prepare themselves for a career in law.

 

 

 

Published in: on April 4, 2018 at 1:49 PM Comments (0)