Caldwell Follows Family Tradition

May 12, 2016 | Stacey Ortman

Caldwell (W:250 H:300)DUBUQUE, Iowa – Brianna Caldwell followed in her parent’s footsteps to the University of Dubuque. It was a journey the now proud Spartan had no intention of ever taking.

“In all honesty, I actually was completely against coming to University of Dubuque,” Brianna said.

Her parents, Brian and Cathy Caldwell, met and fell in love on the University’s campus. Years later, the 1978 UD graduates would bring their two daughters to campus every summer and Christmas when they were in the area to visit a relative who lives nearby in Manchester, Iowa.

“When they’d bring us up here, they’d always want to see their alma mater,” Brianna said. “We were just like, ‘We don’t want to do this. This is your place. This isn’t ours.’”

The Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, native’s opinion of UD changed on a snowy, cold winter’s day.

“We came up for a visit, and I fell in love with the campus,” Brianna said, later adding she felt like the University of Dubuque was “where I was meant to be.”

Her family was thrilled.

“We were pleased and sure the science programs she was interested in would be perfect for her,” Cathy said, later adding. “It has been nice to learn that the professors and staff that Brianna has interacted with care just as much as the professors and staff that we knew back in the day.”

When Brianna participates in Commencement on Saturday, May 14, she will continue a family legacy that spans nearly 100 years at the University of Dubuque.

Brianna’s maternal great-grandmother, Ella Gibbs, graduated in 1929. Even though Brianna’s maternal grandmother, Virginia Von Talge, did not attend UD, Von Talge’s three sisters and brothers-in-law did: Mary (Gibbs) Patton and her husband, Roger, graduated in 1957; Lois (Gibbs) Zollars graduated in 1960 and her husband, David, graduated in 1957 and received his master of divinity in 1964; Cecelia (Gibbs) Keith and her husband, Bruce, graduated in 1969. Brianna’s parents graduated in 1978.

“Although many of the buildings have changed, it was good to see the University moving forward to keep up with the current education needs,” Cathy said.

Brianna will receive a bachelor of science. She plans to stay at UD to earn a master’s degree in business administration and work as a Graduate Assistant for Heritage Center. Brianna, who hopes to conduct coral reef restoration, said she will remember the research she completed at the University.

“The first-hand research experience that you get here at University of Dubuque is something I did not expect,” Brianna said. “I knew they did research, but I didn’t realize the research caliber that we were held to. We’re doing research that I probably wouldn’t expect until a master’s program.”