Celebrating the Class of 2018

May 18, 2018 | University Relations staff

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Congratulations Class of 2018!

The University of Dubuque will celebrate the dedication, perseverance, and accomplishments of more than 400 undergraduate, graduate, and seminary students at its 166th commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 19.

Throughout the week, we will feature some of our graduates.


 Naomie Kipulu - Graduation 2018

Naomie Kipulu

Naomie Kipulu took a leap of faith when she left Fort Worth, Texas, to attend the University of Dubuque.

“When I stepped on UD’s campus for the first time, I immediately knew that it was where I belonged. I received a great welcome from the basketball coach, teammates, professors, and staff,” she said. “I knew I would be coming to a university that will not only care about me as a student but also as a human being.”

Kipulu excelled in her classes and volunteered with numerous campus organizations. She was involved in Campus Ministry Bible Study, Sigma Lambda Gamma, Student Life, Christian Leadership Council, and more. Kipulu joked that sometimes she would ask herself how she managed her time.

“It has honestly become second nature for me to keep a busy life. The two main things that keep me going with everything that I do on campus are being able to enjoy it and God’s strength,” Kipulu said. “When something brings you so much happiness, it is difficult to stop doing everything you do. I keep God by my side and ask him for strength on a daily basis. He is the reason why I stay motivated and eager to be successful in everything that I do. He is my peace of mind when I get overwhelmed.”

While at UD, Kipulu also helped organize and lead the new African Student Association. The student organization held events that were open to the entire Dubuque community.

“Creating and leading the African Student Association has helped me further my appreciation of the Dubuque community,” Kipulu said. “I have now learned that in Dubuque there is a large number of people who are willing to learn about other cultures and spread cultural awareness.”

Kipulu said she admired the diversity she saw at the University of Dubuque.

“This does not just mean diversity in race, but diversity in life experiences as well,” she said. “I have had the chance to meet so many people of different race, color, and life experiences. This has allowed me to appreciate life even more and realize that there are more people than I thought who have experienced the same things that I’ve experienced in life”

Kipulu plans to attend Marquette University Law School to pursue her dream of becoming a real estate attorney.

David Prince - 2018 Graduate feature

Computer Forensics and Security

With the support of his family, David Prince, of Guttenberg, Iowa, returned to college after a life-altering injury abruptly ended his career as a master certified automotive technician six years ago.

“Being in the position I was in, I had to make the decision to change careers, which ultimately meant that I had to return to college,” he said.

Prince enrolled at Northeast Iowa Community College to study information technology. His curiosity led him to explore specialized areas within the IT field, and he became intrigued by the networking, security, and forensics areas of information technology. A professor encouraged Prince to complete his bachelor’s degree and suggested he tour the University of Dubuque campus. It was on that tour that Prince met the man who would become one of his mentors – Gregory Mark Woodhouse, assistant professor of computer information science.

“Professor Woodhouse gave me some information about the areas of security and forensics in the IT field. After meeting with him on a few more occasions, I had my mind made up and my career path was set,” Prince said. “Had I not met Professor Woodhouse and, later, the criminal justice faculty, namely John Shook, Phil Baskerville, and Ben Bartels, I probably would not have continued with the advanced degrees in IT and criminal justice that I have worked so hard on. I give the credit for helping make my decision easy to those four professors.”

After graduating from NICC in 2016, Prince transferred to UD as a non-traditional student. He became president of the UD Computer Club and volunteered at community events such as Kids Who Code.

“It has been extremely tough to say the least, but my family, especially my wife, have stood beside me and supported me from the very beginning. If it wouldn’t have been for my mom and dad, who live a thousand miles away literally, my father-in-law, who was living with us at the time, and my amazing wife, I would have given up with everything when I graduated from NICC; if I even graduated at all,” Prince said. “They gave me the support and encouragement when I needed it most. They pushed me to continue what I started and reminded me that I never gave up before, and to not start now.”

Not only did he have the support of his family, but he also had the encouragement of his professors.

“When things became tough for me, they were there to help pick me back up and keep me going, even when my dad passed away. I have a great appreciation and respect for those four mentors who were, in a way, dropped into my life when I needed them most,” Prince said.

He plans to continue learning and obtain career specific certifications as he enters the workforce.

“No matter whether I start my career in the private sector or in the government sector, I have already achieved my goals and accomplished what I set out to do,” Prince said. “I owe a deep gratitude for those accomplishments to those mentors here at the University of Dubuque and, most of all, to my family.”

Meng-Shan Wu - Graduation 2018

Master of Business Administration

Meng-Shan Wu traveled from Taiwan to attend the University of Dubuque after an alumni of her home university recommended the Midwest institution.

“Everyone I met here is so friendly,” she said.

Wu extended that friendliness to others on campus. She was a student assistant in the International Student Services and Study Abroad Office. Wu also managed the International Coffee Hour, an activity held every week in Heritage Center where students could socialize over a cup of coffee.

“The International Coffee Hour is held late Friday afternoon, so it’s like the last event each week where everyone can relax with a cup of coffee and play some games,” Wu said.

Wu enjoyed attending the International Coffee Hour and all the other campus events. Her advice for future Spartans is to learn to manage time wisely.

“There are always so many events being held on campus, so you have to learn to manage your time so that you can make good use of every minute while you are here,” Wu said.

Wu will obtain a master of business administration degree. She hopes to find a job soon.

Maxwell Judnic - Graduation 2018
Flight Operations

Maxwell Judnic, of Elgin, Illinois, has always known he wanted to be a pilot.

“My personal goal ever since I can remember is to be a commercial airline pilot like my dad,” he said.

For the past three years, Judnic has been dedicated to achieving his goal. He took additional credits over summer breaks and logged extra flight blocks to get his ratings done quicker and graduate early. He also earned his flight instructor certificate last summer and has taught his classmates.

“Teaching fellow aviation students at UD has been a much more rewarding and enjoyable experience than I ever could have imagined,” Judnic said. “I personally had, and still to this day have, a terrific friendship with two of my flight instructors and I want the same for my students.”

That personal connection has meant everything. Judnic said aviation professors and flight instructors are willing to meet one-on-one with students as well as share their stories of flight experiences.

“The University of Dubuque has prepared me for life after college by giving me the intangible tools to be able to go out and make a difference in the real world,” Judnic said.

Judnic is on an Envoy Airlines contract working through UD as a flight instructor. When he reaches the required 1,000 flight hours, Judnic’s plan is to train in Dallas, Texas, to fly for Envoy.

Bobbi Jo Helgemoe Graduation 2018
Environmental Science

Bobbi Jo Helgemoe, of Rubicon, Wisconsin, would never have known the University of Dubuque existed had it not been for the track and field coaches who recruited her to compete as a Spartan student-athlete.

“When I came to visit, it was the dead of winter and the campus still looked absolutely beautiful,” she said. “I fell in love with the community that UD had. I could tell that it was a place where everyone was close and supported each other. I knew it was a place where I could feel comfortable and, at the end of the day, it felt right to be here.”

Track wasn’t Helgemoe’s only passion. She also spent a summer researching storm water through the prestigious Joseph and Linda Chlapaty Summer Fellowship. Her project, Monitoring the Source and Quality of Dubuque’s Storm Water Overflow, was the first of its kind at UD.

“Being a Chlapaty Fellow allowed me to grow so much as a researcher and student,” Helgemoe said. “It was extremely rewarding to come up with a procedure and methods of my own and to obtain the lab and field experience. Overall, it was a fantastic experience.”

Helgemoe’s learning took her off campus, too. She traveled to London with UD’s Art and Athletics in London class where she was able to attend the 2017 International Association and Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships.

“I was able to see Usain Bolt run and meet USA Olympic athletes,” Helgemoe said.

Helgemoe plans to obtain entry-level work experience in her field before attending graduate school for environmental engineering. She will always cherish her time at UD.

“UD has so many special qualities. I would say one of its most special qualities is the community feel that our campus has,” Helgemoe said, later adding. “Everyone here knows one another and is friendly. The professors, staff, and coaches are there for students in whatever way they need. Throughout my four years at UD, I have found a wonderful support group that I know I will have for years to come.”