Student Testimonial: Danielle Clouse Gast
A solid academic foundation and strong studio coursework in the art department at Iowa Lakes Community College led to two academic degrees and full-time work as an artist for Danielle Clouse Gast.
“Looking back on those short two years, it was an incredibly positive experience wrapped up in a nice Associate (in) Arts package,” Clouse Gast said. “This was thanks to the value, the level of higher learning, opportunities for extracurricular involvement, and most importantly, the friendly community atmosphere created by the people who make up Iowa Lakes Community College.”
Clouse Gast graduated from Iowa Lakes with an Associate in Arts degree in May 2004, after which she transferred smoothly into Northwest Missouri State University’s art program.
“Not only did Iowa Lakes prepare me academically, however, but financially as well; it was the immediate — as well as long-term — value that drew me to Iowa Lakes,” Clouse Gast said. “Even the scholarships available upon transfer from ILCC to Northwest Missouri State were stronger in comparison to those offered right out of high school.”
She also received scholarships while attending Iowa Lakes, including the Presidential Scholarship, the Gene Leonard Memorial Scholarship and the Gaarde Hinsch Music Scholarship.
Her favorite activity was participating in the jazz band.
“It was a great way to get to know people outside of your degree focus with the same interest as you: to just have fun, play music, and make new friends while continuing to grow as a musician,” Clouse Gast said.
She still keeps in touch with many of her bandmates, and even married one—Will Gast, then a trumpet player studying in the aviation program.
Clouse Gast recalls two teachers especially fondly — Carol Ayres, instrumental music instructor, and Byron Lindell, art instructor.
“Byron’s approach to studio work, research and technique prepared me for future art classes when I transferred. He is an outstanding instructor in a variety of media and was always available for questions and guidance — a true mentor,” Clouse Gast said. “Just like those art classes, Carol Ayres' classes invited growth and a sense of belonging… Carol also took the time to get to know her students, and would often let me know of art-related opportunities that I would be interested in — even well after graduation.
“With Byron and Carol, each of their classes felt like personal growth — not academic requirements,” she added.
At Northwest Missouri State University, Clouse Gast earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in painting and ceramics, and then served as curator and visual arts director at Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji.
Now Clouse Gast works part-time at the Pearson Lakes Art Center as director of visual arts. She continues to paint in her basement, which has been converted into a studio space, and clients visit her home to view work. She is the mother of two — Abigail, 3, and Flynn, 7 months.
Clouse Gast’s paintings can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the United States.
“I was looking at the big picture, and Iowa Lakes helped me establish both a strong academic and financial foundation,” Clouse Gast said.