Meet Connor Morningstar

Evan Heer, Tenth Muse Staff

For many of us, college is a time to learn new things. For Connor Morningstar, that new thing is playing guitar. Connor Morningstar is a student athlete from Northern California, and when asked to tell a story, any story, he was quick to pick up his acoustic guitar and tell us about his new hobby. 

“I don’t even really remember how I started to play. I guess I started trying to play ‘Wish You Were Here’ just by, like, listening to it. I didn’t really go on YouTube or anything, I just kind tried to listen and learn it by messing around until it sounded right.” 

Over the past year, Connor has continued to practice and master the craft of guitar playing through many hours of tedious repetition. Connor also began to sing with his guitar playing, and it’s beginning to pay off.

“So, what’s your favorite song to sing and play, Connor?”

“Hmmm.. it’s probably ‘Bad Moon Rising’. I actually remixed the lyrics to make it my own. You wanna hear it?” Connor asked with his fingers in the ready position on the guitar.

I sat and witnessed Connor play his remixed rendition of “Bad Moon Rising”, and needless to say, I was impressed. 

“The first full song I learned to play and sing was ‘Polly’ by Nirvana. I actually learned a lot of Nirvana songs when I was first starting out. I love Nirvana.

“So, do you have any future plans to join or start a band of your own?” 

“Yeah! I actually talked about that the other day with the guys. We could do a little cover band, something like that. I’ve been playing a lot lately. I am trying to learn some more challenging songs like ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ by Pearl Jam and stuff like that.  I’ve been burning callouses on my fingers, and they’re starting to peel off, so that’s good,” Connor said, chuckling. 

So, keep your ears open for a new cover band at Clarke University. There’s a good chance you might see Connor playing lead guitar.

Meet Erin Danosky

Kyle Majerus, Tenth Muse Staff

Meet Erin Danosky, a fun-loving, always-smiling girl whose passion is art and video games. She uses her imagination to her advantage when it comes to creating characters, writing stories, or creating a piece of art. Erin is an English major and graphic design minor at Clarke University, and once she graduates she intends on going to the East coast to get a job as a concept artist for video games.

“Thoughts seem to constantly swarm around inside my head. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. As long as the gears in my brain continue to crank, then I know nothing is wrong. There is something about me that I find unique: my creative mind. I rely on my imagination for almost everything I do in life. Whether it’s coming up with ideas for a school project, thinking about a new story to write, or perhaps deciding on how a certain character should look, my mind is always circulating new ideas for me to use."

"My imagination is part of what makes me the creative person I am today. It all began when I wrote my first book. Although it is short, it contained a well-developed plot and concrete characters. The previous stories originated from a child’s mind; they mostly consisted of aliens, dinosaurs, and mermaids. Eventually, those cliché tales turned into dark and serious ones. Aliens that invade Earth and steal humans for their experiments, or a fictional, political story that's biased towards people whose eyes are purple. Obviously, I am a fan of all types of fiction. Fantasy or science fiction, you name it, I have probably written something within the genre. Writing has always been something I have loved to do. I used to tell stories to my cousins and would continue the same story each time they spent the night at my house. They always wanted more. Besides, if I had never told stories, I never would have become interested in art."

"Through writing came drawing. I decided I wanted a clear visual of my characters as I had described them in my stories. My best friend taught me the basics, and from there I learned other drawing skills on my own. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that good. The heads were either too big or too small, and the fingers were abnormally long. Also, I was too lazy to give them any shoes. I can’t believe my friends and classmates thought I was a good artist when they looked at that garbage. I have improved a lot since then, and I am proud to see that the characters, for once, look like genuine human people."

"All of this applies to my creative thinking. Through writing, I began to create art, and through both of those skills, I began to realize what I wanted to do with my life. I have been told that my art will never be good enough to land me a job as a concept artist for video games, but I don’t believe that. I believe the skills I have will assist me in the future. I have come a long way to where I am today. I have always gone by the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and I believe that. Art may not come naturally to me, but writing and research does. Concept artists are required to do an extensive amount of research, and I do that during my free time. Before I create a character, I do research on potential subjects to get more accurate insight on how I believe this character should be portrayed. The research in the job is the most important aspect to it."

"Overall, even though my mind never stops moving, much like a shark having to stay in motion in order to survive, I have never had a problem with it; I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. The skills I have acquired will certainly come in handy when I land that concept artist job. I know they will. There is nothing wrong with having a wild imagination because that is where the best stories come from.”

Meet Riley Sweeney

Emily Pape, Tenth Muse Staff

"During my time in college, I have learned a lot about myself. Who am I? What do I want to become? What do I really want to do with my life? These are all questions that, going into freshman year, I thought I already knew the answers to. I came to find out that that was a total joke. I came to Clarke as an athletic training physical therapy major. Now I am majoring in mathematics and computer information systems with a minor in business administration. I wanted to work with professional hockey teams as my career and now I just want to play with numbers. I feel as a person that numbers are something that have always relaxed me. Being in orchestra and dance growing up, I was surrounded by music and in music there are different types of numbers. I feel that always being surrounded and interested in numbers is how I was shaped into the number oriented person that I am today. I am a person that does not always have the most logical method to my madness, but the job always gets done with accuracy. I pride myself with knowing that I can do things with numbers that most people don’t even know are a possibility. I truly believe that my love for mathematics came from the fact that math was the only subject in school that my parents could not help me with, because by eighth grade I surpassed their mathematical abilities. Growing up my dad use to ask me when the alphabet became part of math. Looking at my math book, He could not understand why there were almost as many letter as there were numbers in the problems. I believe that having to rely on myself when it came to my math homework is the reason that I enjoy numbers today. Having no one to turn to is what boosted my confidence and determination to solve the problems and get the right answers. Numbers are a part of who I am and I believe that they shaped me into me."

Meet Josh Harbaugh

Evan Heer, Tenth Muse Staff

If you have ever heard Josh Harbaugh tell a story, you know that you can never be quite sure what to expect. But still, Josh always seems to find a way to put a smile on the faces of those he talks to. He has a unique ability to mix his strikingly-positive charisma into his nonfiction narratives that results in a story that is sure to brighten your day.

“Josh, tell me a story about you.”

“What kind of story do you want, Evan?”

“I don’t even know. Anything.”

“Okay, so in high school, I wanted to be a robotic engineer or technician.”

It’s clear that Josh is not on the path to becoming a robotic engineer, but this example is a good symbol of Josh’s personality – he’s versatile and passionate. His interests guide his actions, and when he sets his mind to something, he goes for it. Having worked at farms, wineries, the Crusader Café, and many other places, it is clear the Josh is a jack of all trades.

“During my senior year, I decided I wanted to help people, and I have no idea where this idea came from, but I became dead set on becoming a physical therapist.”

This is what led Josh to Clarke University, where he has continued to walk down several different academic paths including physical therapy and psychology before landing in the music department, where he found his real passion and purpose.

“I then sang for the music department, once. This is my first time, ever, publicly singing, alone, and I was picked up by the music department at the beginning of the next semester… So not only could I not read music at the beginning of that first semester as a music major, I didn’t know any foreign languages. So, I was learning Italian, and how to read music, and how to sing in a classical style all at the same time. It was a whirlwind. It was hard, but I assumed if I could get through that, I could stick it out. And, now I’m graduating with a music degree.”

So, next time you see Josh, stop him, and ask for a story. Who knows? He may even sing it to you in a Classical Italian style.

Meet McKenna Crossen

Natascha Myers, Tenth Muse Staff

You likely know McKenna Crossen for her contagious giggle, infectious smile, and natural zest for life. Just look at the picture, and you'll immediately get the essence of who she is. And when asked what her story is, after giving it some thought, McKenna beelined for exactly that as her defining characteristic. 

“My story? Gosh, who AM I? I’m McKenna. I love to laugh, and I’m, like, a forever child-at-heart. But somehow, the mother hen of my group. Does that make sense? (insert giggles) In fact, I know who I am once I get thinking about it. I’m an organized, disorganized mess that just loves everything. I love who I am.” 

As if you don’t love McKenna enough for her quirkiness accompanied by self-confidence, there’s more. As a pre-med major, soccer player, and resident assistant, McKenna is nothing short of busy. Regardless of her hectic schedule, McKenna still leaves time for the people who are important to her, a feature that instantly comes to mind when you think ‘McKenna Crossen.’ 

“I think my story is made up of not just me, but all the people I come across. Everyone I meet changes me for the better. I’m constantly changing because of those people. I’m blessed. They accept me for my weirdness, my quirky personality that just goes with the flow.” 

This extremely lovable characteristic comes to fruition especially with how family-oriented McKenna is. “I call my mom every day, even if I have nothing real to say.” 

This adoration for people and their stories will certainly benefit McKenna as she pursues a career that acknowledges her immense love for kids: a pediatrician. She speculates that it is her own childlike spirit that makes her love kids and their innocence so much. 

“I’m going to explore the world and save all the children. Me and my dog. Taking on the world.”

So watch McKenna take on the world. But take the opportunity to meet her first; you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll probably be giggling right along with her in a heartbeat.

Meet Malik McCrary

Kyle Majerus, Tenth Muse Staff

“Coming up here wasn’t as big as an adjustment as you think,” states Malik McCray, a junior at Clarke University who is majoring in Business Administration. Making the trek from Georgia to Iowa to attend college at Clarke University and run track and cross country, it would seem like Malik had to adjust to completely different weather that occurs here in the Midwest, which may seem tough to do to any Midwestern native who knows about Mother Nature’s temperamental climate, but it was the opposite according to Malik. As it turns out, Georgia weather is quite similar to that of the Midwest: there are cold and bitter winters that can be tough to endure. Want to hear the full story? Watch the video to hear this Georgia native tell his story about coming to Eastern Iowa from Northern Georgia.