Page 1



New state-of-the-art facilities generate pride and excitement for the entire MMU community.

For over 40 years—through countless victories, national titles, and Mustang glory—Mount Mercy University’s outdoor athletes have never had a home field to call their own. Until now. The new, state-of-the-art Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex provides a home field for baseball, softball, men’s and women’s track and field, and men’s and women’s soccer—six of the university’s 18 intercollegiate athletic teams.


Mount Mercy Magazine is IN THE published two times per year CLASSROOM by Mount Mercy University Marketing & Communications. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent views of the editor or official university policy. EDITOR Jessica Gortner Assistant Vice President for Marketing & Communications CONTRIBUTORS Amanda Mayotte ’15 Coordinator of Marketing & Media Content Kristy Raine Librarian & Archivist Jill Fishbaugh Leah Grout Garris Kathryn Howe PHOTOGRAPHY Mike Schlotterback Joe Sheller Calcam Aerial Productions DESIGN Creative Mellen ONLINE Phillip Platz Assistant Director for Multimedia Marketing PHOTOGRAPHY BY CALCAM AERIAL PRODUCTIONS




Robert B. Callahan Vice President for Administrative, Enrollment & Student Services



Brenda K. Haefner ’96 Vice President for Development & Alumni Relations


In the Community


Happenings on the Hill

Sister Shari M. Sutherland ’71 Vice President for Mission & Ministry


In Focus

Brandt A. Worley Chair, Board of Trustees


Class Notes



From the Archives

Douglas V. Brock Vice President for Finance

Janet Handler Provost

Mount Mercy University 1330 Elmhurst Drive NE Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402 319-363-8213 ONLINE MAGAZINE


In the Classroom




NO PLACE LIKE HOME For the first time in the athletic program’s history, the MMU Mustangs have a permanent outdoor home-field advantage of their very own.

NO HURDLES IN HER WAY Sudanese immigrant Receva Duos ’18, who has overcome great hardships, finds abundant blessings at MMU as a standout student-athlete and leader.

SIMPLY THE BEST MMU’s 2017 Hall of Fame inductees shine as only Mustangs can with compassion, commitment, and character in their legacy of athletic and professional success.

PLAY BALL! Mustang baseball alumnus Jun Endo ’13 returns to Los Angeles for a career at Fox Sports, where he blends his love for journalism with athletics.


Meeting the Needs of Our Time 22

HONORING VALUE IN EVERY PERSON AND EVERY STORY Eden Wales Freedman, assistant professor of English, builds an interdisciplinary diversity studies program, where students can contemplate and cross-examine diversity components, linking them to their courses of study.

Welcome to our refreshed and updated magazine! Our team worked tirelessly to enhance the content, look, and format to create an even better experience for our dedicated readers, and I couldn’t be more proud. Our redesign came just in time to properly document one of the biggest events in Mount Mercy history— the grand opening of our state-ofthe-art Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex, dedicated to serving the needs of our outdoor student-athletes. Inside, you’ll find wonderful stories featuring the talents of both current and alumni student-athletes, as well as our devoted athletics staff. In addition to our athletics features, Happenings on the Hill, and Class Notes, you’ll find truly inspirational stories featuring the merciful and accomplished work of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni—in teaching, learning, leading, and serving. I am constantly amazed by what our Mount Mercy family achieves. In the classroom, in the community, and in your everyday lives, you live, breathe, and support the transformational effects of an education focused on academic excellence and compassionate service. Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, was committed to serving the underprivileged with compassion—aptly described as meeting the needs of her time. Following suit almost 100 years later, the Sisters established Mount Mercy to unite people with opportunity through education.


STUDENTS HELP ADVANCE A RICH AND VARIED WORLD OF ACADEMIC RESEARCH Mount Mercy prides itself on the experiential learning opportunities afforded to its students, on and off campus. Undergraduate students working on faculty-led research projects demonstrate the scope of science topics being tackled.

Rest assured, there’s no doubt that meeting the needs of our time is both our history and our future. And it’s a responsibility we’re honored to uphold. Go Mustangs!

Laurie Hamen, JD President


Fall/Winter 2017






veryone has that one special teacher who will always be remembered. The one who offered a caring word exactly when needed—or maybe the one who pushed a little harder to draw out the greatest potential. Teachers leave a lasting impact, and it takes an extraordinary person to meet the academic, emotional, and social needs of young children. It’s challenging and influential work. Many times, however, education graduates don’t have a true picture of what their careers will demand. A specialized program at Mount Mercy University makes sure students can be certain that teaching is the passion they wish to pursue. By exposing them to real-life classrooms in the Cedar Rapids community, junior-level students discover the ups and downs of an energetic, enthusiastic day at school.


WELCOME TO THE MOUNT MERCY CLASSROOM Since 2012, MMU has partnered with community schools through its Professional Development School (PDS) program. Beginning in Center PointUrbana Elementary and Regis Middle School, the program has expanded to also include Taylor and Prairie Ridge elementary schools. The PDS model provides MMU juniors in the teacher education program the opportunity to apply theory and content hands-on in a classroom setting. Here, traditional classroom learning melds with intensive field practice for a holistic educational experience. Especially unique is the fact that Mustang students pursue coursework with MMU professors on site at their assigned school. Then, they leave their Mount Mercy Classroom and simply walk down the hall to apply a lesson plan or teaching technique with children. MMU is among an elite group of Iowa universities participating in such a collaboration. “Mount Mercy students get a great sense of what the beginning of a year and the entire instruction cycle looks like. They receive exposure that wouldn’t happen until they actually become teachers,” says Ann Wooldridge ’87, principal at Center Point-Urbana Elementary School. “They know what to expect, and this gives them a fantastic head start.”

“Most education students don’t get this type of exposure until they actually become teachers,” says Ann Wooldridge ’87, principal at Center PointUrbana Elementary School. “This program helps them find out if teaching is truly what they want to do.” Impressed by this head start, Wooldridge herself has hired three MMU graduates for full-time positions since the program started. By all accounts, it appears the PDS approach improves teacher quality and hireability. Last year’s graduating class boasted nearly 100 percent placement. Anywhere from 12 to 15 juniors learn and teach at each of the schools. Those with an elementary education focus divide among the primary schools while secondary education majors are assigned to Regis Middle School.


Marc McCoy, associate professor of education at MMU, says faculty give feedback to MMU teachers-in-training with greater immediacy than they can through typical training approaches. “Feedback from Regis has been overwhelmingly positive,” McCoy says. “Our students actively engage in teaching, tutor students, provide assistance for those with special learning needs, and participate in rewarding service projects.” Wooldridge, who has enjoyed a 20-year career at Center Point-Urbana, calls the PDS program a win-win-win. The program positively impacts all key groups: the MMU students who benefit from a pre-student-teaching experience, the district educators who share their classrooms, and, most importantly, the community’s youth. The MMU presence keeps the teacherto-student ratio low and provides extra hands to move busy children through their day. MMU students also assist with assemblies and activities, strengthen early literacy work, and allow teachers to get fall assessments done much quicker.


Justin Brown ’15 confirmed teaching as his calling through participation in the PDS program. As an MMU student, he interned at Center Point-Urbana and was then hired full-time at Taylor Elementary School, where he now teaches fourth and fifth grades. In true pay-it-forward fashion, he hosts two MMU students in his classroom, grateful for how the program prepared him for his career. “I can’t tell you how much more comfortable I was becoming a teacher because I’d been in the classroom,” Brown says. “There’s no substitute for getting in there and doing the work. You will learn fast, and you will know within the first semester if it’s your passion.” Brown says his MMU students reinforce his lessons and improve oneon-one instruction. He also appreciates the fresh perspectives they bring, and the way they serve as role models to his students. “I learn from them as much as they learn from me,” he says. “We are all learning together.”

Fall/Winter 2017

HEAD OF THE CLASS Undergraduates aren’t the only ones who benefit from Mount Mercy University’s Department of Education. Many doors open for graduate students when they earn a master’s degree with an emphasis in teacher leadership from MMU. Marc McCoy, associate professor of education at MMU, says the master’s program follows the trend of educating students as cohorts. They attend classes together and establish a strong peer relationship that serves them well in the years to come. Educators from the College Community and Cedar Rapids school districts make up two strong cohorts at MMU. This year, 18 new master’s in education students from the College Community area enrolled in the teacher leadership/effective teaching program. From Cedar Rapids, that number is 22. McCoy says these graduates become leaders, trainers, coaches, and mentors in classrooms across the community. It’s just another way MMU makes a wide and deep impact, and he’s sure this positive influence will lead others to join the program.



Proving to be a popular topic, nearly every series event attracted overflowing audiences. “People seem eager to talk about the divisiveness in our country right now,” she says.



DIVIDED WE FALL: FINDING COMMON GROUND IN A FRACTURED AGE By Amanda Mayotte ’15 Each of the 14 Fall Faculty Series events focused on a different aspect of democracy and citizenship—from the role of free press to the impact minority groups have had in shaping our nation.


The motto of the United States is “Out of Many, One,” but democracy in 2017 is splintered, with political combatants entrenched in fixed ideologies, while the idea of a political center seems to have become a no-person’s land. Mount Mercy’s 2017 Fall Faculty Series—Divided We Fall: Finding Common Ground in a Fractured Age—brought students, faculty, staff, and community members together to explore how today’s biggest issues can be resolved through courage and compassion. “In the early months of 2017, it became clear that the United States is a divided nation,” says Joy Ochs, series coordinator and professor of English. “Hashtags such as #buildthewall and #resist were swirling about. The Mount Mercy faculty felt it was important to step back and take stock of the state of our democracy and what it means to be a citizen in 2017. In a political atmosphere where there seems to be a lot of shouting, we wanted to address issues using the Mercy charism of courage and compassion.”

Each of the 14 events focused on a different aspect of democracy and citizenship—from the role of free press to the impact minority groups have had in shaping our nation. Through multiple presentations, performances, and stories, the series examined how we got to this point and where we may be able to go from here, the legitimate role of protest to allow marginalized voices to be heard, and the ways we can have constructive dialogue with those who disagree with us.

“The goal was to examine our divided nation through different perspectives—tax-payer-funded medical research, women’s rights, civil discourse, the structure of government—in order to facilitate an inclusive discussion about the current state of our nation, what it has been, and what we want it to be,” Ochs says about the fourth annual series.

One couple from the neighborhood came to nearly every event. “They said something very simple that captures what these community events are all about: ‘Mount Mercy has been a great neighbor,’” Ochs says.

While faculty led most events, outside speakers also shared their perspectives. Prominent anti-racist, pro-equity writer and educator Tim Wise discussed longstanding traditions of white racial resentment in America. Matthew Ashley, associate professor in history of Christianity and systematic theology at the University of Notre Dame, came back to campus in conjunction with Mercy and Mission Week. Visiting writer Mike Poulin explored what more we can do to lift our voices on the critical concerns that are important to us, also in conjunction with Mercy and Mission Week. “My hope for the series is that it helped people understand how our government works and what is at stake,” Ochs says, “and that it moves each listener to take a more active role as a citizen—whether that’s registering to vote, advocating for an issue they care about, or simply reading the newspaper more critically.”


NURSING FACULTY PROVIDE AID TO DISPLACED SYRIANS Since 2011, conflict has devastated Syria. The civil war has forced 5.3 million people out of the Middle Eastern country—half under the age of 18—many landing in Turkey, Iraq, and North Africa. By Amanda Mayotte ’15 Nursing faculty members Anne Hartman and Darcey Rosenblum couldn’t stand idle as the war passed its sixth year, so the duo packed up and traveled to Greece in July 2017. Both volunteered at Ritsona Refugee Camp, located 50 miles north of Athens. Hartman spent her time with the preschool program while Rosenblum worked in the women’s center. “My greatest struggle was seeing the enormous amount of hardship these kids have survived,” Hartman says about the three-week trip. “They were born into a war zone, then survived a horrendous and dangerous journey to arrive in Europe. Now that they have arrived in Greece, their family lives in a refurbished shipping container, and they are stuck here for years because no country in the world wants to take them in.” Maintaining as much normality as possible, Hartman and the children spent their days doing the same things preschoolers around the world love to do: jump rope, hula hoop, sing songs, blow bubbles, craft, play house, and watch movies. Adults set up shops around the camp, selling coffee and food.


“The main lesson I came home with is that these people are just like me,” Hartman says. “They want the same things for their children that I want for mine—peace, health, happiness. They owned homes and had careers before the war started, and they did not choose any of this.” Moved by the experience, Hartman and Rosenblum initiated plans for a similar volunteer trip for MMU faculty, staff, and students—expected to take place in the summer of 2019. “I learned so much from spending time in the camp and meeting the people we hear so much about in the news,” Hartman says. “Having been there, I feel that it is safe and would be a great service-learning experience for our campus. It aligns so well with our Critical Concerns—especially immigration, racism, and women.”

Fall/Winter 2017


TRAVELING TO MEET THE NEED Service trips are an important aspect of student life at MMU. They give the opportunity to serve where genuine need exists in another area of the country. Students gain a first-hand perspective of America’s rich cultural diversity while building relationships with fellow volunteers and people at the service site. During fall break 2017, two student groups participated in service trips. In Detroit, students worked with Cass Community Social Services to update bedrooms in a homeless shelter. Another group worked with various community organizations in St. Louis to focus on hunger, homelessness, and poverty. Sarah VanHoe ’19, a student on the Detroit volunteer trip, says she met a gentleman at a lunch break who was involved with Cass Community. “Our short exchange of hellos turned into an amazing conversation when I was able to learn how he was impacted by the organization,” VanHoe says. “Years ago, he had gotten into drugs and had finally hit a point where he had enough. He was directed to Cass Community, which then gave him shelter, a job, and the means to fight his addiction. Today, he has made a complete turn for the better and is an advocate and volunteer for the organization. Hearing this story was absolutely incredible and made me feel even more passionate about the work I was doing.”

“With each service trip I attend, I strengthen my will to volunteer. I have lived a fortunate life and want to do everything I can for those who are not so fortunate. This service trip helped illuminate the reason why I volunteer and encouraged me to keep in touch with my love for volunteer work.” Sydney Franks ’19 Detroit Volunteer Trip




very time Athletic Director Paul Gavin ’88 stands on the new athletic complex plaza, surveying the fields in each direction, he feels the hairs raise up on his arms as he considers this dream turned reality for the school he loves. The view from the plaza, with a Mustang emblazoned across the turf, delivers what he and the other coaches refer to as the “wow factor”—a special place they can bring recruits, alumni, and friends to take pride in all Mount Mercy can now offer today’s student-athletes. Earlier this fall, the $16 million Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex began its debut season with a Grand Opening, which included the induction of the new Hall of Fame class, remarks by President Laurie Hamen and key dignitaries, as well as tours of Busse Softball Field, the multipurpose field, and the baseball stadium. For the first time in the athletic program’s history, the MMU Mustangs have a permanent outdoor home-field advantage of their very own. The complex serves six of MMU’s 18 intercollegiate sports: baseball, softball, men’s and women’s track and field, and men’s and women’s soccer.


“Sometimes I can’t believe this is ours,” says Jason Furler ’95, sports information director, who, like Gavin, has a long history with MMU. Furler has been with the school 20-plus years, and Gavin is a former student-athlete and coach of both men’s basketball and golf. That rich past is part of what makes it so special to gaze down upon a beautiful field with Mount Mercy in gold block letters.

For the first time in the athletic program’s history, the MMU Mustangs have a permanent outdoor home-field advantage of their very own. The wide impact the state-of-the-art facility will have on the Mount Mercy student body is indisputable: Student-athletes make up half of this fall’s first-year traditional undergraduate class with over 400 total students currently participating in athletics. Besides being outstanding athletes, they are outstanding students. Combined, the average studentathlete GPA exceeds 3.0. Twelve of MMU’s 18 sports are NAIA scholar teams with a cumulative 3.0 GPA.


2017 MMU Hall of Fame inductees Lavern and Audrey Busse are avid softball enthusiasts. Providing the lead gift for the Mustang softball field was a perfect match for the Lavern T. and Audrey Busse Foundation and further enhances the Mount Mercy-Busse legacy.


While MMU’s outdoor athletes have enjoyed many victorious seasons in spite of having no home field, the need has always been there. With the financial support at last in place, and 22 acres of industrial land acquired, (located at 651 19th St. NE, just a few short blocks from the Hill) the project broke ground in June 2016. “It’s like going from a one-room apartment to a penthouse,” says Gavin. “Our coaches and staff are overjoyed for their studentathletes and the success of their sports. I can’t wait to see our athletes grow, play, and learn over the years.” No more longing for the fields at other schools. No more losing precious minutes loading up gear and vans and driving across the Cedar Rapids metro area for practice at Xavier or Kennedy high schools, a process that longtime soccer coach Amir Hadzic knows all too well. “It didn’t hit me until I received a set of keys from Paul,” Hadzic says. “As I left his office, I suddenly had shivers realizing what that moment meant for our program.” Hadzic says the complex will be essential for the future of MMU soccer, from recruiting, camps, and clinics to bringing potential high school prospects to campus. Ultimately, the facilities will ensure a continuation of his nationally recognized NAIA program. “I’ve coached here for over 20 years and, during this time, we used more than 10 venues for our practices and games,” Hadzic says. “We invested a lot of resources and valuable time just to travel to those sites each day.

Fall/Winter 2017

Now, we can use our time better to extend our practice sessions and work individually with our players to make them even better student-athletes.” Some highlights include Musco lighting that allows night games—and therefore fewer missed classes—and artificial turf that holds up against the elements. The LED lights can be turned on via an app from anywhere in the world. Additionally, the multipurpose field has been thoughtfully built with expansion in mind for possible future sports, such as football and lacrosse. Gavin says the ability to train and compete on first-class facilities has already impacted recruitment and interest in outdoor sports programs. More than 35 new players joined the baseball program this fall. The track and field and cross country programs are expected to increase from a roster of 75 up to 130 in the next two to three years, with an anticipated rise in new field event participants. “I had a recruiting visit the morning of our grand opening, and the kids were amazed,” says Jamie Jimison, track and field and cross country head coach. “That ‘wow factor’ is something we’ve never had, and it makes a huge difference. The ability to train athletes in our own space means so much to our recruitment.” Baseball coach Jack Dahm agrees. “It’s outstanding what we have here at Mount Mercy,” he says. “It’s truly a one-of-a-kind facility.” Without doubt, it’s a great time to be a Mustang.

COMMUNITY & CHARACTER The Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex will make additional community outreach efforts possible, including Mount Mercy’s planned JumpStart program, which will collaborate with local social service agencies and neighborhood organizations to provide activities for area youth. JumpStart’s mission is to inspire children in Cedar Rapids to reach their educational potential by teaching them essential lessons in leadership and academics through sports.





he most memorable moment of Receva Duos’ ’18 track career came in the last race of the 2017 indoor season. In the finals, she turned on the jets and ran a personal best in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 09.12 seconds. “My teammates swarmed me when I crossed the finish line,” recalls Duos, a senior majoring in criminal justice and standout track and field captain. “We worked so hard all season. That day we were really a family.” When she looked up at the time clock, she realized she had qualified for nationals. After freshman and sophomore seasons plagued by injuries, her hard work and determination had paid off. Track and Field Head Coach Jamie Jimison remembers the pride he felt for his athlete, noting that “the blessings Receva has had have never been lost on her.” Duos’ story begins two decades ago, when her outlook seemed grim. She was born in Sudan in 1996 at the height of a civil war between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Lasting for more than two decades, the conflict is one of longest civil wars in world history and cost the lives of two million people—the civilian death toll the highest of any conflict since World War II. That her family was not among them is why Duos believes in miracles. “God didn’t have to save us,” she says. “We are blessed.” Lucky to be alive, the Duos family was among the four million citizens displaced by the war. In 1998, they fled for their lives, leaving all their belongings and oldest brother, Andrew, behind in the village of Mabaan. Duos’ father carried two-year-old Receva alongside her mother, two sisters, and three other brothers. Weeks went by and they kept putting one foot in front of the other. “I don’t know how long we walked, but it was miles and miles,” Duos says. They crossed rivers and dangerous terrain until finally reaching a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where they lived for three years while awaiting sponsors in the United States. The Duos family first arrived in Texas, settled in Atlanta in 2008, then moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where Duos attended Roosevelt High School and ran track. After graduation, she was determined to continue her education. “We came here for a better life, so whatever opportunities came my way, I was going to go after them,” she says. “I wanted to do something to make my family proud, here and back in Sudan. Many people wake up every day and don’t have a chance to go to college.” Duos focused on smaller, private schools where she felt she could enjoy a strong sense of community. She also knew

she wanted to study criminal justice and keep running. Her meeting with MMU professors and Coach Jimison sealed her decision, as did her receipt of the Catherine McAuley scholarship for tuition. “Coach Jimison is the reason I’m here,” Duos says. “He’s the reason I’ve made it this far.” Escaping war has a way of gifting a person with deep gratitude, and Duos draws upon her past to seize every personal opportunity and give back to others. She is copresident of the Black Student Union, which aims to increase awareness of black culture on a predominantly white campus. During spring break last year, the group arranged trips to visit civil rights museums in Georgia and Tennessee.

“We came here for a better life, so whatever opportunities came my way, I was going to go after them,” Receva Duos ’18 says. “I wanted to do something to make my family proud, here and back in Sudan.”

After graduation in May, Duos intends to start her criminal justice career in the police force. She’s applied to police departments in Atlanta in hopes of gaining valuable field experience and filling a need for more diversity among police officers. “Society benefits from diversity and people in leadership of different backgrounds,” says Duos, who is also considering law school in the future. “We don’t have a perfect criminal justice system by any means, and there aren’t many female African-Americans in the field. I hope my involvement can help balance the system and make it more just.”



SIMPLY THE BEST The Class of 2017 Hall of Fame inductees were honored during Alumni Reunion Weekend on September 29. A social and awards ceremony took place at the new Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex, followed by an all-class reunion. Calling the group “the most talented class we’ve ever inducted,” Athletic Director Paul Gavin ’88 applauded each honoree’s legacy of service and success since graduation. Not only have these athletes left indelible legacies at MMU, they now contribute greatly through their professional endeavors that include coaching, nursing, finance, and community service. “I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired,” remarked President Laurie Hamen at the close of the ceremony, noting her particular gratitude for the setting of the festivities. “We’re so thankful for what you’ve given to Mount Mercy. You join the ranks of a very elite group of successful Mustangs, and we could not be more proud.” Each of the following honorees achieved their success the right way, Hamen said, which is the Mount Mercy way: with compassion, academic excellence, and a commitment to the highest standards of moral character.


JENNA HIGGINS BOLL ’13 Jenna Higgins Boll, now a nurse at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is one of only two student-athletes in school history to earn an individual national championship, and the only one to win multiple national titles. In all, Boll was a seven-time NAIA all-American and two-time Field Athlete of the Week. She was both the Midwest Collegiate Conference indoor and outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, earning 18 MCC titles for the Mustangs. She currently holds 13 school records and finished fifth at the 2010 USA Junior Track & Field Championships. At UIHC, Boll works in the digestive disease procedural unit, assisting with colonoscopy and upper endoscopy procedures. She sees patients who have or had pancreatic and colon cancers, and also screens patients for the disease. Boll says she’s grateful for the MMU education that molded her into the nurse she is today. “MMU showed me how to prioritize and work as a team to get a job done,” she says. “I was able to successfully transition from student nurse to floor nurse thanks to the faculty who spent time outside their normal work hours to make sure I fully understood the material. They gave me the confidence I needed to be a successful nurse.”

BRITTNEY THOMAS BURMAHL ’13 Brittney Thomas Burmahl is assistant controller in the MMU business office and volunteer assistant MMU volleyball coach, where she enjoys interacting with faculty, staff, and students while remaining active in the sport she loves. As a student-athlete, she put together one of the most prolific women’s volleyball careers in school history, winning multiple NAIA awards and leaving her mark on the record books. She currently holds career records for kills (2,156), attack attempts (5,800) and digs (1,915), and single-season marks for kills (691), kills per set (5.08), and attack attempts (1,795). She was an outstanding student as well, recognized as a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete and academic all-conference award winner. Burmahl credits MMU and its volleyball program for cultivating her strength and confidence. “This institution helped me discover who I was and what I could offer the world,” she says. “I don’t just think of this university as a place where I earned my degree, but as my home during one of the most critical times of my life. I will always love this university and will forever be grateful for the values it instilled in me.”

LIZ HILL ’12 Liz Hill, who teaches 7th–12th grade math for Iowa’s Eastern Allamakee Community Schools and is the head softball coach at Kee High School, was one of the most dominant hitters in the history of Mount Mercy softball. The former first baseman and designated hitter is the Mustangs’ all-time leader in home runs (38) and runs batted in (146), and holds singleseason marks for home runs (14) and putouts (418). Hill also ranks second in school history in games played (186) and total bases (322) and third in slugging percentage (.601), hits (172), and putouts (976). She was a first-team all-Midwest Collegiate Conference selection in each of her four seasons with the Mustangs, was twice named second-team allMidwest Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), garnered two NAIA Scholar-Athlete awards, and was academic all-conference three times. Hill’s passion and love for the game came while playing for her hometown team in Shellsburg, Iowa. According to her MMU coaches, Hill always put in the extra work to improve and showed incomparable team spirit. “The impact this place has had on me is incredible,” Hill says of her days at Mount Mercy, treasuring the memories of playing softball with her teammates. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”




Ryan Bosch, currently vice president of Bosch Financial, was a two-time all-Midwest Classic Conference standout and the co-Most Valuable Player on the 2000–01 Mount Mercy men’s basketball team. A member of the 1,000-point club, he currently ranks 10th in school history with 1,264 points, second in threepoint field goals (199), ninth in steals (122), and 10th in field goals made (445). Mount Mercy equipped Bosch with the tools and confidence to hit the ground running after graduation; he maintains a strong connection to the school. He led the campaign for the McAuley Penthouse renovation, has been an integral part of the annual Mount Mercy Golf Classic, and is the driving force behind the Bosch Financial, Inc./AXA Advisors Halftime Tuition Shootout, which provides Mount Mercy students an opportunity to win tuition money and other prizes during halftime at home basketball games. In his professional life, Bosch helps individuals, families, and businesses reach their financial goals. He cherishes the trust and confidence he’s earned with his clients. Remembering the amazing strength of team spirit, he takes on a coach’s mentality when working with clients and advisors: prepare, design a game plan, execute. “I am a proud Mustang for life,” he says.

As one of the most-accomplished coaches in school history, Ryan Scheckel helped bring the 2018 and 2020 NAIA Cross Country National Championships to Cedar Rapids. He will serve as director for these prestigious events. Prior to his coaching career, Scheckel was a two-time NAIA track and field national qualifier, the MCC Outdoor Track & Field Championships Most Valuable Performer, and set six school records for the Mustangs. After taking over the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs in 2001, he was a four-time Midwest Collegiate Conference Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, five-time MCC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, and six-time MCC Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year. His teams also earned one of the NAIA’s highest honors when the cross country team received the Buffalo Funds Five-Star Champions of Character Team Award in 2009 and 2016. Scheckel says his MMU experiences motivate him to help others and be the best leader he can be for his community and family. He is the mayor of Palo, Iowa, and president of the West Linn Community Group, dedicated to improving quality of life through meeting the area’s social, economic, and cultural needs.

Fall/Winter 2017

“Mount Mercy will always be special to me,” says Ryan Scheckel ’01. “The university and its people continue to develop my path in life. The values keep guiding me to be a better person.”



PLAY BALL! By Kathryn Howe

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT YOUR CAREER? Jun Endo ’13 returns to his native Los Angeles for a production career at Fox Sports, where he blends his love for journalism with athletics.


JUN ENDO ’13 IS A BROADCAST ASSOCIATE AT FOX SPORTS IN LOS ANGELES He travels all over the country where various games are being played and creates the on-screen graphics during live sporting events.


aised in Southern California, where it’s always 75 and sunny, Jun Endo ’13 will never forget the changing Iowa seasons. He’ll also never forget the two seasons he was a member of the Mustang baseball team. A Mount Mercy baseball scholarship lured Endo from those warm Pacific beaches to the green cornstalks of Iowa. His time as a student-athlete rewarded him with a positive support system and many lifelong friends, an experience that only enhanced his journalism studies. Endo has spent the past five years at Fox Sports back home in Los Angeles, most recently as a broadcast associate producing statistics during major events like NFL football games and the U.S. Open golf tournament. Mount Mercy Magazine recently caught up with Endo to learn more about his post-graduate professional success.

DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE AT FOX SPORTS. I’ve worked at Fox Sports since graduation. I started off as a production assistant logging games for live shows being broadcast on FS1. I’m currently a remote broadcast associate. That means I travel to the cities where various games are being played, and I create the graphics you see during live athletic events. This can include performance statistics on a particular player, notes that give helpful context to the broadcast, historical info, and milestone stats. I can build some of these graphics ahead of time, but several I produce live as the game unfolds and under deadline pressure. Our announcers sit in the press box, but I complete my work in our production truck. My schedule during football season is non-stop, and I often put in 10hour days. I worked a few baseball games this year, but not the World Series. I hope I get that chance someday.

The people I work with and seeing cities I’ve never been to before. That’s a huge perk. I’ve traveled all over: Dallas, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Detroit, Buffalo. I recently enjoyed a trip to San Francisco, where I covered the 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals NFL game. Typically, I’m assigned one business trip per week. I spend Monday through Thursday preparing, then I’m on the road Friday through Sunday. When I covered the USGA golf season, a major highlight was the prestigious U.S. Open.

HOW DID YOUR MMU EDUCATION PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR SUCCESS? Even though I work in the communications field, my career took me along a different path than what I originally studied, which was mostly writing. Now I work in television, but not as a writer. The dedication and discipline that I put into my MMU studies definitely paid off when I accepted my role at Fox Sports. During fall and winter, that work ethic comes in especially handy when I have no life outside my job!

DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MMU PROFESSOR? Joe Sheller, associate professor of communication, was very helpful during my time on campus. Joe teaches journalism, public relations, and speech communications and is also the faculty advisor for the Mount Mercy Times student newspaper. He was not only a great professor but also my advisor, and he’s the one who set me on the path toward journalism.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MMU? Being from California, it’s the friends I made that I miss the most. With my work schedule, I haven’t had time to make a trip back to Iowa, and I miss being able to hang out with my friends. Life is busy, and we’ve all gone in different directions, but we try to keep in touch.



SISTER SHARI LEAVES LASTING LEGACY After eight years of faithful leadership to Mount Mercy’s community, Sister Shari Sutherland ’71 announced her plans for retirement. Originally from Kalispell, Montana, Sutherland came to Iowa and joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1966. After graduating with Mount Mercy’s first co-ed class in 1971, she went on to teach music at St. Benedict School in Decorah, Iowa. She served the Decorah, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Iowa City communities for 37 years before joining the Mount Mercy College Board of Trustees in 2009. She then became executive director of mission and ministry in 2010.

While at Mount Mercy, Sutherland was instrumental in numerous projects. She is most proud of her involvement in providing student activities related to mission and ministry; facilitating the beautiful sculptures of Catherine McAuley and Frances Warde placed on Rohde Plaza, just outside of the Sisters of Mercy University Center; placement of Mercy crosses in most public and classroom spaces; and the connections she’s facilitated between the Sisters of Mercy and faculty, staff, and students of Mount Mercy. “We are grateful for Sister Shari and all she has done to further the charism of the Sisters of Mercy and Catholic identity,” President Laurie Hamen says. “We will deeply miss her skills, compassion, enthusiasm, grace, and love.” In retirement, Sutherland plans to work part time as liturgical-music minister at Sacred Heart Life Center. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, Sister Linda Bechen ’74 will take over as vice president for mission and ministry.


BEAN HONORED AT EMPLOYEE AWARDS Roberta Bean, administrative assistant in the Department of Nursing, received the inaugural Distinguished Staff Award, named after Sister Mary Eleanor Cashman, at the annual Employee Appreciation Awards Dinner. Bean has supported the nursing department since 1977, where she is loved by faculty and students alike.


Fall/Winter 2017


MONEY MAGAZINE RANKS MMU #1 IN IOWA Mount Mercy was ranked highest among all Iowa colleges on MONEY magazine’s 2017 Best Colleges for Your Money list based on educational quality, affordability, and alumni success. The Time-affiliated ranking puts Mount Mercy at No. 87 in the nation among 711 schools—50 spots higher than in 2016. Mount Mercy also stood out in MONEY’s rankings for overall quality. The combination of academic excellence, affordability, and successful outcomes is what students and parents look for in their college search. The university is proud to report that 96 percent of alumni are employed or in graduate school within nine months of graduation. This, combined with an emphasis on compassionate service and practical experiential learning, makes Mount Mercy graduates especially prepared to flourish in their communities. In addition to this being great news for the campus community, alumni also benefit. A higher ranking for Mount Mercy increases the value of an MMU degree.

UNDERGRADUATE Gender Studies (Minor) Health Care Administration (Major) – now online Health Care Navigation (Major/Minor) Management (Major) – now online Music Administration (Track in Music Major) Sport, Health & Exercise Psychology (Minor)

GRADUATE Forensic Nursing (Emphasis in MSN program) Master of Business Administration (MBA) – now online Nursing Informatics (Emphasis in MSN)

FIRST-EVER DOCTORAL PROGRAMS COMING TO MMU Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy 2018 planned launch; pending HLC approval



S E P T. 2 9 – O C T. 1

ALUMNI REUNION WEEKEND MMU welcomed its largest-ever Alumni Reunion Weekend crowd to the newly opened Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex!

ROBERT W. PLASTER ATHLETIC COMPLEX GRAND OPENING On September 30, alumni and Mustang fans packed the bleachers to kick off a new era in MMU history!

HALL OF FAME SOCIAL AND INDUCTION CEREMONY Congratulations to the 2017 Hall of Fame class (front row): Lavern and Audrey Busse, (back row from left to right) Ryan Scheckel ’01, Brittney Thomas Burmahl ’13, Ryan Bosch ’01, Jenna Higgins Boll ’13, and Liz Hill ’12.

ALL-CLASS REUNION MMU celebrated alumni with music, memories, and munchies, and gave special recognition to graduates from years ending in a 2 or a 7 (2012, 2007, 2002, 1997…).

ALUMNI AWARDS LUNCHEON Congratulations to the 2017 Alumni Award recipients (left to right): Douglas Doyle ’09, Carol Heaverlo ’89, President Laurie Hamen, Paula Eggleston Land ’90, and Robin Wazac Borrett ’81, ’16 MSN. Visit to nominate an alum!




1 5 T H A N N UA L

GOLF CLASSIC Every year on the first Thursday in September, the MMU athletic program hosts the Mount Mercy Golf Classic to raise funds for capital projects that aren’t reflected in the university budget. Now in its 15th year—each of which has been sponsored by the ESCO Group—the 2017 event drew a record 144 participants, raising just over $59,000 for the Mustang Athletic Club. Thirty-five teams of business supporters, alumni, trustees, and friends enjoyed the day at Hunters Ridge Golf Course netting much-needed funds for Mustang athletics. Since its inception, the Golf Classic has raised more than $500,000 to fund non-budgeted items for the Mount Mercy athletic program.



DAN + SHAY PERFORM AT MMU Popular country duo Dan + Shay performed on Sept. 8 for students and community members at Mount Mercy’s first big-name concert. More than 1,350 people packed Upper Andreas Parking Lot to see the band perform hits like “How Not To” and “Nothin’ Like You.” Hosted by the Mount Mercy Activities Programming Board (M2AP Board), a student-run entertainment organization, the concert brought members of the Cedar Rapids and Mount Mercy communities together for an energetic evening of live entertainment.


Fall/Winter 2017

Thanks in large part to a generous grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP), Mount Mercy’s sustainability efforts just got a huge boost. Professor of English Joy Ochs led the grant writing efforts that earned $425,000 to promote sustainability literacy and stewardship practices, expanding the university’s commitment to serving the common good. These expanded efforts will include staff to lead sustainability initiatives, development of academic programs in sustainability studies, a new Sustainability Scholars program, student co-curricular opportunities in socially conscious entrepreneurship, sustainable infrastructure on campus, staff development programs, and community outreach. “Mount Mercy’s latest strategic plan opens the door for significant progress on our sustainability goals,” Ochs says. “This work couldn’t have come at a better time, and though our goals are lofty, we’re positive we can make a real change in organizational culture, student experience, and regional outreach.”

MACP supports efforts to enhance quality of life and prevent and relieve suffering of children, families, and seniors; preserve and promote the environment and the arts; and encourage the humane treatment of animals.




Assistant Professor of Business Nate Klein ’07 grew up just a few miles from Mount Mercy in Shueyville, Iowa. As he graduated from high school, he had big plans to attend a state university in Iowa.

MBA MBA NOW OFFERED ONLINE Dedicated to meeting the needs of working professionals, Mount Mercy launched a fully online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in August 2017. Classes—offered in 5- and 10-week sessions—are asynchronous, so students aren’t required to log in at a certain day or time; however, weekly deadlines keep them engaged and on track. Typical coursework includes interacting online with classmates and the instructor through discussion forums, live video chat, and phone conferencing.



ncouraged by Amir Hadzic, Mount Mercy soccer head coach, Nate Klein ’07 decided (without visiting campus) to attend Mount Mercy instead of a big university as planned. The promise of a continued soccer career sealed the deal. Once on campus, Klein knew he made the right choice. “I absolutely fell in love with the campus,” says Klein. “As a result, I became more involved in college than I ever was in high school.” In addition to playing soccer, he participated in student government, was class president, and served as president of Enactus (known then as SIFE—a community of students and academic/ business leaders committed to using entrepreneurial action to transform lives). Tom Castle, Mount Mercy associate provost—and Enactus advisor during Klein’s college years, showed Klein that he could use his business experience to give back to the world. “Through his mentorship, Tom got me excited about how, down the road, I could impact students’ lives like he and others did,” says Klein. “Enactus has a saying: ‘A head for business, a heart for the world.’ That resonated with me.” While at an Enactus National Expo in 2007, he connected with Aflac; just a few days after graduation, Klein received a job offer. He relocated to Columbus, Georgia, and spent seven years progressing through the ranks, starting as an analyst and leaving as a senior manager in the company’s South Carolina location. Simultaneously, he earned his MBA at Emory University. After completing his doctorate degree at Creighton University, he and his wife, Jenny, decided they were ready to return to Iowa. “I had just finished my dissertation and reached out to my Mount Mercy mentors to learn about job possibilities,” he says. Castle learned that a business professor had just resigned, and he wanted Klein to be considered for the position. Three weeks before classes, Klein stepped on campus as an assistant professor of business.

Klein now serves as the Enactus club faculty advisor, helping students prepare for Enactus regional and national competitions. In his first year as advisor, the Mount Mercy team fell just outside the top 100 out of more than 450 U.S. teams. The following year, they finished in the top 12—the best they’d ever done. Last year, the team’s incredible work with #Sandbags2Handbags and Market at the Mount landed them in the final four, giving students like Derek Siddell ’18 the opportunity to present their entrepreneurial ideas to 1,500 peers and 60 C-suite executives. “I needed to find my purpose at Mount Mercy, and I found it through Enactus,” says Siddell. “The experience has been life changing. Anything I’ve learned as a business student—I guarantee I’ve applied it to helping local businesses,” he says. This past year, he and the team worked with Crazy Good Meats, improving company logistics—including the creation of a routing system that saves time when delivering products to retail locations. “I don’t know where to start when it comes to how Nate has inspired and influenced my work,” says Siddell. “He helps me push my limits in everything I do.” Although Klein has been on the faculty at Mount Mercy for three short years, he is already being recognized for his influence. This year, he was selected as the first recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award (named after Sister Mary Wilma Wolf) by students, faculty, and staff for living the values of the Sisters. “I always tell students: ‘If you keep your goals to yourself, then only you know about them,’” says Klein. “‘But if you share them with other people, then they can be in your corner.’” Which is exactly how Klein recently became Mount Mercy’s interim dean of students. “They knew what my interests and goals were, so they asked if I’d be interested,” he says. “I know this is an opportunity to make an impact on a greater number of students. To see that someone like me from a small town can have a big impact is a pretty humbling experience. This is the place I’ll retire from.”






A voracious booklover, Eden Wales Freedman, assistant professor of English, learned to read when she was two, picking up any book she could get her hands on. PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE SCHLOTTERBACK


ecause of her insatiable reading habits, Eden Wales Freedman learned about the Holocaust when she was just three. “Even at that age, I was consumed with how such a great injustice could happen,” she says. As she got older, her mother took her to the library to learn about the complex ideas she struggled with. “I discovered that it wasn’t just Jewish people who were mistreated. There were other groups: people of color, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals,” she says. “I remember asking, ‘What happens if you’re a gay Jew of color?’ I wanted to understand the outcome if overlap occurs among the groups into which people are classified.” Hoping to make the world a better place for the disenfranchised, Wales Freeman first considered becoming a lawyer when she entered college. Soon, however, she discovered that being an attorney wouldn’t bring her vision to life. After taking several English courses (because of her love for reading and writing), she instead became a high school English teacher. When she entered grad school a few years later, Wales Freedman selected trauma theory as her area of specialty— but she wanted to do more than just read about trauma and go on with her day. So, she volunteered at a sexual assault prevention center, helping develop and teach national bystander awareness training programs.


Today, as she introduces her students to works from Toni Morrison or William Faulkner, she realizes that the literature she teaches isn’t easy. “But I am so moved by my students’ efforts to grapple with the text, speak about it intelligently and compassionately, and link it to the Sisters of Mercy Critical Concerns,” she says. BRINGING DIVERSITY STUDIES TO MOUNT MERCY Multifaceted conversations with students encouraged Wales Freedman to build a diversity studies minor expected to start next year. She explains the minor as an inter-disciplinary program where students contemplate and cross-examine diversity components: race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, age, disability, etc. By analyzing how these elements intersect to form experiences, students can link what they learn to their other courses of study. “If they’re nursing majors, for example, diversity studies could apply when they have to describe health problems to immigrants who don’t speak English,” she explains. “If they’re business majors, it could apply when students think about how diversity factors into international business.” At a smaller institution like Mount Mercy, Wales Freedman also emphasizes that a diversity studies minor is a way to encourage students to think globally, socially, and practically without detracting from their majors. It

Service Learning

and literary studies in english Edited by LAURIE GROBMAN & ROBERTA ROSENBERG


ENGLISH PROFESSORS WIN INTERNATIONAL AWARD English professors Carol Tyx and Mary Vermillion were among a small group who contributed to Service Learning and Literary Studies in English, which was honored with the 2017 Teaching Literature Book Award. Their essay, “Literature Goes to Prison: A Reciprocal Service-Learning Project,” focused on the meaningful work done through the MMU student-run book club at Anamosa State Penitentiary.



Fall/Winter 2017

Students published in literary journals at Mount Mercy, Coe, Cornell, and Kirkwood gathered on Sept. 6 to read and discuss their work during the first College Students Create: Celebrate Corridor Literary Journals. The Hook—a local non-profit that produces workshops and showcases spoken word, performance poetry, and live storytelling— was also on board.

encourages them to serve the common good by learning empathy, collaboration, and the ability to live harmoniously among people of different races, genders, classes, and backgrounds.

Wales Freedman doesn’t just create value in the classroom: As a mentor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, she translates stories of women who have lived under Taliban rule. They speak and write English as a second language, often in poems and stories. Her work helps American readers understand the text without losing the spirit of the author. She’s also a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer, dedicated to seeing her little sister every other week. Recognizing this dedication to uplifting women globally and locally, the Women’s Equality Coalition of Linn County named her one of five Women of the Year in 2017. Wales Freedman serves as the co-chair for Mount Mercy University’s Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Committee as well, organizing events such as Black History Month and Women’s History Month. “As a teacher, I can do the social justice work I hoped to do as a lawyer,” says Wales Freedman. “I want my students to learn to think for themselves and think critically. Every story and person has value in literature. Even if everyone looks the same, that doesn’t mean their stories are the same.”




Together, the groups aim to engage and expand the local creative community with the annual event.

Courtney Snodgrass ’17 and Mary Vermillion, professor of English, have teamed up to do what they do best—produce meaningful work for others to enjoy. Mercy Creative Review, the university’s first-ever, employeeand alumni-sourced literary and art magazine, can be found online at If interested in submitting for next year’s edition, contact Snodgrass at




Alumnus Andy Hayward helps prisoners at the Anamosa State Penitentiary earn their high school degrees.


nside a quiet classroom in Anamosa, students file in and take their seats for another math lesson from teacher Andy Hayward ’06. The material he’s prepared today is typical of any high school curriculum. The setting is anything but. This class is about to take place at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, where Hayward has been a high school equivalency instructor since 2015. The students solving these algebra problems wear prison uniforms here because they’ve stolen property, committed assault, sold drugs, or even murdered. But they are also here to turn their lives around. Hayward and his fellow instructors pave the way toward redemption, helping offenders prepare for the HiSET high school equivalency test and finally obtain their long-awaited diplomas. Some may be only a couple months away from their goal; others are a couple years from truly being ready. They all have one thing in common, though: the desire to finish their education in hopes of a brighter future. “These guys are motivated, appreciative, and determined to get their diplomas, which is a great step toward re-entering their communities,” says Hayward. “I enjoy working with them.” The Anamosa prison offers the education program through a contract with Kirkwood Community College. In fact, Anamosa is among nine Iowa facilities that have partnerships with their local community colleges to offer an on-site school. Hayward is one of six Anamosa teachers who prep students for the HiSET test through classes in math, reading, writing, science, language arts, and social studies. The class schedule runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., much like any other public school. Because offenders are in different stages of their education, Hayward and his colleagues modify and customize instruction to meet individual needs.


Iowa law requires offenders under 21 years old to work toward their diplomas. For a high percentage of the prison population, the pursuit of continued education is part of a treatment program. Seventy people participate in Anamosa’s prison school with more than 200 on the waiting list. This cap keeps class size low, to around 15 students. In total, the Anamosa facility has 950 medium- to maximum-security prisoners, including 225 individuals serving a life sentence. Nicole Chambers, education coordinator at Anamosa and Hayward’s supervisor, says the program opens up opportunities that these individuals otherwise wouldn’t have, offering the chance to grow and change. Chambers admires Hayward’s work ethic and his dedication to go above and beyond for his students. As long as an inmate appears to be trying, Hayward will go the extra mile to make sure he learns the material—whether that’s printing extra worksheets or staying after class to tutor. Besides math, Hayward has also taught language arts, science, and literacy to inmates with a below-third-grade reading level. “Andy truly cares whether these guys get their diploma,” Chambers says. “He will do what it takes to help them succeed.”

“It’s rewarding to see that feeling of pride my students get when their hard work is successful, and they take a step toward their dream,” Andy Hayward ’06 says.

Beyond the opportunity to finish their high school education, offenders also benefit from an apprenticeship program through which they can receive instruction and job training in 19 occupations, including welding, cabinet making, computers, and food service. Offenders can also gain work experience through Iowa Prison Industries, which employs incarcerated men and women in jobs that include wood working, upholstery, and print press operation—producing many of the street signs, license plates, and school furniture pieces used across the state.



These programs work in concert to give offenders the tools they need to ultimately stay out of prison. In this way, Hayward considers his work a valuable community service, and he finds inspiration in the compassion and hope extended to people despite their terrible mistakes. Hayward’s merciful heart for his community extends back to 2002 when he first moved to Iowa. Originally from Ithaca, New York, Hayward earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University. He then decided to volunteer for AmeriCorps and arrived in Coralville, where one of his projects was teaching English as a second language to African refugees through the Institute for


Fall/Winter 2017

Social and Economic Development. Upon hearing positive feedback about Mount Mercy, Hayward went on to obtain his secondary education degree. He taught English at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids for the next decade. He loved the school community, but grew restless for change. That’s when he learned about the program at Anamosa. “It’s rewarding to see that feeling of pride my students get when their hard work is successful, and they take a step toward their dream,” Hayward says. “At this point in my career, I’m where I need to be.”






Marion Police Lt. Scott Elam ’16 MA demonstrates Mercy compassion.

When people call the police department, it’s probably the worst moment of their life,” says Marion Police Lt. Scott Elam ’16 MA. But when they get Elam working on their case, they get an advocate, a voice for the victim. “I try to calm people down,” Elam says, “and tell them everything is going to be alright. Sometimes, that’s all they need to hear—that voice that says, ‘You’re going to be okay.’” Although his positions have changed over the years from working as a parole and patrol officer to a police detective, Elam has made criminal justice his career. “I like the idea of helping people,” he says. As the officer in charge of the Investigations Division, Elam says he doesn’t know exactly what he’ll be doing every day. Not too long ago, he wound up working a murder case. “Marion doesn’t have a lot of homicides,” he says, “but it’s satisfying to be the voice for the victim, to be sure someone is held accountable, and see justice in the end.” APPLYING MOUNT MERCY EDUCATION When visiting MMU with his daughter, Lindsey Sabelka ’16 MA, who was interested in pursuing graduate studies in criminal justice, Elam discovered he was just as interested in the class offerings as she was. “When she said, ‘Dad, you should do this with me,’ I couldn’t help but agree,” he says. Elam and Sabelka took classes and worked on projects together while earning their master’s degrees. “My dad gives 100 percent in the work that he does,” says Sabelka, now a probation/parole officer with the Iowa Department of Correctional Services. “He’s a good dad, a great role model, and it was rewarding to be able to see each other’s perspectives through our schoolwork together.” Elam says coursework focused on research-backed efforts to reduce crime and how to do more with less really helped him out. “As a result of my master’s degree, I learned how to be smart about policing by using proven, evidence-based methods,” he says. These methods are being put into practice with a police mapping project that places officers on patrol in the areas where problems are more likely to occur rather than just at random as was standard practice in the past. “Using data helps us be more effective.” Marion Chief of Police Joseph McHale, also a proponent

of evidence-based policing, recently instituted Operation Clean Sweep, a social network analysis effort where all Linn County law enforcement agencies and several federal agencies combine records to identify high-risk offenders and the people they are connected with. Elam coordinated the “boots on the ground” by serving as the liaison between the officers and the agencies. Elam says arresting people that commit crimes is a tool to be used by law enforcement, but it cannot be law enforcement’s only response to community problems. “We let the high-risk offenders and their contacts know we are cracking down, and they are being watched,” Elam says. “We also let them know we want to keep them safe and help them stay alive as well as encourage them to get out of the social groups causing problems. We provide information on resources available to prevent them from returning to criminal behavior.”

“As a result of my master’s degree, I learned how to be smart about policing by using proven, evidence-based methods,” Scott Elam ’16 MA says. The first operation was a success. Of the 71 people identified as high-risk offenders, 24 were found and an additional 11 people with outstanding warrants were arrested. Twenty-eight collateral contacts also received information regarding services and resources. APPLYING MOUNT MERCY COMPASSION Marion Police Deputy Chief Doug Slagle says Elam is always willing to serve those less fortunate, taking it upon himself to provide regular updates to families of homicide victims who may not have the ability or know about the resources available to them. “He is not only a concerned police officer,” Slagle says, “He is also a compassionate liaison representing the victims. He gives them a voice and an explanation of the justice system.” Slagle says Elam is an asset to the agency and the community as a leader and a mentor. “Lt. Elam is a person first and a police officer second,” Slagle says. “He’s what America needs more of.” 27


STUDENTS HELP ADVANCE A RICH AND VARIED WORLD OF ACADEMIC RESEARCH By Jill Fishbaugh Mount Mercy prides itself on the experiential learning opportunities afforded to its students on and off campus. The following seven examples of undergraduate students working on faculty-led research projects demonstrate the scope of science topics being tackled.



Junior Zachariah Devine and Sophomore Gabriela Kreinz worked with Anna Waterman, assistant professor of biology, to identify and analyze faunal remains recovered from the prehistoric Bruggeman Cave archaeological site in Jones County, Iowa. They hope to understand more about hunting strategies and dietary practices during the Middle to Late Woodland period (1-1000 CE).

Meleah Baloch ’18 and Jessica Hiney ’18 worked with Neil Bernstein, professor of biology, on his home range studies of hatchling and juvenile ornate box turtles. Baloch continued studies with Robert Todd, associate professor of mathematics, on a paper studying growth models on ornate box turtles as part of a McElroy Grant. Alexandria (Rene) Young ’18 and Senior Jennifer Hill are analyzing data on Bernstein’s sand prairie succession study by organizing microclimate and plant data.

CELL SCIENCE Senior Whitney Christiansen and Sophomore Zach Steffen worked with Alesia Hruska, associate professor of biology, in Professor Robert Piper’s lab at the University of Iowa to create a screening technique that will help better understand what the SH3PXD2b protein does in the cell. People with a mutation in the gene that encodes this protein develop glaucoma as part of a larger disease known as Frank-ter Haar Syndrome. CHEMISTRY Jordyn Lehman ’18 and Joe Nguyen, associate professor of chemistry, are studying how wine decomposes so methods can be developed to prevent it—such as one that a Cedar Rapids entrepreneur and chemist developed, prolonging its use and reducing waste in general. COMPUTER SCIENCE Aly Schultz ’17 and Elizabeth Kleiman, associate professor of computer science, developed a parallel version of Kruskal’s algorithm for finding a minimum spanning tree of a graph. Schultz presented her work at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.


GENETICS Junior Josh Long worked with Ryan Bezy, associate professor of biology, to complete genetic screenings to identify new genes and proteins involved in Escherichia coli cell division. These screens took place in two different E. coli genetic backgrounds that are defective for cell division, and mutant isolates that suppressed division defects were identified. Isolates from both genetic screens will have their genomes sequenced in order to identify the specific mutations and genes responsible for suppression of the original division phenotypes. These genes and their role in bacterial division will then be a focus of future studies. MATHEMATICS Senior Wyatt O’Conner and Robert Todd, associate professor of mathematics, studied how to use a mathematical object called a Stochastic Petri Net in order to model the behavior of genetic switches in the Lambda Phage bacteria. Todd and Sophomore Quinn Jamork did a computational study of Random Boolean Networks, which are related to statistical physics.

BERNSTEIN NAMED DISTINGUISHED FELLOW Sophomore Zach Steffen works on screening techniques to better understand proteins in cells.


eil Bernstein, professor of biology, won the prestigious Distinguished Fellow award from the Iowa Academy of Science. Bernstein’s long-time interests include ornithology, conservation, ecology, environmental issues, and animal behavior. He has studied Antarctic seabirds and, currently, box turtle and sand prairie ecologies. Bernstein has been instrumental in leading student-faculty research opportunities at Mount Mercy, mentoring more than 25 research students since 2000, along with providing numerous internship placements. In the same time, he published 11 papers in peer-reviewed journals, edited two symposia, and published book reviews and popular articles. Since 2000, Bernstein has received almost $150,000 for his studies on turtles and sand prairie ecology, some in conjunction with his colleagues at Cornell College. He was also a member of two research teams that were awarded almost $600,000 in grants, which helped support student research and expenses. He served as president of the Iowa Academy of Science and editor of the Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science. Currently, he is an associate editor for the Journal of Herpetology.

The Journal of Herpetology is an international peerreviewed, quarterly publication of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles produced continuously since 1968. This journal publishes original taxonomy and hypothesis-driven research on the biology of amphibians and/or reptiles.

Rene Young ’18 and Senior Jennifer Hill organize microclimate and plant data in the field for the sand succession study.


Fall/Winter 2017





n summer 2016, Sharon Guthrie, assistant professor of nursing and director of Mount Mercy’s graduate nursing programs, participated in the National Association of School Nurses’ first-ever Innovation Relay. This challenge called on school nurses to spend 24 hours solving any common on-the-job problem. The excitement and creativity stemming from nursing innovation prompted Guthrie to bring this enthusiasm to nurses in Iowa. At about this same time, Guthrie learned about MakerNurse, a national program initiated by MakerHealth that helps nurses develop their ideas for better patient care. She reached out to learn more. Meanwhile, Rose Hedges ’10, ’12 MSN, provider informatics specialist at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s, was searching for a way to complete 1,000 clinical hours for her

The nurses that participated were encouraged to come up with out-of-the-box solutions to address challenges that slow them down or create patient discomfort. doctorate in nursing practice. “I’m big on bringing glory back to the bedside,” says Hedges. “A lot of my research focuses on being innovative to engage and retain nurses.” Guthrie mentioned MakerNurse to Hedges, and an idea was born: bring Iowa’s first-ever MakerNurse event to Mount Mercy University. “We knew this could help so many nurses in our area,” says Hedges. On Sept. 15, 2017, Mount Mercy University became the first to host a MakerNurse workshop in Iowa. The goal:


to get nurses in attendance—some who were Mount Mercy graduates—to look at problems differently, proving that innovation is possible in almost any situation. “Nurses solve problems at the bedside every day,” says Hedges. “They just might not talk about it or think about it.” The nurses that participated were encouraged to come up with out-of-the-box solutions to address challenges that slow them down or create patient discomfort. Several new ideas were brainstormed, created, and discussed: • an IV “snuggie” to prevent tubes from freezing as helicopter nurses move patients from helipads to ERs. • a weighted eye mask that serves as an alternative to taping eyelids shut before surgery. • a secure bond that creates a silicon-like seal to keep EKG patches in place. • a restraint vest for use in behavioral health units that prevents patients from falling down. MakerNurse attendees then presented their ideas to a panel of experts for feedback, including a nurse scientist from the University of Iowa and a local student who builds apps for nurses studying for board exams. “You could see the lightbulbs going off,” says Hedges. “Nurses who came thinking, ‘I’m not creative,’ got to see that they can do this. You could feel the energy. In the future, I predict that this type of education and training will be part of nursing curricula.” The attendees were also given access to online tools from the MakerHealth Foundation that will help them continue to troubleshoot and bring new concepts to the table as they move their ideas forward. “Nurses came in facing the unknown and left with excitement,” says Guthrie. “This is a whole new way of learning instead of sitting in lectures.”


“There’s something religious in most everything we do,” says Philip Drey. “Especially with a lot of majors we currently have—there’s a human side.”

RELIGIOUS STUDIES PROGRAM EVOLVES By Amanda Mayotte ’15 What do you plan to do with your degree?” Indisputably, this is the question most college students are asked. From childhood, parents, counselors, and members of the community encourage students to pick a career and study toward that specific profession. It’s pretty clear-cut for those wanting to work in education, health care, or business. But where does that leave programs like English, gender studies, philosophy, or religious studies—subjects often deemed fruitless by society? On the front line, faculty are left to curb unfair assumptions. “There’s something religious in most everything we do,” says Philip Drey, special appointment professor of religious studies. “Especially with a lot of majors we currently have—there’s a human side.” Drey is not alone in this thought.


Fall/Winter 2017

“There’s a human side that is open to the transcendent,” says Mary Ducey, professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. “I think a lot of us are looking for that.” Delving into life’s biggest questions is important— especially at a university that values education of the whole person and pursuit of truth and dignity. “If there’s a God, it changes everything,” Ducey says. Still, religion can be a hard sell, but Drey and Ducey say studying “soft” skills is imperative in day-to-day job duties. Because of this, MMU’s religious studies faculty recently worked to evolve the major—and flexibility was paramount. Students still have the option to prepare for graduate school or work in a parish, but the updated program better accommodates students with multiple majors. “Business students are able to develop ethics, critical thinking, and communications skills,” Ducey said. “Nursing students are able to develop care of the whole person— gaining an understanding of life and human connection— in turn, becoming better health care professionals.” Classes such as Introduction to Ethics and Christian Moral Life were added to the course list, and the program plans to add an online offering in spring 2018. “Overall, students will have a better understanding of self, relationships, and their place within the world, which I think a lot of young people struggle with,” Drey says. “The human person is dynamic, spiritual, unique, and holy.”

CENTER OF LEARNING FOR THE CHURCH Mount Mercy University now offers online courses to audit at a greatly reduced tuition rate for staff members, teachers, and volunteers in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque parishes and schools. The Center of Learning for the Church (CLC), created in consultation with the Archdiocese, allows for any five-week, online undergraduate course to be audited for the low cost of only $150 per course. Visit for more information regarding the CLC and the application process.




O “One of the things I’ve wanted to do since I joined Mount Mercy was conduct research with students,” says Taylor Houston. “This was a great opportunity to do so.”


ver the past few years, Iowa’s anti-trafficking laws have become stronger, not only increasing penalties against traffickers and buyers, but also providing more protection and support for survivors. Many parties in Iowa also provide mental and physical health services, housing, and legal support for victims—but it’s difficult to understand the types of services provided, who provides them, and whether they’re effective. As part of his Ph.D. work at the University of Georgia, Taylor Houston, assistant professor of sociology, studied two state anti-trafficking organizations, and was fascinated by how faith-based and feminist-based groups worked together. “There are interesting bedfellows within the antitrafficking movement: evangelical Christians and feminists, for example,” says Houston. “Those groups typically don’t spend time together, let alone advocate for the same things. But, in this instance, they actively work together.” After moving to Cedar Rapids to begin teaching at Mount Mercy University, Houston became a board member for the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery. Early on, Houston was asked to co-chair the group’s Research, Evaluation, and Best Practice Standards Committee. “One of the things I’ve wanted to do since I joined Mount Mercy was conduct research with students,” says Houston. “This was a great opportunity to do so.” After successfully applying for an R.J. McElroy Trust Research Grant, Houston brought Kaitlin Gregerson ’19 on board as a research assistant to help identify and gather information about the individuals, professionals, and organizations that provide humantrafficking victim services in Iowa. “People don’t know what resources are available,” says Houston. “If someone comes to you as a victim, who do you call? Our goal is to identify best practices for providing services, as well as establish what resources are available to Iowans.” Houston and Gregerson spent this past summer driving across Iowa to interview people from different geographic areas who provide services or have initial contact with


victims, hoping to learn more about what they do and how they do it. “Working one-on-one with a faculty member is an amazing experience,” says Gregerson. “I’ve learned a lot about qualitative research and seen the work that goes into getting a research project approved and finding individuals to participate. These are all things that will be an advantage for graduate school.” About two dozen interviews were completed in October; November and December were spent coding the interviews (looking for themes regarding best practices, barriers to services, lack of services, etc.). Based upon what they uncovered, Houston and Gregerson then produced a report that will soon be shared with the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery and research participants. The research will also be presented at Mount Mercy University’s Scholarship Festival in 2018, as well as at the Iowa Sociological Association’s Annual Meeting. Next year, in collaboration with a new set of students, Houston plans to use the report findings to draft a survey for hospitals, mental health professionals, substance-abuse centers, and law enforcement to gauge awareness in regard to human trafficking, as well as establish where more training is needed. One of the report’s significant findings: Southern Iowa needs more dedicated services for human trafficking. “There are services available to those areas, but they’re located in Des Moines and other places that require travel,” says Houston. “Many communities don’t think it happens to them. But this happens even in small, rural communities.”




hilanthropists Gerald and Audrey ’76 Olson have continued their generous support for Mount Mercy University with a $1 million gift to establish an endowed chair in the university’s marriage and family therapy (MFT) program. Randall R. Lyle, professor of MFT and Mount Mercy’s founding MFT program director, has accepted this inaugural honor. An endowed position provides top scholars with dependable, perpetual sources of funding—allowing for cutting-edge teaching, research, and leadership, all of which attract exceptional students and nationwide recognition. “The Olsons’ extraordinary gift and longtime support demonstrate their generous spirit and confidence in Mount Mercy’s excellence,” says President Laurie Hamen. “We are grateful to the Olsons for their vision of a healthy community and their investment in Mount Mercy.” Under Lyle’s oversight, Mount Mercy’s MFT program achieved success quickly—developing an impressive reputation and receiving national accreditation just five years after its launch. Mount Mercy offers the only accredited, practice-oriented, master’s-level MFT program of its kind in the state. The Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic offers specialized training to student therapists, enabling them to provide high-quality services in a professional clinic under the guidance of licensed practitioners. This critical community asset sets the Mount Mercy MFT program apart. With the Olsons’ most recent gift, Mount Mercy is well-positioned to expand its leadership in marriage and family therapy, and launch its first-ever doctoral program— an important objective of the university’s strategic plan. An accreditation visit took place Oct. 10, and program


Fall/Winter 2017

coordinators are eagerly awaiting the result. “We are pleased with Mount Mercy’s accomplishments in this field and are excited to support the expanding MFT program,” Audrey says. “This program provides opportunities for graduate students to deliver muchneeded, low-cost mental health services to individuals, families, and veterans in the Cedar Rapids community that we hold so dear.”

LEARN MORE Discover the excellence of Mount Mercy’s MFT Program at mtmercy. edu/mft and range of services available at the Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic at


“I am most grateful to the Olsons for their strong belief in our work, and am honored to be appointed the first Gerald and Audrey Olson Endowed Chair for Marriage and Family Therapy,” Lyle says. “I look forward to further serving our students and community, as well as gaining even more visibility for the MFT program.”





her 50th jubilee. Her career includes teaching in the following Iowa schools: Immaculate Conception in Cedar Rapids, St. Cecilia in Ames, St. Patrick in Garryowen, St. Nicholas in Evansdale, and Sacred Heart in Waterloo.

the International Rescue Committee in Sacramento, California, and started the spirituality group, Getting in Touch.

Sister Susan Widdel ’72 celebrated


Judith Condon ’80 teaches refugees at

Becky Davis Lewis ’83 was

honored with the 2017 Iowa Nurses Association’s Region 5-SE Nurse of the Year Award.

Sister Marilyn Louise Ward ’73

Frances McLaughlin Stauffacher JC ’31, Mount Mercy’s oldest living alumna, celebrated her 106th birthday on June 19.

celebrated her 50th jubilee. She earned a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Northern Iowa. Her career includes teaching in the following Iowa schools: St. Patrick in Garryowen, All Saints in Cedar Rapids, and St. Joseph in Marion. She served as principal of St. Patrick School in Anamosa and taught at Our Lady of Grace in Edina, Minnesota. Sister Marilyn served as archivist for the Sisters of Mercy, 1981–2000. Presently, she is the director of volunteer services and archivist at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids.

Elizabeth Schlenk ’75 was inducted into the 2017 class of Academy fellows by the American Academy of Nursing. Susan O’Conner-Von ’76 was selected

as the 2017 recipient of the ASPMN® Dr. Jo Eland Excellence in Pediatric Nursing Award.


Gloria Dixon ’85, author of After Edward Lehner ’77 published his first

novel, San Juan Sunrise. Kirk Davis ’78 was named central

regional manager for the Yamaha Institutional Solutions Group. Michele Simmons Rubin ’78 received

the 2016 Excellence in Community Care Midwest Regional GEM award and the GEM Award for Excellence in Community Care in 2016, recognizing her as one of the best and brightest nurses in the country. As a nursing leader for the national Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Rubin helped organize the Nurse and Advanced Practice Providers Committee, whose quality of care initiatives have improved the care nurses provide. Rubin says she is most proud of the difference she makes in patients’ lives. “Hearing that I have helped them better manage and understand their disease, addressed their questions, and put a little humor back into their lives—this is what drives my passion to do what I do as a nurse,” she says. Rubin is director of Advanced Practice Nursing at the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Science Division.

Death: When You Lose a Loved One, Do You Know What to Do? has written the sequel: Profundities of Love. Tammy (Clemenson) Koolbeck ’86

was elected 2nd Vice Chair for the International Association of Venue Managers Board of Directors. She is currently the executive director of the Iowa State Center, a complex of cultural and athletic venues. John Valliere ’86 is the head PGA Pro at Glynns Creek Golf Course in Long Grove, Iowa, and was named 2016 Iowa PGA Golf Professional of the Year by the Iowa PGA Section. Michael Winker ’89 was named the Iowa High School Speech Association Fine Arts Administrator of the Year for 2016. Paul Steier ’89 serves as a law enforcement program manager for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators based in Arlington, Virginia. He works with law enforcement and motor vehicle agencies across the United States and Canada to empower them to network and partner with each other to make the countries safer places to live.

AC = Academy | CM = Commercial School | JC = Junior College | RN = Mercy Hospital School of Nursing


Lisa Lindmeier Roughley ’90 is celebrating 10 years with her digital marketing company, Roughley Speaking Communications. Alice Swenka Vontalge ’90 was

promoted to vice president/chief strategy officer at Crescent Electric Supply Company in Dubuque, Iowa. Sue Shannon Thomas ’94, a family nurse practitioner, opened her own business, Between the Lines Concierge Wellness Practice, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.


Bridgid Freymann Ruden ’86 unfortunately endured severe traumatic brain injury following a bicycle accident in 2008. As she awoke from a coma, she had to re-learn basic life skills. Because of this, she had to let go of her meaningful career as an advanced registered nurse practitioner. Despite the odds, Ruden ventured forward through exploring and redefining herself in ways that provided healing from her suffering. In defiance of health care professionals’ and families’ surprise, she began publicly sharing her story. She has presented nationally and internationally and appeared on TV, radio, and has been published in articles and books. She recently published her own book, Discovering My Life’s Purpose: From Tragedy to Triumph! As she shares her life’s experience, attendees are amazed, uplifted, inspired, educated, and surrounded with hope and reassurance. Ruden’s life’s purpose didn’t leave her; it merely merged to a higher realm.


Christine Nelson Garrett ’95 was promoted to vice president of the March of Dimes Foundation South Central Region. Joseph Nolte ’95 was elected to

represent the Southeastern Iowa Synod on the Church-wide Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Amy Pfeiler-Wunder ’97, a professor

of art education and coordinator of the Graduate Art Education Programs at Kutztown University, was named the 2017 Pennsylvania Higher Ed Art Educator of the Year. Pfeiler-Wunder was recently elected chair of the Commission on Human Diversity, a highly significant organization at the university that ties closely with her life-long passion for social justice issues. She received her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Iowa.

Kristin Austin McKinley ’95 was a panelist at Grinnell College’s Thriving at the Liberal Arts College Conferences.

Mark Johnson ’99,

Staying involved as a Mount Mercy alum is more important (and easier) than ever! Check out some great ways you can keep yourself plugged in at

chosen for his consistent demonstration of superior leadership and proven results at his hospital facility, received the Schumacher Clinical Partners Excellence in Leadership Award.





Angela Chambers Irizarry ’01 was promoted to employee and community relations manager at Hearthside Food Solutions in Wenona, Illinois. Amy Rea Peterson ’01 and her

husband Mark opened their own business, River N Ridge Outdoors, in Lansing, Iowa. Wade Steinhoff ’01 graduated from the American Association of School Administrators Aspiring Superintendent’s Academy in May. Sara Adrian ’02 married Jason Thiele,

May 14, 2016. Heidi Pedretti ’02 and Kevin ’03 Schmidt had a boy, Parker, born Jan. 1, 2017.

Tara Martinson Jones ’02 and Brian

had a boy, Max, born Oct. 29, 2016. Sarah Hawkins Weipert ’02 and Nathan had a girl, Lyda, born Dec. 12, 2016. Penny Ahrndt ’03 married Brian Wolf,

Sept. 23, 2017. Lisa Burken Leighton ’03 was

recognized as one of the 2017 Women in Construction by Constructech Magazine. Jessica Steger ’04 married Alex

Besin, Sept. 17, 2016.

’02 Laura Ballard Collingwood ’02 and Josh had a boy, Isaac, born July 26, 2017.


Tauna Brown Roth ’04 and Erik had a

boy, Ronin, born Dec. 27, 2016.

Heather Swift Steele ’07 and Andrew had a girl, Scarlett, born June 3, 2017.

Angela Carlton ’05 is a service learning associate at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Allyson Wright Larsen ’07 and

Kelly Bies Skrivseth ’05 received

Ashley Kramer ’08 married Nathan Diamond, Aug. 26, 2017.

her MSN in nursing education from Walden University. John Wagner ’06 is director of

performance improvement at UnityPoint Health-Jones Regional Medical Center in Anamosa, Iowa.

Nathan had a girl, Anna Claire, born July 29, 2016.

Emily Muhlbach ’08 and John Joseph Breen ’00 were married Sept. 16, 2017. Margaret Wright ’08 married Jonathan Blaisdell, May 28, 2016.

Andrea Alexander Shandri ’07

founded Iowa Doula Agency, the state’s first doula agency. She recently opened an Eastern Iowa branch serving the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City areas by promoting safe birthing/postpartum experiences. Amy Freiburg ’07 married Matthew

Deike, Sep. 4, 2016.

Lisa McGovern Brown ’08 and Joshua had a girl, Chloe, born Nov. 7, 2016.

Jessica Nothwehr Hollingsworth ’07

Katie Noonan Machacek ’08 and

and Isaac had a boy, Jaxson, born July 6, 2017.

Andrew had a girl, Evelyn, born Feb. 24, 2017.

Ashley Knipper Monaghan ’07

Alex ’09 and Sarah Jencks Watson ’08

and Tony had a girl, Mollie, born June 29, 2016.

had a girl, Madilyn, born June 25, 2017. Stephanie Klein Van Hemert ’09 was

named one of 2017’s 40 Under 40 by the Corridor Business Journal. April Albrecht Golwitzer ’09 is a

nurse manager at UnityPoint HealthSt. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. Kirkwood Community College recognized Golwitzer as one of their 13 All Stars of the Creative Corridor honoring her impact in Eastern Iowa’s key industries that bring occupations with shortages to the forefront in an effort to grow talent pipelines.


Shaun Dunston ’10 was accepted to

USUHS DNP for Nurse Anesthesia in Bethesda, Maryland. Dunston is currently serving as an O-3/LT in the U.S. Navy. Makenzie Kimm ’10 is a human


Beth Ripperger ’11 competed in Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge in Los Angeles, featured on the CMT channel. No stranger to grueling workouts, Ripperger has endured CrossFit for nearly six years at Elite Athletic Development/Crossfit in Arlington Heights, Illinois. At MMU, she ran cross country and played volleyball. And now, she runs marathons and half marathons—in 12 states so far. “Beth is an incredible person,” says Dennis Dew, Mount Mercy associate professor of psychology. “I am so proud of what she’s accomplished.” Currently, Ripperger works as a project coordinator in the Office of the Provost at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

resource manager at JMS Transportation Company, Inc., in Cedar Rapids. Kirkwood Community College recognized Kimm as one of their 13 All Stars of the Creative Corridor honoring her impact in Eastern Iowa’s key industries that bring occupations with shortages to the forefront in an effort to grow talent pipelines. Travis Albertson ’10 and Dixie had a

boy, Charlie, born March 13, 2017. Ashley James Helle ’10 is a doctoral

candidate working at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

’12 Candace Friedhoff ’12 and Michael Proudfit ’15 married, Sept. 24, 2016.

SEND US YOUR NEWS! Have a wedding, birth, promotion, anniversary, award, or retirement? Submit your major life events online at or write us at Alumni Relations, Mount Mercy University, 1330 Elmhurst Drive NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402. Information in the Class Notes section of Mount Mercy Magazine was submitted for publication. The university tries to verify the accuracy of the information; however cannot be responsible for incorrect information herein. If you would like us to correct inaccuracies on our online version, please contact 37


Cristie Anderson Timmes ’12


received her MSN/CNL from the University of Iowa and her ACNP from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently an MSN, RN at Chandler Regional Medical Center in Chandler, Arizona. Cory Beatty ’12 married Jenna

Lensmeyer, July 1, 2017. Kenan Kantarevic ’12 married Karly

Abel, July 2017. Staci Wherry Burken ’12 and Darren

had a boy, Wyatt, born May 15, 2017.

Anna Keehn ’12 married Dale Handley, Sept. 24, 2016.

Jenny Valliere ’13 was crowned Miss

Iowa USA. Adrianna Vargas ’13 recently received the 2016-2017 Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley High School Match of the Year Award. Jenna Higgins ’13 married Ryan Boll,

Sept. 24, 2016.


Born and raised in Marion, Iowa, Amber Hoff ’13 MA wanted to give back to the community she loves so much. That goal led her to Mount Mercy, where she received a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Hoff recently opened Sound Mind Therapy in Marion, providing collaborative therapy to individuals, families, and couples. “I wanted to follow a career path that allowed me to give back to the city I was raised in,” Hoff says. “I’m passionate about being involved in the community, understanding the overall mental health of the area, and being able to provide resources and education to the public.” Specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder, Hoff is equipped to assist people with high-stress careers and works as a consultant, helping businesses understand how to improve mental health in the workplace. “When those tools are in place, employees are able to be more healthy and effective with their families and in the community outside of the workplace,” she says.

Melissa Prier ’13 married Jason

Coulter, Aug. 6, 2016. Chad Underwood ’13 and Lauren had

a girl, Lillian, born April 29, 2017. Denice Richardson ’14 married Eric

Dochterman, Oct. 15, 2016. Naomi Fisher ’15 was promoted to

nursing supervisor at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Laura White Kilburg ’16 published her first book, The Wondrous World of Wren and Will, which tells the story about how, when Wren and Will’s dad is diagnosed with ALS, they decide to turn every challenge into a game. Their innocence and ability to see beyond an illness opens the hearts of those around and teaches us the true meaning of life and love.

Samantha Wilson ’16 married K.C.

Bellach, Sept. 24, 2016.


Haylie Wright Canterbury ’16 and

Travis had a boy, Watson, born March 14, 2017. Amber Nachtman West ’16 and Nathan had a girl, Natalie, born Oct. 18, 2016.


Erika Dennis ’16 received her Master

of Social Work degree from St. Ambrose University. Janessa Lee Walters ’17 MA

won the LinnMar Community School District’s 2016–17 Shirley Pantini Award honoring the equity and diversity work of Shirley Pantini, the district’s first equity coordinator. Walters, a student assistance counselor at Linn-Mar High School who works to prevent dropout, was instrumental in the formation of ALO, a student organization that encourages accountability, leadership, and opportunity among Linn-Mar students. Leslie Hoffmann ’17 is a graphic

designer with JS Products in Las Vegas. Anne Plotz ’17 started her own

business, LifeWorks!, in August. As a speaker, teacher, and coach, she works with communities, businesses, and individuals to embrace experiences on their life’s journey to achieve their highest potential. Andrew Vaughn ’17 was accepted into University of Iowa’s Professional MBA program.

We thank Tony Dickinson ’02 for his service and welcome Peg Bruns Detweiler ’92 as our new Alumni Board president.

WE THANK ALL DEDICATED MEMBERS OF OUR 2017–18 ALUMNI BOARD: Peg Bruns Detweiler ’92 | President Kathy Ebel Harriott ’87 | Vice President Mary Daehn Shaull ’86 | Secretary Tony Dickinson ’02 | Past President Travis Albertson ’10 Patty Barnes ’79, ’11 MBA Ryan Bosch ’01 Brooke Murphy Fitzgerald ’03 April Hageman ’08 Mark Hennessey ’88 Tricia Hoffman-Simanek ’98 Mark Huber ’88 Karen Woodhouse Jahlas ’84 Sara Kendall ’90 Katie Kielkucki ’06 Marcel Kielkucki ’02 Tammy Clemenson Koolbeck ’86 Kellie Lala ’89 Susan O’Conner-Von ’76 Nick Timm ’14 Jenny Valliere ’13

1930s Katherine Locher Curphy JC ’37

1940s Winifred O’Connell Matejka JC ’47

1950s Betty Wallace Stuckenschneider AC ’51 Patricia Spillane Bilsland AC ’52 Marilyn Jensen Cook RN ’57 Myrna Mertens Ballard JC ’58 Donna Yilek Heaston RN ’59

1960s Mary Misbach Zuber RN ’63 Linda Husak Hosek RN ’69 Paulette Kremer Koontz ’69

1970s Shannon Feeney-Hayes ’73 William Ramsden ’73

1980s Christine Grahs Lacy ’81 Loren Stiegelmeyer ’83 Laurie Weiermann ’85 Rita Wall ’89

Connie Keegan Brace ’71

2010s Michele Wegmann ’12

AC = Academy | CM = Commercial School | JC = Junior College | RN = Mercy Hospital School of Nursing




Under Coach Bob Timmons, the 1987 Mount Mercy softball team became state champions.

Mount Mercy Magazine | Fall/Winter 2017  
Mount Mercy Magazine | Fall/Winter 2017  

The Magazine of Mount Mercy University | Cedar Rapids, Iowa