Iowa State University Alumni Association

Cyclone Stories

Cyclones are everywhere...

...and the Alumni Association is keeping you connected by bringing you their stories in print and online media. Here's the latest on your fellow Iowa State alumni and friends.


Serial entrepreneur Brandon T. Adams ('12 management) wants to do everything he can to inspire others to figure out what it is they want to do and how exactly they're going to get there. That's why he's serving as vice president of business development for the film "THINK: The Legacy of Think and Grow Rich" and why he's co-hosting the new TV series "Ambitious Adventures" and the podcast "To Live the Grind." It's also why he recently held his second-annual Young Entrepreneur Convention April 21-22 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. “If I can create work that helps people get to their goals faster, then it’s a win for me,” Adams told the Iowa State Daily in the days leading up to the 2017 convention. “It’s my passion.”

Learn more about YEC online.


If you want to be the hero of the story, you've kind of got to answer the call.

-- Elizabeth Gilbert

"Well, the mountains are calling, and I must go," Elsye Walker ('95 community and regional planning, MCP '98)  of San Diego, Calif., recently wrote us. The story of her love affair with hiking and her inspiration to complete the Continental Divide Trail this year, in her own words, is as follows:

"Recently I was reading an article to mark International Women’s Day. Nine African-American women were listed for becoming the first to accomplish a variety of things. The tenth spot was left blank, but this statement followed: 'If you are reading this and just happen to be an African-American girl or woman, then this tenth spot on our list is for you. It is for what you will do and achieve in your life. What will it be?'

"The first African American woman to complete the Triple Crown?" (Triple crown = hikers who have walked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail in their entirety.)

"When I started hiking in 2014 I had no idea the path would lead me to completing the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015, 1,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 2016, and now setting off to tackle the 3,000-mile-long Continental Divide Trail.

"For the next five or six months (starting April 13), I am attempting to thru-hike the Continental Divide from Mexico through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The official route is roughly 3,100 miles. I hope to finish in September at a place called Waterton, Canada. Then I will travel to Massachusetts to complete the rest of the Appalachian Trail.

"There are very few woman thru-hikers, and even fewer African American women.

"This has not been an easy journey, but something I have just felt called to do. (My mom thinks I only hike to worry her!) No, but I do want to be part of improving minority participation outside and inspiring youth of color to take on adventurous outdoor activities.

"People have told me that my journey is extraordinary and inspirational, but I've never considered myself different than other thru-hikers. Just a black girl losing herself in the woods, but finding her soul, reaffirming her confidence and courage. Soon I hope more African Americans will be inspired to thru-hike, explore the outdoors, and gain the confidence and empowerment that comes from the experience. If my story can move others to step outside their comfort zone, look to the Outdoor Industry as a career option, or just see the outdoors in a new light, well I want to share my journey."

You can follow Walker's adventures on her blog at and on Instagram at @elsyew.


In a vote of the NBA Development League's 22 coaches, Maine Red Claw Abdel Nader ('15 liberal studies) -- a former Cyclone standout -- was named D-League Rookie of the Year for 2016-2017 after leading his team to a 30-22 record while averaging 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 40 games. Nader also recorded a team-high 99 three-pointers. He becomes the first Iowa State alumnus, as well as the first internationally born player (Alexandria, Egypt), to earn the award. The Red Claws are affiliated with the Boston Celtics, who drafted Nader with the 58th overall pick a year ago. Nader told the Des Moines Register he hopes to make the squad in Boston next season.

"The NBA's obviously always been my dream," he said. "I want to make it. Hopefully everything I've done has proven that I'm ready."

Watch Nader's D-League rookie year highlight film here.


Read previous Cyclone Stories features >>


Notable Alumni:
First female governor

The countdown clock is winding down for Iowa's longest-tenured governor, Terry Branstad, as he prepares to become U.S. Ambassador to China this spring. His replacement will be his lieutenant governor, Kim Reynolds ('16 liberal studies), who recently completed her degree from Iowa State University and will become the state's first woman chief executive.

Notable Alumni

A sustainable future

Since 2004, Iowa State’s Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods has made an impact on nearly 60,000 people in Uganda’s Kamuli District – one of the poorest regions of that East African country – by improving access to clean water, nutrition and health for mothers and infants, school gardens, livestock and entrepreneurial activities, and crop and livestock extension programs.

Read the story online


More to explore:

Living a Life Podcast Series
Class Notes

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