Alumni News

Grant Kouri ’06 has chosen a career of service and steps out courageously to act on his convictions. Graceland’s mission and values are lived out in Grant’s passion for global humanitarian work.

Amanda Deering Jones ’01 believes she made one of the best decisions of her life when she decided to become a theatre major at Graceland University. With an already developed interest in film, the Sarasota, Florida, native grew up in the Community of Christ and aware of Graceland. When it came time to choose a college, she knew she wanted to go somewhere with smaller classes and better access to faculty. A visit to Graceland offered a feeling of comfort and familiarity.

Showcased in galleries and private collections around the U.S., Patty Kochaver ’84 credits Graceland for her artistic beginnings. She has perfected her calling and has a studio at the Midwest Clay Guild, north of Chicago. Her unique ceramic work has evolved to an exquisite, recognizable style. Currently, she exhibits in an international juried show called Materials, Hard and Soft, in Denton, Texas. Represented by Blue Gallery in Kansas City, her website is pattykochaver.com.

James Thomas Jr. '09 has created a life he never thought possible. And now he's giving that same chance to high school football players who might otherwise believe they can't do the same.

Peoria, Illinois-born Tommy Ratkiewicz-Stierwalt ‘12 knew at a very young age he wanted to be involved in the arts in some capacity and began performing in the third grade. He was first involved with local theatre in 2007 when cast in the ensemble of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dream Coat at Quad City Music Guild in Moline, Illinois where he grew up.

Keely Cardwell graduated from Graceland in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After working as an RN for seven years, she is currently finishing a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) at the University of Kansas. Horizons caught up with Keely to hear about her burgeoning career and Graceland memories.

Attending college in a small town on the southern Iowa border was not in the plan for California native, Angel Monroy. But then, in the summer of his junior year in high school,...

Mike Davis ’10 samples the pizza everywhere he goes. It is all part of the cultural immersion that Mike includes in his research. His time at Graceland included managing the Pizza Shack, and he considers himself a connoisseur.

There is a reason why people choose to be on one side of the camera and not the other. Peering through her Nikon D810, Tara Shupe ‘11 shies away from being in a photograph and struggles to reveal her accomplishments, but she is finding success capturing the world from the other side of the lens. Freelance photography careers are not very linear, and success comes in surprises. Tara is open to gathering creative energy at every turn and thankful for the broad artistic base she received during her Graceland years.

There is a reason why people choose to be on one side of the camera and not the other. Peering through her Nikon D810, Tara Shupe ‘11 shies away from being in a photograph and struggles to reveal her accomplishments, but she is finding success capturing the world from the other side of the lens. Freelance photography careers are not very linear, and success comes in surprises. Tara is open to gathering creative energy at every turn and thankful for the broad artistic base she received during her Graceland years.

When Andrew Murphy '14 started at Graceland, he had seen little of the world beyond the Midwest. In Lamoni, "the center of everywhere," he became friends with Hawaiian volleyball players who inspired him to travel. After a summer in South Korea with World Service Corps, he was on his way to being a global citizen serving the less fortunate.

Graceland graduate Paloma Ortiz ‘15 is a busy woman with a plan to move justice forward. She is excited about her career and the direction her life is going. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Spanish/Chemistry minors, she was accepted to Emporia State University’s Master of Science program in forensics.

Graceland prides itself on an enormous level of alumni interaction and support, as there is constant work to provide opportunities to current students to better advance them both academically and professionally. Knowing the financial toll internships can require, an anonymous alumni donor recently provided $1,000 to go directly to students enrolled in internships.

Mentors can be extremely helpful to college students. In order to help Graceland students gain the most from their education, Enactus has collaborated with the Graceland Alumni Board to offer GU4U, a mentorship program that will pair current students and recent graduates with alumni and friends in their field of study.

This symposium will showcase environmental professionals and researchers from a variety of backgrounds, all of whom will speak on this year’s symposium theme, “Changing Paradigms.” The conference will focus on environmental issues, from wind and solar energy to food waste. “Come and join other blue, gold and ‘green’ alumni interested in supporting Graceland environmental studies and sustainability projects!”

We followed up with Marissa and learned she's been experiencing success in her new career as a paid actress, and still credits Graceland for sparking the fire that began her journey.

The Alumni Board of Directors is excited to partner with Sticks, a Des Moines American Craft company, to develop the Graceland Forever Heritage Collection.

Team Yellowjacket is heading out for a fourth year in a row on RAGBRAI, the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This year the 16-member group of alumni and friends will join more than 10,000 other cyclists in the annual river-to-river trek from the Missouri to the Mississippi – even if it takes them “forever” to do it.

Nathaniel Myer, '10

December 13, 2013

It is Nate's experience with Graceland's successful Enactus team that he credits for his recent success.