By: Kendra Housel
Michelle Curiel is a recent graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, graduating in the Spring of 2017 with a degree in Church Music. She came to IWU during her junior year, as a transfer student, after visiting some of her friends on campus.
Curiel said that she “fell in love with the community and hospitality of the student and professors.” She was especially encouraged by the fact that she knew professors who were praying for her even before she committed to coming to IWU. Curial said that her time as a student at IWU felt very fast, since she transferred later in her collegiate years. Regardless of the fact that she only got to spend two years on campus, she says those two years were fantastic.
A large part of what made her time at IWU so fruitful was the relationships she had with her professors. She was constantly given opportunities to use her gifts of music and leadership. Those many opportunities and the confidence her professors placed in her gave her the space to thrive in new ways.
She also grew in her faith while she was at IWU. Her friends were a large part of her spiritual growth, as they walked along side her in life and encouraged her. Her classes were also a large part of her growth spiritually. She said, “It was extremely encouraging to be in classes with professors that [wanted] to uplift you and develop you to be a better person.” She went so far as to say that sometimes she would go to class on a given day and be one person, but leave the class so changed she felt like a new person.
Indiana Wesleyan as a whole has a culture that Curiel feels pushed her and her peers to have conversations with each other and with professors about things that truly matter, with the goal of growing spiritually. Many of those conversations that produced growth began in classes; she found she had a passion for deep conversation.
Her time at IWU helped Curiel develop and discover several other passions as well. One such passion is her love for serving the oppressed. She found a new desire to stand up for social justice, not only in America, but in the world as a whole. She said that she “grew to understand more of the bigger picture of what it means to follow Christ full-heartedly by listening and loving other people.”
Upon graduating, Curiel went to Montana for the entire summer to serve at the Crow, North Cheyenne and Blackfeet Native American reservations. Through a missions organization called Youthworks, Curiel lead a team at each site. She feels so privileged to have had the opportunity to serve and get to know the Native Americans at the reservations. This past summer was her third summer working with this organization, and she was so thankful to go back and continue to build friendships, as well as growing new relationships with members of those communities.
In August, Curiel returned home to Chicago and spent some time job searching and readjusting to life. She secured a job working for a before and after-school program with young children in her community. She directs two school sites, as well as serves as a teacher and tutor; her primary role is to help her students solidify the knowledge they are receiving at school through engaging them in memorable activities and games. She says that she has such “a passion for working with children and is so happy to have fun and laugh with them everyday.”
Curiel said that her time at IWU helped prepare her for where she is now by illuminating the passions she already had within her. Though she is not currently working in the field she got her degree in, she gets to work with kids and uses the compassion she grew in at school to help those children grow as people. She feels IWU did a great job helping her learn how to help people develop, and also helped her understand that it matters the most to find purpose and happiness in a vocation, not just a paycheck.
When asked what advice she had for current students, Curiel said that it is important that students “take a deep breath and understand that everything won’t be set out in a nice organized plan when you graduate.” She also wants to stress the importance of diving into a deeper understanding of your finances while still at school, where you have free resources to help learn to navigate things like loans. Having a plan for how to successfully pay off loans when you graduate will be a very freeing thing if you prioritize having those kinds of conversations with financial aid. She also encourages students to do something that makes them happy: traveling the world, working right after graduation, working in the field your degree is in, or doing something completely new. Everyone should be willing to take a leap of faith and follow God when they feel Him calling them in a particular direction.
Check out this video to learn more about Curiel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiOqbes4GF8&feature=youtu.be!
Written by Kendra Housel, a writer for the Alumni Center. Kendra is a sophomore 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. She is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.