By: Dezaray Barr
Professor Amy Smelser graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) with a double major in English and writing in 1997. She said, “IWU offered me the best financial package, it was close to home and I trusted the school’s biblical foundation.”
During her time as an IWU student, Smelser worked three part-time jobs. She worked the stock room in the campus bookstore, she was the editor of the campus paper and she was a respiratory therapy tech at two nursing homes. On top of these jobs, she took 16-18 credit hours every semester, participated in University Singers, was a member of the New Student Orientation planning team and wrote for College Wesleyan Church’s drama ministry (which included FNL). She also said, “I think I might have also modeled clothes for one of the first telesales… I was busy and focused on my classes, but I found other ways to be involved on campus.”
When she arrived at the university, she thought she knew everything about the Bible, but her mentors (Dr. Mary Brown, Alan Miller, Dr. Marj Elder, Melissa Schermer, Rob Thompson and Dr. Todd Voss) at IWU taught her how to apply that knowledge and live her faith. “I made mistakes, for sure,” Smelser said “but they helped me see that mistakes don’t have to define me. God can use anyone who is willing to be used by him.”
Now, Smelser is a journalism professor at IWU in the Division of Communication & Theatre. She advises IWU’s two online campus publications: The Sojourn and GrantCOnnected.net. She shared, “I try not to be jealous of the amazing newsroom The Sojourn and GrantCOnnected.net have compared to the closet newsroom we had back in my day.”
Prior to teaching at IWU, Smelser taught journalism at Taylor University for three years.
Her time at IWU and the education it provided her changed how she saw journalism. “Without the education I received, I would not enjoy writing. I would not enjoy editing. (I mean, who would?),” Smelser said. “Helping someone else find potential and watching them grow through challenges is fun. Heartbreaking at times, but truly a joy. I learned how to do that by being mentored, accepting instruction and choosing to learn. I owe much of that to my undergrad professors.”
She said with that smile that in her career she prays a lot. She explained, “My goal is to help students see that no matter their chosen career path, they are ministers of the gospel. God uses everything. Having a master’s in Christian leadership has helped me guide students to find their potential.”
Smelser now lives on a farm with her husband and five children, 28 chickens, one dog and one cat (they think – cats show up randomly). She has a master’s degree in Christian leadership and just finished a thesis to earn her master’s in journalism. Currently, she serves on the board of Kinwell Academy, a school located in Marion that serves high school students who just need someone to believe in them.
Students at IWU love Professor Smelser! Here are just a few of things her students shared about her: “I love her mentor-ship, guidance and real-world expectations.” “She’s helped make my dreams of being a true, Christian journalist come true.” “When I feel as if I can’t be a Christian and a journalist at the same time, Prof Smelser reminds me that with God, I can do just that… and I can do it well.”
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.