Selflessness, resilience noted in student nominations
Monday, November 3, 2014

Two University of Iowa parents were the center of attention Nov. 1 during the Family Weekend game day breakfast and at halftime of the Hawkeye football game, when they were honored as UI’s Mom and Dad of the Year.

Mom of the Year accepts award on Kinnck field
Lisa Dowson (center) of Indianola, Iowa, was honored as the UI Mom of the Year at the Nov. 1 Iowa football game. Dowson was nominated by her son, Blake (left). The award was presented by Abhinav Sharma (right). Photo by Tim Schoon.

The 2014 Mom of the Year is Lisa Dowson of Indianola, Iowa, nominated by her son, Blake, a sophomore studying journalism. He says his mother, a UI alumna and longtime teacher in the Indianola Community School District, is the perfect example of selflessness and resilience. She survived breast cancer after being diagnosed at age 27, was the sole caretaker of her husband who lost a two-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and stepped into the role of father figure to Blake and his sister. In her community, Dowson leads Dobbers Up, a nonprofit group that raises money for people who have been thrown a curveball, and assists in a summer camp for children with disabilities.

“When my dad passed away,” Blake writes, “my mom didn’t miss a single one of my high school games, including baseball, basketball, football, track, and cross-country. She also didn’t miss any of my sister’s events, including dance recitals and even Dad’s Day at her sorority. If I become half as strong, caring, loving, loyal, hard working, and selfless as her, I will be more than alright.”

Dad of the Year accepts award on Kinnick field
Jim Hoflen (center) of Elk Horn, Iowa, was honored as the UI Dad of the Year at the Nov. 1 Iowa football game. Hoflen was nominated by his son, Kael (left). The award was presented by Dora Grote (right). Photo by Tim Schoon.

The 2014 Dad of the Year is Jim Hoflen of Elk Horn, Iowa, nominated by his son, Kael, a junior studying biology with a pre-dental focus. Kael says his father, a top IT specialist for the Department of Homeland Security, is the perfect role model for him and his many siblings: “His support has been immeasurable as our family has overcome a lot, including mental illnesses and the loss of my youngest brother.” Hoflen has worked several jobs, including 23 years of service in the United States Air Force, and is an active member of the American Legion, Audubon County Conservation Club, and Lion’s Club International. He also teaches hunter safety courses to kids.

Despite sacrificing his time in past years working multiple jobs and getting a college degree online, Hoflen always makes time for family. Kael writes, “My father constantly emphasizes the importance of working hard, respecting each other, and loving everyone. He has been my family’s rock and is the kind of person I hope to someday be to my family.”

Mom and Dad of the Year are sponsored by the UI Parents Fund for Student Support, with support from the UI Athletics Department, and the Iowa Hawk Shop/University Bookstore. Honorees are chosen by two student honor societies, Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa, based on personal achievements and dedication to family. Any student can nominate a parent for an award.