By: Dezaray Barr
Larry Wirtz graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2012 with a master’s degree in Ministry and Leadership. He graduated from Wesley Seminary in 2015, and he’s currently entering the dissertation phase of his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership at IWU.
After graduating high school, Wirtz took a few classes from Purdue University, but he began performing full-time magic and comedy. “As scripture reminds us ‘the heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, the ears of the wise seek it out’ (Proverbs 18:15 – NIV),” Wirtz shared. “Lifelong learning is more than a good idea, as for me, it has been a way of life. In my early twenties, I had the privilege of attending the historic Chavez College of Magic. Upon graduation, I was extended an invitation into their advanced ‘post-graduate’ course of study.”
Throughout his studies at Chavez, Wirtz still maintained a full performing calendar, but there was always a desire in him to finish a traditional college degree. “While leaning on the excuse of not having the time, I prayed to God that if it is in His plan, I would obey,” Wirtz said. “That being said, a quarter of a century later, God (in His remarkable way) removed all obstacles and objections and created the opportunity for me to pursue a higher education. As for location – I was already familiar with Indiana Wesleyan University as I had performed and spoke multiple times at Phillippe Performing Arts Center for various conferences that hosted their event on IWU’s campus. The culture and spiritual belief structure of IWU became familiar, encouraging and inviting. I am not saying going back to school as a non-traditional adult learner was void of challenges or hard work, but He has created the opportunity for me to receive additional training for His purpose.”
As a non-traditional adult student at IWU, Wirtz experience began completely online. “Building cohort relationship via the internet was a new experience. The Master’s program began on campus where personal introductions between cohort members, professors and support staff were made. This made the whole experience more personable. The Ph.D. program involves on campus experience along with on-line sessions. This has been the most personable experience as relationship have been built between cohort members as well as IWU staff as they have become a secondary family and support network,” he explained.
Now (and since the 1980’s), Wirtz works full-time as an inspiration speaker, comedian and illusionist. He explained, “I have a multi-faceted, non-traditional career that allows me to live an unplugged life. I work as an educational specialist who has presented curriculum based convocations in over 10,000 elementary, middle and high schools across the United States and Canada. As each experience reflects a various season in my life, God has taken my secular performing magic and comedy as well as my speaking experience and works continuously to transform it for His purpose. In this chapter of my life, I have found a home working with churches and faith-based organizations. Whether it is speaking, preaching or entertaining to consulting (coaching) from a Christian perspective on leadership issues and church growth, it is humbling that God is using me to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in a needy world.”
If Wirtz could share some wisdom with current IWU students, he’d tell them to stay in the boat. “The idea of taking a break may seem inviting, but creates greater challenges along the way towards the completion of your degree. Regardless of external events or academic difficulties, do your best to push through to the best of your ability, ask for help and keep Christ at the center of your studies while working towards completion of your degree,” he said. “Second, if given the option of receiving your diploma via mail or walking across the stage at graduation, I encourage you to walk. It is the culminating experience of finality of your hard work. Also, walking serves as a positive experience to those that served as your support system in your academic adventure. Your accomplishment is as meaningful to them as it is to you.”
Wirtz and his wife, Linda, have three children. Andrew is 27 and graduated from Purdue University. He is newly married and living in Alabama. Lawrence is in the tenth grade, and David is in eighth grade.
Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.