Alumni News

“Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I don’t care if I never get back.” The song that has become a staple at every baseball game across North America since its introduction at Major League Baseball games during the 1934 World Series.

Heather Knowles `93 graduated from Graceland University with a Bachelor of Arts in English – Writing with a minor in Speech. During high school, she attended summer volleyball camps organized by Graceland women’s head coach, Stew McDole, in Rolla, Missouri. From those experiences she was enticed to visit campus, try out for Graceland’s team and learn all about the Graceland experience. Her initial campus visit was met with hellos, happy faces and a laid-back friendly vibe. She knew the university was the right fit.

At the end of the game, with just a few minutes left on the clock, Tara (Eskridge) Grubbs ʼ05 ran across the field to attend to the opposing team’s player who was down. When Christian Lerma collapsed, Grubbs instinctively thought it was a concussion, a common reaction from a hit during a soccer game, but the players surrounding him claimed he hadn’t been hit.

Kevin ’08 and Lora Toncheva ’07 Potter are a duo that makes Graceland proud. With successful careers, two young boys (and another one on the way) and their sights on improving the world, this couple is making a difference.

“I knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher until I took my Advanced Placement (AP) history classes in high school.” Moriah Jones ʼ13 recognized the powerful impact teachers can have on students and decided her best approach in life would be to follow their example.

Jeremy Graybill ’98 revealed that he wasn’t really the best student when he came to Graceland. He had some areas that needed improvement and said he was thankful for the “patience and guidance” of Professor Emeritus Dr. Ron Smith, who taught several of his math classes. It was the Graceland community, the men’s volleyball team, the guys on the hall and his family who helped to form the leader that Graybill has become today.

Who is changing the world? Field Manager Chelsea Tobin ʼ11 and activist in the Denver area, shares her story.

While she was at Graceland Andrea “Andi” Barber ’06 Chatburn discovered that her understanding of death and dying was different than most. In Bob Mesle’s class Suffering and Meaning, discussions around death revealed her difference. As a girl, Chatburn lost six great-grandparents within a few years. She experienced the care and love given to her great-grandparents, and, because of the inclusion in these intimate beautiful deaths, she understood death as a natural part of life.

It is a common process for students to be unclear on the path they wish to follow at the time they begin their college career, and that was definitely the case for Alex Cash ʼ12. Cash, who graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Information Technology, began his Graceland experience as a music education major.

Clay Hines ʼ09 work can put people to sleep – don’t worry, it’s a part of his job. Hines is an anesthesiologist in Texas. He graduated from Graceland in 2009 with a double major in biology and chemistry, and recalls the hard work he put into achieving his accomplishments.

Health communications graduate Brittany St. Louis ʼ11 is the operations manager for a health care facility in Colorado, where she runs the daily operations of the practice. She knew she always wanted to work in management in a health care setting and her bachelor’s degree from Graceland University helped set her on the right course to reach her dream.

Graceland grad Aaron Richards ʼ11 lives in Orange, California, with his wife, Leigh Richards `12, their one-and-a-half-year-old son, Owen, and long-haired miniature dachshund, Rudy. For Richards, there was never another option considered outside of Graceland University for his college experience. He knew from the time he was a child that Graceland was the place for him.

Christine Trewhitt ’14 is no stranger to the impact a nurse can have on one person — patient or otherwise. Trewhitt has known the value of nursing since she was young; ever since she watched nurses in her home attend to her mother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. She found that the presence of a nurse was a positive influence on both her and her mother. “I kind of correlated the two — a nurse in the house and my mom feeling better,” she recalls. Trewhitt has taken this lesson with her throughout her life and into the career she has today.

A historic season came to a close Tuesday night when Graceland University hoisted the national championship trophy of the 81st Annual NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium. Graceland became the first team from the state of Iowa to win the national championship in the event's history when GU's Justin Harley splashed a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Graceland an 83-80 overtime victory over Louisiana State University-Alexandria.

Universities across the nation recognize the need to help students go from graduation to their next steps: graduate school and entering their professions.

Elizabeth Sweet ’14 loves her work and wants to make a difference in the world. She enjoys the extensive travel associated with her position as the Executive Assistant to the Co-Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Founded in 1984, Starkey Hearing Foundation has expanded from its base in Minnesota across the U.S. and around the world. Helping economically disadvantaged people, Sweet is privileged to be part of the process of giving them the gift of hearing.

Alumni Spotlight: Joyce Soule

September 28, 2017

Currently enrolled in Graceland University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with an anticipated graduation date in 2018, Joyce Soule ’09 has already experienced incredible success in the health care industry.

Ioseb “Soso” Gabelaia ’10 is originally from the Republic of Georgia. He was born in Sukhumi but raised in Batumi because of the dangers of war.

Coming to Graceland University was a last minute decision for Jalen Brown `17. He was offered a scholarship to play basketball for the university only a couple months before classes began. Brown says what really drove him to come to Graceland was the thought of being on his own, away from the big city lights of Chicago.

Phillip Rogers `01 graduated from Graceland University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and went on to become the Creative Arts Pastor for Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas and is active in commercial, television, film and live production.

Chad Elliott `96 comes from a long line of Graceland alumni: he is the fourth generation to graduate from the university. While attending Graceland, three of his grandparents worked on campus, which made being away at college really feel more like home. The fifth generation of family, Elliott’s son and niece, currently attend Graceland.

The decision to attend Graceland University was made for Jennifer Craig-Blakeley `02, a member of Community of Christ, when her older sister, Catharine Craig, made Graceland her college of choice a few years earlier. When Craig permanently moved to Iowa following her college graduation, Craig-Blakeley wanted to be closer to her.

Dwayne Melton ’11 has gone from good to great! Graceland’s supportive coaches, staff and faculty made all the difference in Dwayne’s life. He came back to campus a few weeks ago to say thanks…

When Joe Nicholson ’97 graduated from college, the market was tight. He chose to attend Graceland because of the Commercial Design major offered, proximity to home, small class sizes and soccer program.

Success: Julie Filbeck

May 16, 2017

Julie Filbeck `03 is thankful each day of her life for the experience she had at Graceland University. Upon completing all her prerequisite work through the Kansas City Community College system, Julie was ready to transfer to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. After an unsuccessful stint at a big university right out of high school, Filbeck was looking for a small learning environment where she felt connected when she found Graceland.