Chime In: Working On Campus

Students on campus biking

Former Iowa Staters across the country chimed in with memorable and impactful stories from their time working on campus as students. The simple and mundane moments working on campus provided a lifetime of benefits for all the alumni below. Make sure to chime in next issue and share your favorite class as a student to possibly be featured in the next issue of Iowa Stater magazine.

Did you work on campus as a student?

During the early 1980's I worked at Hilton Coliseum for the catering department. Seniority brought better assignments and I eventually was given the responsibility of preparing the green room for each of the visiting artists.  Each artist had their specific pre-concert requests as to the items needed for an awesome performance.  Some of the individuals and groups in which I prepped included, The Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, Stevie Nicks, Kenny Rogers and Phil Collins with Genesis. 

The classiest of them all was The Pointer Sisters.  All they requested were three red roses and a bottle of champagne. Other artists had much greater demands, some of which were quite ridiculous.

While preparing Lionel Richie's room there was a red leather jacket hanging ready to wear. I remember taking it off the hanger, checking to make certain no one was around and putting it on myself. I don't know what I would have said to Lionel had he walked in on me wearing his red jacket! I probably would have been fired on the spot.  Sure enough, as his concert began, he came out on stage wearing that red jacket.  

It was a fun job with only one bad outcome. One of the artists had a food fight in the green room which left it a complete disaster. I remember I was at Hilton very late that night cleaning the aftermath.  Even so, it was a fun job that leaves me with many memories of my wonderful years at Iowa State.

Tracy Lewis (’83 marketing)

In the mid-1970s, I worked food service in Linden Hall. The cafeteria line was open for set hours for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You knew the menu after a few weeks because there was a rotating menu of entrees, vegetables, salads, and desserts. When you worked the serving line, it (the uniform) was a white blouse and a hair net. Star Trek (the original series) started at 4:00pm on broadcast television, so the line got busy a little after 5:00. A laminated card with your picture had meals for the trimester and was punched when you dined. It was also the ticket for RCA (Richardson Court Association) Free Friday Flicks in Kildee Auditorium.

Marie Theobald, ('77, '82 industrial education)

During my time at Iowa State, I was a campus tour guide, a Cyclone Aide, a sociology tutor, a community advisor, and even spent time working in the call center. I enjoyed working on campus and meeting or talking to new people every day. By the time I graduated, I probably could have given the tour of campus with my eyes closed! Besides spending money, I gained so much from my on-campus jobs: forever friends and a deep appreciation for the rich history of our campus. Most notably, I met my future husband while we were both Cyclone Aide’s in Maple, Willow, Larch. We have been married for 12 years and are Lifetime Members of the Alumni Association residing in Sugar Land, Texas. We look forward to visiting campus with our two young daughters anytime we are back in Iowa to visit my family in nearby Fort Dodge, IA.



Cynthia (Johnson) Dees (‘06 Business Management)

Student employment was a financial boost and academic complement to my education. I worked for three years for Vivian Murray (’67 institution management,) in the 1970’s at Maple-Willow-Larch dining center. In those days, if we worked 15 to 16 hours per week, our room and board was free. What I learned about food preparation and service was extremely helpful in my role as dining manager at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), and reconciling hours on timecards was an early taste of my career as human resource director at Wartburg College.

Following in my footsteps, my brothers worked for Don Schoof in maintenance and my daughter, Liz, was employed as an undergraduate research assistant in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering department. She has continued her work at ISU, in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineer department, with Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks which are two conservation and water quality outreach programs.

Currently, my grandson receives wonderful care by full-time and student Cyclone employees at the ISU Child Development Laboratory School. My son-in-law, Chuck, worked at the University Child Care Center during college.

So, yes, a shout out to student employment for so many good reasons.

Jane Juhl Juchems, (’78 dietetics)

In 1985, I was appointed to serve on a state-wide committee for North Carolina focusing on developing a comprehensive teacher and administrator evaluation system. Dick Manatt and Jim Sweeney, from the College of Education, were selected to work with our committee.

They were the directors of the School Improvement Model (SIM) at Iowa State. This was a research-based program designed to increase student achievement while creating valid, reliable and legally discriminating performance appraisal systems for teachers and administrators.

In May, in 1987, I earned a PhD in Educational Administration and Supervision. The basis of my dissertation was developing a classroom observation guide for administrators. This work earned me the Jordan Larson Award and was adopted by SIM. The reputation of SIM opened many doors for me and assisted me in securing my first job as superintendent of schools.

Working at Iowa State taught me how to assist teachers and administrators to be more effective thus improving student achievement.

Thank you, Iowa State and SIM.

Marilyn Semones (PhD ’87 professional studies in education)

I was asked to work as a graduate student lab assistant during the 1960s. What five years that became and I've been blessed to have known good men and experienced firsthand field work during those years!


I had just graduated from Ames High School in 1962, and was working at The Broiler Restaurant west of Ames on a Saturday evening when my father called me. I took the call and learned that my father had found out that Dr. Black from agronomy was looking for someone to help him with research on zinc free corn leaves. 

Would I be interested?

Sure, it’s another dollar in my stash to get to Drake University and start my major there in pre-law. Dad said it would only be for four days … good, then back to working only two jobs: The Broiler and babysitting into the early morning hours.

I moved to Drake with the offer that I could come back to work in agronomy at any time. Soon I was told that I could not expect any financial help from my parents, so back to Iowa State to work on a degree in distributed studies.

That is how the next 5 years began.

Well, short story was, that this little four-day job turned into 5 years doing lab-rat and field-hand work, helping graduate students with their research.

After doing corn leaf research, I was moved to picking stinky soybean nodules from their roots. Then I helped Lou Grube with total digestive nutrient work and I even got to help take rumen samples from a fistulated steer that lived in the big brick barn on north campus.

I quickly learned to balance a centrifuge properly, otherwise, I would ruin an entire batch of little porcelain crucibles. That was a major “no-no” for lab-ratting and would ruin months of research. 

I even learned to use special balances very carefully. It was amazing that these grad students and my supervising prof, Dr. IC Anderson, trusted this little co-ed to do such careful work on one-of-a-kind research.

In the summer months, I moved to the field-hand work, helping a grad student with bird’s-foot trefoil forage crops and leaf area readings at the new crop management facility west of Ames. 

This was a relief from the awful summer heat Iowa was hit with during my years at agronomy. That didn’t last all summer, then it was back to the test plots on Beach Avenue.

That was the dirtiest work I had ever done! (I am a farm girl so dirty work wasn’t new to me!) 

This time I was blessed to work with Vern Cardwell (’67 PhD agronomy) and his research about the ligule growth factor in corn leaves. During the summer of 1966 is when I really got involved in hard-core research.

After some unpleasant experiences, like running straight into corn smut with it covering my face and straw hat, and falling off stools while measuring corn plants and leaves, I found out I loved this kind of hands-on research a whole lot! I looked forward to each new, hot day in the fields!

That summer’s work must have impressed grad students and a few professors, so much so, that they called me into a meeting room for a serious sit-down. They asked me to consider dropping my major and beginning master’s work in agronomy.

This was very serious business, as I was totally working my way through ISU by this time and I just didn’t know how I would manage my finances.

Then, there was this tall, dark and handsome engineering student who might say something when he returned to campus from a summer in Colorado.

I turned down the offer, continued working in agronomy, until I moved back to Drake in 1967 to finish a secondary provisional teaching degree after five wonderful years working with the nicest men ISU had on campus.

My engineering friend asked me if I would consider working toward marriage. (YES!)  

We were married at Memorial Lutheran (where we met and courted) on February 24, 1968. 

After all these years, I now know that working in agronomy was the best job I ever had!

Thanks, ISU, for hiring a farm kid to work in the labs and fields. I am so grateful for the experience.

By the way, we are very cardinal and gold up here in Michigan and have been for over 55 years!

Always, Cardinal and Gold,

Sydra Maas Krueger