Freelancer Peter Mercer

By: Dezaray Barr

Peter Mercer and those he graduated with from the Division of Communication & Theatre

Peter Mercer graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2017 with a degree in media communication. “I visited IWU in the fall of my senior year of high school. After about an hour on campus, it began to feel like home,” Mercer said. “I liked the people, the campus was beautiful and I liked all the professors. I walked away from that weekend knowing that IWU is where I wanted to be.”

Mercer said, “My time as a student at IWU pushed me in a lot of different ways, and a lot of my classes in the Division of Communication & Theater gave me a lot of incredible experiences and really helped me decide what I wanted to do after I graduate. For example, up until I took a class called Studio Production my sophomore year, I was dead set on sports broadcasting, but I realized that I absolutely loved the whole production process and it really opened me up to the idea of heading into the film/TV side of production.”

IWU really helped Mercer make his faith his own, and his roommates always push him to seek God.

After graduation, Mercer returned home to Pittsburgh and entered the workforce as a Freelancer, which he continues to do today. “I have done a variety of different things and have traveled throughout the east coast since,” Mercer said. “I have had my hands involved in movies, TV shows, sports, music videos, competitions and a few weddings. I do something different every week, and that is one of the things I like most about freelancing.”

If Mercer could say one thing to current IWU students, he’d encourage them to get involved in their division at IWU. “I made some really close friends in the Division of Communication and Theatre and had really incredible experiences with WIWU TV51 and 94.3 The Fortress. The division is filled with amazing people and professors, you definitely do not want to miss out on getting to know any of them,” he said.



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

Marketing Assistant Miranda Hardesty

By: Dezaray Barr

Hardesty and her friends on graduation day

Miranda Hardesty graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2017 with a degree in strategic communication from the Division of Communication & Theatre.

Hardesty attended IWU on a soccer scholarship. She said, “My sister was also attending IWU on the women’s soccer team, which helped to persuade me to accept an offer from the head coach. We were able to play side-by-side for two seasons… I originally was set to accept an offer from another school – so much so that I wasn’t even considering IWU. The week that my final decision was due, I really prayed that God would give me a clear head and that his will would be done. The next day, I woke up and went to school. I was sitting in math and decided I wanted to make a pro/ con list for college instead of work on per-calculus problems. I went home that day and shocked my parents when I told them that I was going to commit to IWU… and I never looked back.”

During her time at IWU, Hardesty stayed busy with classes, athletics, working in the nursing department and being an active member of IWU’s chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). She also said, “I met several life-long friends during my time at IWU, and even met my (soon-to-be) husband during my time as a student. One of my favorite parts about being a student at IWU was that I truly felt like I belonged and wasn’t just another number. My advisors and professors knew me by name and, more than that, they had an understanding of who I was as a person.” She said that her favorite part about being a student at IWU was McConn. She added, “I still order their coffee by the bags!”

Hardesty was fortunate enough to grow up in a faith-based family, but her time at IWU still impacted her faith. “I think when one is raised in such a strongly rooted Christian family, it’s easy for faith to become habitual rather than spiritual. You go to church because you were raised to and it is expected of you. By going away to school, I was able to make my faith my own,” she said. “I had wonderful professors who pushed and questioned their students. One professor in particular loved to play devil’s advocate whether he agreed with you or not. By challenging my faith, I was able to grow my faith. Now I have a stronger relationship than ever with the Lord and am secure in where I am in my walk with Him.”

Since graduation, Hardesty is now working as a marketing assistant with Ethos Apartments in her home town and is preparing to be relocated out of state. She explained how her faith impacts her work: “Working in the communications field, I have the ability to be the voice of a company. I get to help shape what comes to mind when people think of our company as well as highlight select activities and messages put out by others in the community. Being a part of an apartment complex, I work with a large number of residents and their families. I make it my personal goal to go to bat for those that I work with. I try to be a voice for them inside of our company meetings. I attempt to shine a light on and provide solutions for the problems that they bring to my attention.”

Some fun facts about Hardesty include that she is a proud chapstick lover, and she always has at least three with her! She’s getting married in September, she aspires to be a foster dog mom and since graduating, she has started taking Italian lessons!

If Hardesty could give advice to current IWU students, she’d say, “Network! It’s not a cop-out answer – it can change everything. There are so many people out there who genuinely want to help connect you to industry professionals… Stay flexible. Take a deep breath and remember that the sun will always rise in the morning.”



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

IWU Professor & Alum Amy Smelser

By: Dezaray Barr

Professor Smelser and her family

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 She shared, “I try not to be jealous of the amazing newsroom The Sojourn and 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.”

Professor Smelser and Division Chair, Dr. Greg Fiebig, with their students on a field trip to the Indiana State House

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

Missionary Trent Green

By: Dezaray Barr

Green had the opportunity to travel to Florida and Guatemala in May 2017 for a travel class to fulfill his science class.

Trent Green graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2017 with a degree in Human Communication Studies from the Division of Communication & Theatre. “I chose IWU after my visit day due to the evident presence of the Holy Spirit on the campus,” he said. “I also was able to room with my best friend from High School, Vinny Kurtz. We lived in Bowman Hall together; they shut the Bowman House dorm down a few years later. While in Bowman, I was able to develop a love for unity and brotherhood.”

Green said that his time at IWU was interesting. “I started freshmen year off super well and with a love of the new adventure,” he said. “My sophomore and junior years were spent living life the way I wanted to, regardless of the rules I had committed to follow. I drank excessively, did drugs and continued down a life branching away from God’s will for my life. He got my attention towards the end of my junior year, and I began to chase after Him again.”

Although it felt like Green had gotten back to where he wanted to, his senior year was rough. “I started out good!” Green said. “I was the Community Coordinator of the Lodges and absolutely loved my team. About a month in, my freshman year roommate, Vinny, passed away. I ended up drinking again and then lost my job as the Community Coordinator. I got into grief counseling, and this is where the real uphill climb began. I had an amazing counselor from IWU. She pushed me and challenged me in ways that I didn’t expect. I then got involved with Hope House and Celebrate Recovery. For my senior project with the Division of Communication & Theatre, I did an Ethnography on Hope House. IWU was the time in which I describe that I needed God in my life. I NEEDED Him. IWU is a big part of my testimony.”

Now, Green is doing missionary work in Tanzania, Africa with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). “I have been here for about a month, and God had done amazing things!” he said. His team recently left to go to Uganda for another month, and Green said, “I’m so excited to see what God has for store in Uganda. I will graduate from YWAM on June 7. After YWAM I plan to return to Ohio and continue teaching until God calls me on His next adventure.”



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

Lauren Carpenter: HVAF of Indiana

By: Dezaray Barr

Lauren Carpenter

Lauren Carpenter graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2017 with a bachelors degree in Convergent Journalism. Carpenter always wanted to attend a Christian college. Her brother, Travis, was two years older than her. “When I was a freshman in high school and he was a junior, he was looking into going to Indiana Wesleyan,” Carpenter said. “I looked on the website and loved everything I saw. The first time I stepped on campus was the end of my sophomore year of high school for a visit, and instantly I knew this was the college I was supposed to attend.”

As a journalism student in the Division of Communication & Theatre, Carpenter spent most of her time in Elder Hall. “I was super involved with The Sojourn and 94.3 The Fortress,” Carpenter shared. “I was even on-the-air my first month of college! Many hours were spent on the air, out on campus or in the community interviewing people, leading story idea meetings and writing articles.”

“Whenever I look back on my time at IWU, I always think about all of the amazing opportunities I had with the journalism department,” Carpenter said. “I feel so blessed I was able to be the Editor of The Sojourn, travel to different states with my fellow classmates to attend journalism conferences, make lasting friendships with my fellow communication majors and write some incredible stories.”

Attending IWU was the beginning of Carpenter making her faith her own. She had grown up in a Christian home, so she said this journey was easier for her. “I remember my junior year, in one of Dr. Greg Fiebig’s classes, we were talking about beliefs. I remember after hearing people speak, that the reasons I had my certain beliefs were because of what I learned growing up. I realized they weren’t my own, so I spent time figuring out what exactly I believed in. IWU definitely taught me to think more about my faith and take it seriously,” she shared.

Carpenter and her TV News class in the Division of Communication & Theatre

After graduating in April of 2017, Carpenter spent five months as a reporter for a newspaper in  Martinsville, Indiana. Last summer, she realized that she wasn’t loving what she was doing. “I started a social media page for my reporting and thought about how much I loved doing that and wished I could more. Also, I wanted to feel like I was making a difference, and I didn’t feel that way with this job. About one week later, I went to dinner with my parents’ small group and I met Brian Copes, who was in my parent’s small group. He found out more about me and asked if I was looking for a job, and proceeded to hand me his business card,” Carpenter explained.

Copes is the President and CEO of HVAF, an organization that assists homeless at-risk veterans and their families, and they were looking to hire someone who would handle their social media and PR. “I thought it sounded like the perfect job for me,” Carpenter said with enthusiasm. “The next month, I had my interview and started in October!”

As the Advancement Coordinator for HVAF, Carpenter runs all of HVAF’s social media accounts, sends out press releases, make contacts with local media, attends networking events, creates a monthly newsletter, assists with fundraising and more. She said, “I make sure people know HVAF’s story and what all we are doing to serve our veterans.”



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

Rob Pelance: Make the Most of IWU’s Opportunities

By: Dezaray Barr

Rob Pelance, photo obtained from Facebook

Rob Pelance graduated from IWU in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in technical theatre and a minor in business administration. Pelance currently serves as a sales engineer at Sweet Water Sound in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he sells musical equipment. He also owns a recording studio, Duir Tree Studios, where he works part time. Pelance is currently in the process of developing a business, Mix Matcher, where independent musicians can contact recorders within their specific budgets.

After graduating, Pelance was able to land a job managing the East Coast Rental Division of Vincent Lighting Systems. “People talk about how it is hard to get prestigious jobs unless you go to prestigious, large universities,” Pelance said. “But it’s really not, as long as you take advantage of the opportunities your university provides you with.”

Because IWU created an atmosphere with many experiences and opportunities available, and because he took advantage of those opportunities while a student, Pelance has been able to work on major motion pictures, television show networks and large band national tours since graduating from IWU.

“One of the greatest things about being in the theatre department at IWU is that it’s so small I can do a lot of things. I worked on 19 productions at IWU,” Pelance said. “After graduating I had a lot of first hand experience that impressed employers…. Other universities keep things segmented, but IWU doesn’t do that. They allow you to expand from your own little niche.”

From his own experience, Pelance encourages students to take advantage of opportunities and get as much experience outside their discipline as possible. “Learn the basics of as many connected disciples as you can,” he said.

He encourages students to not learn things in left field, but learn about skills and professions close to their own. When working with people who are directly doing the things you know a little bit about, you can have a better understanding of what they are doing and can work better with them.

Pelance encourages students to get as much experience as they can right now, while at IWU, “Do as much in your field, while you’re studying, as you physically can.” Because Pelance was so involved, he witnessed the seeds grow after his graduation, and he desires the same for current IWU students.

Pelance says that Greg Fiebig was hands down his favorite professor. “He was not just a professor, but like a father to me in college,” Pelance said.

When Pelance was a freshman, Fiebig made a point to get to know him personally and invited him to McConn. While at McConn, Fiebig discovered that Pelance had lost his father at a young age, and immediately became a father-figure, mentor and close friend of Pelance. Fiebig even had the opportunity to marry Pelance and his wife, Alyse Kesler, now Pelance, in November of 2010.

The theatre department has actually called Pelance back to guest design some lightening for some sets of production.


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