Student showcase at Hawkeye Caucus Day

Student showcase at Hawkeye Caucus Day

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Des Moines event connects UI students with state leaders
Students in white coats chat with a couple of men in suitsUniversity of Iowa dental students chat with Rep. Dave Jacoby and UI College of Dentistry dean David Johnsen (right) at Hawkeye Caucus Day in Des Moines. Photos by Bill Adams.

Carl Soderlund wants a chance to tell Iowa policymakers what a University of Iowa education has meant for him.

“I’m a nontraditional student—I made a mid-life decision to become a teacher,” says Soderlund, who’s traveled back and forth between his Urbandale home and Iowa City preparing to teach high school science. “The UI focuses on what’s happening in education right now. That’s especially important in the sciences.”

Soderlund is among nearly 120 students visiting the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines today, April 2, for Hawkeye Caucus Day. The annual event showcases educational opportunity and connections with communities across the state.

Posing for photos with Herky.
UI mascot Herky poses for pics.

“Students are our best advocates for higher education,” says UI President Sally Mason, who’s joining other UI leaders and representatives from some 50 programs at the event. “I’m always struck by how clearly they understand its impact on their lives, and how passionately they feel about seeing others get the same opportunities.”

The Des Moines event started in 2011. This year, interactive displays surround a giant inflatable Herky in the capitol rotunda. The mascot himself strolls the historic halls posing for photos. Students talk with legislators from their hometowns, sharing their experience and getting firsthand perspective on state government.

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It’s one initiative from the Hawkeye Caucus, a grassroots outreach project that aims to inform Iowans about the university’s statewide impact. Other Hawkeye Caucus projects include regular email alerts to UI supporters, policymakers, and legislative staffers, often highlighting “Hometown Hawkeyes”—UI alumni helping to keep their communities strong.

“Our graduates start businesses, become doctors, teachers, and lawyers, offer creative ways to enhance quality of life, and fill countless other roles,” Mason says. “We’re preparing today’s students to keep meeting the needs of Iowa communities.”

Students like Soderlund are ready to take on the charge. He’s student teaching this semester at Lincoln High School in Des Moines, and says he’ll enter the workforce ready to help schools grow, particularly as they adopt Next Generation Science Standards being implemented across the country.

“I’ll be able to share what I’ve learned with other teachers and administrators,” he says. “By teaching the next generation of teachers, the university is helping lead change throughout education.”

VIDEO: Video (MPEG-4) of the event will be available for download by early afternoon April 2. Email for additional information and download instructions.

See related Media advisory.


Lin Larson, Strategic Communication, 319-384-0042


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