Tag : iwugrad

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The Importance of Community : Joe Winger

By: Kendra Housel

Joe Winger and his family at his graduation.

Joe Winger learned several life-changing lessons during his college years at Indiana Wesleyan University that cannot be discovered in textbooks or class lectures.

Winger, who graduated in 2010 with a B.S. degree in psychology, knew as a high school student in Colorado that he wanted to attend a Christ-centered university. After a Google search and a campus visit, he knew IWU was where he belonged.

The years he spent at IWU confirmed his choice, but in a way that he neither expected nor desired. The summer before Winger returned to campus for his senior year, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that primarily affects the lymph nodes.

Winger remained in Colorado to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments during the first semester of his senior year, but he was able to complete his degree thanks to independent study.

“Dr. Tim Steenbergh and other faculty members become advocates for me,” he said. “The opportunity to work on my studies helped me to stay focused and to have a positive attitude during my treatments.” Steenbergh, a Professor of Psychology, has taught at IWU since 2003.

 Winger returned to campus for his final semester in the spring of 2010, but he struggled with taking a full load of classes and missed the Colorado community that had surrounded him.

Winger would quickly learn how important community and meaning were in successfully battling cancer.

“The IWU community made my transition back to campus as smooth as possible,” he said. “So many people at IWU did everything possible to support me in person, just as they had done when I was in Colorado.”

Through his diagnosis and treatment, Winger said God taught him that life has meaning regardless of your circumstances. He learned the importance of staying connected to people and to Christ at all times.

Joe Winger and his wife, Bekah.

“My eyes were opened to the suffering of cancer patients,” Winger said.

During his treatments, Winger read Man’s Search for Meaning, a book by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. “The book focuses on the importance of maintaining meaning in the midst of suffering,” Winger said.

Fast forward to 2017 when Winger finished his Ph.D. He recently completed his first year as a postdoctoral associate at Duke University Medical Center.

Through a fellowship from the American Cancer Society, Winger’s work focuses on Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy (MCP) with an emphasis on helping patients with advanced cancer

and pain.

The study focuses on pain coping skills, relaxation techniques and identifying ways to stay engaged in a meaningful life. He is testing MCP with 50 cancer patients at Duke.

“God’s faithfulness put me in the field where I belong,” he said.

What advice does Winger have for today’s IWU students?

“Value being in a Christian community,” he said. “When I was at IWU, it never fully sunk in for me just how unique a time it was in terms of community. Especially for students who will go into secular environments, they will never get the same sense of community that seeks to glorify Christ in their work that they have now on campus.”


Written by Kendra Housel, writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Kendra is a junior Education and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. Kendra is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.

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Celebrating the Small Victories – Jill Carder’s Story

By: Katherine Arch


The Education Division at Indiana Wesleyan University is one of the largest academic divisions on campus. To honor the students and graduates of this department, we will be telling the stories of several alumni and how they are using their God-given gifts to teach others. Special thanks goes to the alumni that participated in interviews, the faculty of the Education Division, and to the Division Chair, Dr. Jim Elsberry.

IMG_0211Jill Carder (’15, Elementary Education) knows the value of celebrating the little things in life. She celebrates small victories and encourages academic growth at many different levels. She helps little hands learn to hold a pencil, and write their name. She realizes the value of seeing small victories as significant. She discovers potential.

This is her calling; she is a teacher.

From early on, Carder realized she wanted to teach. Her experiences working with children through tutoring, babysitting and volunteering at church ministries allowed her to discover her passion for working with children. When she began to study at Indiana Wesleyan University in the fall of 2011, her parents encouraged her to explore teaching as a potential area of focus.

“Teaching was always an area of interest for me, when I entered one of Dr. Elsberry’s classes I realized that I had made the right decision,” she said.

Carder works as a Kindergarten teacher at Allen Elementary school. Her time at Indiana Wesleyan University equipped her with the professional tools that she needed to become an effective teacher. Carder mentioned that these teachers gave her valuable tools, but more importantly they taught her to think for herself and understand her personal values. One IWU professor that specifically encouraged her to teach was Dr. McCracken.

“Dr. McCraken helped me understand the importance of knowing what I thought and why I believed what I did,” Carder explained. Reflecting on her time at IWU, she mentioned that she loved being part of the School of Teacher Education because of the support and experience of faculty and professors.

“They have all been in the classroom before,” said Carder, “So they all understood the struggles and frustrations that I dealt with.” Throughout her time at IWU, Jill grew in her understanding of education. She stated that her practicum and observation experiences helped her gain confidence and momentum as a teacher. She greatly enjoyed her experiences getting into the classroom, which only further confirmed her calling to be a teacher. She met many children, each with different struggles and heartaches. Carder said, “In each placement I was pushed and stretched beyond my abilities; with each new experience I became a better teacher.”

As Jill launched toward graduation, her thoughts turned toward future employment. Preparing well in advance, she submitted her résumé to dozens of schools. For each interview, she did everything right; she ironed her clothes, rehearsed several interview questions and showed up ten minutes early to each interview. Despite how well the principles liked her and how well the interviews went, Carder faced a series of rejections.

Having just graduated, Carder began to question her calling to teach. It was already mid-July and she had no job prospects. Just as she was starting to become discouraged, the principal of Allen Elementary school phoned and asked her to interview to be the new kindergarten teacher.

“I was amazed,” Carder recalls, “I hadn’t even applied for the job.” Asked to come back to Marion for the interview, Carder got in her car and started the five-hour drive from her parents’ home in Ohio. She walked into the school punctual, positive, and prepared. The interview went well; Carder, however, refused to get excited prematurely.

Two days later the principal called, offering Carder the job. She had nowhere to live, little money and few connections. Her boss wanted her to start in less than a month. She accepted.

“A week and a half later, I found myself in Indiana living in my parent’s camper while waiting for my new apartment to be ready,” Carder recalls of this rapid relocation. “I spent most days at school, trying desperately to prepare my classroom for seventeen energetic five-year-olds. Through God’s perfect plan and my parent’s unfailing generosity, I would be moved into my new apartment just three days before students would walk into my classroom.”

Carder admits she would not have picked kindergarten as her first class to teach, but she loves it.

“It is definitely the place for me,” she explained. Although her students come from situations that are less than ideal, Carder mentioned that she loves helping her students unleash their potential.

Coming to her class, only three of Carder’s students had any preschool experience. Few could write their name or knew the alphabet. Reflecting on the past few months, Miss Carder is thrilled to see the individual progress of each student.

“They went from not knowing how to hold a pencil to reading,” Carder gushed. “It is just the coolest thing to see their growth.” Carder explained that she has learned to celebrate the little victories with her students. Articulating her vision of teaching, Carder stated, “Each day we improve, we make better choices, and we become smarter. I celebrate with every student for each small victory. Over time, the small victories become huge.”


Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form. Katherine also operates a website called “Join the Ranch” at jointheranch.weebly.com. It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.

Miracle Baby: Grant County’s First Birth in the New Year

By: Katherine Arch

On January 1st, 2016 IWU alumni Nathan (’05, Social/Behavioral Sciences, Business Administration) and Kim (’04, Elementary Education) Cromer welcomed Caleb Jonathan Cromer into the world. Caleb was Grant County’s first birth of the year, born at Marion General Hospital. Many people herald the birth of a child with comments about the miraculous nature of new life, Grant County’s first baby of the new year, however, cannot be described as anything short of a miracle.

Chronicle-Tribune source

When the two married ten years ago, doctors told Kim and Nathan that they would never have children. Coming from a family of twelve children, Kim especially was very upset by this news.

“We were told it would be a miracle to have a baby,” Kim recalls. Upon hearing this news, the couple felt called by God not to pursue fertility treatments. Instead, they chose to wait patiently and hope that God would grant them their desire to have children.

“There’s a verse in Psalm 113 that says “He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother” (Psalm 113:9 a) I clung to that verse at that time,” Kim recalled. “I felt as though God gave me that verse as a promise. I needed to wait.”

During this period of waiting, Kim recalls that she was working at McCullough Junior high as a teacher. Many of McCullough’s students are from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, every day Kim faced the struggles of poverty. Her heart was heavy with the struggles these students faced.

“I wanted to help children who were hurting,” Kim remembers. “So Nathan and I decided that we wanted to pursue doing foster care and in-home childcare.” After making this decision, Kim stepped down from her position at McCullough and the couple began the journey of foster care.

“We had groups of siblings several times; sometimes we just had individual kids,” stated Kim. “At one point we had a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a one-year-old in our house at the same time!” About two years ago, the Cromers took in a young boy named Isaiah; this child they were able to adopt. Kim commented on the significant difference between adopting and doing foster care. She mentioned how difficult it is to give children back when their time as foster parents ends.

Looking back on the series of kids that came and left their home, Kim recalls that the process of doing foster care was “emotionally and physically exhausting.” The Cromers, however, sensed strongly that this was something to which God had called them. So they continued volunteering to take children through the foster care system. At the same time, they finalized adoption for Isaiah. After successfully adopting him, the Cromers found out they were pregnant.

“We were thrilled,” Kim stated. “We felt as though God had promised us this child, and now we were being given him.” The pregnancy was without complication, and on January 1st, the couple welcomed Caleb to their family.

“His name has special meaning,” explained Kim of her son. “Caleb means “faithful”, and Jonathan means “gift from God.” We really felt that both of those names were fitting.”

Five days before Caleb’s birth, their last foster care child left their home. The family plans to take a year off of foster care to adjust to their new family dynamics and resume care next year.

“We have no promise that we’ll have a child again,” Kim emphasized, “and his birth doesn’t change our desire to do foster care. This is something we still feel called to do. Caleb was simply our miracle baby.”

The Indiana Wesleyan Alumni family is excited to celebrate the birth of Caleb Jonathan with the Cromers!


Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form. Katherine also operates a website called “Join the Ranch” at jointheranch.weebly.com. It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.

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Empowered with Purpose – Hazel Owens’s story (’11/’13)

hazel owensAcross social media, Pandora advertisements, and large-city billboards, Hazel Owens, Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni, promotes that Indiana Wesleyan University empowered her to live her purpose. Working as a volunteer coordinator for a non-for-profit, she reflects that her education was a training ground that prepared her to “live her purpose, empowering women through public speaking, broadcasting, and online communication.” Owens, who graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Management in 2011 and her Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management in 2013, never dreamt of herself as a spokesperson for IWU prior to summer of 2013. Two years ago in June, Ms. Owens was working at the Black Expo, a community event that celebrates African American identity in Indianapolis. While there, she connected with representatives from IWU. For the previous several years, Ms. Owens had been attending Indiana Wesleyan University and was only a month away from graduation. Hearing her experience with the school, the IWU worker at the booth suggested that she connect with workers from the alumni association and share her story. Without much preparation, Hazel recorded a brief video highlighting her personal growth through her time at IWU. This commercial, which aired August of 2014, soon became synonymous with IWU promotion for the school. Despite its brevity, this movie powerfully presents the growth Ms. Owens underwent as a student and highlights how her experience at Indiana Wesleyan empowered her to live with purpose.

Prior to her education at Indiana Wesleyan University, Ms. Owens attended Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, but did not complete her degree. Around the same time, one of her close friends was attending Indiana Wesleyan through the Adult Studies program. She strongly suggested that Owens pursue finishing her schooling at IWU; her voice of encouragement soon coupled with her boss. As Owens was vacillating over the feasibility of working and finishing her degree, she received a new supervisor at her workplace, a woman who was completing her bachelor’s degree through Indiana Wesleyan’s Adult studies program. Encouraged to pursue this opportunity, Owens began to explore the possibility of finishing her schooling while retaining her position at work. Indiana Wesleyan seemed like the perfect mixture of her goals.

Beginning her studies, Owens pleasantly discovered how seamlessly professors and classes at Indiana Wesleyan integrated faith and education. At first, Owens was incredulous as to how effectively faculty would incorporate these components. When she started classes at the satellite school in Indianapolis, Owens was uncomfortable contributing to her professor’s conversations about faith and God. These experiences highlighted her need for spiritual growth, which she began pursuing through her local church. While completing her undergraduate degree, Owens was amazed by the authenticity with which her teachers lived their lives. As she interacted with her professors, she realized that they lived the way in which they taught, demonstrating what Owens called “a real-world scenario” of life outside the classroom.

Following graduation, Owens decided to pursue her master’s degree in Human Resources Management through IWU; at the time she was volunteering for a non-for-profit in Indianapolis and working for a corporation within the student loans industry. Although she was progressing professionally, Owens was unhappy in her career, and thus she was prompted to apply to the business where she was volunteering. Looking back at her time at Indiana Wesleyan, Ms. Owens says she can see how God was preparing her for her current job. While she was looking for a school that could fit her work schedule, instead she found a place that challenged her to grow and develop as a servant leader. Now Ms. Owens manages the volunteer department of a large non-for-profit in Indianapolis. Working at this job has been unlike any position she previously held; Owens said she loves working towards a goal that is bigger than herself and her personal needs. Through this non-for-profit, Owens works to satisfy physical needs and realize personal goals of women in the Indianapolis area. This corporation focuses on empowering women to discover their worth as people and applying this knowledge to their vocation. Owens stated that she loves interacting with these women and hearing their stories.

Although Hazel Owens was a non-traditional student, her journey clearly demonstrates how God used Indiana Wesleyan to help prepare her to live her purpose. Following her involvement in the Adult Studies commercial, Owens saw her face on a billboard in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. Upon seeing her face in such a prominent location, Owens admits that the image brought her to tears. “Gary was my humble beginning” Owens stated. Life in Gary was not easy for Ms. Owens, but she expressed her hope that her involvement in this campaign sends the message that “you do not have to become what your environment dictates you will become.” Prior to her enrollment at Indiana Wesleyan University, Ms. Owens was a successful businesswoman working her way up the cooperate hierarchy, thoroughly miserable. Through her journey, she states as though God prepared her to live her purpose so that she could empower those around her to find their calling as well.

Hazel will be sharing more of her story as an inspiring and informative luncheon on June 16th. The meeting will include lunch meal service.  This event will be at the IWU Indy North Education and Conference Center, 3777 Priority Way, Indianapolis, IN – LOCATION. For more information contact Alumni Relations.

Reserve your space today – $10 per person (includes lunch)


Story written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Junior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their divine potential in written form.

IWU Graduation


IWU graduation draws crowds

By Matt Troutman mtroutman@chronicle-tribune.com | Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 4:00 am

Snow could not stop winter graduation ceremonies at Indiana Wesleyan University on Saturday.

The university conducted two ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students to receive their degrees. In total, around 1,760 students received their degrees, but not all could attend the ceremonies.

Alan Miller, director of university relations, said most of the graduates were in one of the university’s 16 programs across Indiana and the Midwest.

“Most of the students who are graduating are in our adult education programs,” he said.

Given the distances… (read more)