By Kathryn Howe

Simply the Best

The Class of 2017 Hall of Fame inductees were honored during Alumni Reunion Weekend on September 29. A social and awards ceremony took place at the new Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex, followed by an all-class reunion.

Calling the group “the most talented class we’ve ever inducted,” Athletic Director Paul Gavin ’88 applauded each honoree’s legacy of service and success since graduation.

Not only have these athletes left indelible legacies at MMU, they now contribute greatly through their professional endeavors that include coaching, nursing, finance, and community service.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired,” remarked President Laurie Hamen at the close of the ceremony, noting her particular gratitude for the setting of the festivities. “We’re so thankful for what you’ve given to Mount Mercy. You join the ranks of a very elite group of successful Mustangs, and we could not be more proud.”

Each of the following honorees achieved their success the right way, Hamen said, which is the Mount Mercy way: with compassion, academic excellence, and a commitment to the highest standards of moral character.

Jenna Higgins Boll ’13

Jenna Higgins Boll, now a nurse at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is one of only two student-athletes in school history to earn an individual national championship, and the only one to win multiple national titles.

In all, Boll was a seven-time NAIA all-American and two-time Field Athlete of the Week. She was both the Midwest Collegiate Conference indoor and outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, earning 18 MCC titles for the Mustangs. She currently holds 13 school records and finished fifth at the 2010 USA Junior Track & Field Championships.

At UIHC, Boll works in the digestive disease procedural unit, assisting with colonoscopy and upper endoscopy procedures. She sees patients who have or had pancreatic and colon cancers, and also screens patients for the disease.

Boll says she’s grateful for the MMU education that molded her into the nurse she is today.

“MMU showed me how to prioritize and work as a team to get a job done,” she says. “I was able to successfully transition from student nurse to floor nurse thanks to the faculty who spent time outside their normal work hours to make sure I fully understood the material. They gave me the confidence I needed to be a successful nurse.”

Brittney Thomas Burmahl ’13

Brittney Thomas Burmahl is assistant controller in the MMU business office and volunteer assistant MMU volleyball coach, where she enjoys interacting with faculty, staff, and students while remaining active in the sport she loves.

As a student-athlete, she put together one of the most prolific women’s volleyball careers in school history, winning multiple NAIA awards and leaving her mark on the record books. She currently holds career records for kills (2,156), attack attempts (5,800) and digs (1,915), and single-season marks for kills (691), kills per set (5.08), and attack attempts (1,795). She was an outstanding student as well, recognized as a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete and academic all-conference award winner.

Burmahl credits MMU and its volleyball program for cultivating her strength and confidence.

“This institution helped me discover who I was and what I could offer the world,” she says. “I don’t just think of this university as a place where I earned my degree, but as my home during one of the most critical times of my life. I will always love this university and will forever be grateful for the values it instilled in me.”

Liz Hill ’12

Liz Hill, who teaches 7th–12th grade math for Iowa’s Eastern Allamakee Community Schools and is the head softball coach at Kee High School, was one of the most dominant hitters in the history of Mount Mercy softball.

The former first baseman and designated hitter is the Mustangs’ all-time leader in home runs (38) and runs batted in (146), and holds single-season marks for home runs (14) and putouts (418). Hill also ranks second in school history in games played (186) and total bases (322) and third in slugging percentage (.601), hits (172), and putouts (976).

She was a first-team all-Midwest Collegiate Conference selection in each of her four seasons with the Mustangs, was twice named second-team all-Midwest Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), garnered two NAIA Scholar-Athlete awards, and was academic all-conference three times.

Hill’s passion and love for the game came while playing for her hometown team in Shellsburg, Iowa. According to her MMU coaches, Hill always put in the extra work to improve and showed incomparable team spirit.

“The impact this place has had on me is incredible,” Hill says of her days at Mount Mercy, treasuring the memories of playing softball with her teammates. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Ryan Bosch ’01

Ryan Bosch, currently vice president of Bosch Financial, was a two-time all-Midwest Classic Conference standout and the co-Most Valuable Player on the 2000–01 Mount Mercy men’s basketball team. A member of the 1,000-point club, he currently ranks 10th in school history with 1,264 points, second in three-point field goals (199), ninth in steals (122), and 10th in field goals made (445).

Mount Mercy equipped Bosch with the tools and confidence to hit the ground running after graduation; he maintains a strong connection to the school. He led the campaign for the McAuley Penthouse renovation, has been an integral part of the annual Mount Mercy Golf Classic, and is the driving force behind the Bosch Financial, Inc./AXA Advisors Halftime Tuition Shootout, which provides Mount Mercy students an opportunity to win tuition money and other prizes during halftime at home basketball games.

In his professional life, Bosch helps individuals, families, and businesses reach their financial goals. He cherishes the trust and confidence he’s earned with his clients.

Remembering the amazing strength of team spirit, he takes on a coach’s mentality when working with clients and advisors: prepare, design a game plan, execute. “I am a proud Mustang for life,” he says.

Ryan Scheckel ’01

As one of the most-accomplished coaches in school history, Ryan Scheckel ’01 helped bring the 2018 and 2020 NAIA Cross Country National Championships to Cedar Rapids. He will serve as director for these prestigious events.

Prior to his coaching career, Scheckel was a two-time NAIA track and field national qualifier, the MCC Outdoor Track & Field Championships Most Valuable Performer, and set six school records for the Mustangs.

After taking over the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs in 2001, he was a four-time Midwest Collegiate Conference Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, five-time MCC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, and six-time MCC Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year. His teams also earned one of the NAIA’s highest honors when the cross country team received the Buffalo Funds Five-Star Champions of Character Team Award in 2009 and 2016.

Scheckel says his MMU experiences motivate him to help others and be the best leader he can be for his community and family. He is the mayor of Palo, Iowa, and president of the West Linn Community Group, dedicated to improving quality of life through meeting the area’s social, economic, and cultural needs.

Lavern and Audrey Busse

Also 2017 Hall of Fame inductees, Lavern and Audrey Busse have a long history of providing annual scholarship support to Mount Mercy students. Lavern Busse joined the Mount Mercy Board of Trustees in 1990 and is now an emeritus member of the board. After establishing the Lavern and Audrey Busse Endowed Scholarship at Mount Mercy in 1993, the Busses also made the lead gift to name the Busse Center Library, which opened in the same year. Nearly two decades later, their six-figure gift contributed to the construction of the Sisters of Mercy University Center. Most recently, the Lavern T. and Audrey Busse Foundation committed a lead gift for Busse Field, the new softball complex at the Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex. The avid softball fans will also establish an endowed scholarship for softball at Mount Mercy.