Alumni Spotlight: John Kalis ’04

What is life really like after Mount Mercy? Get a behind-the-scenes look at how MMU alumni shine with our Instagram Alumni Takeover!

John Kalis ’04
BS Computer Science/Computer Informatics/Philosophy

John Kalis

I graduated from Mount Mercy in 2004 with a triple major in computer science, computer information systems, and philosophy, and a minor in political science.

I’m currently active duty Air Force, an attorney in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps.


John Kalis

I was born and raised in Minnesota, grew up on the family farm, and was proud to come to Cedar Rapids for college. Mount Mercy and Cedar Rapids were just the right fit, and I had the chance to work with amazing people.

Aside from academics, I was SGA president, in theater, and on the cross country and track teams. I received the Catherine McAuley Award when I graduated from Mount Mercy, and went on to pursue my first master’s degree at Harvard University.

John Kalis

While I was at Harvard, I kept on running, literally. Thanks to Mount Mercy athletics, I learned how to run. In the years since, I’ve ran and completed twenty-six full marathons.

People ask me why I do it, and I tell them that it’s about holistic wellness. That’s been so important to success I’ve had through the years, and that sort of wellness is something I learned at Mount Mercy.



John Kalis

A few years later, I was in law school at Ohio State, and had the chance to study abroad at Oxford University. Studying at a place as old as Oxford (founded 1249), really hit home the scope of history, and the importance of contributing to the world around me.

While I was in England, I had a chance to catch up with Michaela Dunn. I graduated from Mount Mercy with Michaela, and she went on to get her master’s in social work and then to move to London to serve as a social worker. She’s been there ever since, helping people and doing great work.

John Kalis

And then came the Air Force. I joined the military to practice law in a meaningful way and to serve the needs of society. Since coming on active duty in 2012, I’ve worked in places as varied as North Dakota and Afghanistan. I’ve been a criminal prosecutor, worked on international law agreements between the U.S. and partner nations, practiced contract law, and been the legal advisor for important cyberspace operations systems.

Part of the adventure is that I don’t know what will come next, but whatever comes my way, I know that my time at Mount Mercy equipped me to face the next chapter with confidence.

Follow us to learn more about our alumni!

Share on...

Mount Mercy on...