By: Dezaray Barr
David Gafford graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2000 with a degree in church music and a degree in vocal performance. During his high school experience, Gafford said that he rarely looked into other colleges outside of IWU. “My mother worked at IWU, and even though we could have looked into the exchange program, we just knew IWU was going to be the college for me,” Gafford said.
Like other alum, Gafford said that his time at IWU was busy. He explained, “I traveled for the university in Masters Praise and the Chorale, so I was pretty much gone every weekend of my college career. I also lived on campus and attended classes for three majors. Apparently I was a bit ambitious.”
He also said, “In retrospect, my time at IWU was more about character development than anything. It wasn’t what I learned, but how I learned that has had the largest impact. I learned to be a lifetime learner during my time at IWU. It wasn’t just learning inside the classroom, it was taking all of the experiences of life and crafting all of life into a learning experience. That’s one of the biggest takeaways that I have from my time at IWU, in that I learned how to become intentionally curious. Instead of power chords and interactive response based worship architecture, today you’ll find me helping business owners with latent semantic indexing on Google or content marketing strategies to grow their business. What I learned at IWU was how to learn and apply that learning to life.”
During his time at IWU, most of Gafford’s spiritual transformation happened through chapels and the churches he was able to visit with the music groups he was in. “I was privileged to be able to hear some of the best speakers during this time,” Gafford said. “Chapels were wonderful as well, with a plethora of talent constantly joining us to invest into our spiritual lives.”
After graduating from IWU, Gafford spent 15 years in the local church, serving as a worship architect in the large churches across the country, spending a majority of his time working in communications and coaching team members.
Today, Gafford owns a digital marketing agency, Fusion Creative. He said, “We help businesses grow their leads and sales by helping them create a website that ranks on Google and converts those visitors into leads they can follow up with.”
He began Fusion in 2014 with his wife, Melissa (Liddick, class of 2000). Their goal from the beginning has been to see small businesses in the community flourish. Gafford said, “As an agency owner, we get to determine our company culture, and our spiritual lives play a big part in that. We’re an agency based on Christian values and that plays out into every job we take and how we interact with each client. We’re happy to work with almost anyone, but our values are such that we simply won’t take the job unless we know that we can deliver incredible value to the client.”
Although school is out for the summer, Gafford wants to say this to IWU students, ” Understanding yourself is paramount to your future success. I love that IWU now does Strengths Finder assessments and Myers Briggs type indicators through the career development office. I wish they would have had that option while I was at IWU. Understanding what motivates you and how you are wired can help you immensely as you make plans for the future. Lean into your areas of strength and leverage how you are energized as an individual. If you can find the intersection of your strengths, interests and personality make up, you’ll not only love what you do, but you’ll be energized by it.”
Gafford and his wife Melissa said that they are both proud IWU alumni who love working with IWU students and alum, as both interns and staff members. They have two children, Addison (8) and Ethan (5).
Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a senior 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.