Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the John Wesley Honors College

By: Kendra Housel

In the fall of 1998, Indiana Wesleyan University gained a new academic department, which this year celebrates 20 years of scholarship, growth and community: The John Wesley Honors College (JWHC).

Over the past 20 years, the JWHC has undergone many changes. What began as a program without an official building is now housed on the second floor of Goodman Hall, as well as in Epworth House near the University Court apartments.

This year’s John Wesley Honors College

The curriculum started as honors college sections of the general education courses, where all honor students could take these courses in any order.

Today, using the curriculum that was finalized in 2012, honors graduates participate in an ordered, supplemental curriculum which replaces almost all general education requirements with specialized classes that seek to form students into more aware, God-centered, people-loving individuals.

One of the founding students in the JWHC is Karen Eilers, who graduated in 2001 with a double major in political science and history.

Eilers, along with having two majors and being a member of the honors college during its genesis, also graduated in just three years instead of the traditional four.

Eilers said that she first heard about the JWHC through a mailing that invited her to apply for the JWHC after she had been accepted into IWU.

She valued the idea of smaller classes, and after taking multiple AP and honors classes as a high school student, she was eager to take on the challenge of collegiate honors. The honors college was largely why Eilers decided to attend IWU.

“Everyone was excited to be a part of beginning a new program,” Eilers said of the atmosphere in the budding JWHC.

“We weren’t sure what exactly we were getting into, but we were up for rolling with it,” she explained.

The collaborative effort between students and professors (like founding professors, Dr. Brown and Dr. Bartley, and current head, Dr. Riggs) to learn what would work and what could be accomplished brought a wonderful sense of community.

Eilers ended up serving as one of the honors college’s first student workers with a job helping to tend the office.

During each of her three years, the office of the JWHC moved locations, but according to Eilers, “Each office got a little better than the last.”

During her final year at the university, the third year of the Honors College, the program secured their own building, just north of campus, and Dr. Riggs took over for the two founding leaders.

The course also began expanding, and the actual degree plan became more solidified.

Eilers was one of the first two students to do the Honors Scholarship Project (then called the Honors Thesis), which was made manageable by communicating consistently with the honors professors and with her mentor in the history department.

Eilers looks back on her time in the JWHC as one offond memories, goofy fun and a worthy challenge. The community was invaluable to her and even helped her discover her passion for working with college students.

She went on to get her master’s degree in college student development, and she now works as a Career & College Counselor in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

Eilers also owns her own company, Motivated Careers LLC, and also works with University Funding Professionals LLC to counsel high school and college students about possible career and education paths.

She also has a book which came out in December called Find Your Fit, which Eilers said is meant to help students understand how God made them so they can make wise decisions for their lives! Here is a link to view her book on Amazon: http://a.co/d/2PAhTce.



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.

Giving Back: Psychology in Adoption

By: Noelle Beans

Jana Hunsley at her IWU graduation in 2013

The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University strives to help children who suffer from the effects of early trauma, abuse or neglect. The institute accomplishes this by researching these children’s needs to help them overcome challenges – social, behavioral and emotional.

As a sibling to seven adopted children, Jana Hunsley, a 2013 graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), has found her place pursuing a PhD at this remarkable institute.

However, her journey began at Indiana Wesleyan. Due to her family’s composition, Hunsley had always known she wanted to study psychology at a Christian university in order to become a post-adoption therapist.

IWU also offered an honors program, The John Wesley Honors College, which challenged Hunsley academically. That, in combination with the Holy Spirit’s confirmation, led her to call IWU home.

“I fell in love with IWU right away,” Hunsley said. “I tangibly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on campus, and it was like nothing I had experienced in a place previously. During that campus visit, I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me this was the place I was supposed to be.”

This proved to be true as Hunsley met friends who challenged and encouraged her during her time as a Wildcat.

She also met professors who recognized her potential.

She said, “The professors are truly one of the biggest reasons I’m doing what I am doing with my life today.”

The constant support of the faculty at IWU was unexpected. The professors assisted Hunsley in seeing all of the plans God had for her if she would be faithful in her walk with Him.

Professors Dr. Runyan and Dr. Steenbergh were two of the professors who had a lasting impact on Hunsley’s life.

Drs. Runyan and Steenergh invited Hunsley to be a part of their research team. They encouraged her to pursue a career in psychological research.

Although Hunsley became a clinician first, she attributes her courage to step into a research PhD program to their guidance during her undergraduate studies.

According to Hunsley, for the children of God there is power in psychology. Runyan has echoed this belief by stating that research is integral to a Christian university as it will shape tomorrow, influencing textbooks, popular media and the way our culture thinks and lives. Due to her conviction and Runyan’s influence, Hunsley integrates this dynamic into her work daily.

“All that I am doing with my life is because it is exactly where God has told me to go and what He has told me to do,” said Hunsley. “Through my experience of being a sibling to seven adopted children, God gave me skills and experiences to help other adoptive families. He made it very clear that He created me to bring hope and healing to families that have had experiences like my own. My career is just a manifestation of the work God puts in front of me to help adoptive families.”

Hunsley continues to work in ground-breaking research, learning how to care for foster and adopted children.

This research has spread all over the world to enable these vulnerable children to heal. Hunsley has the opportunity to further this work by researching the effectiveness of their intervention, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI).

Hunsley also researches the effects of TBRI in different cultures and settings around the world and finds ways to specifically help adoptive siblings adjust well to their families’ adoptions.



Written by Noelle Beans, a writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Noelle is a sophomore Nursing and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College from Greenville, Illinois.

Kristie Anders

By: Dezaray Barr

Kristie Anders and her family

Kristie Anders (Oke) graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2013 with a degree in elementary education through the John Wesley Honors College (JWHC). There were many reasons for Anders to attend IWU. “My dad works at Indiana Wesleyan, and my sister was attending IWU as well. It was close to home, and I loved the Christ-centered atmosphere,” she said.

Anders really enjoyed her time at IWU. “I had a lot of engaging projects in my education and honors college classes, and I was excited to pour myself into them,” she said. “I had a great group of friends who both challenged me and did ridiculous things with me. It was a season of growing, changing and learning, and IWU was an amazing place to do all of those things.”

When she arrived at IWU, Anders said that she had a pretty extensive background in regards to spirituality. “I come from a family of teachers and pastors and was blessed to grow up in the church. While I was at IWU though, I had the opportunity to pursue my faith in a different context and was challenged by the professors and other students. In the JWHC, I was asked to research and then articulate many aspects of my faith. I had to wrestle with some ideas I had never encountered before, but thankfully I had a great support structure to help me,” she said.

After graduating from IWU, Anders taught second grade in Gas City (near IWU’s Marion campus) for one year. She then moved to Hawaii where she taught second grade at a Nazarene school for three years. She said, “I’m not currently working, but I’m enjoying raising our 4-month-old son and pursing a master’s degree in Leadership Design and Technology online at San Diego State University.”

While in Hawaii, Anders met her husband, who is in the Air Force. “We are now stationed in Little Rock, Arkansas,” she said. “I’m also (very slowly) working on a children’s book, but we’ll see if anything ever comes of that!”



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.

Nursing & JWHC Alum: Mary-Madison Weaver

By: Dezaray Barr

Mary-Madison Weaver

Mary-Madison Weaver graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) and the John Wesley Honors College (JWHC) in 2016 with a nursing degree. She said, “My motivation for choosing IWU was a blend of things: the strong academic programs, the scholarship opportunities and the Honors College classes.”

Weaver’s time at IWU was busy, but fulfilling. “Pursuing a nursing degree coupled with the JWHC demanded the majority of my time,” she said, “but I built meaningful friendships along the way. Some of my favorite times were when conversations continued outside of class.”

While at IWU, she dove into the Marion community through college ministries at her local church, volunteering at the St. Martin Community Center, committee work with the Honors College Student Association and, of course, late-night runs to Meijer.

Through Weaver’s time with the JWHC at IWU, she experienced true spiritual growth. “Much of my spiritual growth yielded from exploring theological foundations and liturgical practices of the Christian Church in my Honors classes. The history – where we came from and why we do what we do – enlivened how I saw and continue to see the Church. Overall, IWU and the JWHC reminded me how exciting the Christian story is,” Weave explained.

Weaver is currently finishing a three-year critical care and trauma nurse internship at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. “After working in intensive care for approximately two years, I am now training to work in the emergency department,” she shared.

It wasn’t just the JWHC that prepared Weaver for her future – the nursing division at IWU had a tremendous impact on her future. She said, “My nursing education prepared me to pass my nursing boards on the first try. The Honors College faculty taught me how to think. The curriculum provided me with language that helped explain my world, who I am and how I fit into the greater Christian narrative. Brokenness is experienced daily in my profession. I hope that even amidst suffering I can offer comfort to my patients.”

Some fun facts about Weaver include that she loves plants. “I am involved in a community garden and harvested my first cucumbers this week! I have also dabbled in roller blading since moving to Texas. In my own corner of community in Dallas, I have been dubbed the event planner. I love finding events and activities, exploring the city and hosting people. Hosting people for dinner is simple, but it provides a formative means of building community,” she shared.



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.

Maggie Bowman: All Thanks to a Card in the Mail

By: Dezaray Barr

Maggie Bowman and her husband, Jesse

Maggie (Moul) Bowman graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) and the John Wesley Honors College in December of 2017 with a degree in Intercultural Studies.

Bowman first heard about IWU from a card in the mail. She said, “I don’t know who designs those things, but they do a superb job. I decided to check out their website and after a visit, I was sold.”

Two words that come to Bowman’s mind when she thinks about her time at IWU are healing and challenging. “When I arrived at IWU, I was struggling with a lot of emotional trauma and often felt like a failure,” she explained. “I believe that God knew IWU was exactly the place I needed to be. Through the friends I made, classes I took and one-on-one mentoring, my life grew into something beautiful I never could have imagined for myself when I started. Nevertheless, IWU challenged me in ways I did not expect. My leadership roles on campus often lead me to see some of the ‘ugly parts’ of the world of higher education, but this only pushed me to pursue God more and to call others to do the same.”

After graduation, Bowman moved back to her hometown in Michigan, got married and spent three months as a substitute teacher. She just got hired as a Clearinghouse Coordinator for a local Christian Nonprofit, Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ). “I’m excited to start a job that actually relates to my degree and will utilize all my training,” she said.

She’d known from a young age that she wanted to do ministerial work, but Bowman always figured it would be somewhere overseas. “It wasn’t until I came to IWU and I realized how much need there was in my own community that God began to turn my heart back towards my little hometown of Hart, Michigan,” she said. “When I met my husband, who is also from Hart, he sort of sealed the deal, and back I came to begin a life of ministry in rural Michigan!”

Some fun facts about Bowman include that she is the youngest of nine children, and her family has grown to include nineteen people of six different nationalities! “We literally have every hair color imaginable in my family, and it’s not hard to see why I chose my field of study!” she said. “My hometown is the Asparagus Capital of the nation, and we are also known for our cherries and apples. It’s truly one of the gems of Michigan’s west coast – rolling farmlands, beautiful beaches and little traffic.”



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.

United States Army Officer: McKinzie Horoho

By: Dezaray Barr

McKinzie Horoho

McKinzie Horoho graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2017 with a degree in Political Science and Honors Humanities through the John Wesley Honors College. Horoho came to IWU unexpectedly. “I was not accepted to my top choice school,” she shared. “IWU was my backup plan. I grew up 30 minutes from campus and didn’t want to go to college so close to my hometown; however, my parents moved the summer before my freshman year which made attending IWU more appealing. God was very clearly working and the move was perfectly timed for my parents and myself.”

During her time at IWU, some of Horoho’s greatest joys and greatest sorrows occurred. “It was a time of immense personal growth for me. Friendships were forged in a time when, as young adults, we had fewer responsibilities, yet were also faced with new challenges, both personally and professionally,” she said.

It was at IWU that her faith became a real relationship. Horoho said, “While there were plenty of 20 minute power naps taken as a freshman, I also came to take even just 5 minutes to shut my eyes, pray and continue on with my daily schedule.”

Now, Horoho is an officer in the United States Army. After being commissioned one year ago, she is now working in Europe doing administrative support for personnel. IWU’s influence on her life impacts her work each day. “I can only imagine trying to do my job without the spiritual footing I developed at IWU. I am still growing, but I have such a respect for a Christian liberal arts education. Coming from a public school, I had never experienced classroom discussion on theology and philosophy like I enjoyed for four years in the John Wesley Honors College — what a gift that was!” she said.

If Horoho could speak to current IWU students, here is what she’d say: “Your degree will not give you your purpose in life — it may help you along that path, but often God gives us bits of purpose in bite-sized chunks, like puzzle pieces.”



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.

Katherine Loughead

By: Emily Lehner

Katherine Loughead was an Indiana Wesleyan student from 2009 to 2013. She studied English and Business Administration, and also was a part of the John Wesley Honors College. She stated, “The most formative part of my college experience at Indiana Wesleyan was the friendships I developed. One of the other things I look back on most fondly of my time there was being in the honors college.”

Loughead’s years at IWU were formative for her spiritual life. IWU excels at creating a culture that encourages growth. “I would say having a strong Christian support community and having professors that care personally about you was the most important. The environment allows growth and exploration and development as a person,” Loughead said.

When asked how she specifically grew spiritually during her time as a student, Loughead mentioned her RA, Megan Hindes, and the influence Hindes had on her as a freshman. “I think I was nervous to come to college at first, but she really took us all in under in her wing. She was always encouraging and making sure we were doing well spiritually,” said Loughead.

Spiritual growth was not the only growth that Loughead gained from her time at IWU. The honors college professors allow the freedom for students to explore their interests. Although Loughead did not major in Political Science, her interest for it led her to spend time researching the area.

“It was through the honors college that I found out about an internship program in D.C., and after that is when I knew that working and living here is what I want to do. One of the professors in the honors college allowed me to dive deeper into that. He gave me opportunities to do a thesis about political science,” said Loughead.

Day to day, Loughead works as an assistant to member of Congress, Ryan Costello. She works with a set of policies that deal with tax, budget, education, transportation, etc. The job is diverse, which is why Loughead said she enjoys it. “I love that everyday is different. I am always learning everyday. I could come from any background and just jump right in, learning as I go. IWU provided me with a well-rounded education that enabled me to feel comfortable jumping right into a field that wasn’t in my chosen field of study,” she stated.

With Washington D.C. being a secular environment, Loughead believes that her firm foundation from IWU was necessary to help her excel. “We are known for being a divided city, so having that firm spiritual foundation is so important. It has to be overflowing to influence those around you.”

Loughead resides in Washington D.C. and has continued to obtain academic success from Georgetown University, receiving her Paralegal license.


Written by Emily Lehner, writer for the Alumni Center and a sophomore Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.

Amy Wagner: A Master of All Mediums

By: Heather Cox

Amy Wagner
Amy Wagner

Amy Wagner graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2012 with a degree in Fine Arts.

Originally hailing from Northwest Ohio, Wagner found IWU through researching art programs at Christian colleges. To Wagner, it seemed as though IWU had the best art program in the midwest. The art program and appealing atmosphere of campus called Wagner to make IWU her home for a few years.

Wagner had grown up loving art and math, but knew she would have to choose between the two when it came to picking a major to study. As for why she chose Fine Arts instead of a specified medium of art to study, Wagner has a love for all mediums.

“I chose Fine Arts versus majoring in one specific medium because in high school I wasn’t really sure what my favorite medium was,” Wagner said. “I just knew I liked creating all sorts of art whether it was sculptural or two dimensional.”

In addition to majoring in Fine Arts, Wagner was also a member of the John Wesley Honors College. Wagner said that growing up she had always excelled in school and had been placed in gifted programs at an early age. Joining the honors college on campus just seemed to make sense.

“If I’m not challenged, whether it’s at school or work, then I’m bored and I don’t feel satisfied,” Wagner said. “I wanted to do the honors program so I would be more challenged, and after I started the honors program I was very glad I chose it because not only was I challenged, but I also feel like I got a better grasp of our faith through the generations.”

Wagner also enjoyed developing a deeper historical view of Christianity, as well as a more in-depth look on Christianity as a whole.

A lot of Wagner’s time as a student was dedicated to schoolwork and hanging out with her art friends, but she was also a student chaplain her senior year in what was the west side of North Hall, now Beckett Hall.

Being a chaplain meant that a lot of her time was also dedicated to working in North Hall and planning hall events.

Out of Wagner’s many favorite things about IWU, the school’s emphasis on critical thinking is at the top of her list. Wagner said she appreciates that IWU always encouraged students not to base things off of people’s assumptions, but to instead turn to the Bible to see what God has to say about certain situations.

Wagner also said her art professors were another favorite aspect of IWU, specifically Professor Goodman and Professor Crossman.

Following graduation, looking for a job was intimidating for Wagner.

“Every entry level job I’m overqualified for,” Wagner said. “And every artistic kind of job I’m under-qualified for and they want me to have my Masters, or they want me to specialize in Computer Graphics or something like that.”

Amy and her husband, Derek Wagner.
Amy and her husband, Derek Wagner.

Wagner went on to care for her father until he passed away in 2013, and in April of the following year she moved to Kansas City, Missouri. There, she began working at God TV, and met her now husband, Derek Wagner.

Before the two married last July, Wagner began working for a company he had started, called Peak Distribution LLC. He continues to manage the business side of the company, while Wagner does administrative work and manages their employee.

As for the future, Wagner has big plans and dreams.

“My husband and I have talked about starting a product line and that is still under development and probably won’t be on the market until the middle of next year,” Wagner said. “I’m really looking forward to designing the packaging and creating the products listing for that because it’s more on my creative side, which is what I excel in, and it’s what I live and breathe for.”

Wagner also hopes to someday open a space for artists to come and work on projects with some needed supplies readily available for a minimal cost. In addition to this creative space, she hopes to have a gallery and offer classes. She also hopes to be able to teach technical skills to artists.

“There are a lot of Christian artists who create what the world would look at and dismiss readily because it’s not technically good,” Wagner said. “I’d love to teach the technical skills to fellow artists.”

As for artists who are already technically skilled, Wagner said she would like to teach them how to dialogue with Jesus while they create. Wagner’s use of her passion to glorify the kingdom of God is a beautiful piece of herself and makes her an IWU World Changer.


Written by Heather Cox, guest writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a Junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!

Chloe McLaughlin: Humbled by the John Wesley Honors College

By: Dezaray Barr

Chloe McLaughlin, a 2016 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, said, “I applied for the honors college because I wasn’t very humble. I stayed in the honors college because it humbled me.”

Coming into college, McLaughlin thought she was brilliant, the smartest of the bunch, and wanted everyone to know it. This was her incentive for joining the John Wesley Honors College (JWHC) at Indiana Wesleyan University, but she quickly realized she was not the smartest individual in the room. While a horrifying experience, this was how she became humbled and how she grew into the woman she is today.

“The best way to learn something,” McLaughlin said, “is to be in a room with people who are smarter than


The 2016 John Wesley Honors College Graduating Class
The 2016 John Wesley Honors College Graduating Class


McLaughlin, upon graduation this April with a double major in Christian Worship and Honors Humanities and a minor in Church Music, took the position of Modern Worship Leader & Youth Director at Trinity United Methodist Church in Elkhart, Indiana. McLaughlin knows that the honors college readied her for the career she now has. During the first few years of the JWHC curriculum, students are required to question everything they believe.

McLaughlin said, “Now that I’m in the church I have a firm grasp on what the historic church says… and because of the honors college I have a better idea of how to have a conversation of those things and what I believe.”

McLaughlin easily affirms that the honors college is the community she enjoyed the most at IWU and the place where she never questioned her worth or if she was in the right spot. This affected McLaughlin so much that during her junior and senior years of study, she was both a peer educator and the chaplain for the honors college.

“I knew that we were all learning together and there wasn’t judgement in that process,” McLaughlin said. “If we had questions or started to bring up certain topics, no one would question our commitment to our faith or our education because we knew it was a process, and we would come out stronger on the other side.”

As McLaughlin works with teenagers in her role as a youth director, she uses this skill that the JWHC taught her everyday. She has a lot of students who have a lot of questions, and she knows the honors college prepared her to understand why these students have the questions they have, as well as help the students answer their own questions by asking them new questions.

As McLaughlin reminisced and remembered her time in the John Wesley Honors College at IWU, it was obvious that her love for the program and the impact it had on her life are both very large. As McLaughlin finished, she said, “the honors college challenged us, and we became better people because of it.”


Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a Sophomore Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU Dezaray is involved in PRSSA leadership and runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.