Student Spotlight: Matthew Nieland



Matthew Nieland is a student that works hard to get involved and meet new people whenever he can. Nieland is a senior biology and chemistry double major from Auburn, Iowa.

When asked, Nieland explained that he chose Morningside because he felt that it was the perfect distance from home. He stated, “It wasn’t too close, but also not too far away.” He also enjoyed the beautiful campus and the friendly people that he met on his visits.

“I like Morningside because the professors really care about their students and there are a lot of opportunities to be involved,” Nieland said.

Nieland has taken every opportunity to get involved in groups and activities on campus. Currently, he is involved in Chemistry Club, Tri-Beta, Omicron Delta Kappa, Marching Mustangs, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and he is a staff member for Residence Life. Nieland was also crowned the 2017 Homecoming King this year.

His favorite thing about being involved on campus is working with others. After graduation in May, Nieland plans to attend graduate school to further his education.

Published in: on January 10, 2018 at 1:11 PM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: J William Swanson (’09)

J. William Swanson graduated from Morningside in December 2009, with a double major in biology and secondary education. He went to further his education and later got a Master of Arts in Teaching from Morningside and an ELL Endorsement.

When asked why he chose to attend Morningside, Swanson said, “…it felt like home. From the moment I stepped on campus, I felt like it was a place I could call home.”

While at Morningside, Swanson was very involved. Swanson explained, “I loved all of the opportunities to get involved on campus, from Honors Seminar to Acacia Fraternity and a work study job with the Admissions Department that became a second family.” He was involved in multiple organizations and activities while at college. Swanson was involved in Acacia Fraternity, Kappa Delta Pi, Into the Streets, Student Government, and Student Alumni Association. Additionally, he was an Admissions Ambassador, participated in Honors Seminar and Intramural’s. Swanson also took a May Term to Ireland and studied abroad for a semester in England.

His advice for current students was simple. Swanson said, “Remember why you are there, keep focused on potential opportunities, and take advantage of all of the things college has to offer.”

His advice to young alumni? Swanson said, “Your first job out of college may not be your ideal job. Work hard and get to where you want to be. Better yourself by continuing to be a life-long learner.”

Swanson is currently in the middle of his eighth year of teaching high school biological sciences in Storm Lake, Iowa. He is just as involved at Storm Lake as he was when he was a student at Morningside. Swanson currently serves as the advisor for Student Council, is a girl’s golf coach, a score-keeper at basketball games, an announcer at wrestling duels, and an avid audience member of the various fine arts productions and concerts.


Published in: on at 1:11 PM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Dick Stone (’68)

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Dick Stone has taken every opportunity to get involved at Morningside while as an alumni through various activities and the Morningside Alumni Board. He has been a member on the board since 2011 and currently serves as the treasurer.

Stone graduated from Morningside College in 1968 with a major in Business Administration. After graduation, he went to further his education and got his Masters in Business Administration from Arizona State University in 1979. In 1991, he received his Masters of International Management from the University of Dallas, which rounded out his education.

When asked, Stone stated that he chose to attend Morningside because he was familiar with the school since he grew up in Sioux City. He explained, “I was born and raised in Sioux City. From seventh grade to graduating from Morningside, I attended schools within a two block radius. Because I grew up in Sioux City, I was connected with Morningside a long time before enrolling, and was never sorry of that connection.”

Stone’s favorite thing about Morningside was the smaller class sizes. He stated, “The smaller classes allowed for the faculty to be more accessible to the students. You weren’t just a number in a lecture hall of 100+ students like the larger schools.”

His advice for current students was to get involved in college activities. He explained that while going to college, he worked 30-35 hours a week off campus, which left little time for activities. Stone states, “One of my life’s biggest disappointments is that I was not more involved in college activities during my four years at Morningside. My advice is to be involved as much as you can based on your individual circumstances.

His advice to current alumni was to stay connected to the college and the people that you met while at Morningside. Stone explained, “Stay connected to both the college and to the friendships you have made during your time at Morningside. No matter where you live, chances are that there will be other alumni in your area. It is a great opportunity to network.”

Stone returned to Sioux City when he retired in 2011, but for forty-two years prior to that he lived in multiple different cities. He stated that he lived in Knoxville, San Diego, Phoenix, San Jose, and Dallas. For twenty-seven out of those forty-two years, he worked for Motorola, Inc. in the Semiconductor Division. Once Stone retired in 2011, he decided that he wanted to come back to Sioux City. He stated, “When I retired in 2011, I decided that I wanted to come home and it has been very rewarding to me by being involved in many of the college activities that I was not able to participate in during my college years.”

Published in: on December 12, 2017 at 3:18 PM Comments (0)

Student Spotlight: Hope Philbrick


Hope Philbrick is always looking for ways to help and serve people, which makes her future career path very fitting. Philbrick is from Council Bluffs, Iowa and is currently a senior with a major in Nursing and a minor in Psychology.

When asked why she chose to attend Morningside, Philbrick stated, “I decided to come to Morningside because I liked the idea of continuing to participate in activities that I enjoy, while going to college. Morningside gave me the opportunity to get involved with as many groups on campus as I wanted, while still being able to be successful in the classroom.”

Philbrick is very involved on campus by being active in the music department and various other groups. Her activities include Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Woodwind Ensemble, Marching Mustangs, Color Guard, Pep Band, Connie Wimer Women’s Leadership Program, a staff member on the Residence Life Staff, a member of Beta Beta Beta Honor Society, and participates in Christ Connections, a Christian group that offers students worship services, small group nights, movie and game nights, and volunteering opportunities.

When discussing her favorite thing about the activities she is involved in she stated, “I like being a part of a community here on campus and getting to know other students who are outside of my major.”

After graduation Philbrick plans to work at a hospital and would like to travel. She stated, “After I graduate, I’d like to work at a hospital. I would also like to travel and go on medical mission trips to help people in other countries receive the care that they need. Most of all, I plan to help and serve others in any way that I can.”


Published in: on December 5, 2017 at 9:15 AM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Kristin Noreen


Kristin Noreen has had a passion for education and for helping others, which is evident through the various campus and community activities she is involved in.

Noreen graduated from Morningside in 1980 with a double major in Elementary Education and Physical Education. Later, she got her Masters in Elementary Education from Morningside and a Special Education Degree for Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa. She used the education she received to teach school for thirty-four years, most of those being in the Sioux City area.

During her time at Morningside, Noreen was involved in Alpha Omicron Pi and was a member of the women’s basketball team.

When asked why she chose to attend Morningside, Noreen stated, “It fit my personal and educational needs.” She added that she liked how it was a smaller school and she knew once she started that it was the right fit for her. Noreen explained that her favorite thing about her time at Morningside was the quality education she received and the lifetime long friendships she created.

Her advice for current students was to, “Enjoy your time in college. It will be some of the best years of your life.” Noreen’s advice to young alumni was to get involved with Morningside. She stated, “We have a tremendous Alumni staff to help you get involved both on and off campus.”

Today, Noreen continues to stay involved in the community and on campus. She volunteers at St. Luke’s, attends numerous Morningside athletic and fine arts activities, and is very involved in volunteering at Morningside as an alumna. Noreen has served on the Morningside Alumni Board since 2009, and currently serves as the Secretary. Every year she helps coordinate volunteers for homecoming and helps out with various homecoming activities. Additionally, she volunteers with numerous other alumni events including Morningside Madness.


Published in: on November 29, 2017 at 4:06 PM Comments (0)

Student Spotlight: Molly McInnis


Molly McInnis has always had a passion for education, which is evident in everything she does. McInnis is currently a junior from Beresford, South Dakota with a double major in Special Education and Elementary Education.

She knew from the beginning that Morningside was the right fit for her career path. McInnis stated, “I choose Morningside because I loved the campus and the education department.” She knew she wanted to be a teacher, so she felt like Morningside was the perfect fit.

McInnis loves the small campus environment, being able to have personal relationships with her professors and appreciates the opportunities that a small college campus provides. She believes that students at Morningside have the opportunity to grow not only as a student, but also as a person.

She is very involved on campus, currently serving as the Head Apartment Manager, the President of Teachers Inspiring Exceptional Students (T.I.E.S.), a group for future special education teachers, a chair member of Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education, and is a member of the Connie Wimer Women’s Leadership Program. Additionally, she is involved in Christ Connections, a Christian ministry group on campus, and she leads a bible study for students.

When asked, McInnis indicated that her favorite thing about the groups and  activities she is involved in is the people. She stated, “I love the people I meet in all the groups and activities I am involved in. I love meeting new people and being able to share experiences and memories with them.

After graduation, McInnis has plans to stay around the Siouxland area where she is looking forward to teaching.

Published in: on November 14, 2017 at 9:10 AM Comments (0)

Alumni Spotlight: Chad Heggen


Chad Heggen is a 1993 graduate from Morningside College with a love for art. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Art major, with minors in Photography and Mass Communications.

Heggen chose Morningside for many reasons. He stated that he like the small campus and school feel. Additionally, he loved the art department and said that a college that had a good ceramics room was high on his list when choosing colleges. Heggen explained that he also had a great recruiter.

When asked what his favorite thing about Morningside was during his time on campus, Heggen stated that it was, “The ability to be involved in so many things and everyone was so supportive and willing to help. I met many people, both students and professors, that had a positive influence on who I am today.”

During his college career, Heggen was very involved, participating in Delta Sigma Phi, Creative Edge/Ad Club,taking photographs for the newspaper and yearbook, working as the camera operator and technical director on the nightly MCTV news, and being a football cheerleader. Additionally, he worked in Morningside Graphic Services.

Heggen’s advice for current students was to get involved in activities. He stated, “Get involved in activities. They will help you form a direction in which to go. They also introduce you to people that can help place you in a field.” Additionally, he stated it is important for students to read and form their own conclusions on matters and plan on learning for the rest of their lives.

His advice for young alumni was to, “Keep in touch with your dreams; you still have time to reach them.”

Currently, Heggen’s work can be found hanging at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum and at the Clear Lake Art Center. Additionally, he has a website,, that includes his work which he updates often.

Published in: on November 9, 2017 at 9:27 AM Comments (0)

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)