Year after year, Iowa students push to achieve more and come together for the greater good—that’s the Hawkeye Way. Several members of this year’s cohort of new graduates share what made their experiences special.
Abbi Shekleton
University of Iowa graduate Abby Shekleton standing in the Hearing Aid and Aging Research Laboratory

Shekleton says she’s known that she would attend the University of Iowa since she was little. “I was going to football games with my dad since I was 6; he kind of raised the Iowa culture within me.” It was a happy coincidence that Iowa also happened to be ranked sixth in the country for speech-language pathology. “It’s the birthplace of the field, and I thought, ‘What an honor to be a part of an amazing program that actually started at the university,’” Shekleton says.

Read Abbi’s story…

MacK Reyes
University of Iowa graduate MacK Reyes standing inside a studio

MacK Reyes says she grew up writing and watching movies, and her dream has always been to be a director. At the University of Iowa, she’s had leadership opportunities beyond the camera. “I’ve held a lot of leadership positions, in my sorority and Panhellenic Council, which if I went to a different university, such as one that didn’t have a Greek life organization, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

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Brian Damman
University of Iowa graduate Brian Damman standing outside in Des Moines

As senior legal counsel at a financial technology company in Des Moines, Iowa, Brian Damman spends his time giving legal and strategic advice across several areas of the organization, such as marketing, sales, product, finance, and the executive team. Along with his day job, Damman also has a busy home life with three children. He initially wondered if getting an MBA might be out of reach. Iowa’s MBA program gave him what he needed: credibility and flexibility.

Read Brian’s story…

Sushma Santhana
University of Iowa graduate Sushma Santhana standing inside an engineering shop

Months and months of fundraising and planning. Twenty-four hours of dancing. Finally, the numbers went up: $1,454,929.30 raised for pediatric cancer patients being treated at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. “I’d been up for more than 30 hours, and my feet were really hurting, but when that final total board went up, everything just went away,” says Sushma Santhana, executive director for the UI’s 30th Dance Marathon. “It was awesome to see all the hard work we all did come together.”

Read Sushma’s story…

Jamie Capps
University of Iowa graduate Jamie Capps in a papermaking studio

Jamie Capps had been working in logistics and finance for nearly two decades when she decided to quit her job and pursue her passion for art. “I know it probably sounded bonkers at the time, and most of my friends were probably wondering what I was doing, but I know that this is where I belong and what I should be doing,” says Capps, who will graduate this spring with an MFA in book arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book.

Read Jamie’s story…

Kevin Dong
University of Iowa graduate Kevin Dong standing outside the College of Pharmacy

Kevin Dong says he’s been a Hawkeye fan his whole life. So, when choosing a college, the Estherville, Iowa, resident didn’t have to think too hard about where to go. It also didn’t hurt that he knew he wanted to be a pharmacist and the University of Iowa’s College of Pharmacy is ranked No. 18 in the country. “Growing up in a small town, Iowa felt like a big enough university where I could get all those big university experiences but also have that small-town feel where everyone was super nice and welcoming,” Dong says.

Read Kevin’s story…

Regan Day
University of Iowa graduate Regan Day standing outside the Tippie College of Business

Regan Day never thought of herself as a researcher. “When people think of research, they usually think of white lab coats and mice,” Day says. “People don’t typically think of political science as a field in which you conduct research.” But research has played a big role in Day’s time at the University of Iowa while working toward degrees in political science, marketing, and business analytics and information systems.

Read Regan’s story…

Benton Renaud
University of Iowa graduate Benton Renaud standing near a block Iowa display

Benton Renaud can thank rapper Cardi B, in part, for inspiring him to go down his planned career path. After realizing that psychology, which he originally planned to major in when he started at the University of Iowa, wasn’t his cup of tea, he began trying to figure out what he should do next. That’s when he remembered an interview with Cardi B. “She said to always take a business class,” Renaud says. “She said they would always be important because you’re going to use business in every aspect of your life. So, I switched to finance and political science and fell in love with the two.”

Read Benton’s story…

Tatiana Plowman
University of Iowa graduate Tatiana Plowman

Many little kids dream of being a Disney Princess. Tatiana Plowman became one: Queen Elena of Avalor. The University of Iowa student from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, works with A Moment of Magic, a nonprofit student organization that brings characters from Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars to entertain underserved and medically vulnerable children. Additionally, Plowman has been a part of the Honors program, served as a campus tour guide and admissions panelist, and event director and administrative director of marketing for the Campus Activities Board.

Read Tatiana’s story…

Wade Gutierrez
University of Iowa graduate Wade Gutierrez standing in a building on campus

Wade Gutierrez loved being in the operating room. He also loved spending time in clinic. He wanted a specialty that allowed both. The MD-PhD student in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine’s Cancer Biology Programand Medical Scientist Training Program ultimately chose urology. He says his decision was solidified after working on a project with a urologist to educate fraternity members about common men’s health concerns—sexual health, urinary symptoms, fertility, etc.

Read Wade’s story…

Maggie McQuillen
University of Iowa graduate Maggie McQuillen

Physical activity has always played a big role in Maggie McQuillen’s life. “I’ve been working out my whole life. I played four sports in high school,” McQuillen says. “When I started taking classes for exercise science, I loved it right away.” When McQuillen graduates this spring from the University of Iowa, physical fitness will continue to play a role in her career—most immediately as a personal trainer.

Read Maggie’s story…