Student Spotlights

The Graceland University Theatre Department will put on upcoming performances of “Lend Me a Tenor” written by Ken Ludwig during the homecoming weekend. The play is directed by Gary Heisserer, PhD and has a cast of eight characters.

A positive force of energy joined the Graceland faculty two years ago when Karen Gergely, MFA, was hired to teach art.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Graceland University awarded three prestigious Pro Musica Performance Scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year to local students. A limited number of these awards are given each year to outstanding students enrolled in the university and pursuing a degree in music. Students were required to complete applications and auditions, submit a letter of recommendation and confirm their enrollment at Graceland by May 1.