Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Chris Meiners

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.


Englewood, Colo.

Chris (’07 management information systems) and his three older brothers, all of whom are ISU graduates, have built a successful international motorcycle part/repair business in just over five years. Imperial Sportbikes specializes in used parts for most late-model European and American sportbikes, as well as basic motorcycle maintenance. The company’s annual sales in 2009 were $200,000 and in 2013 had climbed to $1.5 million with about 6,000 customers. Because Chris and his brothers each have a unique, ISU-honed skill set, nearly all of Imperial Sportbikes’ business functions are performed in-house. One of Chris’ largest contributions has been the development of a large-scale inventory system with radio frequency identifier tags that enables his team to track and find parts in the 8,400-square-foot shop. Imperial Sportbikes has maintained a 100% customer rating on eBay and is known worldwide for superior customer service.

Chris on…

…his dream job: “Owning multiple businesses and getting them to a point where I can help manage them from anywhere in the world”

…the movie he’s always quoting: “Dumb and Dumber”

…his guilty pleasure: “Chick-fil-A strawberry or chocolate shakes!”

…his favorite quotes: “If you’re going through hell, keep going,’ by Winston Churchill and ‘The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel’ by Steve Furtick”


Traveling Cyclones return from Greek Isles cruise


By Carole Gieseke

I just returned from seven days at sea aboard Oceania Cruises’ fabulous ship Riviera, along with 24 people traveling with the ISU Alumni Association.

IMG_1293We started in Athens and toured the spectacularly beautiful island of Santorini, historic Rhodes, and gorgeous Mykonos. We stopped at Kusadasi, Turkey, and the nearby ancient ruins of Ephesus, known as one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world. We spent a day in Kavala, on the Greek mainland. And we ended our tour in fabulous Istanbul, with its Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, and other wonderful sights.

Our tour operator, GoNext, and the crew of the Riviera took great care of us. The service was fantastic, and the food was even better! Nobody walked away hungry, that’s for sure.

If you’ve traveled with the ISU Alumni Association before, you know our Traveling Cyclones tours are the best around. If you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing! ISUAA travel director Shellie Andersen has just announced the travel line-up for 2015. Check it out!

Check out more photos from the Greek Isles Odyssey on Facebook.

Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Aaron Becker

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Becker photo

Boston, Mass.

It’s easy to say your job “isn’t exactly curing cancer.” But for Aaron (’05 electrical and computer engineering), he might be working with a technology that could someday do just that. As a postdoctoral research fellow in pediatric cardiac bioengineering at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Aaron is working to apply swarming micro-robot technology to the health care industry – specifically, medical MRI scanners. The games he and a fellow researcher have presented on the website are designed to collect information about how humans control robotic swarms, with implications that could have a major impact on society – even enabling surgeons to eliminate cancer at the cellular level. Aaron, who earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, plans to dedicate his career to studying robotics and hopes to someday build a robotics research lab.

Aaron on…

…his favorite college memory: “Proposing to my wife and campaniling immediately afterward as the clock struck midnight.”

…the movie he’s always quoting: “It’s a Wonderful Life”

…his role model: “My father, Todd Becker. His daily advice to me throughout high school was ‘keep your nose clean and your chin up.’”

…what would make the world a better place: “If mothers and fathers invested more time and energy into their marriages and children, the world would be a better place.”


Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Kate Arends

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Minneapolis, Minn.

Arends photoKate (’06 graphic design) is a trendsetter. Her style blog, Wit & Delight, spotlights Kate’s passion for design, cooking, entertaining, and fashion. She’s a frequent guest contributor to nationally renowned blogs, and her Pinterest page has more than 2 million followers – a distinction that recently resulted in her selection as a guest designer for Target. She has been quoted in the New York Times on the subject of Pinterest and was named “favorite style blogger” by Kate Spade. According to the Kate Spade website, Wit & Delight “has the skinny on everything from food to beauty, fashion, and music.” Kate grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago but followed her father and grandfather to Iowa State (her brother attended later – and, in fact, the Arends family was named ISU Family of the Year in 2010). At Iowa State, Kate was known not only for her design skills but for her abilities as an Irish dancer – she began dancing competitively when she was 5 years old.

Kate on…

…her favorite ISU tradition: “Yell Like Hell”

…her favorite app: “Instagram”

…her guilty pleasure: “sleeping in”

…what’s next for her: “I’m in the early stages of writing a book; it’s daunting, exciting, and a dream come true.”


Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cyclone radar this week:


1) What a season it’s been for Cyclone golf. The season isn’t over for either team. After the women qualified last week for their first NCAA appearance in school history, the men followed suit this week and earned their first berth since 1953. The Cyclones fired an 18-under 270 in the final round of the Columbia Regional this weekend to tie for fourth, leaving head coach Andrew Tank speechless. “I’m not sure how to put into words how happy I am for the guys,” he said.

ISU is just one of 11 school in the nation who are sending both their men’s and women’s teams to nationals (and by far the coldest climate represented). The men’s championship starts this Friday in Hutchinson, Kan., and the women’s championship starts tomorrow in Tulsa, Okla.

2) Applications are due June 1 for ISU’s Young Alumni Council, so if you’re a graduate of the past 10 years and would like to get more involved, this just might be the perfect opportunity for you. Get your application in now!

3) Before there was Naz Long, there was Tyrus “McThree,” who offered plenty of crazy three-point heroics at ISU in his day. McGee ’13 watched the success of his Cyclones from afar this year, as he’s been a highly successful player across the pond in Spain. He recently talked to publisher Chris Williams ’07 about his life today and how he’s stayed connected to his alma mater. He even fesses up to pulling some all-nighters during March Madness (DeAndre Kane drove to the basket to beat UNC at about 4 a.m. McGee’s time).

4) It’s got a funny-sounding name, but it’s one of the hottest trends in higher education: a MOOC. MOOC stands for “massive open online course,” and ISU is getting primed to offer one in the fall of 2015. Participants don’t receive college credit, but they do receive a certificate of completion with a grade of 70 percent or better. And what better subject and what better instructor for ISU’s first MOOC than the Iowa Caucuses and political science prof Steffen Schmidt? Although the Iowa Caucuses are one of the most important political events of the presidential election process, there are certainly plenty of people who don’t understand them at all. Now there’ll be a free opportunity to learn from one of the world’s foremost experts on U.S. politics, and students can even work at their own pace through the material. Schmidt has analyzed every caucus over the last 40 years. “Iowa State is uniquely positioned to offer this MOOC given our location and expertise,” provost Jonathan Wickert said in a May 13 news release. “We have a front-row seat for the caucuses and participants will gain a better understanding of the process. We also hope this experience will provide a blueprint for future MOOC opportunities at Iowa State.”

5) May is National Egg Month. Did you know the Egg Industry Center is located at ISU? They’re even accepting grant proposals for egg-related research now. And now you know what’s cracking. For more egg-cellent puns, you’ll have to hit Twitter or Facebook. (There’s a page for everything, isn’t there?)

Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Molly Lynch Murphy

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Mount Ayr, Iowa
Annual Member

Murphy photoMolly (’04 journalism) stood on the global stage as a public relations representative for McDonald’s Corporation at two Olympic Games and the 2010 FIFA World Cup…but this is only where the story begins. This priceless, life-changing experience included international initiatives with Ronald McDonald House Charities.  Despite then accepting a vice presidency at a multinational public relations agency by age 29, Molly knew her heart belonged to charitable work. She gained a certification in nonprofit management and returned to Iowa in 2012, where she now consults as a strategist for Cisco Systems and serves as a board member for the Mount Ayr Community School Foundation. Molly is continuing her personal mission to help local youth through a professional development and college preparation pilot program that she hopes to take state-wide in the coming years.  While she fondly remembers her jet-setting days, Molly looks forward to forging ahead with humanitarian work that impact her fellow Iowans and tomorrow’s leaders.

Molly on…

…her favorite spot on the ISU campus: “Jack Trice Stadium”

…her role model: “My honorary aunt, Jenelle Sobotka. She is a university professor, a former director at Procter & Gamble, and the immediate past president of the American Pharmacists Association. Most importantly, she is a prime example of a working mom and career woman who put love and dedication into BOTH her jobs.”

…the everyday item she can’t live without: “Post-Its. I should seriously consider stock in 3M.”

…her guilty pleasure: “Pinterest. It is like brainstorming, best practice, and innovation rolled into one…a PR girl’s dream!”


VEISHEA Alumni Open Forum Recap

Alumni who wanted to discontinue VEISHEA were in the minority at the ISU Alumni Center Tuesday night as the VEISHEA task force held its final open forum. Dwayne Vande Krol ’93, former chair of the ISU Alumni Association board of directors, and Tom Hill, vice president of student affairs/task force chair, addressed the crowd before opening the event up to public comment. “I won’t be answering any questions,” Vande Krol told the crowd of about 50 people. “We want to treat this like brainstorming.”

Alumni in attendance had plenty of comments, but some admitted they didn’t necessarily have solutions to offer. The majority spoke in favor of keeping VEISHEA going in some form.

Many alumni spoke about looking for answers in VEISHEA’s past, suggesting that the event has failed in recent years to live up to the nine purposes upon which it is supposed to operate. Many said they believe participation has dwindled among parents, family, and faculty. Recent grads noted that the university and its students have done a poor job in recent years of describing to new and incoming students exactly what VEISHEA is, often giving the explanation that “it’s just a big party.” Suggestions for addressing this issue included a required half-credit course on the history and tradition of VEISHEA and better training for Destination: Iowa State leaders.

Most in attendance also agreed that VEISHEA isn’t the problem — binge drinking and Campustown house parties are. Several participants suggested stricter and more publicized repercussions for troublemakers, including permanent expulsion and large fines to cover damages caused. Other participants suggested better security in the Campustown area, including better lighting and closed-circuit TV surveillance. A text hotline for people to report out-of-control parties was also suggested. “This isn’t a VEISHEA problem,” said one participant. “It’s a Campustown problem.”

“It isn’t realistic to have the event be alcohol-free,” one participant said. “So maybe something like beer gardens would be better — a place where police control who comes in and who goes out.”

Many of the alumni who participated in last night’s forum were members of the VEISHEA committee as students; a few even teared up at the thought of losing the tradition permanently. They say the experience they gained on the VEISHEA committee helped them in their careers. One explained that he had met and had personal conversations with such individuals as William F. Buckley and John V. Atanasoff because of his service to VEISHEA — experiences he will never forget.

More than half of the task force members were on hand to listen to the comments, which were shared respectfully but passionately. The ISU Alumni Association offered live Twitter updates during the event, and here is a quick list of some of the comments made. You will also be able to watch a replay on the VEISHEA Task Force website soon:

  • “Typically what people see of VEISHEA is the bad stuff that isn’t really a part of VEISHEA. How do we bridge that gap?”
  • “VEISHEA has become more of an entertainment venue and less of an opportunity to showcase Iowa State University.”
  • “I’d encourage the task force to look very closely at the consequences of canceling it. I’m very much opposed to canceling.”
  • “For me, VEISHEA is still extremely relevant.”
  • “You as if VEISHEA is relevant to students today? Honestly, I don’t think it is. It’s time to retire it.”
  • “This isn’t a problem unique to Ames of Iowa State, but it’s a problem we have to deal with.”
  • “I’m very opposed to VEISHEA continuing. It’s scary. It’s disturbing, and it’s very disruptive in our town.”
  • “I think we need to let the majority own VEISHEA instead of letting a minority push it around.”
  • “Challenge the students on next year’s VEISHEA committee to not only celebrate the present, but look to their roots.”
  • “In terms of leadership opportunities, VEISHEA is a hallmark. It’s been such a huge benefit to the students.”
  • “I’m disappointed that we get reactive when bad things happen and we forget the proactivity of reminding others what VEISHEA is really about.”
  • “We have smart people on campus. We can figure out how to fix this.”
  • “The task force should just be called ‘How to Deal With a Warm Evening in the Spring.’ We’ll have these problems whether VEISHEA is held or not.”
  • “We’re letting the media co-opt VEISHEA by calling them ‘VEISHEA riots.’ Just because they’re partying doesn’t make it a VEISHEA riot.”
  • “I’ve come to define VEISHEA as a university celebration that’s unique to Iowa State. It was one of the top selling points for me to come here from community college.”
  • “I checked and there were about a half a dozen riots at universities in April. This is not a problem unique to Iowa State.”
  • “There should be more light shed on the operations of judicial affairs. Could they issue a report every semester or every year about the number of cases that came before them and what the decisions were? The way it is now, it appears that the information is not filtering down to the students. It would be a cautionary tale.”
  • “We have fond memories, but I think times change. I really think the whole idea of VEISHEA needs to be permanently retired. Students are not looking for the same things. Culture is changing.”
  • “I hope we can come up with a better solution than cancelling it permanently.”
  • “I do think the answers lie within the university. There are a lot of people who can look at mob mentality, shared responsibility.”
  • “I think the students want to take ownership of this.”
  • “Kick out every student that can be proved to be associated with the riot. Grow up.”