Briar Cliff University Hosts 89th Commencement Ceremony

September 27, 2020

On Sunday, Briar Cliff University hosted their 89th Commencement Ceremony at the Tyson Events Center. During the ceremony, over 130 graduates commemorated their academic achievements by walking across the stage along with classmates, while professors, coaches, family, and friends joined the celebration.

“Thank you, Briar Cliff for everything that you have done for me and for all of my classmates,” said student speaker, Abigail Brinkman. “I can’t believe how fast these four years have gone and how many memories I have made. I am so honored to have classmates who became my best friends, to have professors and staff members who are like second parents, and to have a place that was once just a thought transform into my home.” 

Briar Cliff’s original May 2020 commencement ceremony was rescheduled due to the pandemic. The event was celebrated virtually through program-specific email announcementson-campus displays, and social media recognition until arrangements could be made to bring graduates back safely. With some slight adjustments to the traditional pomp and circumstance to allow for CDC and local health recommendations, Briar Cliff University finished its Homecoming Weekend by finally celebrating the Class of 2020.

“Class of 2020 - words cannot express how wonderful it is to see each of you again – and to finally give you this well-deserved, overdue recognition,” said Dr. Rachelle Karstens, President of Briar Cliff University. “We are truly honored to have the chance to reflect on your growth as a student at Briar Cliff, honor your achievements, and celebrate this exciting milestone with you.”

The Class of 2020 included 292 candidates from Briar Cliff University’s many undergraduate, master, and doctoral degree programs. Andrea Norton, who suddenly passed away in 2019, also received a posthumous degree and a San Damiano Cross, accepted by her parents, along with her cap and gown.

The following is a list of this year’s candidates divided by program. The list includes hometowns and significant honors and recognitions.

Candidates for Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

Juliana Nkea Atem                    Grand Prairie, TX

Ifan Sandra Chen Jabre Sioux City, IA

Kellie Crowl Sheldon, IA

Mary Grieder                             Council Bluffs, IA

Monique Manderson                  Glen Carbon, IL

Shannon Merk                          Kingsley, IA

Asongtia Ntonghawah               Bowie, MD

Ijeoma Ogbonnaya                    New Brighton, MN

Odochi Onungwa                      Dallas, TX

Felicia Onyeuku                        Fayetteville, GA

Heather Jo Stehr                      Sac City, IA



Candidates for Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

Bradley Beardt                          Rapid City, SD

Alyssa Besch                        Edina, MN

Christine Beune                        Wisner, NE

Brett Black                                Durand, WI

Aubree Blake                            Hesperia, CA

Alexander Boyer                       Cottage Grove, MN

Jon Byers                                 Green Bay, WI

Sierra Chapman                        Springfield, IL

Samantha Covington                 Vacaville, CA

Andrew Deiter                           Ankeny, IA

Isaiah Faas                               Rochester, MN

Gewiria Fadl                             Des Moines, IA

Eric Gross                                Atlantic, IA

Brady Harr                                Spearfish, SD

Samantha Hoebelheinrich        Orange City, IA

Tessa Hubert                            Menno, SD

Danielle Ishii                             Omaha, NE

Megan Johnson                         Lake Mills, IA

Brittany Kleist                            Ingleside, IL

Rafael Lopez                            Casa Grande, AZ

Grant Moravec                          David City, NE 

Michael Rykaczewski                Trappe, PA

Nathan Sieler                            Carroll, NE

Lauren Solseth                          Altoona, IA

Joseph Stangl                           Prior Lake, MN

Mitchell Steffensmeier              Cedar Rapids, IA

Taylor Sterling                           Grand Blanc, MI

Kelsey Svehla                           Lincoln, NE

Jacob Tuholsky                         Big Lake, MN

Blake Van Maanen                    Oshkosh, WI

Dylan Wills                                Springfield, NE


Candidates for Master of Health Administration Degree

Samantha Dodd                        Clinton, IA

Katie Halda                               Rochester, MN

Amanda Harris                          Sioux City, IA

Leah Lappe                              Griswold, IA

Courtney Vinsand                      South Sioux City, NE


Candidates for Master of Arts in Management Degree

Megan Glover                           Sioux City, IA

Danya Hangman                       Moville, IA

Taylor Henningsgard                 Buxton, ND

Shannon Keller                         Sioux City, IA

Jose Gregorio Lugo Ramirez    Maracaibo, Venezuela

Kelly Merkle                              Highland, MI

Marcus McCorkle                      Lawrenceville, GA

Karina Pedroza                         South Sioux City, NE

Kimberly Phillips                        Estherville, IA

Jerome Anthony Reicks Jr.      Sioux City, IA

Anne Schaffer                           Sloan, IA

Kelsey Wattenhofer                   Litchfield, MN

Dustin Wozniak                         Stevens Point, WI


Candidate for Master of Science in Kinesiology and Human Performance Degree

Chase Lester                            Clear Lake, IA


Candidates for Master of Science in Nursing Degree

Heather Abels                           Sioux Falls, SD

Derek Belt                                Omaha, NE

Theodore Bollard                      Fort Dodge, IA

Carmen Bot                              Minneota, MN

Michelle Crary                           Waukon, IA

Michelle Cuddeford                   Lincoln, NE

Alicia Drotzman                         Tea, SD

Matthew Garred                        Whiting, IA

Krishna Hanson                        Lake Mills, IA

Maria Hawkins                          Sanborn, IA

Jill Hunt                                   Council Bluffs, IA

Jennifer Johnson                      Remsen, IA

Lisa Layne                                Davenport, IA

Kristen Leonhardi                      Emmons, MN

Tara Liddiard                            Jefferson, SD

Alison Lombardo                       Iowa City, IA

Chibwe Lupambo                      Otsego, MN

Stephanie Meinerts                   Luverne, MN

Dawn Miller                               Fort Dodge, IA

Megan Ng                                 Ankeny, IA

Natalie Rosenboom                   Sioux Center, IA

Jessica Slaba                           Centerville, SD

Gregory Studer                         Sioux Falls, SD

Savannah Woltering                  Wellman, IA


Candidates for Bachelor of Arts Degree


Mai Nguyen                              Sioux City, IA


Scott Dollison                            Jacksonville, FL                       

Valerie Fakler                            Algona, IA Magna Cum Laude

Harrison Jestel                          Davenport, IA               Cum Laude

Brandon Johnson                      Sioux City, IA   

Zachary Ryan                           Moville, IA

Gertrude Timblin                       Sioux City, IA               Summa Cum Laude

Business Administration                    

Catherine Birk                           Sioux City, IA

La'Darrian Bowman                   Lakeland, FL    

George Delaney                        Spencer, IA

Scott Dollison                            Jacksonville, FL

Ana Maria Freire                       Quito, Ecuador            Summa Cum Laude

Andrew Geelan                         Ruthven, IA

Kathleen Glover                        Sioux City, IA               Magna Cum Laude

Alexander Johnson                   Los Angeles, CA          

Carlos Mesias                           Quito, Ecuador

Brandon Meyer                         Algonquin, IL

Andrew Miller                            St. Louis, MO

Cindy Moreno                           Sioux City, IA

Leonardo Jin Onoe                    Sao Paulo, Brazil        Magna Cum Laude

Natalie Peters                           Auburn, IL

Arianna Presilla                         Weston, FL

Awais Rizvi                               Karachi, Pakistan

Raul Perez Ruiz                        Toluca-Mexico                         

Yannick Rwamahe                    Kigali, Rwanda

Shauna Semon                         Sioux City, IA

Stacie Sorenson                        Omaha, NE

Ivan Trifunovic                          Nis, Sebia

Theresa Trudeau                      Sergeant Bluff, IA      Magna Cum Laude

Brooke Westcott                        Elk Point, SD

Michael Williams                       Mesa, AZ

Entrepreneurship and Small Business Administration

Austin Roetman                         Pocahontas, IA

Human Resource Management          

Barb Larimer                             Sergeant Bluff, IA

International Business           

La'Darrian Bowman                   Lakeland, FL


George Delaney                        Spencer, IA

Ana Maria Freire                       Quito, Ecuador            Summa Cum Laude

Arianna Presilla                         Weston, FL

Raul Perez Ruiz                        Toluca, Mexico

Ivan Trifunovic                          Nis, Serbia

Operations Management                    

Dawn Pearson                          Duluth, MN

Oluwaseyi Salami                      Le Mars, IA

Sport Management                 

Casandra Anderson                  Lookout Mountain, TN  

Rahman Burton                         Calument, IL

Aubury Coleman                       Mason City, IA 

Kathleen Glover                        Sioux City, IA              Magna Cum Laude

Taylor Harden                           Omaha, NE

Brandon Meyer                         Algonquin, IL

Bailey Nichols                           Carroll, IA

Jared Samms                           Plainfield, IL

Jovon Woods                            Stockton, CA


Jaydn Barnett                           Okoboji, IA

Bailey Bright                             Sparks, NV      

James Buckhanan                     Muskugee, OK 

Khamren Davenport                  Los Angeles, CA          

Montique Edwards                    Federal Way, WA         

Tristan Egbarts                         Valley, NE

Tyler French                             Mobile, AL

Agustin Gutierrez IV                  San Antonio, TX

Tyler Hill                                   Peoria, AZ

Jared Sikora                             Ruthven, IA

D'earion Stokes                         Calumet Park, IL

Nathan Villalobos                      Vacaville, CA


Peyton Bailey                            Fairfield, CA                Magna Cum Laude

Amari Beal                                Los Angeles, CA

Aleda Price                               Sioux Falls, SD

Maike Rasmussen                     Sioux City, IA

Digital Communications         

Cody Aughton                           Lincoln, IL

Kyle Chinen                              Mililani, HI

Benjamin Pigg                           Sacramento, CA

Dylan Speer                              Lone, CA                  Cum Laude

Baily Sitzmann                          Sioux City, IA               Magna Cum Laude                               

Asi Tupua                                 Lake Stevens, WA

Graphic Communications      

Tania Caudillo                           Sioux City, IA

Rachel DeMoss                        Monona, IA                  Summa Cum Laude

Yaresi Garza                             Sioux City, IA

Rachel Knuston Kobold             Sioux City, IA              Magna Cum Laude

Elementary Education

Elizabeth DeAnda Ramirez      Sioux City, IA

Allison Lester                            Sioux City, IA

Johanna Vaske                         Bancroft, IA

Secondary Education                         

Michael Donald                         Suisun, CA

Nathan Frankman                     Papillion, NE    

Brady Harpenau                        Remsen, IA                Cum Laude

Miles Landingham                     Bossier City, LA            

Noah Marasco-Ayau                  Honolulu, HI     

Grace Paulson                          Hancock, IA

Anna Taylor                              Winner, SD                Summa Cum Laude

Colin Werner                             Manchester, IA


Timothy Baker                           Sioux City, IA

Noah Marasco-Ayau                  Sioux City, IA

Mai Nguyen                              Pocahontas, IA


Isela Enriquez                           Sioux City, IA


Michael Donald                         Suisun City, CA

Brady Harpenau                        Remsen, IA                Cum Laude

Miles Landingham                     Bossier City, LA

Sage Lloyd                               Missouri Valley, IA

Claire Schaefer                         Sioux City, IA

Anna Taylor                              Winner, SD               Summa Cum Laude

Colin Werner                             Manchester, IA

Interdisciplinary Studies

Dante Shipman                         Compton, CA

Jessen Wood                            Akron, IA


Michael Danner                         North Sioux City, SD    Summa Cum Laude

Behavior Analysis                  

Summer Williams                      Raytown, MO               


Alcala Mireya Jimenez              Sioux City, IA

Jadyn Barnett                           Okoboji, IA

Leonard Bingham III                  Jacksonville, FL

Chad Blank                               Farragut, IA

Peyton-Danielle Coffin               Salem, IA         

Dalton Demers                          Storm Lake, IA

Collin Glazek                            Davenport, IA            Summa Cum Laude

Nicole Hemelberg                      Bogota, Colombia         

Lucas Koster                             Pomeroy, IA

Cindy Lastor                             Sioux City, IA

DeVon Lewis                            Dakota Dunes, SD

Noel Phillips                              Honolulu, HI                 

Darnell Prince                           Ridgecrest, CA

Summer Williams                      Raytown, MO   

Ashley Yepez                            Paramount, CA


Candidates for Bachelor of Science Degree

Biochemistry, Molecular Biology       

Bernice Semana                       Kigali, Rwanda

Casey Zoss                              Letcher, SD        Summa Cum Laude and Salutatorian


Viviane Hemedi                         Kinshasa, DRC

Jenessa Kardell                        Wayne, NE           Cum Laude

Grace Paulson                          Hancock, IA     

Radiologic Technology          

Amanda Mace                           Hawarden, IA

Hannah Nguyen                        Sioux City, IA

Hailey Reiter                             Evansdale, IA

Sayge Rosas                            Hilo, HI

Haley Stafford                           Pomeroy, IA


Jorge Albuja                             Loja, Ecuador

Sarah Dreckman                       Marcus, IA       

Kylie Fox                                  Algona, IA              Magna Cum Laude

Christian Gonzalez                    Sioux City, IA   

Victoria Gonzalez                      San Antonio, TX

Jackson Lamb                           Greenfield, IA       Magna Cum Laude

Samantha Pedroza                   Sioux City, IA   

Grace Whitlaw                          Fort Calhoun, NE

Nicole Wiles                              Papillion, NE                 Magna Cum Laude

Environmental Science                      

Brooklyn Barnett                       Milford, IA

Connor Christiansen                  Ida Grove, IA   

Rodney Scarver                         Prosser, WA

Cassidy Schwab                       Madrid, IA

Grace Whitlaw                          Fort Calhoun, NE

Exercise Physiology               

Breanna Allen                           Crofton, NE                Summa Cum Laude

Human Performance

Brandon Oswald                       Highlands Ranch, CO  Cum Laude

Kinesiology and Human Performance

Nicholas Cole                           Topeka, KS

Jeana Hamman                         Kingsley, IA

Emily Larson                             Sioux City, IA

Isiah Lysius                               Miami, FL

Delaney Meyer                          Kansas City, NO

Leah Perry                                Clear Lake, IA

Bryan Peters                             Rio Vista, CA

Analyse Stapleton                     Sacramento, CA

Ricardo Tovar                           Panama City, Panama

Mellanie Zamora                       Buena Park, CA

Health Science

Ashley Gomez                          San Pedro, CA

Taneshia Morris-Ottley              Stockbridge, GA


Erin Gaitsch                              Huntley, IL                Summa Cum Laude

Nathan Frankman                     Papillion, NE

Casey Zoss                              Letcher, SD              Summa Cum Laude and Salutatorian

Computer Science                  

Rachel DeMoss                        Monona, IA             Summa Cum Laude

Erin Gaitsch                              Huntley, IL                    Summa Cum Laude


Jarah Ackerman                        Iowa Falls, IA

Maria Aguirre Zavala                 Sioux City, IA

Abigail Brinkman                      

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