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Humans of Clarke

Everyone has a story.

The Humans of Clarke campaign is a social media movement that works to connect the Clarke community. Through sharing student stories on Facebook and Instagram, we help all those within Clarke’s network feel more linked and provide an avenue for individuals to become known and connected.

Read recent Humans of Clarke stories on Clarke University’s Facebook and Instagram.

TELL US YOUR STORY

Kylee Allen

Nursing ’22

The biggest challenge I had to face when coming to Clarke was my age. I graduated high school two years early and started my freshman year at Clarke at the age of 16. I faced a lot of adversity and was told countless times that I would not be able to adapt to college life. I was told that I would not be able to achieve the goals that I had set for myself because I was “too young” to know what I wanted to do with my life. There were times where I would be discouraged by the negativity, however, I knew that I could achieve my goals as long as I worked hard and did not allow other people’s opinion to define my ability.

Although I am only a sophomore, I have made many connections with people within our community. As a nursing major, I have had the opportunity to volunteer at various places within the community, as well as meet people from health care facilities in Dubuque and the surrounding areas through the Nursing Career Fair.

I have been involved in a few different things at Clarke during my time here, but my favorite is dance marathon. Since moving to Iowa in 2012, it has been a dream of mine to work in the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Though I still have a while before I graduate and can directly work with the children, I can help children and their families through CUDM.

During my time at Clarke, I have learned a lot, both academically and personally. I was homeschooled up until I went to college, so I had to learn how to adapt to learning in a classroom environment quickly. I have learned to articulate myself more effectively both in speech and in writing, learned how to work in groups, and how to manage my time more efficiently. Clarke has allowed me to explore different interests that I had, from biochemistry to creative writing, and everything in between.

My favorite memory from Clarke is when I went on my first tour of campus. I had toured other schools, but I had never felt at home the way I did at Clarke. After talking with the professors and faculty on my visit, I knew that Clarke was the place that I belonged.

I want to graduate with my BSN, then continue and obtain my DNP-FNP. After that, it is my dream to have my own practice. Throughout graduate school, I plan to work in a local hospital.

Lauren Jones

Nursing and Psychology ’20

I am from Chicago originally. I moved to Dubuque about 5 years ago when I was given an opportunity to go back to school. As a single, working parent of two boys (ages 7 & 9), and with my mom and most of my family many miles away, it was a great challenge. There are many struggles involved with being a parent attending college, including finding childcare I could trust, dealing with behavioral challenges with my youngest son, sacrificing studies, and staying up late to study so my babies would still have my presence in their lives.

Personally, my biggest adjustment with returning to school at age 34 was getting back into writing papers and test taking. Although it was tough at first, I was determined not to fail. The best thing that helped me on my way was developing a time management schedule with help from the MARC at Clarke. This, along with gaining support within the Dubuque community (like the Dream Center), provided the help my family and I needed. Although I faced setbacks to get to where I am now, I have no regrets. It is never too late to follow your dreams.

Attending Clarke has enhanced my desire to help others. I enjoy giving back to my community any way God allows me. I have volunteered at the Multicultural Family Center’s teen night, Cozy Corner, and Four Oak’s Supervised Community Treatment (SCT). I also studied abroad in the Dominican Republic with Clarke’s Nursing program, learning of their culture and helping them with their healthcare needs. I try my best to instill a “helping” attitude in my boys as well. Our household motto is “it’s nice to be nice.” From passing fruit out in the community to helping someone with yardwork, our motto has helped my boys have appreciation and joy in their heart. I am also on the parent committee of the Dubuque Dream Center. Being a voice for other parents in the community, my number one commitment is to continue being present in my boys life and an active parent in their school and programs.

My greatest memory of Clarke is the diverse group of friends I have made while attending. I enjoyed learning about other cultures through these friends made and it has added great insight to the curriculum taught at Clarke about diversity. I can take this along with me in a clinical setting while caring for clients. I am also thankful for the Nursing and Psychology faculty that has empowered me throughout this journey, they have impacted my life more than they will ever know.

Clarke has prepared me to gain knowledge to contribute my skills to the world. I have the ability to utilize problem-solving skills and evidence-based practice in a healthcare setting. I would like to specialize in Mental Health Nursing, advocating for mental health clients and breaking the stigma that is currently portrayed. I would like to further my education by receiving additional certification within mental health. I also have an interest in becoming a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E. Nurse), and later possibly specializing in Forensic Nursing.

Maddy Luedtke

Pre-PT and Biology ’23

I am a single mom who bartends for a living. I had to pause school for four years to raise my son and make sure I didn’t miss all of his firsts – first steps, first words, etc. Financially it has been a struggle. People think it’s so easy for single moms to get financial aid, but in reality it’s not. The availability of programs made to help single parents to go back to school isn’t as big as it used to be. My mom has been a huge help in watching my son at night when I need to do late night study sessions or school activities. I honestly wouldn’t be able to be as successful as I’ve been here if it wasn’t for her help.

My favorite memory of Clarke is actually from when I was a little kid. My mom was enrolled here at Clarke and she would always bring my sister and me into the clay lab while she worked. I remember roaming the halls of Eliza Kelly and being awestruck at how massive the stairs were and how tall the building was. I remember smelling the kilns firing and feeling how warm the lower level would get.

One morning within my first few weeks as a student at Clarke, I could smell the kilns firing in Eliza Kelly. I texted my mom right away to tell her how happy I was to smell the clay. Clarke was almost like a second home when I was a kid. To be back here as a 3rd-generation Clarke student means the world to me.

Although I’m still in my first semester, I have already noticed a change in how I approach larger group conversations and presentations. I have become a take charge, “Type A” personality. I volunteered to be co-president of CU Benchwarmers because I have so much Clarke spirit and want others to feel the same way.

I have a few goals that all line up. Get my bachelor’s degree, get into grad school, and graduate with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, so I can work as a physical therapist and help people. I have always been good at helping others; it’s a natural instinct for me. I feel like physical therapy will be where I fit in.

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Leah Schaefer

Nursing ’20

One of the biggest challenges I had to face when coming to Clarke was adapting to city life. I grew up on a farm in Goose Lake, Iowa, which is about an hour south of Dubuque. All my life, I had only ever lived in a rural area, so moving to an urban area for 4 years was a culture shock. Back where I am from, everyone knows everyone and you can make conversation with anyone whether or not you know them. The nearest gas station or store is about 15-20 minutes from our farm. My family runs a cow/calf operation, raises chickens, and we have show cattle as well. The weekends that I am not in Dubuque, I go home to help on the farm.

If you were to ask any of my friends, they would say I am the most outgoing one. My parents call me the “wild child” because I know how to have a fun time. I think every student is nervous when they first come to college, but Clarke is probably where I have changed the most. I can talk to anyone, whether I know them or not. I always like to joke around with my friends that I could talk to a wall if I had to. I guess that is just the type of person I am. Knowing that something could happen tomorrow, I live every day to the fullest.

For the last three years, I have been involved in an organization called Clarke Association of Nursing Students (CANS). This organization is for all nursing students to get involved – not only on campus, but in the Dubuque community as well. I served as a sophomore representative when my sister (Clarke Class of ’18) was president, and this year I am president of the club. Being in charge of an organization takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Some of my roles include overseeing our weekly meetings, contacting local businesses, managing finances, and more. CANS hosts many events throughout the year, including our annual bake sale, breast cancer shirt sales, and talent show. Every year during the month of October, we raise money for breast cancer awareness and donate it to the Wendt Regional Cancer Center. We also donate money to other non-profit organizations such as Hills and Dales and Camp Courageous. Taking on this position, I did not know that it would be so rewarding. My leadership skills along with the help from my executive board makes this organization so successful. I could not have been more honored to fulfill these positions during my time here at Clarke.

I would have to say that my favorite memory at Clarke was living in the dorms. This is where I made many friends, and I don’t know what I would do without them. People say that the dorms are where you meet your lifelong friends and I agree with that 100%.

Upon graduation, my plan is to work through the Genesis Health System back in Eastern Iowa. I have loved every area of nursing besides a select few, so I am going to wait and see what jobs are available when the time comes.

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John O’Rourke

Computer Information Systems ’20

I have changed in a lot of ways since coming to Clarke. As a freshman, I was closed off and not a very social person at all. I would spend most of the time in my dorm just doing homework or playing video games when I wasn’t at volleyball practice. Near the end of my freshman year, I came out of my shell and began to branch out more and try to make some friends. Now, nearing the end of my junior year, I can hold a conversation with so many people here on campus, even outside of our team.

Being on the team is like having a second family. We do a lot together and get along with each other very well. We really are our own breed of odd, but we embrace it no matter what because we are just comfortable being our very goofy selves. Through my coaches and teammates, I can say that I have learned what it means to be disciplined and have a strong work ethic while also being able to enjoy the time spent in the gym/on the court. Year after year, I see more growth in myself in the classroom because of what I have learned being part of our team. The lessons of keeping a strong work ethic and doing everything “all the way” have been ingrained in all of the upperclassmen and we have been encouraging the underclassmen to follow our footsteps.

Clarke has really helped me prepare for my future by not only helping me create a strong resume and background for any future jobs/careers I could have, but by also allowing me to build a portfolio of all projects I have completed within the Computer Information Systems (CIS) program. This portfolio holds everything from database work to a Mario-style video game that I created myself, and even an app or two. From a personal standpoint, I think that my decision to go to Clarke was a smart one. I was never a fan of how big my high school was, about 3,000 students, and felt that I needed to go somewhere smaller. The class size and overall welcoming atmosphere here at Clarke has been something that has helped me meet new people every year and create lasting relationships with the students and staff.

After graduation, I want to become a software developer, network administrator, or cyber security specialist using what I have learned at Clarke, and I plan to stay connected with the Clarke community.

My favorite memory at Clarke is the moment that my brother told me he had decided to attend Clarke as well. We are both on the men’s volleyball team and knowing that we have three members of our family (my brother, my cousin, and myself) here is something that I will always cherish.

Charlotte Rodewald

Graphic Design and English ’20

I feel like I live at Clarke, even though I’m a commuter student. As an art major, I am usually on campus working on projects in the graphic design lab or helping set up galleries. I am in the Scholars Program, which I absolutely love. Through the Scholars Program, we do several activities throughout the year including an Academic Conference and Dance Marathon. I have submitted poems and artwork to the Tenth muse since I was a freshman and I will be joining the production team next year. I became a writer for the Crux last semester as well as an officer in the Dungeons and Dragons Club where I run some of the campaigns as the Dungeon Master.

My experience winning at the American Advertising Federation (AAF) awards was completely and utterly out of this world. I still can’t believe that it happened. Before this year’s competition, I had won Silver honors in the Regional AAF competition and one Judge’s Choice award, so I only had a vague idea of what happened beyond Regionals. When I entered my poster, Ed’s Chuck Wagon, it was like suddenly the flood gates were opened. I received my first Gold award, a Judge’s Choice award, and Best of Show for Regionals. At District 9, I was awarded the Gold honor, and then went on to earn a Silver award in the National Competition.

I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams that I could get so far in the AAF awards. It is hard to describe the feeling when the thing you have been training for gets recognized by the top of your field. It’s like every single time you were frustrated, angry, upset with yourself, or felt like you would never be good enough, was worth it, because it pushed you to work harder. As an art student, I feel validated in my decision to become an artist. I made the right choice to pursue my dreams, and everything I have learned at Clarke has enabled me to get to the National competition in Florida where I met the designers and the heads for advertising for companies like Coca-Cola and Adobe. I feel more than ever that I know what I want to get from my career as an artist. It was very inspiring, seeing these head designers emphasizing the idea that advertising can change the world, and showing it through their work.

I was homeschooled in high school, so going from that to Clarke was a big adjustment. I have gained a lot of confidence through my time at Clarke. My friends and family have all commented that they feel like I have really blossomed here. I believe that Clarke has prepared me for my future professionally and personally. Just seeing the work of both students and professionals in my field at the AAF Nationals shows that the values taught by our teachers hold up to what could be considered the national standard. Our teachers don’t just focus on advertising or traditional art, but they also place emphasis on teaching their students a range of skills so not only will they be able to have any position they want in the art field, but they can also communicate with other fields and understand their languages.

The teachers here at Clarke want you to be able to feel confident talking with superiors or colleagues about work as well be able to be a professional freelancer that could manage everything singularly. For example, all art students take a photography class so we can properly document our work and know how professional cameras work. We all learn how to work the machines in the wood working room and are all well-versed in the attributes of various types of paper, printing methods, and what is preferred for any given task. It really is a program that wants you to be well-rounded. You are taught how to think like a designer, how to come up with compelling ideas, then you are taught the 2D and 3D skills needed to create the idea, the camera skills to professionally capture that work, the Adobe programs to arrange it, typography, website design, copywriting, production layout, and printing techniques. If I needed to, with the skills that Clarke taught me, even though I still have another year to go, I feel confident that I could create an entire brand by myself.

I think my favorite memory from Clarke would be all the times I had to stay up late in the lab with my friends. I know it sounds weird, but having everyone together, working on the same project, blasting music, and taking breaks here and there to wake our legs up makes those long nights not so long. We can joke around and throw around some ideas for our project. It also gives the different class years the opportunity to mix, get to know each other, and to pass down some knowledge and best practices.

Josh Sanchez

Business Administration and Sports Management ’20

Motivation is key for me. Knowing I’m the first in my family to go to college really motivates me. I want to get good grades and graduate to make an impact on my family. In the past my family and I were homeless for a period of time. So now, ultimately, getting a good job and being able to take care of my parents is really important to me. My work ethic has become very strong. My brothers are hard workers and they have been amazing examples for me. I take pride in being a student athlete. Being in college is rough, and being a dedicated student athlete is very challenging. I balance my time between academics, sports, and working outside of campus, and am so thankful for the support of my coach and team.

When I was a child, I struggled reading easy material. Fast forward to high school, I was in a program called an IEP, which helped me obtain special help in my academic life. As I got older, I made it a goal to not need this program. By the end of my junior year of high school, I was off the IEP. I was very excited to be a regular student with advanced level classes. Looking back at my struggles gives me strength to continue achieving greatness and working hard to keep a positive mindset.

Clarke has prepared me for the future on the professional side by giving me all the knowledge to be successful with anything I do. On the personal side of being at Clarke, I found the true Josh Sanchez by finding faith and love with the people that I surround myself with. Also, Clarke showed me how to have fun with all the campus events during the week.

My favorite memory at Clarke was the final game of the World Series in 2016, when the Cubs took the title from Cleveland Indians. During the whole game, everyone in Mary Jo was going insane because the Cubs were getting closer to a world championship. Once the game ended with the third out, everyone in Mary Jo went into the hallway to celebrate by yelling, going crazy, and (my favorite) running up and down the hallways rejoicing with excitement. This celebration went on at least one hour after the game finished. I laughed so hard that I cried with tears of joy, because at that moment I knew that God wanted me to find Clarke with the purpose to impact anyone that I come in contact with by my positivity.

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Corey Bormann

Nursing ’15

I currently work as a Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic. I am in the process of applying to graduate schools with the hopes of becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I was a little unsure whether to apply at first, but in true Clarke fashion, my former nursing professors supported me and told me to go for it.

During my time at Clarke, I was on the track and field team. This might sound crazy, but some of my favorite memories are the long, difficult workouts I had to go through with my teammates. Those challenging moments really brought us closer together as a team and helped to form lasting friendships.

My favorite thing about Clarke is that the campus community feels like one big family. My professors truly cared about me and they would go out of their way to make sure my classmates and I were doing ok, both inside and outside of the classroom. I have a special bond with Tim Boffeli that has lasted to this day. He helped me out tremendously during my first year at Clarke and I will always be thankful for that.

Some backstory: the summer before I came to Clarke, I had a near-death experience in the Atlantic Ocean. When I joined the track and field team at Clarke, one of our workouts took place in a swimming pool. After getting into the pool, the feeling of the water triggered a flashback to my near-death experience and I had to stop the workout instantly. I went to Tim for help and he developed a plan for me to cope with the trauma and ease into being in the water. I have since been back to the ocean and I do not know if I could have done it without Tim’s kindness and generosity.

Last September, I went on a mission trip to Cucuta, Colombia. While I was there, I provided medical care to Venezuelan refugees. My job was to make sure each patient would see the correct doctor for whatever ailment they had. We helped roughly 250 patients per day of all ages, young kids to the elderly. In the evenings, we would play soccer or do other activities with the kids. It was so rewarding to be able to make a difference in these people’s lives, especially since they had been uprooted from their homes. I think the values of service instilled in me at Clarke had a lot to do with that.

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Maggie Chwieralski

Business Administration & Psychology ’20

Thinking back, I would have never seen myself studying here in Iowa. Coming from the northern suburbs of Chicago, moving to Iowa was a tremendous adjustment freshman year. I enjoy adventures in the outdoors! I quickly turned my Chicago downtown adventures into Mississippi river walks and hikes at the Mines of Spain. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with what Iowa offers.

My parents were born and raised in Poland. I am the first generation daughter to move away from home and go to college. I come from the most diverse high school in our district, Maine East. All of my friends back home speak multiple languages. This was definitely my toughest transition to adapt to at Clarke because I no longer had my daily practices of speaking my native language. But being different here at Clarke allowed me to get more involved by teaching others about my roots. I will forever be grateful for being bilingual. One thing that has remained constant throughout my life is the difficulty others face when trying to pronounce my last name. In addition, it will never get old to see people’s reactions when they first hear me speak Polish. Teaching others about Poland and speaking Polish to new people is actually my favorite memory from freshman year.

Being a student-athlete here has taught me how to discipline myself in terms of time management. Freshman year was a difficult challenge to learn how to do homework late at night while traveling back from an away game or taking an exam earlier because of travels. If it wasn’t for volleyball, I would not be the person that I am today. Not only have I learned a lot about myself these past years, I have also grown. I have met the most amazing friends and teammates that will be my lifelong best friends. I have learned how to take care of myself independently by having a job, living in an apartment, and simply finding time to do what I love to do. In all honesty, college goes by even faster than the four years of high school. I have learned how to truly follow the phrase, “Enjoy it while you can!” I encourage others to out and try something new. For instance, I have always wanted to learn to ski, so I did, Now, I ski every winter. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, because you may really surprise yourself and discover something completely new about yourself.

After Clarke, I plan to earn a Graduate degree in Sports Psychology. I have a strong passion for sports and a desire to help others. I hope to continue improving people’s mental health and creating a positive environment for others around me.

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Brandon Heckendorf

Sport Management ’22

I am majoring in sport management and will graduate in 2022. I am a member of the sport management club along with being a member of the scholars program. Clarke has taught me so much about how to grow and mature professionally. I have learned how to take hold of opportunities that come my way and market myself to future employers. Clarke has shown me the importance of making connections with people, and I have already started that. I have definitely gained a greater amount of responsibility by living on my own. I am now much more organized with my personal life, school life, and football. I have improved on time management skills and completing my assignments on time.

I am thrilled and proud to be a part of Clarke’s first football team. We are the ones to lay down the foundation for what the program is to become. Every day we have been working hard, and there is one thought on all of our minds, which is August 31. I cannot wait until we step foot on that field for the inaugural game with the stands packed to cheer us on to a victory over Central Methodist University! My favorite memory of Clarke so far is when the football team got to take pictures in our brand new uniforms on the field. Everyone loved that day.

I have always been pushed, even as a little kid, to do everything with my best effort. I could clearly see this challenge me throughout my years of high school in the classroom and on the football field. At times I may not have liked putting in all the extra work, but now I see the progress that I have made and only hope to improve upon that. Once I graduate from Clarke, I hope to find a job in the sport management field and work my way up into a college university position. When the time is right, I hope to get married and start up my own family one day.

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Chad Johns

Psychology ’16

I currently live and work in Israel, where my wife is from. I work as a Sales Development Representative for an Israeli high tech startup company that is a Language Service Provider (LSP). The company is called One Hour Translation and they focus on business solutions for translation of company websites, mobile apps, and business and/or legal documents into over 90 languages. I am continuing my education in Israel to obtain a master’s degree in Government with a focus on Diplomacy & Conflict Resolution as well as a sub specialty in Contemporary Middle Eastern Politics.

I graduated from Clarke in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Clarke prepared me for my future by providing me with a high-class education, excellent professors, and ideal class sizes which allowed me to develop myself intellectually as well as professionally. On a more obvious level, it allowed me to apply for jobs like my current one which require a minimum of a BA, and which is allowing me to continue my education at the master’s level. My favorite memories of Clarke have to do with the great class discussions with the professors and student peers who always managed to bring varied ideas or new ways of looking at issues from all sides. I appreciated the freedom to discuss complex and sometimes difficult topics in an honest and respectful manner.

I have faced many challenges in life to get where I am now. Immigrating into a foreign country and leaving all my family and friends to start a new life halfway across the globe were challenging. But I also faced one of the most difficult challenges, complacency. Meaning I had to take chances and be willing to continue to grow, face new challenges, and never be satisfied with the status quo. My goals for the future include becoming a better husband, perhaps even a father in the next few years. Also, and more immediate, is my decision to further my education and become more involved in world politics in a diplomatic capacity. Eventually I hope to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor not unlike the great ones I encountered at Clarke such as Tim Boffeli and many others.

Chelsea Davis

Master of Social Work ’19

I find myself identifying as a multitude of things. When people see me, they assume that I am a female and I am in a wheelchair. But there are a lot more things that identify me. I am a student, a social worker, a disabled person, woman, mother, partner, aunt, and sister. I have lots of different elements about me that you’d never know by just looking at me. I wasn’t always disabled. I have been in a wheelchair for just the past four years. Growing up, I was an average kid. I came from a very broken home. My father was abusive and controlling to my mother, and my mom had a lot of mental illness. That was my childhood.

In high school, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy (MD), and I didn’t really even know what it was. I started being a teenager who acted out and was rebellious. And, at 17, I ended up pregnant and homeless. I was kicked out of my parents’ house for choosing to have my baby. I managed to get by and found a place to live and work. I was a single mom, raising a little girl, not connected to my family at all. If you look at me, you wouldn’t know these things that define me and made me want to help others.

My goal is to work with people who need help or are facing challenges. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that my MD condition deteriorated and I needed to be in a wheelchair. Around this time is when I decided to go for my dream and earn my Master of Social Work (MSW) from Clarke. My message is, don’t judge a book by its cover, because everyone has their own story, and just because they look a certain way or act a certain way doesn’t mean that’s who they are and how they got to where they are.

Now, I have graduated with my MSW degree and plan to start working right away, I am due to have another daughter soon, and I am very happy with my life partner. Things have completely changed for me and I feel very successful.

Hattie Frana

History and Philosophy ’19

I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome in the summer of 2009 after a referral to a geneticist and a blood test to confirm karyotype. I am from Calmar, Iowa, but had to spend time in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Rochester, Minnesota, seeing geneticists, cardiologists, audiologists, and orthopedics. I had several x-rays on my spine which showed mild scoliosis. I was bullied in elementary and middle school because I did not fit in with the other children. I am only 4 feet 11 inches tall, and was always much shorter than my classmates. I also did not understand the jokes they tried to make even if I was the brunt of that joke. I had to take growth hormone injections which limited my ability to enjoy sleepovers because the medicine had to stay close. During middle school and high school, I had issues with math classes which eventually led to my second diagnosis of a Nonverbal Learning Disorder. This disorder affects my communication and social skills which makes it hard to interact and take directions from others. I have to tell people that I take most directions literally and can’t detect sarcasm as easily as others.

None of this has stopped me from graduating close to the top of my high school class and graduating from Clarke with honors. I am going to law school at University of Iowa in Iowa City. After graduating with my J.D., I want to practice law as an immigration and child’s right lawyer.

At Clarke, I was involved in music for campus mass. I was also part of both Scholars and Phi Sigma Tao Honor Society. I was a small faith sharing group leader and was involved with two campus ministry mission trips, one to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one to Memphis, Tennessee. During our Memphis trip, we helped refugee children, prepared a church for MLK 50, and gave eye exams to underserved children in the Memphis School System. Also, I traveled to Costa Rica with my philosophy class, which allowed me to interact with more people who spoke Spanish which will be relevant to my career as an immigration attorney. My biggest involvement at Clarke was with Peace, Betterment, and Justice Club (PB&J), where I learned invaluable communication and advocacy skills which will greatly help me as an attorney. I served as secretary and president for one year each. In the PB&J Club, I set up meetings to focus on social advocacy issues and provided service opportunities such as teams for Into the Streets, which I participated in three times.

I also took part in Dance Marathon every year I was at Clarke. This event holds a special place in mine and my family’s heart as my cousin, Trever Block, is one of Dance Marathon’s Miracle Kids.

Clarke provided me with so many opportunities to grow. One of these opportunities that stands out was an internship with Reynolds and Kenline L.L.P. I got to watch jury selection, create my own exhibit for a focus group, watch two other focus groups, and make sure all of the files made it into the online system by scanning the paper versions. Clarke also put me in touch with Americorp, which challenged me to even better my communication skills with those who work on a professional level while feeding my drive to help children. I was able to help children learn how to read every day, which made me happy.

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Breanna Judkins

Psychology and Physical Therapy ’20

During my time here at Clarke, I have involved myself in track and field and a couple clubs including Benchwarmers, Psychology club, and Clarke Organization of Student Physical Therapists. Since coming to Clarke, I have been able to improve upon my track career, my schooling, and myself. In the three years I have been here, I have worked with six different coaches, each time having to adapt to different coaching styles. It was very difficult to stay motivated when going through so many coaches, yet I learned a lot from the situation. I finally realized that a coach did not define how I felt about track. I was the only person I could rely on to reach my goals. Once I learned to switch my motivation from a coach to myself, I became steadier in my thoughts and more confident in myself.

Gratefully, I became a 2x All-American in triple jump my junior year. This experience has prepared me for my future because it taught me that I have myself to rely on and if I stay motivated and don’t rely solely on others as my motivation, then anything is possible. This perspective of my motivation was the biggest change I made after becoming a Clarkie. Another way I have changed throughout the years is that I have come to accept the scary feeling of change and learned to live in the present. I have always been one to plan everything and be stuck in the future or in the past. It made my mentality quite sad, and I overlooked the things happening right in front of me. When I realized my thoughts, I worked on myself and found greater happiness when I focused on the present instead of just the past and future.

My goal is to spread more awareness about staying in the moment and finding happiness in different situations. I want to do that through my Physical Therapy occupation and help those going through difficult times to find their own motivation and find happiness in their situation. I’m glad I chose Clarke University because it allowed me to develop into the person I have always wanted to become.

Collin Heer

Biochemistry and Biology ’15

I graduated from Clarke in 2015 with undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Biology. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program (FRRBP) at the University of Iowa. I first learned about this program at a Pre-Graduate conference at the University of Iowa that I attended with other Clarke students and professors. With help from professors at Clarke, I was hired as an undergraduate research assistant in the FRRBP the summer before my senior year at Clarke and was accepted into the graduate program following graduation. Clarke really prepared me with the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to become a successful scientist. The emphasis on developing proficiency in written and oral communication at Clarke has proven especially valuable for me in graduate school.

I am currently working with my professor Dr. Prabhat Goswami on figuring out why cancer risk increases with age. Specifically, we are focusing on the cells and environment around the tumor and how it affects cancer risk and progression, rather than studying the tumor itself. This area of cancer research has become a hot topic lately. Graduate school is inherently challenging and requires tenacity, determination, and patience. My education at Clarke helped me hone these skills and, when things get tough, I am happy that I have these skills to lean on to get through difficult times. My goal is to graduate with my Ph.D. in 2020 and transition to a post-doctoral position where I can continue studying cancer metabolism with the hopes of becoming an NIH-funded principal investigator.

I remember my final semester at Clarke very fondly. From an academic perspective, my scientific curiosity was beginning to mature while taking several exciting courses. From a social perspective, I spent most weekends with friends from my class enjoying Dubuque hiking Mines of Spain, hanging out downtown, and experiencing riverboat cruises.

Hayley Einsweiler

Nursing ’19

“I have a passion for nursing and cannot wait to begin my profession as a lifelong nurse. I have grown as a person and strengthened my skills at Clarke. Clarke places an emphasis on critical thinking, and I became aware of this in my first week of college classes. Critical thinking is a lifelong learning skill that requires me to apply my knowledge, experience, and competence. My future job as a nurse will entail problem solving, decision making, and clinical reasoning. Each of these duties will require me to think critically, and quickly, on the job. My time at Clarke University has encouraged me to think at a higher level. My spirituality has also been enhanced while at Clarke. My Humanities course, Faith and Doubt, challenged me to reflect not only on what I believe, but why I believe in God.

I am the secretary of Clarke’s Association of Nursing Students (CANS). Our group organizes different events to give back to our community. For example, we host a spring bake sale, and the profits made from this event are donated to Camp Courageous, a camp that provides year-round recreational and respite care opportunities for individuals with special needs.

This semester, I participated in Clarke’s Into the Streets event. I went to Sinsinawa Mound, which is a Catholic Dominican Sisters home. The Mound offers retreats, conferences, and workshops. My volunteer hours were spent outside in a garden. I prepared the gardens so that the Sisters are able to plant when the time comes. I raked leaves, picked weeds, tilled the dirt. One sister worked alongside of me. My time flew by as I chatted with her. I was thanked numerous times for my work and left the Mound feeling like I had made a difference.

My favorite memory from Clarke was traveling to the Dominican Republic last summer. The trip was called Nursing in the Dominican Republic. Over the week-long trip, I stepped out of my comfort zone and immersed myself into the Dominican culture. We stayed at a school in San Jose de Ocoa. We were provided with tour guides and translators, and our days were planned out for us on an itinerary. Each day was different. The first day we traveled to Los Martinez. The leader of the community spoke to us (in Spanish) about the people, their healthcare services, and production of produce including their irrigation system. The people look after each other; they provide their produce to those in need within the community before selling it for a competitive price. They are self-sufficient, humble individuals who welcomed my classmates and me with open arms. In the following days, we toured the healthcare facilities in Ocoa. These settings included the clinic, hospital, rehabilitation center, and nursing home.

The Dominican people make the most of what they have. Everyone seemed to wear a smile. Touring the different healthcare services was eye-opening. I couldn’t help but compare their setting to what I was used to the United States. For example, I am used to hospitalized patients assigned to a private room. Here, the hospital had large rooms of one bed after another. The adult female patients were put in one room while the males in another. We participated in a nurse exchange and had the opportunity to ask their nurses questions while they asked us questions in return. We also visited local schools. The children ran to us wanting hugs — what a special feeling that gave my heart! Our days were long and busy, but we were welcomed by everyone. I remember a healthcare professional at the hospital said, ‘This is your hospital too, you are welcome here.’ My trip was a life-changing experience. When I want to complain about something materialistic, I think back to my trip and how the people in the Dominican make do with what they have. I left the Dominican with an open heart and an open mind and learned that I need to disconnect to connect.”

Clarke University Biochemistry Major Graduate Brad Weimerskirch

Brad Weimerskirch

Biochemistry ’13

“After Clarke, I earned my Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Iowa in 2018. As I neared graduation with my dental degree, I started to look for employment. My wife and I are both from the Dubuque area and knew we wanted to land back in the area. I also knew that my hometown dentist was nearing retirement and decided to reach out. Through a very long process, we had things in place for me to take over his practice following my graduation. Dr. Neumeister started his practice in East Dubuque, IL, following graduation from the University of Iowa in 1983. I took over late summer of 2018 as the owner, operating as Weimerskirch Family Dental, still at the original location that Dr. Neumeister started at in 1983.

The chemistry department at Clarke did a great job preparing me to be an effective communicator through oral presentations and on paper with numerous reports and poster presentations. Early on at Clarke, presentations made me anxious, but as I made it into my junior and senior years, my confidence grew along with my experience. When I got to dental school, presentations were a non-intimidating process. Likewise, through trial and error, I became very skilled with Excel and PowerPoint as I crunched numbers from Sister Diana Malone’s analytical chemistry class and put them on a poster for presentation. These skills may seem insignificant in comparison to a biochemistry degree, but I truly think they were influential for the foundation of my success. Additionally, I had near-unrestricted access to research-grade chemistry instruments. I gained an enormous amount of respect for these high-dollar pieces of equipment. At one point, I was asked to perform the periodic maintenance and minor repairs. I can’t think of a better way to understand instrumental methods than to take an instrument apart. There are some similarities between changing a gas chromatography column and a blown airline in a dental delivery unit during the middle of the day.

Getting into dental school was tough. It was a very long and expensive process. Once accepted into dental school, there were some hard weeks. Clinical boards were a nightmare and something I would never wish upon another person (that’s a topic for another discussion). My most recent challenge was acquiring the loan to purchase the practice. I met with several local banks with my plan, but I had no money. I was requesting a loan with 0% in equity – the banks listened but most politely declined saying they would not be able to carry the loan. Finally, I met with Fidelity Bank & Trust who were able to put together a very complex loan for me to purchase the practice.

My favorite memory from Clarke is probably walking into the research lab and finding Sr. Diana smoking in a fume hood in the dead of a frigid winter. Aside from that, probably building a spectrophotometer as part of my final research project in Dr. Glover’s Spectroscopy course. Living with a group of good friends from high school was a blast as well.

My future involves continuing to build the busy practice that I took over in East Dubuque. That, along with spending time with my family and finding some free time to do more mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, and hunting.”

Olivia Harris

Biology and Graphic Design ’16

“I graduated from Clarke in 2016 with a BS in Biology and BA in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design. I am currently finishing my second year of veterinary school at UW Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. I will be graduating as a DVM in May of 2021. Clarke allowed me to have a schedule flexible enough to complete both of my majors, even though there wasn’t much overlap between them. My professors really went out of their way to make sure I had the best opportunities possible to pursue my unique path. I firmly believe there is no other university would have been as accommodating and thoughtful, and I am forever grateful to my professors, advisors, and coaches for making sure I could complete all of my goals in four years.

I didn’t know I wanted to apply to veterinary school until I was about halfway through my undergrad education. That meant I was behind on getting the field and research experience necessary for my application. I had a bit of a wild transition to add in a bunch of science courses alongside my art curriculum. Getting into vet school was challenging, but the good relationships I made at Clarke really helped when it came to support and letters of recommendation. I’m currently in my second year at UW, so I’m just starting to get to do more hands on-activities. I neutered my first cat this semester — my first surgical procedure! We are learning how to suture tissue and will be doing our first spay surgeries next year. There are a lot of hands-on labs, including Ultrasound and Large Animal Handling. We can go down into the hospital at any time and observe procedures (dentals, surgeries, client appointments, etc). I’m doing research this summer with a Veterinary Anesthesiologist exploring how to intubate rabbit patients and keep them safe under anesthesia. There are as many opportunities and as much outreach as you could ever want. I have gotten to do behind-the-scenes tours at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

My favorite memories from Clarke will always be the time spent with my volleyball teammates. Long practices in the gym, lifting sessions, and riding a bus for hours and hours to different tournaments don’t always sound fun on paper, but getting to do them with my teammates meant constant adventures, laughs, and fun. I made lifelong friendships that have extended far beyond our time on the court! My primary goal now is to finish my final two years of veterinary school and finally become Dr. Harris. After that, I hope to have a happy future practicing medicine and doing art on the side. I’m very excited for whatever the future throws at me.”

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Amanda Beeal

Elementary Education ’20

“Around the age of 5, I had my first panic attack in the middle of a shopping store. I will never forget the fear of not understanding what was going on in my body. From that moment on, things didn’t get easier; it was a constant battle of fighting against myself. What people would state was ‘anxiety’ stopped me from many things throughout my childhood.

I couldn’t be without my mom; I felt as though my mom was my security blanket and without her, something terrible would happen. This became a constant fight with myself as I was growing up; days would come to go eat with other family and I would feel my heart racing and start to scream because I couldn’t express in words how I was feeling. Even throughout elementary school, I would have panic attacks and teachers wouldn’t know what to do, so my only source was to cry to at least let some of what was happening out.

I lived with this same feeling throughout my high school career; however, I was tired of it. I was tired of letting the little girl inside of me stop me from living my life. When I started high school, college was never a thought of mine, but once I saw my friends applying to colleges, I took a drastic measure and looked into Clarke University. Clarke has been in my family for years, but no one really talked about it out loud; so, I applied all on my own.

I received my acceptance from Clarke and nothing in that moment made me happier. However, when the day before me leaving California to start a new life in Iowa came, my anxiety got the best of me. I didn’t want to leave, because this would be a huge jump from having my anxiety stop me for so many years to finally not letting my anxiety get the best of me. I experienced many loved ones tell me how I shouldn’t go away, because I would come home shortly after. I was exhausted from letting things hold me back. The next day, I jumped on a plane to start a new adventure.

I made it through my first two years, — something I never thought I would do. However, as my junior year came around, times were hard; I felt the same way I did in that shopping store when I was five years old. My anxiety was getting the best of me. However, I can say I have been truly blessed to have a coach and education professor guide me to ask for help and talk to someone, something I should have done years ago. In November of 2018, I was diagnosed with anxiety.

Mental health is no joke. Growing up, I felt that no one understood me. When I would express myself to my friends, they all looked at me as if I was what one would say ‘crazy.’ However, coming to Clarke opened doors for me that I never thought I would open; with the help of both my coach and my education professor, I was finally able to stand up against my anxiety and not let it win over me.

Recently, I had the privilege of going with the education department to Eastern Kentucky to visit the David School. This opportunity continued to push me to grow from the challenges with my anxiety. I had professors push me to do things I would have never been able to do without their help. I listened to a student express her social anxiety to a large group of people and stated that her voice needed to be heard. This amazing experience helped me realize that my anxiety does not define who I am. I used to constantly let my anxiety take over me, but Clarke has given me experiences and opportunities to meet people who understand my anxiety and care enough to stand by my side through troubling times.

Before coming to Clarke, I would have never been able to talk about how I felt growing up. Because of the people I have met here, I feel I have finally found my place that makes me feel comfortable enough to be myself and not be ashamed of my mental health. I am tired of feeding the fire within, and I am proud of the person I have fought to be today.”

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Johanna Escobar

History, Philosophy, & Pre-Law ’18

”I’m from Maryland, and I chose Clarke without ever even visiting the Midwest! I came to Clarke to play lacrosse and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I was a history and philosophy double major with an emphasis in pre-law. I played on the Women’s Lacrosse Team, I mentored at Senior High school, I participated in meetings for Inclusive Dubuque, I was part of Phi Sigma Tau (Philosophy honor society), and I was part of the Education Policy Committee at school.

I have been through a lot to get to where I am today. I was born in El Salvador, and I came to this country when I was 11 years old. Coming to a new country with a different language and culture was not easy. Coming to a country that was not my home was also not easy, but I was determined to make the best out of the situation for my future. Yes, I actually thought about this at 11 years old. I knew I had to learn English, so I did. I knew I had to do well in school, so I did. I knew I had to go to college to achieve the goals I have set for myself, so I did. I have been able to succeed and do things my family has never had the chance to do. Going through the whole college experience beginning with applying to college was a challenge because I had to do it on my own. My family did not know how it worked, and even if my parents tried to help, they could only do so much since they know very little English. Therefore, I had to figure it all out by myself and somehow, with the grace of God, I was able to attend college. There have been and there are many more challenges and struggles in my story but I know that I will overcome each one of them.

Clarke helped me be better prepared in every aspect of my life. My history and philosophy classes pushed me to do better and to think outside the box. The critical thinking expectations for my classes helped me grow in ways I never imagined. Clarke gave me many opportunities to grow such as an internship, summer programs with other schools, and mentoring. Being involved in the community helped me grow professionally and personally.

Now that I’ve graduated from Clarke, I plan to attend law school. I want to obtain my Doctor of Jurisprudence degree and be a practicing lawyer. I realize now that when I played the position of midfielder on the lacrosse team, much of what I learned on the field ties back into my study of law. And, in every class, I was encouraged to critically think and find solutions to problems. Similarly, in lacrosse, I was thinking about every move I was making and how it affected my team and the other team. In the practice of law, I apply the same thinking methods. During my time at Clarke, I met beautiful people, inside and out, and they have made my journey worthwhile. The people at Clarke, including professors, have truly had a great impact in my life.”

Humans of Clarke

Christian Perez

Piano Performance (Music) ’21

“When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with autism. The doctor that day had told my parents that I would be incapable of receiving God; I wouldn’t be able to hold a job; my entire life would need to be authorized and executed by my loved ones. In that way, my family and I were set up for failure.

Therapy started soon thereafter. During elementary school, supplemental speech and social skills classes were the most prevalent in my curriculum; however, I was also well-consolidated into the regular classroom schedule of my peers. My behavior, at times, was considered “improper” and “inappropriate,” but while my little self was flailing, kicking, and screaming, my mind was trying to communicate all of the emotions I was feeling at the same level of comprehension as my peers. I was incapable of this expression at that time and that made my academic career and my home life a struggle for those involved.

When I was in sixth grade, I attended a diabetes walk in support of my great friend Kyle. My mother took me aside from the commotion and sat me down on a dusty, wooden table. She explained to me that I was different and she revealed to me how. At that moment, I locked eyes with my mother, and began to walk away. She beckoned for me to come back and I did as she said. I didn’t really want to go away — I only felt that if I walked far enough at that moment, maybe my autism wouldn’t be able to catch up. As I returned into her embrace, I recognized that she was not just holding my tiny frame – she was holding my autism, my feelings, and my fear.

Over the years, the symptoms of my autism began to wane. Though I remain conscious of what people may think of me, day by day I grow more convinced that this condition of mine doesn’t have to define me for the rest of my life. I started studying music theory and piano and joined the church band; I started writing my own music; I participated actively in orchestra, band, and jazz band; and I immersed myself in the world of sonic creation. Everything that I couldn’t communicate before — all of the raw feelings of hopelessness and struggle — could now be expressed in a way that everyone can hear. I consider my immersion in music the most important step in accepting myself, diagnosis and all.

At Clarke, I’ve been blessed to be able to continue learning about music through the brilliant minds of Amy, Sharon, and Amanda, as well as my wonderfully talented peers. Moments of weakness still occur, but I know that my incredible family, my awesome friends, my kind professors, and my God are there to catch me when I fall. Going to Clarke was one of the best decisions in my life, because even when I’m away from home I still have the support I need to succeed.

In 2021, I plan to graduate as a piano performance major. I’m involved in Campus Ministry, the Peace Betterment and Justice club (PB&J!), and many events from Clarke’s Music department. In the future, I want to be able to spread the joy of life that God has given me through the medium of jazz. I also want to be able to advocate for the autism community by increasing awareness, participating in programs, and representing them within the local government. No matter where God places me, I want to be able to change the community for the better.”

Humans of Clarke

Tucker Labelle

Communication ’22

“While I am only a freshman, I have to say this is one amazing school. I came to Clarke mainly intending to focus on being a lacrosse player, and I have gotten involved in so much more. Clarke has already prepared me to be a more caring person and one who works with others.

Overall, in my short time here I’d have to say my favorite memory thus far is just the first semester as a whole. I’ve met so many friends and teammates I will have for a lifetime and been in so many amazing classes that have pushed me into new ways of thinking. The small campus atmosphere has been ideal for me. I always joke with my parents that the best part about this school is that I know/am friends with 90% of the people I pass in the hall.

Currently, I run a website called dai-lifestyle (dai-lifestyle.com) that is all about photography and video production that provokes emotions in the viewer. “Dai” is Italian slang for “The next adventure.” Over my first semester, I developed a relationship with the Five Flags Center staff, where they allowed me to shoot all the concerts I wanted in order to build my portfolio and provide The Crux with unique music images. In addition to that role, I have also just started a position managing social media for the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.

Both my parents are photojournalists, former college professors, and now mental health healing specialists, with my father also being a published author. Having parents like this blessed me with a sense of adventure. I have traveled to every state in the U.S. with the exception of Alaska. My junior year of high school, I ended up moving to Italy to play lacrosse in the Italian Lacrosse Federation and teach youth through community outreach while my father taught study abroad courses. These experiences have truly shaped who I am today.

After Clarke, I’d like to work in the documentary film or journalism industry. My passion is telling a story through a video or image and evoking emotions in the viewer. I’d like to also have a coaching career in college lacrosse. Overall, my goal after leaving Clarke is to leave a positive lasting image on anyone with whom I interact.”

Humans of Clarke

Eric Jones

Social Work & Psychology ’19

“I was born when my mother was just 16 years old. At that time, my father was very involved with the street-life and was in a gang. He was doing things he shouldn’t be doing when he knew he had a son on the way. My father was incarcerated in 1997 and has been in jail 21 years this March. My mom has been working two jobs since age 16 because she had to grow up quickly and be the head of the household. It was very hard for both of us. I was never able to spend time with her because she was always working. And, now, our relationship is not as close as I’d like, simply because I am unable to see her because she is always working to provide for me. But, watching my mom work so hard these past 20 years has really made me want to excel and make her proud. This is why I work so hard in school, so I can make sure to provide for her like she did for me.

Life was never easy growing up. I have had a lot of challenges being me – this person who was not comfortable with my sexuality and did not mesh well with other African American kids. I always had better relationships with people who were of a different culture. As I got older, people would ask me: “Do you like girls or boys?” and I honestly didn’t know the answer. I became very involved in school activities. I didn’t want to be that person to not take advantage of all the opportunities offered. But, by keeping myself so busy, I didn’t have time to focus on myself and figure out who I was. I didn’t find myself until midway through high school.

When I came to Clarke, I was welcomed with open arms and people made me feel comfortable. During my first year, I came to the realization that it was time to come out and be accepting of the skin I am in now. I didn’t do it the best way – coming out to people. I should’ve done it in a way that didn’t create drama. I did it like everyone else did; I went on social media and posted about it. There was negativity, but I was surprised by how much support and love I received for being homosexual. Coming to college and actually making that decision to come out made me feel like a new person. Being at Clarke where homosexuality is accepted and the LGBTQ community is present has inspired me to be accepting of who I am.

I have also met a lot of great people and professors at Clarke. I have been really involved on campus in my past three years here, and when it comes time to graduate next year, I know I will have made my mark from all the leadership roles and volunteer work I have done. I know that when I leave Clarke, I will accomplish all of the goals that I have made for myself post-graduation. I plan on getting my master’s in social work and becoming a licensed clinical social worker. I want to go into a field where I can help people and make a difference. I want to make people’s lives better than the experience I had growing up. I want to help them from my own challenges and experiences.”

Humans of Clarke

Franci Gates

Psychology/Spanish minor ’19

“I came in to Clarke thinking that I was going to graduate as a physical therapist. This was not the case, however. I think most students who come to college have a general idea of what they want to do and think that idea is the only option. When I was halfway through my first semester at Clarke, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to pursue physical therapy. I felt like I was letting myself down. I went to Psychology Professor Tim Boffeli’s office and explained to him that I wanted to drop PT, and he helped me work through my options. When I later decided that I wanted to be a Speech Pathologist, I again went to Tim’s office, and together we came up with a plan in which I was able to graduate a year ahead of the typical four-year plan. With that said, I think the biggest change that I have experienced in myself since being at Clarke is figuring out who I am. I can now confidently tell people what I want to do with my life and why, and the best part is, it makes me excited for my future. With the help of my professors, family, and my friends that I gained from Clarke, I am a much stronger, more confident individual and it is all thanks to my experiences here.

After graduation, I plan on going back to my home state of Wisconsin and applying to UW-Whitewater’s graduate program for their Science of Communication Disorders program. My goal is to tie together what I learned at Clarke in terms of Psychology and be able to help the traumatic brain injured communicate again.

I’ve made so many memories at Clarke. I participated in Track & Field as a pole vaulter, and I danced on the Clarke University Dance Team. I am also a Clarke Ambassador which allows me to give tours of our campus to incoming families and students. One of my favorite memories from Clarke is when my friend, Daisy Lemus, and I were tired of studying on a Sunday night and decided at 3 a.m. to pile on winter clothes and go outside in a winter blizzard so that we could sled together. We had so much fun fighting the cold and sledding up and down the hills in front of Clarke that now we have plans to do it again this winter! All the spontaneous things that my friends and I have done over the past three years at Clarke have been amazing memories that I am very thankful for. Random car rides in the early hours of the morning, ordering pizzas together at night because we didn’t want to make food, staying up until the next morning doing homework, and watching movies are all things that make the college experience what it is. I could not have had the experience I did at Clarke without the friends I’ve made.”

Humans of Clarke

Juro Gacanich

Business, Marketing Management ’19

“I already knew I was coming to Clarke before the story I’m about to tell happened.

My sister attended Clarke before me. I was able to see her success throughout her four years and observe the sense of community in a small school environment. Clarke was an opportunity for me to move away from my home in New Mexico, play soccer, and earn my degree.

Three years ago, my dad passed away from cancer. At the time, my family and I were all preparing for my graduation from high school and my sister’s graduation from Clarke. We were trying to figure out a way to get everyone from New Mexico to Dubuque for my sister’s graduation. We planned on my dad being in good health, but he took a turn for the worse.

We decided he would attend my sister Mileva’s graduation at Clarke but not mine from my high school. Then my dad got worse. It became evident that he wouldn’t be able to travel from New Mexico to Clarke. He made it clear to Mileva and me, though, that no matter what happened, he wanted us to attend our graduations.

Clarke faculty and staff did an amazing thing. They arranged a personal graduation for Mileva and set up a live feed that my dad could watch while she received her diploma. Her “graduation” was held in the chapel, and while it wasn’t a surprise for Mileva, she had no idea that so many Clarke people were going to be there. She walked in and the whole church was packed with all her friends and faculty at Clarke.

The day we had to leave to come to Clarke for her actual graduation ceremony was the day my dad passed away. He was able to see both of us graduate, though, which was incredible.

Clarke went above and beyond for my family, and I feel like I am forever in their debt. Clarke touched not only my family, but the people in my area and in my small town in New Mexico. Being able to see Clarke impacting areas outside of the state and in a completely different culture was amazing. A lot of people in my town have a connection to Dubuque and I have been able to see how Clarke’s outreach can affect a community. Through their good acts of helping my family, it helped my whole community and town as well.

I am happy that I am able to talk about this now as a story of coming together. I am forever grateful to Clarke for being able to do this for my dad.”

Humans of Clarke

Grace Pawlowski

Music Education ’21

“I came out as transgender my junior year of high school, but only to close friends. However, by the end of the year, the word got out and spread through the school, and I was bullied. During my senior year, I just focused on college and scholarships to keep my mind busy. I felt depressed. I was surviving but was not living. I wasn’t happy or living my life to the fullest.

I came to Clarke identifying as Grace already, but it was ‘under the radar’ because I didn’t openly come out here. Then, eventually, it was October, and I emailed all my professors and asked them to call me Grace and use certain pronouns. That is where it started on campus.

I found I couldn’t afford to live on campus, so I commuted for the first semester. I moved onto campus the second semester, and this was the time I started being myself. I changed my wardrobe and bought more gender-affirming clothing. And, I legally changed my name from Joey to Grace. Clarke has really helped me feel more accepted here on campus and feel like I have a home here.

Moving onto campus allowed me to make my life more congruent to how I feel on the inside. I was scared at first because Clarke is a Catholic school; but, when I came here, I learned Clarke is an opening and welcoming campus. Clarke made me feel accepted, which helped me to openly identify as Grace. Now I feel happier because I don’t have to hide anything, and I can go outside and not be judged. I can go somewhere in a full face of makeup and dressed up, or I can go to classes in a sweatshirt and sweats.”

Humans of Clarke

Caitlyn Ambrosy

Elementary Education with Endorsements in Special Education and Reading ’18

“On a whim, I knew two things: I wasn’t happy where I was at with my old university, and I wanted to teach. So, I made the decision to move home to be closer to family and friends, took a semester off of school to re-evaluate, and was told by numerous people that Clarke was the school to go to for education. Their hands-on program has been the perfect fit for me, and the amount of experience that I will have in classrooms before graduation, thanks to the PDS blocks, has made me very confident in my teaching. Transferring to Clarke was the best decision that I have made with my college career.

In June 2017, Clarke gave me the opportunity to travel to Mount Kenya University and connect with their students, sit in on classes to compare/contrast our educational experience to theirs, tour the huge campus, and learn about their university. Clarke and MKU have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with one another, and it was exciting to be with the first group of students from Clarke to visit MKU. We also visited Kinangop, the village where professor Mary Gitau grew up. While there, we established a library at the village primary school, donating and logging 487 books, painting, creating artwork for the walls, putting in benches and tables, and creating a new and exciting space for the school to use.

While at the school, we also interacted with teachers and students, along with community members who came to help us. The final academic thing we did was host a conference for rural Kenyan teachers. The conference was two days, and I presented on classroom motivation. It was the first educational conference that I have attended, so I was pretty lucky that I got to present at it. It was fun to talk to Kenyan teachers and see how their views and educational philosophies differed from mine. They were all knowledgeable and had something to offer me as a young professional. The trip ended with a three-day safari at Maasai Mara.

In reflection, I think that I had culture shock the entire time. While at MKU, I could not walk 10 feet without someone asking to take a picture with me because I was a “mzungu” (a white person), and they asked if they could stay with me when they come to visit Clarke. In the village, I was lucky enough to help with my host families’ daily tasks – milking the cows by hand and cooking dinner, etc. It was neat to see how they live, and that put in perspective all of the technology that we are lucky to have here. We spent every night in the living room at Mary’s mom’s house singing and dancing; in fact, we taught all of her family the cupid shuffle. We moved all the furniture in the living room and danced it for what seemed like 50 times in a row.

On our last night in the village, we all made a great meal together by butchering a goat and making other African dishes such as rice, cabbage, and chapati. I learned that my host mom, Ann, learned English for almost a year just to be able to communicate with me when I arrived.

This trip was the most eye-opening experience I have ever had. I had done long-term travel before, but this was my first time being out of the country. It made me appreciate everything that I have so much more – it also made me resent myself a little bit for all of the things that I take for granted, such as my family, clean water, always having food on my table, a roof over my head, indoor plumbing, and the education that I am getting at Clarke. The term “it takes a village” comes to my mind and is a perfect way to describe the experience, the community and pride among the people, and the love that they shared for one another. Upon returning from my trip, I have tried to complain less and remember that almost everything that I have is a privilege because there are things that many people go without. I also try to remember that relationships with people around me are so important and a huge part of what will drive me to be happy and successful in my life.

I have a travel bug, and finding support from Clarke and my professors has made me want to pursue my interests with traveling even more. Education is my main passion, and Clarke has provided me my opportunities to mix travel and education; and, the fact that my professors have encouraged it helps me be more confident with it. Upon graduation, I hope to travel more and even possibly teach abroad, and Clarke has helped prepare me for that through their education program, support from professors, and travel experiences.”

Humans of Clarke

Liz Walsh

Social Work ’19

“On November 8, 2017, my husband and I received a call that, after a long fight with alcoholism and depression, my father-in-law had taken his life. My brother-in-law had already passed away, so my husband, my sister-in-law, and I had to handle the situation. We lived in Dubuque, and he passed away in Mason City, so we traveled five hours and stayed there for four days before we were able to get him back home to Dubuque. It was the middle of my junior year at Clarke and I was preparing for finals.

I was so afraid that because I was absent and would be behind in my work, my professors wouldn’t be understanding. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Before I even got back to town I had people at Clarke that I had never even met before reaching out to me. I was receiving condolence cards from departments that I had never stepped foot in. Other departments sent flowers to the funeral home. Every single one of my professors accommodated me.

I confided in one of my professors about the details of my father-in-law’s death because, at 21-years-old, both my husband and I had no idea what we were doing legally regarding my father-in-law’s different assets or how to handle death certificates. It was all new to us. My professor told me that she would help with whatever she could. A few hours later, I had a lawyer reach out to me offering to help us. I was also able to get connected with a counselor at Clarke right away and she really helped me cope with what was happening.

I’m now a senior at Clarke. I am the captain of the women’s bowling team and I am the president of the Social Work Club. I am majoring in social work and will graduate in May of 2019. I will then be heading straight into my Master of Social Work (MSW) at Clarke, graduating in May of 2020.

I have always planned on entering child welfare, but after I watched what my father-in-law went through, I wanted to learn more about substance abuse and how to interact with people that suffer from alcoholism. My Clarke graduate advisor made sure that I am able to take a course pertaining to substance abuse because of my experience. I am very grateful to everyone who supported and encouraged me through this experience.”

Humans of Clarke

Jay Dean

Psychology ’18

“Before coming to Clarke, I was just a normal kid. I was coasting through life and I was just here because I felt I was obligated. The saying is “go to college, get your degree, and life becomes easier after.” I just lived as an average student. I wanted to pass but didn’t want to put any effort into my studies or really anything for that matter. My junior year changed that. Why? Because I was forced to take a semester off for not being diligent and making sure all my paperwork was completed before the first day of the semester.

When I received the call saying I would be forced to wait a semester before coming back to college, I was devastated. I thought about the extreme effort my family had put forth to get me this far, all the work I had done in the past, and all the memories I made at Clarke. The thought of all of it being erased made me break down. The thing about greatness is that you never know how strong you actually are until you are at your lowest point. That moment matured me. It made me look at not only school, but life as a whole, completely differently. I became more responsible, I worked harder at every task assigned to me, and I even gained a promotion at my job during that time.

Transitioning back into school was hard, but when I returned to Clarke, I had the highest GPA that I’d ever had. Fast forward two years later, I now realize how important it is to not be average, but to work hard and stand out amongst your peers. Just going to college won’t ensure you anything. It’s a privilege to go to college, not something required of you. If you don’t take it seriously, no one will take you seriously. Without Clarke, I don’t think I would have ever learned this lesson. I am pleased and honored to say that because of this I will always love this school.”

Humans of Clarke

Caroline Herrig

Psychology & Philosophy ’19

“Living on campus during the summer is a great way to experience Dubuque, Iowa outside of a ‘school’ setting. You’re able to explore the Dubuque area, attend community-wide events, and discover unique locations because you’re not so busy with schoolwork. Also, living on campus for the summer makes you feel like you’re really responsible for yourself because the resources you would normally have during the school year are not available during summer break.

During the summer, it is also easier to find the time to hang out with the other students who are living on-campus for the summer break. I got lucky with the people I live with in my apartment; we are all great friends, so it’s nice having them to spend most of my time with when I’m not working. We all go out to eat, watch The Bachelor and Riverdale, and just hang out in the living room together. I could not have asked for better summer housing roommates.”

Humans of Clarke

Daisy Lemus

Nursing ’21

“I am a daughter of two immigrants who came from Mexico about 22 years ago. For as long as I can remember, I had to take on a big role because I am a first-generation United States citizen who became the translator for my family. My dad speaks English, but if he has to talk over the phone he gets nervous. So, I have to talk for him. It is worse for my mom because she can hardly speak English. This is tough for me. When I came to college, I gave the responsibility to my little sister while I am away.

But, it is also hard for her because I have always had this role of being in charge. In addition to that, my parents always were more comfortable with letting me translate. So, my parents still request my help today; they will call me and ask me to make appointments for my grandpa or figure out a billing issue. I feel like I was sheltered growing up because I had to care for my family and act as a role model for my siblings.

Whenever I have to call and make appointments for my grandpa, the hospital refuses to provide me with information because my mom is in charge of him, not me. But, when I try to relay this message to her, she just doesn’t understand. This is tough not only on me but also on her.

I have come to recognize that school is a privilege for me. I would not receive the education I obtained here in the United States if I was born in Mexico and grew up there. I do go to school for myself, but I also do it to give my parents a better life, a life they gave me. I have learned a lot being a first-generation college student and having immigrant parents.

When you are a child of immigrants, you live in fear every day that one day they may be taken away and be gone forever. My mom has been here for 22 years, and she is just starting the application to have residency here in the United States. My parents have talked to me on numerous occasions that if something happened, they want me to stay in school. But, I couldn’t be comfortable staying here knowing my siblings are left alone. Even though my parents conveyed to me that my aunt could have custody of us, I would still feel the need to go home and take care of them.

This is not a topic I like to talk about with people because of what is going on in the United States currently. However, I agreed to share my story because I think immigration is an issue that deserves a continuous conversation. There have been serious remarks made about Hispanics lately. But, these accusations are just not true. My parents are good people. They raised their kids to go against the negative stigma that Hispanics are bad people. We, as in Hispanics and my family, are better than that.”

Humans of Clarke

Brooklynn Amling

Nursing & Psychology ’19

“My sister went to college here at Clarke University and graduated in 2008. During this time, my mother was in prison. My little brother was one year old and I was about 9-10 years old. My sister had legal custody of my brother when my mother went away to prevent him from going into foster care. My little brother resided mostly with our grandma. However, my sister did a lot for my brother and me, especially while she was going to college at Clarke.

My sister would take us almost every weekend she could. She took my brother to his first days of preschool, kindergarten, and up. She did a lot for us as kids, and as I have been going through college here at Clarke, I am amazed at how she was able to balance work, school, and the task of taking care of us. My sister inspired me to go to college and showed me that we are not limited by our circumstances. She never once complained about having such a huge responsibility or having to take on the role of our mother. I believe I have acquired many of these qualities from her.

Shortly after my mother was released from prison, when I was about 16 years old, my grandmother was dying of cancer. My grandma was very special to all of us because she practically raised us all. I lived with and was raised by her until I entered first grade, and then I moved in with my father. While my grandma was slowly dying of cancer, I remember spending time at the house taking care of both my little brother and my grandma when my mother went to work. I believe having this type of experience, helping take care of my grandma, is what partly led me to pursue Nursing.

All of these personal experiences led me here to Clarke. I truly believe God was behind it all. He wanted me here for a purpose. As a freshman in college, I was afraid, fragile, and broken. I also had many questions about life and the evil in the world. I took the course “Foundation of Spiritual Life,” taught by Sr. Paulette Skiba. This course helped change my outlook on the world; it introduced me to many different beliefs and spiritualties. As a result, I no longer viewed the world as an evil place.

After my freshman year, I finally left a three-year abusive relationship, thanks to a few words that resonated with me from Psychology professor Tim Boffeli. Without him really knowing it, his words saved my life. One day they rang in my head, and it was as if I had woken up and realized that situation was not what I wanted. However, after finally leaving the relationship, I became clinically depressed. I did not want to recognize that I was in an abusive relationship. It took two months after leaving that relationship before I finally sought help from Clarke’s Counseling services, thanks to an anonymous professor who saw that I was slowly drifting away. I will admit that I felt like I was drowning and no one could see me, but someone here at Clarke did and they, too, saved my life.

With time, I was able to heal from that experience. I was able to grow and become the person I am today. I am now set to graduate in May of 2019 with a double major in Nursing and Psychology. Without all of these experiences, I would not be pursuing either of these two majors. As a result of the abusive relationship, I have been interested in studying abuse and its effects, advocating for victims, and telling my story. I want to educate others and tell them they are not alone. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Without Clarke University I do not know where I would be or how this story would have panned out. I want to thank all those here at Clarke who have helped me to get to this point of graduating.I truly believe God had a plan within it all.”

Humans of Clarke

Louis Deeny

Elementary Education ’19

“I spent six weeks this past summer in Dehradun, India, in the state of Uttarakhand, working with an internship known as the Agency for Non-Konventional Urban Rural Initiatives (ANKURI). I arrived in India along with Dr. Ellen Spencer, Clarke University Assistant Professor of Education, who was there to help guide the beginning of the program. While I was there I was able to work with over 50 children aged 4-16.

Along with interns from the University of Michigan and several universities in India, I ran a summer camp at a local school. I was in charge of designing curriculum for these children, planning each day, and helping my fellow interns become comfortable teaching. We ended our five weeks of teaching with a final performance for the community that included students practicing their public speaking, sharing their goals for the future, participating in group dances, and even a short play!

This experience has impacted me greatly as I have made friends that I still speak with regularly, and have a new family on the other side of the world that I know I will be involved with moving forward. The experience has also shown me that international teaching is something that I want to do with my life outside of college.

My major is Elementary Education with Endorsements in Coaching and Special Education. I am involved with Clarke Men’s Lacrosse and am a member Teachers for Tomorrow and Clarke Inclusive Games.

I will be student teaching next semester, and following my completion of that I will be graduating. Upon graduation, I will be looking for jobs teaching and coaching abroad, as well as coaching lacrosse at the college level in the United States.

With support from a Clarke alumna, a student participates in the ANKURI internship each year. I feel so fortunate to have been chosen. By giving me this experience, Clarke opened up an opportunity for me that previously I would not have known about, and that I wouldn’t have been able to afford. It showed me that Clarke’s opportunities are truly available to all of the students and Clarke can help make your dream a reality.”

Humans of Clarke

Gabby Waddick

Psychology ’17, MOL ’18, MBA ’19

“When I was 16-years-old, the Dubuque colleges approached me and offered me the opportunity to take college classes for credit while still in high school. I started at the University of Dubuque, went to NICC next, then to Loras College, and finished at Clarke University. I will say, I did not intend on staying in the area; I had intentions on going to UW-Madison, but once I realized I had three years of college done already, I knew UW-Madison wouldn’t accept all my credits. So, once Tim Boffeli reviewed my transcripts and told me I was two classes away from getting my Bachelor of Art’s degree in psychology, I was persuaded to stay here at Clarke and in Dubuque.

After I graduated in May 2017 with my degree in psychology, I then started working towards my masters at the age of 19. I am currently working on my Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL), in which I will graduate in May 2018. After getting my MOL, I will then work towards my Master of Business Administration (MBA), and I will graduate in May 2019 when I am 22-years-old. If I would have been a traditional student, I would have gotten my Bachelors of Arts degree in May 2019, but by taking courses in high school and doing the Early Access MOL, I am able to do eight and a half years of education in four years.

When I first started graduate school, I was kind of intimidated by the experience of the other students in the master’s program, but the people are amazing professionals, and they have taught me so much from their experiences. I love the program now.

After I have my two master’s degrees, I am taking a ‘gap’ year – well, just a break from everything for a year – and backpacking Asia for eight months, Europe for three months, and then Africa for one month. I am an aspiring traveler, and I’ve been working full time since 17 to fund my traveling. After my ‘gap’ year, I intend on owning my own national franchise of group homes for intellectually and physically disabled adults.”

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Barbara Welbes Rivera

Secondary Education ’19

“I entered the United States Air Force Basic Military Training immediately after high school graduation. Through my experience within the military, I gained lifelong friendships, awesome memories, an opportunity to see the world, and my college education (B.S. Computer Science at UNLV) via Montgomery G.I. Bill. I loved every minute of my military service.

When I made my ‘career change’ decision to become a secondary education teacher, I asked around to weigh my education institution options. I knew I wanted to get my teaching license. I already had a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I needed a separate bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education to pursue my end goal of being a teacher. I heard positive feedback about the educational program at Clarke.

I feel that as a human being, a parent, and a future educator, I have grown a lot at Clarke. I have gained tools and knowledge as a future educator to pass on to my students as well as my own children. The world has changed considerably since I was an elementary and secondary student, and my time at Clarke has enabled me to reconnect with my “youthful” self. I feel that Clarke has an awesome outreach program for incoming students. Clarke has adapted to my life, and faculty are understanding if I am late or unable to attend class. I have received support, understanding, and open-mindedness at Clarke.

My advice to other and future nontraditional students is, it is never too late. Non-traditional students come in all shapes, sizes, and age brackets. One of the big adjustments that I had to make when going back to school is being the eldest in the classroom and handling the generation gap.

Out of all the experiences I have had in my life, the most important is being a mother to my son and daughter. It is not always easy being a working mom who is going back to college and pursuing a career change, but the reward outweighs the work.”

Humans of Clarke

Rashaud Colbert

Business Administration & Sports Management ’21

“Growing up for me was very hard and I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. I grew up in a single parent household. My mother had to take care of three of us on her own. My father was never there and has been out my life since I was born. My mother struggled very hard to keep the lights on and made many sacrifices just so that we could enjoy things she never had the chance to.

I always valued my education because without it, I am nothing. Education is very key in my household. The attitude is: “You are going to college.” I struggle to pay for school by myself. I worked winter break and throughout the summer just so I could come back for my sophomore year.

It’s funny because as teenagers, people normally want to buy things and stay updated with the new trends, but I have always looked beyond that. I want a future and a better life for not only me and my family, but others as well. I am a helping and caring person, and I believe that everything has to be worked for. I’m always willing to lend a hand for those in need because I understand what it is like to live in poverty.

Throughout my journey I have stayed confident, positive, and motivated to achieve new things. College was never out the question, but after being cut from my high school basketball team twice, I thought my hoop dreams were over. This is what I was told by former students and coaches. I knew that I had to prove people wrong. I told myself that I will go to college and I will play college ball. Nothing would stop me.

I also knew this was what I wanted to do after watching my mother struggle. I didn’t want to depend on her for everything, and I wanted to give her the chance to see the finer things in life. My mother works so hard to this day and has never complained … never! I kept telling myself to keep my head up high and when things get tough, remember who I was doing it for. I knew there were a lot of people cheering me on to this path of success. Sometimes I would cry because I’d see a lot of people taking their education for granted. Some don’t realize how many people would die to be in their situation and receive an education.

Clarke has had a great impact on me. I was able to meet new people as well as get out of my comfort zone and use my connections. Clarke taught me how to use my resources and how to network when the time is right. They taught me to never give up when things get hard. I have some professors who push me beyond my limits. They go beyond classwork to use real-world situations in their teachings as well. Clarke University let me know that anything is possible, and when things get hard, people are willing to help you overcome all challenges being faced.

My plans for the future are to either become a businessperson working in the sport industry or to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I really want to help the youth and give back to those in need. I want to be as humble as possible and let those who struggle know, “I once was where you are and I worked hard to get what I needed.” My goal is to provide for the youth and feed them with so much knowledge that they know anything is possible. I want to let them know to never let anyone tell you, “You can’t do it,” because it’s not true.

I feel like my story impacts everything I want to do because a lot of people don’t know the life of Rashaud Colbert. People may see me and think things that are not true. This is why I choose to always hold myself up to high standards. I am a team player who loves to make people laugh.

At Clarke University, I am double majoring in business administration and sport management. I will be graduating in the year of 2021 hoping to fulfill both degrees in order to make my family and friends proud. On campus, I am a part of the basketball team and do community service for the museum downtown in Dubuque. I recently had the opportunity to receive the title of Mr. Clarke Guy, which was a huge honor. I love my life. I would never want to change any of the struggles I went through because they made me stronger and I placed them all into the hands of God. As long as I stay focused, I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Humans of Clarke

Suzie Stroud

Social Work ’15, Master of Social Work ’18

“I actually went to Clarke back in 1993 right after I graduated high school. I was in the first ever physical therapy class, but I decided three years later that it wasn’t a fit. So, I transferred to the University of Iowa and happened on their paramedic program. After graduation, I moved to Kansas City and worked there for 10 years. This is where I met my ex-husband.

I hurt my back fighting a fire, and I didn’t know I hurt it as badly as I did. I suffered for a few years trying to not have surgery. But, when I did need surgery, I moved back to the Dubuque-area, and my fiancé at the time came with me. It is funny, you hear stories of people saying things were fine when they were dating, but things change when you get married. I don’t know what clicked in his mind or changed for him, but as soon as we got married, his drinking increased and there was an addiction there. I know he wasn’t happy in Dubuque, but that is no excuse.

It was two months before my son’s third birthday when he hit me for the first and only time. It was fast, violent, and scary. It forever changed my son because when he feels threatened, his body remembers that moment, and goes back to that time. People say he is young, he will get over it, and while we have moved on, even at two years old, it affected him. But, I found my way back to Dubuque and to Clarke’s Master of Social Work program, and my son has come to a lot of my classes. All the social work faculty have known him since 2013 when he was four years old. It’s a relief to see the confidence in a kid in a place he probably shouldn’t feel confident. He is totally himself at Clarke, and I think Clarke has done the same thing for me. I have gained my confidence back. It slowly eroded over the years with my ex-husband. I was pretty confident as a female firefighter. I had a ‘no fear’ attitude. Now, even my mom says I am back to my better self again.

I think over all those years I didn’t have a voice with my ex-husband. He was good at gas-lighting, in which he would turn my reality upside down, and I’d ask myself if I was crazy. He was manipulative and controlling; and, the fact that he did it slowly is why I didn’t know it was happening.

Having that experience as a firefighter and paramedic in an extremely urban setting made it an easy road to go to social work. I have always been a good student, and this was a good choice. Finding my niche and having faculty support, encourage, and show genuine interest in me helped me realize, or re-discover, I can do things. I am currently employed at Crescent Community Health Center. I work with the Dubuque Pacific Island Health Project. So, I am the social worker for the people from the Marshall Islands. This group has suffered so many losses, and they are in trouble. They’ve left the islands out of necessity, and they come to a country who doesn’t understand their culture, language, struggles, or why they are here. They have difficulty accessing basic needs like housing and food but also healthcare and education. I completed a project called FACING DIVERSITY: MARSHALLESE STORIES in which I paired storytellers from the Marshall Islands with community volunteers to write down their stories. The book, which was released last year, is in English as well as Marshallese and was a success in distributing 500 throughout the community. The goal is to connect the community through storytelling and discover that we may come from different backgrounds and identify with different cultures, but we are all facing the same issues like caring for our family members, wishing the best for our children, and wanting to live a happy life.

This year we are doing FACING DIVERSITY: LGBTQ+ STORIES, in which we will have about 20 stories, with several from Clarke students, faculty, staff, as well as Dubuque community members. This project reflects my education at Clarke and how social work can bring people together, discuss our differences, recognize our similarities, and learn from each other. It will be launched the weekend of graduation.”

Kristen

Kristen Bogacz

Psychology ’19

“I decided to live on campus this summer because I was offered a summer job in the admissions office. Because of this job offer and the summer housing, I had the opportunity of getting to know the town of Dubuque and the admissions team. The atmosphere is different living on-campus during the summer than the school year. Since there are not as many people on campus in the summer, you really get to know the people that are living in Dubuque for the summer.

Being here in the summer made me feel like I was a part of the Clarke and Dubuque community. I was able to participate in events around the Dubuque area, explore Dubuque, and get to know those who are around Clarke campus. I also loved getting to know my roommates and gained amazing friends by living here during the summer.”

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Andrew Vermies

History & Secondary Education ’19

“Growing up, I wasn’t able to play physical sports because of my heart and hip. At times I felt like I didn’t have a lot of friends. My hometown was a big sports town, and everyone was way into Friday night football. I didn’t feel a part of that. I was an average kid. I got average grades and played in the band.

Now, I’ve been encouraged to engage in physical activities, but it’s difficult because after 20 years of not participating and always being ‘careful,’ I am now conditioned to think I can’t do things. Every day I have to tell myself that I CAN do it.

I looked forward to college because I knew it would be different than high school. I knew what I needed to do to be successful. I am learning so much in college. It is super cliché, but I don’t feel average here at Clarke – I feel unique. Clarke is a small school, so I can have real relationships with professors and students. This school is a community. I am also able to be involved in the activities that I choose. I am President of the Culinary Club and work as a Tuckpointer to engage new students.

As a future teacher, I know there will be kids like me who have faced challenges and struggled, who get average grades and are in the middle — they know they aren’t doing badly, but they know they could do better. I’ve been there, in that situation, and I can encourage them. I can assure them that they will discover who they are and become individuals who reach success. Ultimately, THEY determine their own level of success.”

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Jessica McGrath

Nursing ’18

“I was born and raised in Dubuque, and Clarke has given me the opportunity to integrate myself into the community like never before. Through clinical and volunteer work, I learned more about my community than I have ever before. Honestly, Clarke has given me opportunities I don’t believe I would have pursued myself.

In fact, Clarke just gave me an amazing opportunity. In January, I and a handful of other nursing students traveled to Nicaragua to participate in the Limon Project. This was my first time out of the country, and I went on many adventures and had numerous learning opportunities from it. This trip not only furthered my professional experience but also helped me gain insight into the world outside Iowa. This trip is something I will never forget.

Even though I am from Dubuque, I live on-campus with five of my best friends. I will always fondly remember the time spent in my apartment with them and the ever-present guests we have, as well as the random adventures and the planned ones. I live for movie nights and car rides. In my apartment, my friends and I have celebrated my acceptance into the Nursing Program, my acceptance for the Nicaragua trip, birthdays, etc. We have shared countless laughs and cries. I cannot pick just one fond memory at Clarke because I have loved almost all of my time here.

What I do know is the thing I will miss most about Clarke: the people. I have a family here that continually offers me strength and support. I will miss seeing my best friends every day upon graduation. But, even though I graduate from Clarke in May, I intend on working in the Dubuque area for a couple years, so I may establish myself and build a foundation for a successful nursing career. I also plan to take trips and see the world while I can; and, because of this, I have been looking into travel nursing. Also, someday, I would like to adopt a dog.”

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Kathleen Rubino

Athletic Training ’21

“Being away from home for a long period of time is definitely not easy, but Clarke has helped me get through this time in my life. I am always supported by my wonderful friends and the faculty. Clarke has also helped me transition education-wise. I have realized college is not like high school. I have to put in a lot of time in and out of class, and I had to learn how to manage my time wisely. Fortunately, my peers and professors have helped me transition into college life. It can be really hard at times when you miss the people you love, but being surrounded by a great community helps you feel better.

I really enjoy the community because it honestly feels like family here. I can always count on someone to help me when needed, and I always feel supported. You never feel alone, which was one of my biggest fears to face in college. I was scared to not have any friends, but that doesn’t happen at Clarke. Everyone cares about everyone, which reflects Clarke’s values.

Clarke has offered me many opportunities to be a leader within the university. I am a freshman class senator on Clarke Student Association (CSA). This position allows me to speak for the freshmen class and our school as a whole. I thought I would just vote my friends on and it would be a club we can all be in. But, it turned out to be a lot more than that. I learned I have a voice in issues I never thought I would before. Within CSA, I have been given the chance to teach Zumba next semester. I have had my license for almost a year and finally being able to use it makes me feel empowered. I feel my leadership skills will grow throughout the next few years, and I will be able to connect with more people on campus.”

Humans of Clarke

Montez Thompson

Philosophy & Math ’21

“My number one goal in life is to reach my dreams because of my mind, not because of my skills with a bowling ball. As I started my college search during high school, I was nervous about getting accepted into the schools I applied for and being able to pay for college. I added a lot of stress to myself during my junior and senior year about picking the right school and worrying about meeting the criteria to get in. To add on to that, I am a bowler who faced some knee problems going into my senior year. I looked at bowling as the only way to help me pay for college outside of other scholarships; so, I became very worried I would hurt it even more and not be able to compete. Those combined factors made it hard for me to focus on the big picture, which is my future. In the end, all of my worries made me a better person by raising my levels of determination and dedication in school.

Coming to Clarke has changed my views a lot as a person. Clarke has taught me to open up, create relationships, and accept help because those relationships you build can lead to great opportunities in the future. Building relationships is an important aspect of life; and, here, I’ve built countless relationships with some great people. This school has also opened my views on the world because Clarke is so diverse. Being at Clarke has made me more open-minded and optimistic towards certain situations in life.

This school makes being a good distance away from home a lot easier because the environment at Clarke is so upbeat and happy all the time, and it brings joy to the day. The people at Clarke are amazing as well. All the faculty and staff, as well as the students, are very friendly, and they make sure your day is never just simple. It’s really nice to see everyone walking around cheerful and smiling most of the time. I love the way the Clarke family speaks to one another and asks, ‘How’s your day going?’ Nice, simple gestures on a regular basis go a long way. Clarke is very inclusive and practically everyone knows everyone.

When I came to Clarke, I decided I was going to join at least one club and dedicate some time to it because I wasn’t involved beyond athletics in high school. I reached my goal and ended up taking on a lot more, and I love everything about it. This was due to everything Clarke has to offer. There are so many things to get involved in and play a role in that I couldn’t just choose one organization. I was pretty nervous being away from home and becoming involved when I came to Clarke, but the Clarke family accepts everyone into any club they wish to join.

In the academic aspect, I love that the faculty and staff go to endless measures to help a student in need. Everyone always hears the stereotype that no college professor cares, but the Clarke faculty contradicts that without a doubt. Coming in, I was a ‘do-it-yourself’ type of student. I never wanted help or to be on a team, but Clarke quickly changed that. I love the idea that there are a million different ways I can get help inside and outside the classroom. The MARC, the SWAG sessions, and the office hours professors provide all make it really easy to get extra help if you’re struggling or if you just want to stay on top of things.”

Humans of Clarke

Breon Hawthorne

Business ’18

“I’m all about support. Whether I’m supporting my fellow basketball teammates, being a leader in the classroom, or acting as a role model for the guys in my hall where I’m a resident assistant, I’m thinking about being a positive influence for them to look up to. I’m a nice guy. I like that about me.

I tell my guys, grab your life and take charge. Make your own decisions, speak up, and strive to be the best. That’s what is going to make you a success in life. It’s so cool being an RA. It has really pushed me to be a leader and prepared me to take on managing roles and consider different managing techniques for different personality types. It’s been great figuring out that balance between friend and mentor with my guys. I almost feel like a parent figure in a way. I find myself telling the younger guys in my residence hall, don’t quit right away. Don’t give up. Have no regrets and stay true to yourself. Though this role, I’ve developed the skill to read people. Being a good listener is important not just in the work world but in the human world. You can create confidence in another person by listening to their voice. People respect you when you are 100% yourself.

I also use my leadership skills on the basketball team. Our team is a true family. We support each other. We make mistakes and we move on. We try to lift each other up. Everyone needs to practice — on a team or in a leadership role. Now’s the time. When you are in college, you can practice your leadership skills in so many ways without the possible repercussions that might pop up when you are in an actual work setting. I think the dynamic of being on a sport team is similar to working as a team in your workplace. Sometimes you have to pass the ball. Sometimes you have to take the shot.

I can’t say enough about how Clarke, and the business department especially, has prepared me to go out there and be a leader in the community, in the business world, in this country, in humankind, really.

Goals for after Clarke? That’s easy. Work hard, travel the world, and retire early. I’ll be good.”

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Connor Watson

Elementary Education ’21

“This year is my ninth season in lacrosse. It was a dream of mine to play a college sport and raise money for a charity. I talked with a couple organizations about helping raise funds, as well as did some research to see where my impact would be the greatest, and I chose Compass to Care, an organization which helps with travel arrangements for children with cancer. I first talked with Compass to Care last fall when I met them for freshmen orientation.

I reached out last spring semester and told them I want to support them. To support Compass to Care, I bought shoe laces for my lacrosse team to wear during our games. I also did an incentive play, in which I would donate money every time our team won, I made a shot, had a shot on goal, or I started. This incentive play concept pushed me harder, and every time I would slack, I would think of these children with cancer and the battle they go through on a daily basis. This would push me to do better for them.

I do not have any connections to children with cancer. But, I thought that if I could help children to travel and not have the burden of travel costs, then I would do it. It is one less thing they have to worry about. I feel strongly about supporting children who have to travel far for treatments.

Compass to Care invited me to the benefit banquet at the beginning last May to present a check to them. They also surprised me by inviting my mom and dad, who live in the suburbs of Chicago, to come to the benefit banquet. Neither Compass to Care nor my parents knew how much I raised until I presented the check. I gave a speech about what I did, and at the end of the speech, I presented them with the check. A few days before the banquet, I was at half my goal of $1,000, so we did not know if I would reach it. But, I got last-minute donations and matches to reach $1,144. Everyone was shocked, surprised, and happy.

I have continued to volunteer with Compass to Care this fall, and the lacrosse team and I have been working on ways to make it another successful season with them. It is great to help. I feel if I could help families and a charity, then I could do good and leave a legacy behind. I want to leave something behind for other athletes to follow.”

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Makala Rael

Psychology & Pre-Physical Therapy ’18

“I am a psychology major and I want to be a physical therapist, so graduate school is definitely in my future. I love my major, and I actually have a therapy plant named Alan in my room — I talk to him about his emotions and problems as practice for my major. I’m not joking! I really do!

I have become very involved on campus. I sing in the women’s choir, am a Resident Assistant, and am involved in campus ministry, the psychology club, and the Spanish club. I am also participating in an internship on campus, and I work at a hospital here in Dubuque. I have met so many friends and made a lot of contacts through my involvements, both on and off campus. I love being able to connect with everyone and see familiar faces everywhere I go

In addition, I have participated in volunteer and service opportunities in the community including serving food at the Dubuque Rescue Mission. I find this work really meaningful. For me, it’s about more than handing a plate of food to someone in need. It is important to me to also sit down, eat, and have conversations with people from all walks of life. I want to learn their stories and think about how I can help. I want them to know they are being heard and they matter.

My advice for incoming students is GO OUT THERE AND HAVE FUN! Dip your toes in many different activities. You will learn from your experiences and it will all come together for you if you are not afraid to take a chance. You may find your passion in a very unexpected place!”

Humans of Clarke

Rachel Bork

Psychology ’18

“This is my second summer living at Clarke. Last summer, I did not work at all because I took four summer classes – two at Clarke and two at a community college. This summer, I am not taking any summer classes, but I am working about 29 hours a week on campus. Both summers I have been able to stay on campus completely free due to credit hours or work hours, which is amazing. I always tell people that I do not have to pay to stay on-campus in the summer, and they are always shocked. It is nice because it allows students to save money in the summer instead of having to pay rent, utilities, etc., and it also provides students from areas further away the opportunity to stay in Dubuque.

Even though there are not a lot of students on campus, I still see people quite frequently and have become even closer with the staff because I see them daily around campus while I’m working. I love working for Clarke because of the staff, and free housing is just an added bonus!”

Humans of Clarke

Logan Koopman

Biology & Pre-Physical Therapy ’18, Doctor of Physical Therapy ’20

“I can’t say enough about the classes I’ve taken at Clarke. I mean, yes, they were sometimes difficult and a lot of work, but I learned SO MUCH. I can’t emphasize enough the value of speech and writing and the amazingness of my professors. I learned to write accurately and concisely with a critical eye. I thought I was a pretty good writer in high school, but my first paper in college was destroyed by the teacher. So, I discovered, as with most things, that I had to mess up to get it right. I learned to be good at speaking in front of a group and how to present myself and be self-aware, which I know will help me in my career as a physical therapist. I am better prepared to help my future patients and to educate them to help themselves when I’m not around. I can’t wait to graduate and put my skill set to use. I am a little worried about paying back loans, but my mom always tells me, sure, you may have college loans, but you are investing in your future. And, at Clarke, that couldn’t be truer.

I’m involved with a lot of activities on campus. I’m in the Biology Club, Nature Club, I’ve been an RA for three years, I’m a TA for anatomy, and give campus tours. Seriously, I love Clarke. I love that I know everyone on campus and can say hi to every person I pass. I don’t like to have my phone out when I’m walking between classes because I want to appreciate the face-to-face time seeing and talking with REAL PEOPLE.

The advice I would give an incoming freshman is, don’t drop your cup at lunch. But seriously, get involved. Clarke offers a small community atmosphere where you have the support to get involved in as many things as you want. Communication is everywhere. It’s in the world around us. It’s how we interact with each other and live and work in society. Don’t be afraid of speech class or writing class. You can do it. And at Clarke, you’ll have the support to succeed.”

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Erin Danosky

Art History ’18

“Thoughts seem to constantly swarm around inside my head. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. As long as the gears in my brain continue to crank, then I know nothing is wrong. There is something about me that I find unique: my creative mind. Whether it’s coming up with ideas for a school project, thinking about a new story to write, or perhaps deciding on how a certain character should look, my mind is always circulating new ideas for me to use.

It all began when I wrote my first book. Although it was short, it contained a well-developed plot and concrete characters. I am a fan of all types of fiction. I used to tell stories to my cousins and would continue the same story each time they spent the night at my house. If I had never told stories, I never would have become interested in art.

I decided I wanted a clear visual of my characters as I had described them in my stories. My best friend taught me the basics, and from there I learned other drawing skills on my own. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that good at first. I have improved a lot since then, and I am proud to see that the characters look like genuine human people.

Through writing, I began to create art, and through both of those skills, I began to realize what I wanted to do with my life. I have been told that my art will never be good enough to land me a job as a concept artist for video games, but I don’t believe that. I believe the skills I have will assist me in the future. I have come a long way to where I am today. I have always gone by the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and I believe that. Art may not come naturally to me, but writing and research does. Concept artists are required to do an extensive amount of research, and I do that during my free time. Before I create a character, I do research on potential subjects to get more accurate insight on how I believe this character should be portrayed. The research in the job is the most important aspect to it.

Overall, even though my mind never stops moving, much like a shark having to stay in motion in order to survive, I have never had a problem with it; I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. The skills I acquired will certainly come in handy when I land that concept artist job. I know they will. There is nothing wrong with having a wild imagination because that is where the best stories come from.”

Humans of Clarke

Hannah Weatherly

Athletic Training ’18, Doctor of Physical Therapy ’20

“I am currently a first-year graduate student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program here at Clarke University, but I am also a senior athletic training (AT) major. I am doing the 3+3 DPT program; and, the way this works is the first three years are strictly AT, the fourth year is a crossover of AT and physical therapy (PT), and then the final two years are strictly PT. So, I am doing my AT capstone this year, which is looking at shoulder range of motion in colligate baseball pitchers and the prevalence of ulnar collateral ligament injuries in those who have a limited shoulder range of motion. The AT background certainly helps me in the DPT program because I have some patient-care background and experience working with injuries and rehabilitation. I am thankful I went the AT route instead of another way.

The opportunity to finish the DPT in six years is nice because I can begin my career and post-graduate life earlier than those who go the eight-year route. I really like the University’s DPT program because of the professors; how quickly the program can be complete; and how the information is condensed together, so it is a lot of information in a short period of time. During my three years in the DPT program, I will complete five internships that will take place throughout the United States, and these internships will allow me to get a ton of experience in different PT specialties. Once I graduate with my DPT, I have hopes to work in a pediatric clinic in either Colorado or Tennessee.”

Humans of Clarke

Anna Cole

Psychology ’18

“The second I stepped onto Clarke’s campus for my first visit, it felt like I was walking into some familiar place. I visited other schools, and my immediate feeling was to try and fit in, and there was this pressure to try and be something I am not – like this greater version of myself. However, walking onto Clarke’s campus, I felt as though I fit right in, and there wasn’t this pressure to be someone else and that being myself WAS the greater version of me. I chose Clarke because it allowed me to be the best version of myself without making me think I had to change or live up to another’s standards.

We are all here because we all have our own unique way of benefitting the community. Besides having the ability to be my own person and the best version of myself, I believe my favorite thing about Clarke is that almost everything is attached, and it takes you about 10 minutes tops to walk anywhere on campus (eight minutes if you high-tail it)! The connectedness of the buildings reminds me of the sense of community and oneness at Clarke.

I graduate this upcoming spring, and the things I will miss the most about Clarke are the Atrium during the Christmas season; the hot fudge sundae bar on Fridays; the gluten-free monster cookies; the support I have from all of my professors; Mary Ellen and her coffee; the extensive DVD collection in the library; but, most of all, I think that I will miss the community and all of the friends that I have made while I have been here.

With being a senior, my time at Clarke is coming to an end. And, my plans beyond Clarke include attending graduate school to complete a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. Although, where I will complete this degree remains a big question mark. Clarke has helped me tremendously in some ways that I can’t even explain, but most of all, it gave me the confidence that I needed to achieve my goals.

Clarke has helped me realize how much potential I have and how I can use my knowledge to help others. Tim Boffeli, especially, has helped me realize what I am capable of and helped lead me onto the path that I have set forth currently. This school has been a huge benefactor in helping me grow as a person and maturing to realize how to take the knowledge that I have and use it to help others.”

Humans of Clarke

Jade Ramirez

Nursing ’19

“I lived on-campus this summer to take a nursing class. It was nice being able to come back to my apartment and do homework instead of having to commute or work online. Being here gave me the opportunity to meet new friends and build stronger relationships with my classmates. We created a lot of fun summertime memories.

Compared to the school year, residing on campus over the summer was definitely quieter. I did find myself missing the bustle of the school year where I am constantly saying hi to people I know, but I am thankful to be ahead of the game in my coursework.”

Humans of Clarke

Danielle Bonngard

Social Work ’19

“Social work is a huge part of my life. I studied abroad in Ecuador and learned to interact with Spanish-speaking individuals, even though I did not speak Spanish myself, and they did not speak English. We made it work, and we learned so much from one another.

I recently traveled to New York City to attend the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. The commission is based on the 5th Sustainable Goal, which is Gender Equality and the theme was Rural Women and Girls. I attended this conference with Assistant Professor of Social Work, Sherry Warren, and another student. It was a two-week conference with events set up in a panel style. These events are a way to connect with other people from all around the world and continue the conversation about the issues. I met many different people. I especially enjoyed meeting some high school girls – it was so impressive to me to see what the younger generation is doing to change things. I was proud to represent Clarke at CSW. The experience taught me that yes! – three people can make a difference. It also made me hopeful for change in the future.

I also love to volunteer locally. Each year, I spend time at Easter Seals summer camp for individuals with special needs. It’s so rewarding to help people who need an extra hand. I also visit with the Sisters at Mount Carmel. The sisters possess a serene view of life, a tranquil perspective that is new and different to me in my hectic world. In addition, I enjoy serving food at the Dubuque Rescue Mission.

My advice to incoming students? Get out there! Become an extrovert. You have a support system at Clarke. Mission trips and volunteer opportunities are a way for you to get out of your own bubble in a safe way.”

Humans of Clarke

Echo DeVries

Biochemistry ’20

“This year, I received the opportunity to do an independent chemistry lab for four to six hours a week. In this lab, I work with a spectrophotometer, a centrifuge, and computer software to discover the International Bitterness Units (IBU) of specific beer. The beer samples I use are provided by 7 Hills Brewing Company here in Dubuque, and I could not be more thankful for their contributions; their generosity has made this independent lab possible. To sum up my independent lab, I put the beer solution in test tubes; centrifuge the beer solution with an organic solvent; load the samples into the spectrophotometer, which uses UV light to measure the absorbance level; and, in the end, I find the IBU levels of the beer. Once we – as in the Clarke University Chemistry Department – master this completely, it will allow Clarke to be a resource for 7 Hills Brewery to give them another way to determine the IBU levels in their beer.

I was nervous coming into this lab because I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into; I didn’t know a thing about the equipment and software involved. Now, I feel more comfortable standing in this lab and working with the equipment and software. Honestly, this is an unbelievable opportunity which will be a great thing to have under my belt for my future. I really appreciate how the professors at Clarke strive to make sure Clarke students stand out more, and this is my opportunity to shine a little. I definitely feel if I was at a different university I would not have an opportunity like this.”