Cyclone families

Meet four families leaving unique Iowa State legacies

BONUS: Read more Cyclone family stories submitted by VISIONS readers on our ISU LegaCY Club website.


A family tradition

Dan Viall, his sister Aimee, and his mother Helene – all Iowa State graduates – talk so often about Iowa State to Dan’s two young daughters that bringing each of them to campus for special fifth birthday celebrations seemed like a natural thing to do.

On a windy spring day in 2014, Helene (A)(’67 math, MS ’70 education) and Aimee (L)(’97 history, MS ’01 family & consumer sciences) brought 5-year-old Livia on a road trip to campus to introduce her to Iowa State. They visited the Memorial Union, where Livia’s dad Dan (L)(’99 MIS) spent much of his time; the Fountain of the Four Seasons; the Campanile; and other central campus buildings. They took her to Friley Hall, where Aimee and Dan both lived. They fed the swans, Lancelot and Elaine, and they visited Hilton Coliseum, where Aimee once played in the pep band for men’s and women’s basketball games. families-memorybookBefore leaving Ames, the trio stopped by the ISU Alumni Center, Reiman Gardens, and Jack Trice Stadium. The day culminated in the publication of a Shutterfly book, Iowa State University: Auntie, Livia, Grandma, and Cy.

Three years later, on another breezy April day, Livia’s younger sister Brooklyn got her turn to visit the ISU campus for the first time with her Aunt Aimee and Grandma. They ate lunch in the Memorial Union food court, visited Parks Library, counted the steps at Catt Hall, fed the swans, visited Friley Hall, and ran across Central Campus. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the College of Veterinary Medicine, because
Brooklyn loves animals.

“Dan and I always talk [to the girls] about Iowa State. Since I don’t have kids of my own, it’s been fun hanging out with Brooklyn and Livia and talking about how important school is,” Aimee said. “I have awesome memories of this place. I could have been a lifetime student.”

Helene plans to make another picture book for Brooklyn to commemorate the special day she spent on campus. “I hope other people will use this idea to make their own memories of the places that are special to them at Iowa State,” Helene said.

The Viall family legacy at ISU includes Helene’s brother, sister, and father. “My dad attended Iowa State College in spring and winter 1936, then went back home to farm in Rembrandt, Iowa. He was the reason I came to Iowa State. He said, ‘If you’re going to major in math, you really need to go to Iowa State.’ So I did.”


Finishing strong

When Alex Bashara was 10 years old, his grandfather gave him one of his most prized possessions: his Iowa State letterman’s jacket.

It was a stunning moment for Alex’s mom, Andrea (L)(MS ’94 prof studies in education), because she remembered the jacket from her own childhood – and it was officially off limits to her and her three sisters. “As kids, we couldn’t touch that jacket!” she says. “It hung in plastic in our hall closet.”

The jacket has become a beloved treasure in the Basharas’ Elkhorn, Neb., home, especially since Alex’s grandfather, George Leonard Dennis (DVM ’68), a former Iowa
State track athlete, passed away in 2014.

George Dennis lived across the street from the Basharas, so Alex and his grandfather were especially close. They watched a lot of Iowa State football and basketball games together on television. Alex visited him nearly every day aft er school, “just to talk about whatever.” It’s tough for Alex to talk about his grandfather, now that he’s gone.

When he gave Alex his jacket, Andrea said it was as if he knew life was short. “He said, ‘This is my most prized possession, and I want you to have it’,” Alex recalled. Just before his death, Alex’s grandfather gave him his Iowa State athletics ring, another of his most treasured possessions. It was a bittersweet moment.

Alex is a 15-year-old freshman at Elkhorn High School now, and for years his wardrobe has consisted mainly of Iowa State gear; he says he wears an Iowa State shirt to school “99 percent of the time.” (“He has on Iowa State shirts in every photo we have of him, unless he’s in a sports uniform,” his mom adds.) He comes by his love of Iowa State naturally; in addition to his mom and maternal grandfather, his dad, Pete (L)(’93 animal science, DVM ’97), paternal grandfather Robert (DVM ’63), and great-uncle Greg Dennis (’71 mathematics) are all Iowa State grads. Alex hopes to be part of ISU’s class of 2024, possibly majoring in computer engineering. His sister, Victoria, 13, is a seventh grader at Elkhorn Middle School.

The family continues to live their lives based on the advice Alex’s grandfather gave his grandchildren just before he passed away: “Love your parents. Run fast. Jump high. Finish strong.”


Cyclone generations

There’s a strong sense of pride in the voices of the Lawyer/Baldwin women: women who have followed directly in the footsteps of M. Lucille Beck Marsh, a 1927 ISU home economics education graduate.

Marsh is the mother of Caryl Marsh Lawyer (L)(’58 textiles & clothing), grandmother of Kimberly Lawyer Baldwin (L)(’83 home economics education), and great-grandmother of Hannah Baldwin (L) – the fourth generation of women in her family to earn an Iowa State degree in an area of home economics. Hannah graduated on May 6 with a specialization in early childhood special education.

The three descendants of Lucille Marsh say they were strongly encouraged to go to college, but they had choices about where to attend. Each chose Iowa State for one reason: strong programs in the human sciences.

“My mother said, ‘If this is what you’re  studying, you need to go to Iowa State. It’s on a whole different level,’” Caryl Lawyer said.

Kim Baldwin agrees. She’s a highly regarded high school home economics teacher, now teaching in Parker, Colo. “The leaders (in this profession) are Iowa State alumni,” she says. It’s a theme that played out strongly when Hannah was touring colleges a few years ago.

Hannah looked at schools closer to home – in Colorado and Wyoming – but when she was touring one school, a professor asked her what other schools she was considering. “When she said ‘Iowa State’ they brought out the book they’d be teaching from, and it was written by an Iowa Stater,” Kim says.

Hannah’s family legacy and frequent visits to her grandparents’ home in Manly, Iowa, had already familiarized her with Iowa State, so she toured the campus over fall break, applied, was accepted – and then a scholarship basically sealed the deal.

But Kim told Hannah her decision had to feel right.

“It did,” Hannah says. “And I knew it would make the grandparents happy if I got in.”

Caryl says the Lawyer/Baldwin legacy actually began a generation earlier – nearly 100 years ago – when her grandmother’s vision was for all four of her children to attend college.

“They all went,” she said. And the legacy will likely continue. Caryl has a few more grandchildren hoping to attend Iowa State.


The bell players

In what may be one of the most unique Iowa State legacy families, the Cunningham family of Spencer, Iowa, has also made history.

Four Cunningham siblings – Craig, Carrie, Cayla, and Casey – not only attended Iowa State but also played the Campanile carillon bells. The four even played the bells together during a spring 2016 concert – something that’s never been done before.

Mentor, Cownie Professor of Music, and university carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam said, “A carillon quartet is unique, not to mention that members of the quartet are siblings, and they all attend(ed) Iowa State. The Cunningham Quartet is the first family carillon quartet I’ve ever had, and this may be the first in the history of Iowa State.”

families-573A3042The musical adventure started with Craig (’12 biology/pre-med), now a family medicine resident in Wichita, Kan. During his last year at Iowa State, he “randomly emailed” Tam, telling her he had piano experience and might want to take carillon lessons. The following Tuesday, he auditioned – and began to play.

Carrie (’14 elementary education) was next. She met Tam following one of Craig’s concerts, and she also had piano experience. She started playing, and she and Craig played a duet before he graduated.

Cayla, an ISU senior in elementary education, had less musical experience than her older siblings, and she wasn’t planning to carry on the tradition. But Tam encouraged her to try, and Cayla played for six semesters before leaving campus to student-teach earlier this year. (Despite her protests to the contrary, her siblings agree that Cayla is the most talented of all the Cunningham carillonneurs.)

Bringing up the rear, Casey, an ISU junior majoring in finance, came to Iowa State with no piano experience, save for a few brief lessons in elementary school. “I knew I wanted to play it at some point, just for a semester, just to say that I had played it, but Dr. Tam actually signed me up for the course without asking me,” Casey said. (His siblings laugh.)

The pressure to perform was “immense,” he said, but he continued to play.

Performing in a bell tower is an unusual choice for a musician, but it was an easy one for this family.

“I think the Campanile is such an icon of Iowa State, and because our family has such a deep passion for Iowa State University and the Cyclones since we were very young, I think it was just a natural fit for our family,” Craig said. “It was kind of just a really unique thing that we could say that we could do and tell our kids that we did. It’s something that very, very few people get the opportunity to do.”

“Though they have different musical skill levels, they each had their own adventure and experience on the carillon,” Tam said. “It’s certainly very special to me as their teacher.”

The siblings grew up in a home filled with music: dance, classical music, and musicals. “My mom said her favorite memories are when her kids were just singing and doing things like that,” Carrie said. “So when we had the idea that all four of us could play the carillon, it kind of became not only a bonding experience for us as siblings but also a gift to our mom,” Kathy Cunningham (A)( ’86 elem ed).

The Cunninghams have each played the carillon individually, in a family duet and trio, and historically once as a quartet. Because a quartet on the carillon is so rare, Cayla had to arrange the piece for the spring 2016 concert. The siblings chose Do-Re-Mi from “The Sound of Music,” one of their favorite childhood songs.


In addition to playing the bells, Casey Cunningham is also involved in a special university project: the Campanile Carillon Model. The model is a 1:5 scale replica of the ISU Campanile, including a 27-bell carillon that is accessible, functional, and portable

The 20-foot-tall, 3,000-pound model will serve as an extension of the legacy of the Campanile and will be used at various university events and outreach programs. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds – music, mechanical engineering, architecture, and more – have been involved with the project, along with several faculty advisers, including Tin-Shi Tam.

Further details about the Campanile Carillon model are available at


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.






Connecting with kids


An adventure in the making

Iowa State’s Admissions Early Outreach team provides higher ed resources and engagement to Iowa youth

A dream adventure doesn’t just happen; it’s time to start planning.

That’s the message the Iowa State Admissions Early Outreach team is sharing with students at a young age.

Admissions Early Outreach works with students ranging in age from third grade through high school. The office coordinates programs for first-generation college students, students from low-income households, students of color, and talented and gifted students. The wide variety of programs offered by the office, ranging from campus visits to summer camps to outreach at schools around Iowa, is intended to help students think about college long before they are seniors in high school.

But explaining the concepts of class rank, GPA, ACT scores, and admissions standards to younger students is challenging. Abby Welborn (A), middle school counselor for Admissions Early Outreach, takes a lighthearted approach. In between pop-culture references and memes worked into presentations, Welborn encourages students to think about how the things they are doing now will prepare them for college.

“We have to begin with just building a framework of what it means to go to a university, and within a university, a college. Then, what is a major? And how does that align to a job?” Welborn said. “At the same time, we throw in some memes and some pop culture. I try to be funny and keep up with the fads.”

Admissions Early Outreach focuses on providing engaging, hands-on, and non-traditional classroom experiences to students to spark their curiosity about college. Students may build and program robotic cars during visits to campus or learn about epidemiology and statistics in a summer camp course about a zombie apocalypse. They learn about the freedom of a college schedule, treat themselves to an extra dessert in the dining center during lunch, or test their luck by walking across the Zodiac in the Memorial Union.

Although these experiences may help students imagine becoming Cyclones in the future, recruitment is not the primary goal of the office, according to Tricia Stouder, early outreach program coordinator for Admissions Early Outreach.

“We’re not trying to recruit students in third grade or in middle school even,” Stouder said. “As the land-grant institution in Iowa, it’s part of our mission to help bring the resources and the knowledge of the college to community members. Part of that is to help prepare the youngest citizens of Iowa. We want to make sure that they have the information and the knowledge that they need in order to be ready for recruitment when the time is right.”

As the only team dedicated solely to early outreach amongst Iowa’s public universities, the staff at Iowa State seems to have tapped into a previously overlooked market. Demand for early-outreach programs is high. Some of the office’s programs reach capacity minutes after registration opens. In an attempt to meet demand, Admissions Early Outreach is committed to growing the program offerings and partnering with other Iowa State entities to share their expertise.

“Sometimes you wonder if anything you’re saying has sunk in,” Stouder said. “But when you get to see those lightbulbs come on, it’s really empowering. We get to engage these students and get them excited about the next step, even if that’s still a few years away.”

– Coreen Robinson


Summer programs bring kids to campus

Summer has always been a time for groups of youngsters to get involved with programs on campus. Previous summers at ISU have provided opportunities for groups large and small, ranging from 4-H and athletics activities to national conferences and academic prep workshops.

Some key outreach programs come from ISU’s Offi ce of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted, or OPPTAG. The Adventures program is designed for academically talented students entering grades 3-8. For older students, OPPTAG offers Explorations, a summer program for students entering grades 9-11. Each program is a full week and gives kids an opportunity to explore the worlds of science, math, art, literature, reading, engineering, and more.

Iowa State’s Early Outreach Program is a week-long residential summer program for first-generation African American, Native American, and Hispanic/Latino youth entering grades 9-12 at an Iowa school.

Whatever a child’s interest, Iowa State probably has a program that is both fun and enriching. Consider: harvesting vegetables and learning about healthy eating; examining the fields of art, photography, and fashion design; exploring the world of insects; discovering the many aspects of agriculture; learning about community
leadership; improving sports skills; studying computers; or competing in a talent competition.

Programs, workshops, and camps are planned through a number of campus units, but here are just a couple of places to start if you’re interested in finding summer programs for your kids: and

– Carole Gieseke


4-H: Empowering Youth

Iowa 4-H offers experiences and opportunities for urban and rural youth throughout the state

Many people hear “4-H” and instantly think of livestock and horticulture.

Agriculture plays a big part, but 4-H is primarily a youth development program that teaches young people personal and professional skills that allow them to reach their fullest potential. The Iowa 4-H program is a hands-on learning experience that promotes youth development in several areas, including music and photography, digital storytelling, environment and sustainability, science and math, and food and nutrition.

Iowa State works to connect with young people year-round through the 4-H Youth Development program. Volunteer development specialist Tillie Bell Good (L)(’04 political science) says the goal is to connect with youth through research-based experiences. Adult volunteers build relationships with the kids involved to teach positive youth development, helping them to develop skills necessary to becoming the best citizens.

“There are so many positive effects of the healthy relationships young people have with the role models of both the older youth and adults in the groups,” Good said. “It helps them with growth and development. They see the positive outcomes of giving back to the community.”

4-H has four areas of focus: STEM, healthy living, citizenship and leadership, and communication and arts. Kids from grades K-12 have the opportunity to get hands-on learning experience with projects targeted to their age groups. They learn how to take ideas and concepts and apply them to real-life situations. For example, in learning about healthy living and gardening, kids not only learn how to harvest vegetables and fruits but how to make healthy meals out of the produce.

“The intent in teaching youth these ideas and concepts is that hopefully they’re taking them back to their family and starting the conversation around healthy living,” Good said. “We’re empowering youth to share their knowledge.”

Good says that STEM has been an exciting area to which to introduce kids. One aspect of STEM that kids relate to is learning anatomy and how the body works in playing a sport. They learn how food and nutrition is important to the way the body functions.

“4-H is not just one thing,” Good said. “You can make it what you want it to be.”

Aqua, robotics, Lego League, 3-D printing, coding, virtual reality – the areas of opportunity are endless. With 4-H, there’s always a new project to explore. The program provides learning opportunities to young people to which they might not otherwise ever have been exposed, teaching them new skills and allowing them to explore new areas of interest.

Many of the things kids learn in 4-H help in career preparation as well.

“We get a lot of people today saying how they learned communication skills through 4-H and how it helps with the career component,” Good said. “If they have to present information, whether in front of a group or at the State Fair, they get that experience in 4-H.”

Within the four areas of focus, 4-H volunteers integrate eight essential elements within 4-H youth development experiences: caring adults, safe environments, mastery, service, self-determination, inclusiveness, futuristic, and engagement.

Throughout Iowa, almost 10,000 volunteers guide 4-H members to become the best citizens they can be. Iowa State offers clubs, camping experiences, retreats, and several more opportunities for young people to get involved in 4-H. The campus recently hosted a cultural retreat – Maize – for the coming together of Native American, Latino, and Iowa traditions and cultures.

“It’s exciting to me that we have the connection to ISU,” Good said. “We take what we have here on campus and spread it throughout the state.”

Good says 4-H is for everyone, offering experiences and opportunities for urban and rural youth all over Iowa.

“It really can be and is an opportunity for all,” Good said. “Anyone can make 4-H part of their lives, no matter where you live or whom you’re connected with.”

– Michelle Chalkey Barichello


Rewarding students for rewarding careers

Scholarships help Iowa State students reach their drams of becoming teachers

Growing up in Boone, Iowa, Stacie Leeds knew even as a child that she wanted to be a teacher. She even thought she might like to pursue that profession in the place where she grew up – to give back to her community and, most importantly, to enrich kids’ lives through her teaching.

Now, true to that aspiration, she’s teaching sixth grade in the exact same middle school she once attended. Her former science teacher is on her teaching team. Her principal was once her physical education teacher whose children she babysat.

Before graduating from Iowa State in December 2015, Leeds even student-taught in Boone, an opportunity that solidified her teaching skills – and her commitment to a demanding and rewarding profession. While student teaching is a required step in teacher education, the unpaid time can be financially challenging. Yet the demands are such that the university suggests students don’t work at another job, if possible. But that’s not feasible for all students.

Enter the Myrna and John Hamann Scholarship, which provides a stipend to STEM education students to cover living expenses during student teaching. Leeds was the second recipient of the fund the couple created in 2013, which has now benefited six education students at Iowa State. The Hamann Scholarship is helping students toward their dreams of becoming teachers, while also helping the School of Education in the College of Human Sciences toward a goal to raise new scholarship support, a key priority during the university’s Forever True, For Iowa State campaign.

Said Myrna Hamann (L)(’65 mathematics), who established the scholarship with her husband, Jon Hamann (L)(’66 chemical engineering), “Students really need the money, especially the semester when they are student teaching.” As Leeds recalled, “The scholarship meant I didn’t have to stress about making money, so I could truly focus on my students.”

Today, Leeds’ student debt load is light enough that she’s just bought a house in Boone, putting down even deeper roots in her community. She appreciates that, as a teacher in a small town, her job doesn’t end when the bell rings. “Even when you are just going to the store or out to eat, you run into your students. You are considered a role model whenever you are out in the community.”

Scholarships such as the Hamanns’ are important to attract and keep good education students because, noted Leeds, “They encourage you to stay in the teaching field, which you know is not going to be the most rewarding financially. But it is so rewarding in so many other ways.

“Being a teacher has been amazing. My students have such deep thoughts that they want to talk through. They make my day every day, just by being themselves.”

– Veronica Lorson Fowler


Keeping the promise

ISU 4U Promise helps make college more accessible and affordable to a targeted group of underserved kids in Des Moines

Ten-year-old Aleena Tran isn’t afraid to dream big about her future.

Walking through the hallway at King Elementary School with her sparkle-kitty lunch bag, Aleena imagines that someday she will be an educator who helps students solve multiplication problems, memorize state capitals, and study the planets.

“I really want to be a teacher,” Aleena said. “I believe that my dream will come true, because I feel that many people support my dream. This makes me happy.”

The ISU 4U Promise program begins nurturing dreams like Aleena’s – as early as kindergarten – with a rich curriculum of activities, special events, and speeches. Promise kids learn from ISU students and educators that it is possible for them to attend one of Iowa State’s six undergraduate colleges. New worlds unfold as these kids learn that they can become an entomologist who studies bugs, or a reporter who covers breaking news, or an entrepreneur who runs a successful pizza business, among other careers.

“I feel super grateful that I have these opportunities. I’ve learned a lot about Iowa State,” Aleena said. “I’m only in fifth grade, but it makes me want to reach my goals even more.”

The program also provides generous tuition awards.

How the Promise works
ISU 4U Promise was conceptualized in 2013 by then-ISU President Steven Leath (L) and State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. Created to make college more accessible and affordable for students at King and Moulton elementary schools in Des Moines, the program carves a supportive, positive path from elementary school to Iowa State’s front door.

“We show these kids that the future is full of possibilities, and we expose them to all kinds of new ideas,” said Kayla Pippitt, assistant program director for ISU 4U Promise. “We are selling enthusiasm.”

The program also features before-and-after-school programs, family events, back-to school nights, and field trips. Fifth graders tour the ISU campus, and high school students stay in the residence halls during an overnight campus visit.

To receive the ISU 4U Promise tuition award, students must graduate fifth grade at King or Moulton elementary schools, stay in the district, and graduate from a Des Moines public high school. The award will vary, depending on the number of years students attend King or Moulton, up to full tuition. To maintain eligibility, students must remain active in the program, meet attendance standards, take the ACT, and earn acceptance into ISU.

Graduating to bigger things
The oldest students in the program are currently high school juniors who plan to enter ISU in the fall of 2018. More than half of these 22 students, including Somerle Rhiner, are eligible for free tuition.

With plans to major in premedical and health sciences at ISU, Somerle wants to become a doctor. “I am so excited to attend Iowa State,” she said. “I just want to go to college now!”

“Dreams are coming true for me and many other students,” she said. “The tuition is important, but the support I’ve received and the skills I’ve learned are even more valuable.”

Program organizers identify student skills and harness those talents. Somerle was selected to mentor young students, and she has spoken to large groups at Callanan Middle School. These experiences have helped her to secure career-related opportunities. “I do volunteer work, and this summer I will job shadow at a hospital,” she said.

It takes a village to keep a Promise
A unique fusion of education, community, and business partners works year-round to ensure that ISU 4U Promise is successful.

“Everyone pulls together to create a sense of community and friendship, so these kids have a strong support system that carries them through grade school and into their college years,” Pippitt said.

Each year, ISU officials attend King and Moulton fifth-grade graduation ceremonies to demonstrate their commitment to each child’s goals and dreams.

Promise partners include the ISU School of Education, ISU Extension and Outreach, Human Development and Family Studies, Financial Aid, Des Moines Public Schools, and numerous community organizations and businesses in the Moulton and King neighborhoods.

“It is very rewarding to see an enthusiastic child proclaim, ‘I want to be a food scientist!’ or ‘I want to be an event planner!’” Pippitt said. “Many people work hard to show these kids that their futures are bright.”

– Angie Haggerty


Careers with kids

Iowa State offers degree programs leading to professions working with children and families

“I want to work with kids.”

That’s a common request when students first arrive at Iowa State and are just starting to think about majors and careers. For those students, ISU has a number of programs from which they can choose.

Elementary education; early childhood education; and child, adult, and family services degree programs – all offered through the College of Human Sciences – prepare Iowa State students for careers in teaching, special education, child care, youth services, advocacy programs, preschool education, and more.

These majors, which allow graduates to connect one-on-one with children and youth, are considered to be some of the most meaningful degree programs available, according to findings of a national survey of 1.4 million college graduates.

“My major is meaningful to me because I know that teachers play a huge role in children’s lives as they grow up,” Bailey Oberbroeckling, an elementary education major, told writer Lynn Campbell for a story in the College of Human Sciences Matters magazine.

Iowa State’s Child Development Laboratory School is a hands-on resource for students in early childhood, where they gain valuable experience working with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. And early childhood majors also have an opportunity to work with students in kindergarten through third grade in area schools before they student-teach.

Elementary education students learn to teach the basics – like math, reading, and science – and also can choose to specialize in an area such as art or coaching. The child, adult, and family services major prepares students to work with young children and their families, making Iowa and the world a better place.

– Carole Gieseke

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.


Cy’s Suitcase: August Edition


A Message from Shellie

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”

– Samuel Johnson

If there was one piece of advice I have for people today to experience more joy in life, it would be to travel more. Traveling is wonderful in many ways. It gives us a sense of wanderlust and has us longing for more destinations to visit, cultures to experience, food to eat, and people to meet. But, most importantly, travel changes you by opening your eyes to see this world is a big place and we are just inhabiting one small part of it.

When we spend time away from home, especially in a place where we don’t have luxuries readily available to us — like a village I visited in Fiji that runs without electricity — we become more aware and appreciative of luxuries we have back home. I remember visiting Tanzania and watching kids haul concrete blocks in wheelbarrows and walk miles with the load – in the heat. The lucky kids there would walk more than three miles, one-way, to go to school. When I got home and heard my kids complain about HAVING to go to school, I felt sad at how we take things for granted here in the United States. I wish everyone had a chance to see how much poverty there is in the world and better appreciate what they have.

There are so many amazing places to visit in this world. I’m not sure where your heart is telling you to go next, but take a look at our 2018 trips that are now up on our website and see all the amazing places the Traveling Cyclones will be going in the upcoming year. You can travel to the Wild West or Antarctica or the Kentucky Derby or Cuba. You can explore Africa or Alaska or cruise on the Danube or the Mississippi. We offer a variety of trips that we hope will cover everyone’s wish list.

For anyone who gets to travel, it is a blessing. Traveling should change you. It leaves marks on your memory and on your heart. You take something with you and leave something good behind. When you return home, you are a better person with a wider perspective on your little part of the world. And — let’s be honest, as you lay your head on your pillow at night you will be grateful not only for what you have experienced, but for what you have.

See you everywhere,

Alaska 2018

We have a special opportunity for our Traveling Cyclones next July. We are partnering with the schools of the Big 12 Conference next July aboard Oceania Cruises’ Regatta  – – hosted by Voice of the Cyclones John Walters and his wife, Joni!

This Big 12 sports-themed trip to Alaska’s Vistas and Glaciers will include a Big 12 reception and tailgate, a celebrity lecture by legendary CBS Sports announcer Verne Lundquist, and the chance to network with not only your fellow Cyclones, but with Bears, Jayhawks, Horned Frogs, Sooners, Longhorns, Cowboys, Mountaineers, Wildcats, and Red Raiders, too. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see glaciers, fjords, forests, mountains, and historic Alaska towns — including the Alaska Explorer Youth Program for your children and grandchildren ages 5-12.

If Alaska’s on your bucket list, this is a cool opportunity to check it off. Let’s make sure Cyclones claim their fair share of the ship and represent the Cardinal & Gold on this Big 12 cruise. For more information about this unique opportunity to see Alaska, visit our website or call Traveling Cyclones director Shellie Andersen (L)(’88 marketing) or assistant director Heather Botine (L) toll-free at (877) 478-2586.

Shellie’s Shopping Secrets

Upcoming trips

Please check out our vast listing of 2018 trips to everywhere — and even some close to home. Visit We hope to see you soon!

Travel tips

Ask for the digits.
If you are like me and have no sense of direction (a great trait for a travel director, huh?) I put my hotel name and address in my phone in case I go out on my own. And because I travel a lot, I also put my hotel room number in my phone. On a recent trip, we stayed at three hotels in six days. Not hard to get confused!

Ask the locals.
If you find some free time on your trip, ask a local where he or she would want to eat. You will find some spots that you might not have normally chosen.

Alert your bank and credit card company.
Let them know you will be traveling out of the country so they don’t put a hold on your credit card when they see you trying to use it out of the States.

Let someone at home know your plans.
This is extremely important when traveling solo, but it’s still a good idea no matter how many people are in your travel group.

Separate your personal items.
If you are traveling with a companion, it is a good idea to mix your personal items into each checked bag (if you have more than one.) That way if one of the bags gets lost, you still have some clothing and personal items.

Separate your sources of money.
Don’t keep all your cash and cards in one spot. I usually hide some cash and a backup credit card in a separate bag — not the same bag that my wallet is in.

Make a travel first aid kit.
I now travel with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, band aids, Benadryl, Tums, Neosporin, etc. I have had way too many bug bites, scrapes, tummy aches, etc., while traveling that I now know it’s best to be prepared. I also carry extra thread and buttons — something I have carried with me for years. A year ago, while in Cuba, my button on my dress fell off and that sewing kit came in handy!

Fans of the Future

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Cyclone Athletics connects kids to
ISU through the Junior Cyclone Club

Today’s kids are involved in countless activities, plugged into technology, and continually presented with a smorgasbord of entertainment options, leaving college athletics administrators everywhere with burning questions: Is there still room for good, old-fashioned sports fandom? Who will be the fans of the future?

At Iowa State, there’s reason to believe that the Cyclone fan of tomorrow is the kindergartener of today who high-fives Meredith Burkhall on the Hilton concourse after a women’s basketball victory, the fourth-grader who comes early to the spring football game so he can get  one-on-one coaching from Zeb Noland,  or the middle schooler who hosts her birthday party at a Cyclone gymnastics meet. Developed two decades ago as the “Lil’ Clone Club” by Cyclone women’s  basketball coach Bill Fennelly (L) to encourage game attendance among young families, today’s Junior Cyclone Club is one of the largest collegiate booster clubs for youth in the country, and Iowa State  is banking on the idea that this significant  investment in the future fan will ultimately pay major dividends.

“We put a tremendous amount of emphasis on our [youth] club compared to a lot of schools because we think it’s very important,” says Mary Pink (MEd ’10), ISU’s longtime associate athletics director for marketing.

When it began as a women’s basketball program initiative, the original Lil’ Clone Club attracted families by offering free T-shirts and souvenirs, priority seating, and a pizza party. Today, the Junior Cyclone Club offers, for only $59 per year, free admission to all football, women’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, and softball events, as well as priority to purchase student seats for men’s basketball games that happen during winter break. The club, which has averaged around 5,000 members over the last five years, has added special free events ranging from sports clinics to the annual Cyclone FanFest and even movie nights in Jack Trice Stadium. The goal, Pink says, is to engage Millennials and members of Generation Z by offering what they crave most: one-of-a-kind experiences.

Among the families that have embraced the experiences Junior Cyclone Club has to offer is the Tubbs family of Des Moines. Over the last decade, Joanne Wilson Tubbs (L)(’94 music) says her three children have done everything from discovering their personal passions to forging friendships with student-athletes and fans.

“It’s not just the tickets and the high fiving,” Tubbs says. “The kids get to do clinics with the coaches and do special jobs like guest announcer at a volleyball game. They are going deeper than just, ‘Here’s a T-shirt and a ticket.’ They are really trying to engage kids in new ways. Every year, there’s something new. Even college kids don’t get to experience some of these things that the Junior Cyclone Club kids get to do.”

Tubbs and her husband, Peter Tubbs (L)(’92 telecommunicative arts, MBA ’10), are the busy parents of 15-year-old Julia, 11-year-old Carl, and 9-year-old Miles, who attend nearly 40 Junior Cyclone Club events every year.

“They’ve been back in the locker rooms, they’ve been behind the scenes, and it makes them feel so comfortable,” Tubbs says. “Campus now feels like home. They see themselves going to Iowa State because of their love for campus, their love for the Cyclones. They see it as super welcoming and not intimidating.”

Her great seats for Cyclone athletics events have benefited Julia in an unexpected way. She started bringing a camera and, through hours of practice from a great vantage point, has become an award-winning photographer.

“Every year she’ll take anywhere from 500 to 700 athletic pictures at Iowa State,” Tubbs says of her daughter. “She’ll enter her best ones at the State Fair and she’s actually won some pretty amazing awards; she  even got a small scholarship from Iowa State. They saw one of her pictures at the Fair and attached an award to it.”

Creating opportunities for young Cyclone fans to have incredible experiences is fully in line with athletics director Jamie Pollard’s vision. From transitioning local golf outings into the more family-friendly Cyclone Tailgate Tour to helping spearhead the uber-popular movie night events, Pink says Pollard (L) has been integral in expanding the Junior Cyclone Club’s reach.

“He’s really seen the value,” Pink says. “He was the one who actually said, ‘Let’s offer the Iowa game for football and make it a whole package.’ He was the one who brought up the idea of doing a pregame tunnel on the field. He always wants us to be more engaging of a broader range of families and kids.”

Offering prime seats for men’s basketball is another way Junior Cyclone Club stands out from its peers nationally, Pink says.

“We were really surprised and appreciative of what they’re doing with men’s basketball,” Tubbs says. “They can fill that place up and could have taken a step back [with Junior Cyclone Club benefits], but they didn’t. We were in the second row for Okie State. Crazy!”

18318357_10212291854429476_2133812422_oCrazy is one word Tubbs says she might normally use to describe her decision to let two young boys stay up to attend an 8 o’clock basketball game on a weeknight, but the experience was one her sons will never forget. They even made a sign (pictured at right), which received lots of TV attention, praising their mother for letting them “stay up late.”

Ultimately, Tubbs and Pink both agree, it’s those experiences that will become enduring memories and therefore the foundation of a lifetime relationship with Iowa State.

“It’s now more important than ever to engage kids with your brand at an early age,” Pink says. “You have a lot of competing forces for their attention and their  attendance, so we’re just always finding new ways to work with how kids and families today operate to engage them with Iowa State.”

Learn more at

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Gardening for Good


When you look at Iowa in the summer – with its bountiful crops and fertile soil – there’s no reason people should be hungry.

That’s the philosophy and the selfless goal of Tracy Blackmer (A)(’90 agronomy) of rural Madrid, Iowa. For the past four years, Blackmer has been organizing an army of volunteers to help tend his 10-acre garden for one purpose and one purpose only: To give the food away to those who need it.

IMG_8901This week, the ISU Alumni Association staff teamed up with colleagues at Nationwide Insurance to harvest peppers in the summer heat. So far this season, more than 8,000 pounds of food from Blackmer’s garden has been donated to the Food Bank of Iowa, a not-for-profit organization that disperses the produce to food pantries and other volunteer agencies in central Iowa. As of this week, Blackmer estimates that as many of 4,000 volunteers have worked in his bountiful vegetable patch this year, taking on such tasks as planting, weeding, and harvesting.

“This is my hobby,” he said. “I enjoy doing it, and it helps others. People want to make a difference, and we just provide a place for them to do it.”

IMG_8899In addition to the peppers the Alumni Association staff harvested, Blackmer and his wife, Doreen (A)(’88 animal science) are growing eggplant, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, zucchini, winter squash, cabbage, turnips, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and string beans – a veritable vegetable soup of flavorful produce.

The time each volunteer worked in the garden was recorded and submitted to our Cy’s Days of Service program. Cy’s Days of Service is designed to unite Cyclones everywhere in community service while spreading their ISU pride. If you have completed or plan to participate in any service opportunities before May 2018, you can report your hours on our Cy’s Days of Service website.
Whether your volunteer work is specially designed for Cy’s Days of Service or a project you’re doing with family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues, it can all be counted to help us reach our goal of 30,000 hours of service. Be sure to wear ISU apparel so your photos will showcase how Cyclones everywhere are making a difference in their communities!


Cy’s Surprise


Everybody’s favorite bird takes kids on a great ISU adventure in this exclusive new LegaCY Club book for young children

In a cozy straw nest
In a tree way up high
Lived a red baby bird
His friends called him Cy

He was loyal and true
And his spirit was great
His home and his heart
Were at Iowa State

Thus begins the long-awaited book, Cy’s Surprise, published  by the ISU Alumni Association for children and grandchildren of Iowa State alumni and friends.

Written by Kate Bruns (A)(’99 journ & mass comm) and illustrated by Tara Gartin (’87 graphic design), Cy’s Surprise is the premier LegaCY Club gift, aimed  at toddler and preschool-age children. The 24-page book is available exclusively  to families who enroll their children  and grandchildren in the ISU Alumni  Association’s newly expanded LegaCY Club.

Bruns, the associate director of communications for the ISU Alumni Association, began working on the book several years ago, and she had a vision to make Cy, the ISU mascot, relatable to children.

“I really felt like I wanted kids to be able to relate to Cy as more than just this rock-star figure in their lives, and instead to have Cy be more like them,” Bruns said. “So I really liked the idea of having him start as a baby and grow up and learn some of the lessons that I think most parents hope their kids will learn as they explore the world.”

Bruns’ “Dr. Seuss gene” came in handy in telling the lighthearted tale of Cy’s adventure on the Iowa State campus, and Gartin’s own love of the Dr. Seuss style played into the colorful illustrations that give Cy a childlike personality as he evolves from a baby bird to spreading his wings and becoming an active participant on campus.

“I really wanted Cy to be curious, because he’s discovering all the things that he can do at Iowa State,” Gartin said. “He’s kind of naïve at first. He’s exploring Iowa State, and he doesn’t know exactly what he’s getting into, and so it’s like an adventure for him. At one point in the story he suddenly realizes, ‘Oh, at Iowa State you can do all these different things!’ And it’s like an explosion of all the things he’s doing. It’s pretty funny.”

“I’m so excited about how Tara took the text and just ran with it and made these beautiful, adorable, funny images  that I just think are going to be really appealing,” Bruns said. “I read my 5-year-old son the story and he loved it, but after I showed him the pictures he got extra excited about it.”

Author Kate Bruns:
Cy and the family clone

Bruns Family PhotoAs far back as she can remember, Kate Adams Bruns (A)(’99 journ & mass comm) knew two things: She loved to write, and she loved Iowa State.

The writing began first.

“I’ve been writing rhyming poems since I was very, very young,” Bruns said. “Ever since I was probably 2 or 3 years old, my favorite form of play was to create books or, as I got a little bit older, to write things about Iowa State.”

Iowa State played a huge role in her childhood. Some of her most magical memories are of the times she accompanied her father, David Adams (L)(’73 metallurgical engineering), to Iowa State basketball games.

“That was kind of a special treat because we just had two tickets, and so the two of us would go,” she said. “We’d always stop at the gas station, and he’d let me get candy to eat in the car, and that was always cool. We would come up here for basketball games; when I got older we came to all the football games, too.”

Her family came to VEISHEA every spring – the colder the parade, the more vivid the memories, she said – and her dad often took her inside the big, imposing buildings.
Bruns’ father was “far and away the biggest influence” on her Iowa State connection, but a great-grandmother and an uncle also graduated from ISU, and her mother, Deborah Adams (L), and brother David, both University of Northern Iowa grads, have enthusiastically embraced the cardinal and gold.

So it was no surprise when Bruns enrolled in the journalism and mass communication program in the fall of 1996. And it was a happy coincidence that at  age 17 she met Ben Bruns (A)(’01 construction engineering) and helped convince him to accept the offer to play Cyclone football.

“I was already in my Iowa State recruitment mode before I was even in the future-
husband recruitment mode,” she said. “I jumped on the fact that he was being recruited by Iowa State for football before  I really thought about him in any other way.”

Ben and Kate, married since 2000, have a 5-year-old son, C.J., who has not surprisingly visited campus regularly, attending basketball and a few football games and spending time at Reiman Gardens. As business development director for the Weitz Company, Ben has had a hand in many of the new campus constructions and renovations, so C.J.’s parents often point out “the buildings that Daddy helped make.”

Kate says she and Ben won’t pressure C.J. into enrolling at Iowa State when the time comes but says he may end up at ISU.

“He may end up in a similar situation to mine, where it’s just been such a big part of his life for so long,” she said.

Illustrator Tara Gartin:
Surrounded by Cyclones

gartinfamilyTara Gartin’s Iowa State family tree is strong and growing larger every year.

Her father, Larry Lockwood (’61 architecture), graduated from Iowa State, and HIS father attended. Her mom, Dallas Lockwood, attended, and her husband, Timothy Gartin (MA ’92 English), is an ISU grad.

Her oldest son, Nathan, took classes at Iowa State. Son Peter is an ISU senior in physics and math, daughter Elizabeth is an ISU sophomore in public relations and anthropology, and youngest son, Joshua, is a high school sophomore who’s eyeing Iowa State’s theatre program.

That’s a lot of connections for someone  who grew up in Overland  Park, Kan., and knew the  state of Iowa mostly from walking beans at her uncle’s farm.

But her father’s connection to the  College of Design drew her to Iowa State.

“The one thing we’ve shared in common was art,” Gartin said. “He’s always encouraged me in my artwork, and since he studied here it was easy for him to say, ‘This is a great place to go for design.’ When we came to visit, it was obvious that it was an excellent graphic design program, so it was a perfect fit for me.”

Gartin’s experiences at Iowa State included living in Helser and Friley  Halls all four-and-a-half years she attended school, plus she played oboe  in the University Wind Ensemble and  Symphony Orchestra.

Gartin (’87 graphic design) worked as a graphic designer after graduating from Iowa State, including a number of years on campus. She took time off to raise and home-school her four children before launching into a new career as a children’s-book illustrator. She also volunteers as president of Story Theatre Company, a side job that involves promotional work, painting, and animation for the stage.

Today, with two kids enrolled at Iowa State, she stays connected through their activities. She also encouraged her sister’s daughter, Courtney Cooley, who lives in Kansas, to attend ISU. Courtney is a freshman in the College of Design.

BONUS: Read an expanded Q&A with the author and illustrator online.

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Connecting with kids


Creating a new generation of Cyclones through early awareness, fan involvement, academic outreach, and family connections

A stack of colorful crayons on a white backgroundOne of the most powerful legacies a parent or grandparent can leave a child is the legacy of higher education. And for parents and grandparents who profess to “bleeding cardinal and gold,” the Iowa State Alumni Association’s newly expanded LegaCY Club can help children feel like they belong in the Iowa State  family long before they’re old enough to start thinking about applying to college.

Under the direction of Alumni  Association assistant director for member services Sarah Craw (A), the LegaCY  Club not only connects little Cyclones to Iowa State but also deepens the connection for their parents and grandparents.

“When parents or grandparents enroll their children or grandchildren, it’s a way to connect these future potential students, but it’s also a way for them to connect themselves back to their own university,” Craw said. “Engaging your child or grandchild helps you remember all the things you loved about Iowa State, and the gifts
we’ve pulled together are really going to help share Cyclone spirit throughout childhood. The new children’s book, Cy’s Surprise, will especially bring back a lot
of nostalgia for being on campus.”

Launching as an expanded program in July 2017, the LegaCY Club will educate the children and grandchildren of ISU Alumni Association members about Iowa State and the meaning of being a Cyclone through age-appropriate gifts and activities (see the sidebar at right for a complete list). The LegaCY Club also provides another point of connection and pride for ISU Alumni Association members.

For families whose connections with Iowa State have skipped a generation, the LegaCY Club will allow children to create their own legacy. In fact, the program is open to all Iowa State friends who are members of the Alumni Association and who wish to connect their children  or grandchildren with the university they’ve grown to love.

“Fourth- and fifth-generation families are exciting, but first-generation students are exciting, too,” Craw said. “We’re  extending this program to high school- and college-age students by hosting events on campus. We want to engage students the moment they step on campus, and this program helps us do that long before that. We want legacy students to know that they already have a home with the Iowa State Alumni Association.”

LegaCY Club offers gifts and benefits for little Cyclones everywhere

Legacy Club productsAs a member of the LegaCY Club, your child or grandchild will receive:

• Birth to age 2: Cy’s Surprise, an exclusive children’s book written and illustrated by Iowa State alumnae Kate Bruns and Tara Gartin, respectively
• Age 2: Cyclone growth chart
• Age 5: Cyclone backpack
• Age 7: Cyclone bank, to encourage saving for college
• Age 10: Cyclone school notebook and pen
• Age 13: Cyclone sleepover pillowcase
• Age 16: Cyclone car decal and keychain for new drivers
• All ages: Yearly Cyclone birthday cards
• Upon graduation from Iowa State: LegaCY cord
• Plus: a LegaCY Club certificate and invitations to LegaCY Club events

Learn more and sign up online at

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.