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)

Alumni Spotlight: Dennis Reyman (’92)

Dennis Reyman uses the skills and knowledge he gained while at Morningside as a partner at Stalcup Agricultural Service in Storm Lake, Iowa.

“I am involved in farm management around Northwest Iowa, farm real estate appraisal, and farm real estate sales,” said the 1992 Morningside graduate.

Reyman additionally has served as the past president of the Iowa Chapter of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), as well as serving as the co-chairman on the national Government Relations Committee of ASFMRA for the past 10 years.

During his time at Morningside, Reyman was a non-traditional student that majored in business and economics.

“I chose Morningside due to the close proximity and familiarity of campus,” he said. “Quality education and professors also sold it for me. Additionally, the focus on good writing skills impressed me.”

During college, Reyman stayed busy with classes and participated in the interdepartmental honors program.

Reyman reflected on his time at Morningside and noted one of his favorite things about the campus.

“My favorite thing about my college experience was the friendly and interesting people I met along with the quality classes and interested professors.”

Reyman’s advice to current students was to learn to utilize the time given to them.

“The sooner you learn to maximize your minutes, the more you can participate, and the more you’ll be prepared to lead.”

Reyman’s advice to young alumni was to network.

“Network every which way. You never know how life’s experiences will intertwine with the future. Additionally, always stay positive.”

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

“I am proud of my Morningside education and very proud of the college’s accomplishments in recent years.”

 

Published in: on March 20, 2018 at 2:05 PM Comments (5)

Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Martinez (’15)

Ryan Martinez, a 2015 Morningside graduate, is living out his dream as a co-founder of Volunteer Siouxland, Siouxland’s new online volunteer center that boasts over 70 organizations and 450 volunteers signed up within the first month.

“While serving in the nonprofit sector for almost 2 years, I recognized that there was a need in my community for meaningful volunteerism,” he said. “After identifying that a physical location for a volunteer center was not financially sustainable, my co-founder and I took charge and created an all-new way to volunteer.”

During his time at Morningside, Martinez majored in graphic design with a minor in advertising.

“The size of the college was one of the primary reasons I chose Morningside,” he said. “I knew a smaller college setting would allow me to foster a more meaningful relationship with my professors and advisors, as well as provide me with more opportunities to develop as a leader.”

During college, Martinez was involved in the Entrepreneurship Group, serving as the president, and he was the treasurer in Student Government.

The knowledge Martinez gained through his activities, such as Entrepreneurship Group, led him to some great accomplishments, a few of which include 2014 Student Entrepreneur of the Year and Business Competition ‘Swimming with the Sharks’ two-time award winner in 2014 and 2016. He also developed and coordinated Sioux City’s Entrepreneurial Event, Base 3.

Martinez reflected on his time at Morningside and noted one of his favorite things about college.

“Without a doubt, it was the community that exists at Morningside. I was always surrounded by peers who were striving to become a better version of themselves, as well as advisors who prepared me for the post-college life by challenging me and pushing me out of my comfort zone. It certainly proved true to me that you are a reflection of the people you surround yourself with.”

Martinez’s advice to current students was to take advantage of the opportunities at Morningside.

“Students should take full advantage of their student status, embrace being a learner and ask others for help, advice and shared wisdom,” he said. “People are always willing to help students if you just ask. My greatest mentors fell into my network simply because I asked for their feedback and guidance on projects I was working on at the time.”

Martinez’s advice to young alumni was to get involved in their community.

“The best way to grow as an individual and professional is to work alongside like-minded individuals on something you are passionate about. By doing this, you are making a positive impact in your community and opening doors to new opportunities by growing your network.”

 

Published in: on March 14, 2018 at 2:17 PM Comments (3)

Morningside Madness 2: The Rematch!

The stage is set for another record-breaking event on March 14 and 15!  Last March, Morningside hosted its inaugural day of giving and exceeded the goal of 360 donors in 36 hours and raised more than $77,000 to support student scholarships.  This year we aim to reach 500 donors and $100,000!

Morningside Madness is successful thanks to our passionate volunteers and generous alumni and friends.  This speaks to why Morningside ranks #1 in Alumni Participation Rate (APR) when compared to more than 100 similar colleges and universities by “U.S. New and World Report”.  That statistic is an incredible testimony to our dedicated and loyal alumni base.

More than 40 volunteers will lead the charge reaching out to their alumni friends, asking them to make a gift to the Annual Scholarship Fund.  During the 36 hours, several challenge gifts will drive momentum.  For example, 40 gifts in a two-hour segment, regardless of size, can unlock challenge gifts from $1000 to $10,000.  Therefore, every single gift can make a huge impact.

Join the Rematch, log onto to www.msidemadness.com and get in on the action.  This site will have real-time updates and you can find out which Morningside Mascot has the most gifts.  Whether you were a Maroon, a Chief or a Mustang, we are all ONE Morningside!

Please help us ensure that today’s students have the same phenomenal experiences that we did.

Published in: on March 9, 2018 at 9:14 AM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Gene Knudsen (’71)

Dr. Gene Knudsen came to Morningside College focused on baseball. But Morningside opened new doors for the 1971 graduate that have taken him all over the world.

At Morningside, he became very involved with theatre, concert choir, and student government. Additionally, he enjoyed being involved in Delta Sigma Phi, a fraternity helping and encouraging its members to become better students, leaders, citizens, and professionals.

“I am a firm believer that when one door closes –baseball, in my case – other opportunities abound. An Introduction to Theatre class gave me the idea to try out for the musical ‘Kiss Me Kate,’ where I was cast and was privileged to walk in tights onto the stage at Klinger-Neal singing and dancing with a whole new set of non-baseball friends.

“One entire spring break, Dr. James Wood and his concert choir gave me the opportunity to travel west by bus, stopping about every 500 miles to give a concert and staying overnight with people I didn’t know until we reached Los Angeles. A plane ride to Hawaii gave us more destinations, more concerts and more interesting free accommodations before returning to Sioux City and our classes.”

Knudsen graduated from Morningside with a double major in English and history. He went on to earn a master’s degree and then his doctorate in education administration and curriculum from the University of Southern California. He is now retired after a 37-year career in education with Department of Defense.

“Working for the Department of Defense as a teacher and administrator took me around the world to see places and do things I only dreamed of in high school and college,” he said.

Knudsen appreciates how travel took him out of his comfort zone, allowing him to meet people from different cultures and with different perspectives than his own. He now spends much of his time taking photos of the world around him. “Documenting the journey of life and preserving memories for myself and others is fulfilling and a great stress reliever,” he said.

Looking back, his favorite thing about Morningside was the people he met and the life-long friends he made.

“Chief among those friends was Debra Anderson, who arrived as a freshman during my junior year and became my wife and best friend in 1972 during her senior year,” he said. “Eye-opening and life-changing professors included the generous and compassionate Dr. Sharon Ocker, always grammatically correct Beatrice Tift, and forever mind-altering Dr. Carrol McLaughlin.”

Knudsen’s advice to young alumni? “Make giving back a habit,” Knudsen said. “Morningside will provide you with many tools and skills you’ll use the rest of your life. Giving your time and talent to ‘our college dear’ will help others, and you’ll be helping yourself at the same time.”

 

Published in: on February 23, 2018 at 9:42 AM Comments (3)

Alumni Spotlight: Heidi Connelly (’11)

Heidi Connelly, a 2011 Morningside graduate, got her dream job as director of marketing at Knoepfler Chevrolet in Sioux City.

“I absolutely love my job,” she said. “It is exactly the kind of position I saw myself in after graduating from Morningside College. I am lucky enough to work for a family-owned company that has been in Siouxland since 1922! Knoepfler Chevrolet is dedicated to the Siouxland community, and I am proud to be employed with them.”

During her time at Morningside, Connelly majored in business administration with emphases in marketing and management and a minor in advertising.

“I went on a campus visit and instantly felt welcomed meeting some of the faculty and students,” she said. “Since I graduated from a small high school, the small college atmosphere appealed to me. I was looking to get involved in campus activities, and Morningside College offered plenty of those opportunities.”

During college, Connelly was a member of the dance team, the treasurer for Student Government, the president of Entrepreneurship Group, and a member of Ad Club, Interdepartmental Honors, Alpha Lambda Delta, and Omicron Delta Kappa.

“I also completed three internships while at Morningside for Powell Broadcasting, the Siouxland Community Health Center, and UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s,” she said.

Connelly reflected on her time at Morningside and noted one of her favorite memories.

“In Pam Mickelson’s Marketing Research and Ad Campaigns class, we were able to work with Palmer Candy on their new confectionary product line, helping with research, branding, design ideas and marketing plans,” she said. “This project really confirmed my love for marketing and advertising and gave me hands-on experience to carry into my career after college. The group I was a part of designed one of the packages that was chosen by Palmer Candy for their new line. It was very exciting to see our actual designs in grocery and convenience stores.”

Connelly’s advice to current students was to appreciate the resources available to you on campus.

“The professors at Morningside College truly care about their students’ education and future careers,” she said. “Be sure to utilize them and the Career Services department as resources when you need help during and after college.”

Additionally, Connelly encourages students to complete internships.

“I truly feel that having three internships listed on my resume, along with my class experience, assisted me greatly in landing my first job after college and the careers that have followed,” she said.

Connelly is grateful for the lasting impact Morningside has had on her life.

“I made life-long friends and met my husband while at Morningside College,” she said. “I am so thankful for receiving an amazing education, but also for the people in my life who chose to attend Morningside College as well.”

Published in: on at 9:19 AM Comments (0)

Student Spotlight: Rachel DeJong

Rachel DeJong is a sophomore at Morningside College from Leota, Minn., with a passion for finance. She feels like Morningside is the perfect place to pursue her passion.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be able to attend a school like Morningside,” she said. “I can’t imagine getting the same experience at a larger state school.”

DeJong is a double major in managerial accounting and business administration, with an emphasis in finance.

When asked what she likes about Morningside, DeJong explained, “My favorite thing about Morningside is how the small classes allow you to get to know other students and faculty in your department. The professors are such a valuable resource and they are all willing to help you find the best way to succeed.”

DeJong explained that she chose Morningside because it felt like home from her first visit. “I loved the small campus, small class sizes, and the community feeling among students and faculty,” she said.

DeJong is a very active student who takes every opportunity to get involved. Currently, she serves on the leadership team for the Connie Wimer Women’s Leadership Program; is in the President’s Book Club; participates in Alpha Lambda Delta, a women’s honor society; as well as being involved in Accounting Club and the Interdepartmental Honors Program. She also works in the tutoring center, is a Resident Assistant and is a member of the production team in the theatre department.

“I love how much overlap there is in these areas,” she said. “Because Morningside is so small, everyone can be involved in several activities and groups, which only serves to enhance the atmosphere of community on campus!”

After graduation, DeJong plans to continue her education to help her achieve her goal of becoming a finance professor.

Published in: on February 14, 2018 at 1:29 PM Comments (4)

Alumni Spotlight: Chris Delfs (’09)

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Chris Delfs is a 2009 Morningside College graduate who even worked at Morningside for a time before pursuing a career in real estate. Delfs is the current assistant managing broker at Keller Williams Siouxland.

“In my profession I am active as a member of the board of directors for the Northwest Iowa Regional Board of Realtors, which oversees 17 counties of realtors,” Delfs said. “I am active in state committees and regularly engage our state legislature to work for property owner rights.”

Delfs also serves as a board member for several organizations and is an active volunteer in the Siouxland community. “I find that giving back to my community financially or with my time and talents is a great way to stay connected and help me feel a sense of adding value to those around me,” he said.

Delfs said that he chose to attend Morningside for convenience, the atmosphere of the campus and quality of education that he would receive. Today, he is still involved with campus events and activities.”I’ve found that the Morningside experience does not end at graduation. For me, remaining connected has helped me appreciate my college experience,” Delfs said.

His favorite thing about Morningside was the people. “The culture of the college from when I met with admissions was like walking in and meeting with family. It carried throughout the staff and faculty during my Morningside experience,” Delfs said.

During college, Delfs enjoyed being involved. He worked on campus at the radio station, KMSC (92.9 FM), and served as the manager there for a short period of time. Additionally, he worked in computer services. “Both were great experiences and a fun way to be connected with the staff and students,” he said.

His advice to current students was to get involved in areas that interest you. Additionally, he said, “Ask questions and follow the people that you aspire to be like.”

His advice for young alumni? “Remember that the college has resources available to help in career services, and get connected with the alumni group,” Delfs said. “There are a lot of people who are there and willing to help you with mentoring, networking and career advice.”

 

 

Published in: on February 7, 2018 at 1:43 PM Comments (5)