Student Spotlight: Samantha Rosa

Samantha Rosa is a junior at Morningside College from Omaha, Neb., with a passion for nursing and cheering on the Morningside Mustangs. Morningside has been the perfect school for her to carry out both passions.

“I love Morningside because I am able to cheer and continue my passion,” she said. “Morningside’s small school vibe is also something that I enjoy, and I wanted to expand my horizons.”

Rosa is currently majoring in nursing with a minor in psychology. After graduation, Rosa plans to continue her education at Morningside College, getting a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus in family primary care.

Rosa is a very active student at Morningside. She is one of two captains on the Morningside cheer team; a student ambassador; and a member of Active Minds, a mental health awareness group;  the Morningside Student Nurses Association, and Beta Beta Beta, the biology honor society.

“My favorite thing at Morningside is getting to meet prospective students both in my job as a student ambassador and through cheerleading and showing them all the great things about Morningside,” Rosa said.

Rosa also loves being a captain for the Morningside cheer team. “My favorite thing about being a captain is helping the team become as passionate about cheer as I am and helping everyone to be the best that they can be,” Rosa said.

On Dec. 1, the Morningside College football team beat St. Francis for the opportunity to advance to the national championships. Rosa was cheering on the team during the game, and she will travel down to Florida with her teammates to cheer on the football team.

“It means the world to myself, and the girls on the cheerleading team, to be cheering for a winning team like the Mustangs,” she said. “It is an amazing opportunity to travel to Florida and get to witness the Mustangs play at the national level.”

By cheering at Morningside and being a captain, Rosa said she has been able to gain a family. “Being able to go the football games on Saturday and cheer on the team, as well as getting to compete at surrounding colleges, has been a great experience.”

She is so excited for her Morningside family to have the opportunity to go to nationals.

“The opportunity for the football team to be able to play at nationals has been a long time coming. The boys have worked so hard. To finally push past that threshold is a really amazing experience for them to have. It is also amazing for the cheerleading team to be able to cheer them on and for all the fans, family members and prospective students to see what amazing experience they can have at Morningside.”

Published in: on December 2, 2018 at 3:03 PM Comments (1)

Morningside alumni provide free dental care to Sioux City residents

David and Diane Davidson are two Morningside alumni who are making a difference in the world.

As a dentist, David has traveled to 11 countries and performed dental care in them, three as an army dentist and eight as a missionary dentist. He has been president of the Iowa Dental Foundation since 2011. That group organizes the Iowa Mission of Mercy (IMOM), a two-day, free oral healthcare event where patients receive quality dental care provided by dental professionals.

Recently, David and Diane came to Sioux City to help head this free dental clinic.

“I believe this was the Iowa Dental Foundation’s 12th IMOM,” David said. “We do this event annually, traveling to different areas of the state. This is our second time in Sioux City. We generally do $1-2 million dollars of free dental care at each IMOM event.”

David and Diane met as students at Morningside College and have been together ever since. Graduating in 1976, David majored in biology and Diane was a history and political science major. David went on to receive a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Iowa, and Diane went to the University of Iowa College of Law.

Both were involved in campus activities during their time at Morningside. David sang in the men’s choir, and Diane participated in student government, pre-law, and worked in the communications department and at the college switchboard.

When asked their favorite thing about Morningside, David said, “My first year I met two friends who have been my best friends ever since. I became my own person, and my second year of college, I met my wife of 43 years.

Diane’s favorite things included Dr. Husband’s history class and the convocation classes. “This was the 1/4 credit class where you got cultured,” she said. “It started a lifetime of love for classical music and theatre.”

David and Diane both had advice for current students and alumni. David’s advice for current students was to enjoy your time at Morningside. “Time goes by quickly,” he said “Take classes outside of your major just for fun. Also, learn to be creative and think outside of the box.”

Diane said, “Be safe but look for adventures. Go someplace that doesn’t feel like home. Make friends with someone from another country, another age group or a different religion.”

To young alumni, David said, “Be generous and helpful to people who will never thank you, be philanthropic with your time and money, find your passion and live it, live each day as if it were your last day, have fun in life, do good, don’t be mean to people even if they wrong you, don’t let politics make you weird, find adventures and be faithful.”

Diane said, “Promote yourself! In the Midwest, we are fairly humble and modest, but a job interview is not the best time to let those traits shine.”

Both David and Diane have been very involved in their community since college. David and Diane have traveled to 65 different countries and all 50 states. They both are members of the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, and Diane is an AFS High School exchange program volunteer. Diane practiced law for 30 years and now works as a clinic administrator at Davidson Family Dentistry, the clinic David owns and where he has practiced since 1980. David also has been an adjunct faculty for 19 years at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.







Published in: on October 15, 2018 at 6:48 PM Comments (0)

Student Spotlight: Zulema Alvarado

Zulema Alvarado is a junior at Morningside College from Sioux City, Iowa who chose Morningside because of the strong academic program and her familiarity with the college. 

“One reason I came to Morningside was because of my friends,” she explained. “They showed me bits and pieces of campus and it caught my attention. The other reason I chose Morningside was the psychology department. They were very engaging and had lots of opportunities for me to expand my horizons.”

Alvarado is a counseling and developmental psychology major. She said she likes the personal connection with professors on campus.

“What I like about Morningside is the one-on-one connection with your professors,” Alvarado said. “They are always there to help you and want to get to know you more.”

Alvarado is an active student on campus who takes every opportunity to get involved. Currently, she participates in MAC, the Morningside Activities Council; the Connie Wimer Women’s Leadership Program; and Morningside Choir. She is an Orientation Student Assistant, a student ambassador for the admissions office, and a leader in the Student Success program.

“My favorite part about being a member of these organizations is getting to know people,” Alvarado said. “I like meeting new people and getting to know them because there’s a possibility you might start a new friendship.”

After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school at either the University of South Dakota or the University of Nebraska Omaha for social work.





Published in: on October 11, 2018 at 9:32 AM Comments (1)

Alumni Spotlight: Jonalee DeNoble (’09)

Jonalee (Jackes) DeNoble got her dream job. She creates luxury experiences for guests at a five-star resort in Kohler, Wis.

“Dreams come true,” said the 2009 Morningside graduate. “Three years ago I married my amazing husband, Jared. We recently moved to Wisconsin and absolutely love it.

“I started as a senior meeting and events coordinator at The American Club by Destination Kohler and just accepted a promotion and am now the associate director of meetings and events. It’s an amazing property, and I know that I wouldn’t be here today without the education and connections I gained while at Morningside! And for the golf lovers, we are looking forward to hosting the Ryder Cup in 2020!”

During her time at Morningside, DeNoble was a double major in corporate communication and advertising with a minor in business. She worked in admissions, was on the dance team, was vice president of student government, was president of the Morningside Activities Council, and was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society. Additionally, she played intramurals, participated in the Into the Streets campuswide service day, and had a radio program on KMSC where she was known as “Jukebox Jonnie.”

“If you calculate all of the activities I was involved in with at least one T-shirt a year, you do the math, I have a full closet,” she said.

DeNoble especially loved working in the admissions office.

“I worked in the admissions office all four years and loved my time with my soul sister, Char,” she said. “I also loved giving tours and having ‘future Morningsiders’ stay with me on Scholarship Weekend!”

She said her favorite thing about Morningside is the people.

“The best friends I made along with my professors,” she said. “I knew that they were truly invested in my future, and it was a major motivator. I also can’t forget the amazing kitchen crew, the admissions team, random coaches, faculty and the housekeepers! They all were truly amazing, genuine people and quickly became my second family.”

DeNoble’s advice to current students is to invest in their future.

“You took the first step of joining the Morningside family, but go beyond that,” she said. “I always encourage everyone to get involved, but with that invest in yourself. The connections you make are lifelong. A connection you make could be your future spouse, your future boss, your future best friend, your future president, the future bridge to your dream job. Get involved and invest in your future, but don’t forget to have fun along the way!”

DeNoble encourages young alumni to do the same thing.

“I would encourage the same thought process as above; invest in your future,” she said. “The amazing students at Morningside are going places and why not help them in their future, which is also our future. The connections may be different, but think of the doors that could be opened. I am so thankful for those that not only have invested in me, but encouraged me along the way. It has shaped me into the successful woman I am today. Be that person for a young Morningsider.”

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

“Thank you to everyone who has encouraged, supported and invested in me while at Morningside and beyond. It was four years of my life that I will always cherish. I look forward to seeing the amazing talent that comes from Morningside! Go Mustangs!”

Published in: on September 12, 2018 at 7:16 PM Comments (0)

Student Spotlight: Kyle Kommes

Kyle Kommes is a senior at Morningside College from Le Mars, Iowa, with many passions, especially accounting and sports. He said Morningside has been the perfect place to pursue his passions.

“When I visited a university, I felt like I was only a number,” he said. “I knew I was much more than that, and Morningside made me feel unique. Everyone on campus knows each other by name. Everyone who I have met has been extremely friendly, and the faculty and staff at Morningside truly care about each student succeeding.”

Kommes is a public accounting major with minors in sports management and religious studies. He said he chose Morningside because of the ability to be involved in so many activities.

“I wanted to go to a college that had a bowling program,” Kommes said. “I also was interested in being a student coach and a choir member. Being able to do all the things that I dreamed of doing in high school is the reason that I chose to attend Morningside.”

Kommes is a very active student who takes every opportunity to get involved. Currently, he is the president of Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership honor society; a member of the men’s bowling team; a student assistant coach for the men’s basketball team; treasurer of the Morningside College Choir; the accounting club’s social media executive; and an accounting department peer mentor.

“I am involved in a ton at Morningside, and the best part about all the groups that I am involved in is how supportive they are of me being involved in other activities,” he said. “They are all willing to let me schedule enough time to make an impact on all of my groups and are allowing me to be this heavily involved.”

Since public accounting is a five-year degree, Kommes will graduate in May of 2020. After graduation, he plans to work at an accounting firm in either Le Mars or Sioux City and would like to become a certified public accountant. He also would like to coach high school sports.

“I am truly thankful and blessed that I chose to attend Morningside,” he said. “Everything I have experienced here will be a great story to tell my friends and family later on in my life. I would recommend Morningside to anyone who wants to feel welcome and involved.”


Published in: on September 10, 2018 at 10:37 AM Comments (0)

Japan Mayterm 2018

As many of you may know, members of the Regina Roth Applied Agricultural and Food Studies Program and the Morningside College Choir and alumni and friends of the college ventured to Japan in May for an 11-day trip. For many students, it was their first time outside of the United States, making the experience both memorable and exciting. There were 33 students, 10 alumni and friends, and six staff and faculty that went on the trip.

They visited five different cities, including Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Yamanashi, and Tokyo. They left Sioux City at 2:30 a.m. Thursday, May 17. The first flight took off from Omaha, went to Denver, then headed to Los Angeles, and finally ended up in Osaka after an 11-hour plane ride.

While in Osaka, participants visited Kansai Gaidai University, where the choir performed and students from Morningside College and Kansai Gaidai University mingled. Agriculture students visited an organic farm just outside of Osaka. They learned about the farmer’s operation and the importance of producing organic products through his eyes. Everything that he grows and produces he sells through his restaurant on site, which draws a large crowd from the city every day.


While in Hiroshima, Morningsiders visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum and had the opportunity to visit the monuments, walk through the museum and visit with an atomic bomb survivor who was 8months old when the bomb hit Hiroshima. Everyone was moved and touched by her story of perseverance and the power of forgiveness.

The next stop was Kyoto, where the group saw numerous temples, visited a castle and tried lots of tasty food! Nijo Castle was built in 1603. It was constructed as a demonstration of the shogun’s power and prestige to signal the falling of the emperor. In 1994, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Everyone toured the inside of the castle, admiring the artwork that covers the walls and ceilings and experiencing nightingale wood floors, which make chirping noises when people walk on them.

Another stop in Kyoto was the Golden Pavilion Temple. This temple and its location are known for their beauty. It was built in 1397 to serve as a retirement home for the shogun and was later converted into a Zen temple. It is three stories tall, with the top two stories being covered in gold.

In between Kyoto and Yamanashi, the group stopped at St. Stephen’s School, a private Catholic school originally for students with disabilities that now accepts all students. This was a memorable and special stop for everyone. The choir performed, then the students of St. Stephen’s sang a song, and finally the Morningside College Choir and students of St. Stephen’s sang Country Roads by John Denver together. It was very moving.

After the concert, Morningside students, staff and alumni got split into groups. Everyone ate lunch with the St. Stephen’s students in their respective group and then got to participate in an activity. Some got to go down to the beach and collect sea glass, others learned how to do origami, and the final group learned Japanese calligraphy all while interacting with St. Stephen’s students.

Then in Yamanashi, Morningsiders met with Yamanashi Mayor Haruo Takagi, went to a strawberry farm, visited Yamanashi University, toured an ice cream factory, and met the lieutenant governor of Yamanashi. The strawberry farm grows six different varieties of strawberries and uses crushed coconut imported from Sri Lanka for the soil. The berries were delicious!


At Yamanashi University, the choir participated in a music workshop while other students discussed differences between agriculture in Iowa compared to Yamanashi and learned that organic production agriculture means a lot to the Japanese. They place great importance on being eco-friendly. For example, to keep cooling costs down in the hot summer months, professors at Yamanashi University were growing grape vines along the side of the building. They wanted to see which of the six grape varieties produced the biggest leaves, grew the tallest and provided the most shade for them.



Morningsiders also toured an ice cream factory. They got to see the production line and taste test two of the factory’s ice cream treats, which were delicious! Ice cream is a popular treat in Japan and can most commonly be purchased in convenience stores and at vending machines. The company, Fuji Foods, sells prepackaged ice cream cones to convenience stores such as FamilyMart.

While in Tokyo, agriculture students visited the Tyson Foods headquarters and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and everyone visited the Tsukiji Fish Market and the Meiji Shinto Shrine. At Tyson and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, agriculture students learned the importance of the United States and Japan’s relationship while also learning how American beef and pork is marketed to the Japanese people. To help convey this picture better, students toured a grocery store where they saw displays for American beef and learned how the cartoon character Gochipo helps market American pork.

The Tsukiji Fish Market was another popular stop with students, alumni, and faculty alike. It is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and handles over 2,000 tons of marine products on a daily basis. It consists of both an indoor and outdoor market. The indoor market is where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auction takes place daily. The outdoor market consists of retail shops and stores where people are able to sample products and purchase them for themselves.

Students made a stop at the Meiji Shinto Shrine, one of Japan’s most popular shrines. It was dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken in 1920, but later destroyed during World War II. After being destroyed, it was rebuilt and continues to undergo improvements. During the year, traditional Shinto weddings take place at this shrine, and everyone got the opportunity to witness one taking place. Students also had ample time to explore the city.

All in all, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Morningside enjoyed the trip to Japan. From learning about the food and agriculture and tasting plenty of new treats to enjoying the choir performances at various venues and visiting popular tourist attractions, everyone was able to learn and gain something from the experience.



Published in: on June 14, 2018 at 8:44 PM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Muriel Stone (’64)

Muriel Stone has always had a life-long passion for the fine arts and music. This passion led her to Morningside College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education in 1964.

Stone found her way to Morningside through a Morningside admissions counselor. She explained how she was impressed with the great music program and the scholarship she received helped as well.

During her time on campus, Stone was very involved both inside and outside of the music department. She participated in band, choir, orchestra, and a woodwind quartet. Additionally, she was in a music sorority on campus. Outside of the music department, she served as a hall counselor, was a member of the student religious group, a student council secretary and a member of LASS, a group for freshman women who were outstanding freshman students who had gotten off to a great start in college. Her sophomore year, Stone also served as the sophomore women student of the year.

Although Stone’s professional career did not include much music, she is now an active part of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and a musician in the Sun City Chamber Orchestra.

“My love of music has taken me into an area of chamber music,” Stone said.

Stone currently serves as a board member on the Phoenix Chamber Music Society. “Our goal as a society is to bring the world’s finest chamber musicians here to the valley.”

She additionally is a musician in the Sun City Chamber Orchestra. This group of talented musicians performs four to six concerts a year and plays a variety of musical selections ranging from classical, to jazz. Stone is the first flute in this group, an accomplishment she is very proud of.

Stone had numerous pieces of advice for current students.

“Do very well academically and love the area you choose to study,” she said. “Be involved and be connected on campus and encourage curiosity and a sense of excellence.”

Her advice for young alumni?

“Stay connected to the college. Always be grateful for what you have been able to do and have. Be a very productive citizen and remain a productive and intellectual learner.”


You may not realize, but 100% of full-time undergraduate students receive financial aid at Morningside. Muriel Stone is one of those students who received a scholarship during her time at Morningside that helped make the choice to come to Morningside an easy one. Scholarships, along with a passion for music and performing arts, led Stone to a novel idea.

“I would love to have a challenge scholarship, so to say, that challenges alumni to step forward and give back.”

Her vision for the scholarship includes one of which would encourage the recruitment of fine musicians as well as help with retention. Stone’s goals for the scholarship include helping with recruitment, helping music students financially, and helping to strengthen the performing arts and music program at Morningside.

“I hope (by establishing a scholarship) other alumni who were music majors will establish scholarships in their area as well.”

By this Stone indicated that she would love to see a variety of scholarships in different areas, for example, one for a clarinet player that wants to be part of a woodwind quartet, or one for a trumpet player who would like to be part of a brass quartet.

“I would love to see this idea grow and watch as others give back.”


Published in: on May 2, 2018 at 10:40 AM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Karla Santi (’98)

A 1998 Morningside graduate, Karla (Engbard) Santi is a founding partner and CEO of Blend Interactive, a website design and development company founded in 2005 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Santi also has two other Morningside graduates working for her company. As Interactive Designers, Sam Otis (2001) and Weston Burkhardt (2014) put their Graphic Design and Computer Science majors to use as they focus on design, accessibility, and front-end web development.

Santi is married Jayson Santi, a 1996 Morningside graduate, and they have two children.

Santi said she was originally drawn to Morningside because it was one of the few schools with a proper computer lab for graphic design students.

“At the time, I was also considering both private and public colleges in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but it was this small, private college in Iowa that proved to be cutting edge,” she said.

She majored in graphic design and minored in business at Morningside, participating in Student Government, Alpha Lambda Delta, Creative Edge Ad Club, and the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition and Alpha Delta Sigma Honor Society.

She played on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II women’s tennis team, where she still holds several school records.

Santi said her favorite thing about Morningside was the people.

“Professors cared about my academic success, and their advice (or rules) shaped how I tackle projects and deadlines today in my role as CEO,” she said. “The friends I made at Morningside also played an important part in my career path. My roommate, Sarah, lined up my internship, which turned into a career in web design and development. I remember many late nights in the computer lab working alongside my fellow graphic design classmates, many of which have gone on to be very successful in their careers as well.”

In addition to running a business, Santi serves on the board of directors for the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship and the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is a mentor through EmBe’s Women’s Leadership Program and has a passion for encouraging young women to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math. She also takes part in a weekly tennis league and even finds time for a ballet class.

Her advice for students was to learn not just from your major but from your entire college experience.

“Some of the most valuable takeaways from college aren’t always related to your degree,” she said. “When I see job applicants with four-year degrees, that tells me they can commit to a process of rigorous, structured work. It’s in these years of independence where you learn how to prioritize tasks, set expectations and communicate with others – all while making mistakes along the way. The experience and relationships you form while earning your degree are equally as important to the subject matter of your major.”

Her advice for young alumni was don’t be afraid to get started.

“It’s advice that I’ve been given and have to work on every day: ‘Don’t wait for perfection to start something.’ If we wait for perfection, it will never happen. Start something and refine as you go. It’s difficult advice for us perfectionists out there, but even with time, nothing is ever perfect.”


Published in: on at 10:32 AM Comments (0)

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)