Pastor of the Week: Steve DeNeff

By: Dezaray Barr

Pastor Steve DeNeff

Rev. Steve DeNeff graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) with an undergraduate degree in 1981 and with his M.Div. in 1996. He received an honorary Ph.D. from IWU in 2003.

“The years I attended IWU were primarily in response to my call to ministry a year earlier,” DeNeff shared. “I navigated through those four years with a set of core beliefs I’d grown up with and with the sheer will to be obedient to God’s call. I garnered a few lifetime friends and intermittently focused on developing my theology of God and the church.”

However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. DeNeff explained, “During my senior year, I found myself arguing with God and  my dad (who was in his 25th year of ministry), wielding a plethora of reasons that this was a dumb idea AND determined to win the debate. Ready to walk away and pursue another career, I clearly remember sitting in the living room of my parents’ home that Saturday night, following the heated discussion with my dad, alone and accompanied only by my surety I was right. As I sat there stewing, thinking, plotting and praying, at about 2am, I heard the creaking of the bed in the room above me. It was my parents, who had been on their knees praying for me, for the last two hours. I was finished! I remember telling God I could not do this. But if he called me, I would go…..reluctantly. Over the years, I continue to be a reluctant leader, but find this the best place to be; called out of my weakness; where God continues to show up and do things that are remarkably beyond my abilities and gifts.”

Pastor DeNeff is the Lead Pastor at College Wesleyan Church (CWC), which is strategically located between IWU and the Marion community, “giving us the unique advantage (and call/mission) to serve both,” DeNeff said. “When we built the church at its current location, we purposely placed the cross on top of the building, facing north and south as opposed to the more traditional east and west. This is symbolic of our intent to not only serve both campus and community, but to be a bridge that opens doors for shared community, relationship and spiritual formation. At College Church, we are privileged to have a myriad of resources in our people. Through them, we are able to resource the greater Church. While there are churches who are really good at incorporating current trends into their DNA and others who hold fast to long-standing traditions, CWC finds itself standing in the strength of both heritage and a mission that is timeless in serving an ever-changing culture.”

DeNeff is an avid reader, and he enjoys jogging. He likes time away at his cottage in Holland, Michigan, a great donut, bold coffee and watching his kids grow up into the life God has placed them.

If DeNeff could give IWU students words of wisdom, he’d say, “Develop early on, daily-time in the Word, with the intentionality to know Him more and a desire to become familiar with His voice.

Students at IWU who are regular attenders of CWC say, “Pastor Steve brings the truth (always with some humor and/or a sports reference) each week. He is the best encourager, but calls us out when we’re wrong. As he leads CWC, he leads me too in my walk with Christ during this important time in my life.”




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

Pastor of the Week: Tony Bye

By: Dezaray Barr

Tony Bye

Tony Bye is the Lead Pastor at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry. He graduated from Wesley Seminary in 2013 with his M. Div.

During his time at IWU, Bye was influenced by many professors. “Dr. Bud Bence and Dr. David Smith, the David Smith that passed away several years ago, were two professors that influenced my life extensively,” he shared. “Dr. Bence made church history come alive in a way that made it seem relevant to today. Dr. Smith opened my eyes to see new theological thoughts that I had never even imagined.”

Bye loved spending time in the Student Center and Wildcat. He’d like to note, “Mike Brown made an awesome bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich!”

There have been many times in which Bye felt a moment of recognition that he was to be a pastor, “but seeing God take my life experiences, both good and bad, and use them to bring hope into the lives of others has been a huge confirmation of my calling,” he said.

Brookhaven Wesleyan Church is a wonderful church right down the road from IWU that has a long history. Bye said, “It’s also a church that is working very hard to be intentional about reaching people in our community and around the world that do not yet know Jesus Christ.”

Bye’s life verse is Philippians 3:8, which reads, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”

Some fun facts about Bye include that he loves the outdoors, and he finds himself becoming energized when in nature. Bye encourages IWU students to never stop learning. “Since the world is always changing, it is essential that we continually learn and adapt as people,” he said.



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

IWU Students Participate in Grant County Rescue Mission Walk-A-Mile

By: Noelle Beans

On February 17th, Grant County Rescue Mission (GCRM) held their annual Walk-A-Mile. As the name states, participants walk a mile for this fundraising event. Funds are raised by generous donations from organizations and companies. These groups will often sponsor a team of walkers for $500. This year, Indiana Wesleyan students themselves donated over $300.

Over 70 IWU students walked in the event. IWU professor and president of the GCRM board, Jim Lo, disclosed that they secretly hope for it to be cold on the day of the walk. This may sound like an odd hope, but it is wished because it gives walkers the chance to understand and empathize with the homeless of Grant County who bear this every day. Along with the IWU students who joined the walk, 670 people in total participated in the event. This number is more walkers than past years.

Along with the Walk-A-Mile, IWU students are involved in a variety of missions in Marion and Grant County. Student chaplains go to Mission Mart. Dakota Davisson, an IWU student and resident chaplain of Reed Hall, shared about her experience with GCRM: “My experience volunteering at GCRM was eye opening, because I was able to truly see the needs of our community. One specific need being a warm cooked meal. Often times I take for granted my meal plan at school, but yet there are community members who would do anything for a single meal even if that means walking a mile. Working in the kitchen at GCRM allowed me to truly serve my brothers and sisters in Christ. GCRM does a great job at not only giving the community members a warm meal but they equip men and women to be able to get back on their feet. As I served meals I realized that I wanted to have the attitudes of those who had nothing. Because in the end it’s not the stuff in our lives that will bring us joy but rather those in our lives.” Jim Lo emphasized that he is so impressed by the actual involvement of IWU students and the ownership of the community they are in.



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

Leading the Marion Community

By: Dezaray Barr

Riley Tangeman

Riley Tangeman graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2017 with a degree in social work and a minor in intercultural studies. After seeing how much her older sister enjoyed her experience at IWU and the positive impact it had on her life,  Tangeman felt let to attend IWU. She said her time at IWU was “fun, challenging, freeing and growing.”

While at IWU, Tangeman met a lot of new people who had a large impact on her life. “I made a lot of friends and met many older role models who sharpened me and challenged me to see God in different ways than I ever had,” she said. “My view of God and capacity for faith really expanded throughout my college years. I think the biggest impact IWU had on my life was the social capital and connections it provided me with. Between all of the spiritual, social, and academic opportunities that were available to me, I met people who God used to lead me to where I am today. Every class I took, event I participated in, internship I worked, etc. equipped me and ignited a passion in my heart for the Marion community, and I’m seeing that all come full-circle more and more each day.”

As of recently, Tangeman is the Assistant Development Coordinator at Marion Housing Authority and the Director of Community Relations at The Refinery Business Center on multiple projects that are focused on the revitalization and community development of Marion.

Tangeman and her boss, Steve Sapp, the CEO of Marion Housing Authority

Community development, where Tangeman has found herself, requires patience and faith that the efforts put forward will truly make a difference. “It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of needs that exist here,” Tangeman said. “A daily part of my job is pausing to remind myself that this isn’t my work, but a generous invitation from the Creator to join in the work He’s been doing well before me. When that is my focus, me and God become teammates working together for the community, and I love the limitless feeling that gives me.”

Her favorite day of the week is Monday, for two reasons. One, it’s a fresh start with fresh energy. Second, ‘Monday Punday!’ “I really love puns and cheesy jokes,” Tangeman shared. “I initiated an official Monday Punday Wall in our office, in which it is now tradition that every Monday I post a new pun that my coworkers count on. It makes Monday’s so pun!”

Tangeman would encourage IWU students “to engage in conversations with your professors, people in the community and especially people that are different and/or older than you. The amount of wisdom and knowledge that comes from people themselves is mind-blowing.” She’d also encourage everyone to get out into the Marion community and really take pride in the community beyond campus. “Contrary to popular belief, Marion is not just a poor town that needs our help. It is a beautiful community with a lot to offer anyone with an open mind! Acts of service are nice, but your presence and liveliness will go a lot further! Explore it, love it, value it,” she shared.



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

Burdens of Draco: Charissa Beukema & Micah Metz

By: Dezaray Barr


Metz and Beukema at the book signing in Marion

Charissa Beukema graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. Micah Metz graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2010 with a leadership degree.

Beukema is a freelancer at the moment, but since February, her and Metz have been working a special project. “Micah approached me about illustrating a comic book he wrote. In all honesty, I was terrified to say yes,” Beukema shared. “I had never done anything like this before. Comic books, science fiction, space—it was all new to me. But God pushed on my heart and made it clear accepting the project was the right thing to do. I told Micah as much, saying that, if he would have me, I was all in. We began working together the following day. In an absolute blessing of a journey, Micah and I made this comic book, start to finish, in about 6 months. We had our first signing together at Abbey Coffee Co. in October. Marion is a place special to us both, and we wanted to do a signing here for sure.”

Metz has been working on the comic, Burdens of Draco, for six years. “I have been writing and re-writing, editing and tweaking, making sure the story has an impact on the reader- making sure that it is a story that not only excites the reader but moves them emotionally. With help from a few sample readers and my editor, A.J. Ellis, the story is now complete. The rough page count for the story is 280 pages, which makes for a pretty hefty graphic novel. That is why we are splitting it into 20ish page issues. I am most excited to see how reader reacts to the twists and turns placed throughout the book and the interesting characters that they will meet,” Metz shared.

Beukema said her time at IWU was amazing. “My time at IWU was so much bigger and more rewarding than I ever imagined. Of course, it was a struggle at first,” she shared. “I came from hundreds of miles away, to a place where I had no friends. But I had made the right choice in my college selection. I spent my first week on campus holed up in the Williams Prayer Chapel fervently praying that God would make it clear IWU was where I was supposed to be.”

Book signing in Marion

“While at IWU, I went through a time of spiritual exploration,” Metz shared about his time at IWU. “I researched other religions and looked at what they believed and why. My Dad was a part-time pastor, and growing up in the church was something that gave me good roots in Christianity, but I wanted to make it my own. IWU is where I found the foundations of biblical truth and Christ’s relationship that has made me so solid in my faith today.”

If Beukema could encourage IWU students, she’d say, “Utilize every second you have in Marion. Make it your home, but be prepared to leave. You will not be in this environment forever, and you need to learn how to live outside a supportive and secure Christian environment.” Metz would encourage students, ‘The best is yet to come, but without determination and hustle you will only find mediocre service to God. Find what He has called you to and then relentlessly pursue despite what others are doing around you.”



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

Brushstrokes: Marion Design Co.

By: Emily Lehner


featuring- marion design co.


I arrived at what was once Salin Bank in downtown Marion. Currently, this space is home to Marion Design Co., where IWU design students and professors work to rebrand the city of Marion. As I entered the old bank, I saw research, effort, time and care in the work they were doing. Although none of the members but one called Marion home before college, these students consider Marion a home now, and they spend their days using their creative gifts for the benefit of the environment that surrounds them. They work closely with mayor and IWU alumni, Jess Alumbaugh, and members of the community.


While Marion has been given a negative connotation for many years, efforts have been made to improve the area. What makes Marion Design Co. unique is their willingness to listen. They spend the majority of their days meeting members of the community and simply hearing their stories. This group of students makes it their priority to listen to the needs and desires of those who have spent their entire lives in Marion. “We want people to know that we are here to build relationships. We are here to listen because we realize we are clueless compared to those who have been here forever,” said Grace Herndon.


The members of Marion Design Co. also offer their time to help those in the community accomplish tasks. While their main goal is renewal and community branding, they believe relationship is key and of first priority. The group desires to meet members from throughout the entire Marion community and from every walk in life. The message they portray is hope, and they desire to show the members of the Marion Community that renewal is possible, and that the true identity of Marion is something beautiful in need of uncovering.


The group is led by professors Herb Vincent Peterson and Wendy Puffer. It is made up of those currently in Indiana Wesleyan’s design program and alumni including, Hunter Razo and Miranda Fuchs. Marion Design Co. is a not-for-profit business. You can visit their website with the link below. There is a place for donations under the “Share” tab. They also welcome any interested in joining their team or visitors to the bank during their business hours.


Visit for more information on their project and to support their cause. 


Written by Emily Lehner, a 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



Pursuing Student Potential – Tristen Walker

By: Katherine Arch


The Education Division at Indiana Wesleyan University is one of the largest academic divisions on campus. To honor the students and graduates of this department, we will be telling the stories of several alumni and how they are using their God-given gifts to teach others. Special thanks goes to the alumni that participated in interviews, the faculty of the Education Division, and to the Division Chair, Dr. Jim Elsberry.

Some students come to Indiana Wesleyan University unsure of their future path. They say that they will “test out” a few classes and then waver between majors until they finally settle on a major. This was not the case with Tristen Walker. From the first day she set foot on IWU’s campus in the fall of 2007, she Send picture 3sensed God’s calling to pursue teaching. Declaring a dual major in Elementary Education and Intercultural Studies, Walker began class work and was encouraged to find her sense of calling confirmed.

“I remember in some of my major classes teachers stated that their mission of the class was to separate those who wanted to teach from those who didn’t,” Walker recalled, mentioning that although the classwork was challenging, she was encouraged as she completed assignments and worked through her core classes. She sensed God’s direction and peace in this time of training. This was where she needed to be.

During her time as a student, Walker volunteered at many after-school programs; she also spent extensive amounts of time in the schools during practicum and student teaching experiences. As she got to know students, teachers and faculty, Walker fell in love with the people in her community.

“I previously thought that I wanted to teach overseas, but when I started working in Marion and saw the poverty and struggles present right here — I knew that God had me here for a reason,” reflected Walker, of her experience. Following graduation, Walker accepted a position to work as the lead teacher for a Send PIcture 2kindergarten class at Frances Slocum. Although she did not leave the country, she met many of the same challenges as if she had become a missionary teacher. Frances Slocum has the highest poverty rates of any of the elementary schools in Marion. As Grant County is the poorest county in the state, Tristen quickly witnessed what need looks like. Almost 95 percent of students at Frances Slocum are on the Free and Reduced lunch program and qualify for significant financial government aid. In addition to socioeconomic challenges, Frances Slocum is very culturally diverse. Walker mentioned that all of these factors influence approaches she uses for teaching.

“I’ve realized that I always need to meet student’s physical needs first,” she stated. “Sometimes this means making sure that students have eaten breakfast before coming to class. Sometimes that means letting them lay their heads down on their desks if they’re tired. It means meeting them where they are at.” Walker mentioned that poverty not only affects children’s basic needs, such as food and sleep, it also impacts prior educational experience they might have had. With preschool programs such as the Marion Little Giants Preschool and Headstart, Walker stated that she has noticed an increase in children attending school with some educational background. The range of experience varies greatly, however.

“Out of my eighteen students, eleven have had some preschool experience. In one of the other kindergarten classes, however, only two of the eighteen students had any schooling before this year,” stated Walker. She expressed the educational challenges of these statistics — some of her students start the school year knowing basics of reading, while others barely know how to hold a pencil. In this situation, however, Walker stated that watching students grow and develop is exciting and rewarding.

“I love watching students grow and develop throughout the school year. The progress that they make is significant.” Referencing her eduSend Picturecation at IWU, Walker mentioned how teachers stressed the importance of differentiated instruction for classes with various levels of needs. As she has worked with students at Frances Slocum, she has learned how to use differentiated instruction to help challenge all students to reach their potential.

Now in her fourth year of teaching, Walker mentioned that — despite challenges — she loves what she does. She knows she is where God wants her.

“There are hard days, but I feel that this is where I am called to be,” stated Walker, “I love my students, and, for now, I plan to stay.”



Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form. Katherine also operates a website called “Join the Ranch” at It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.

Ministry for Life: The Campbells

What would a pre-med student from Converse, Indiana and a Canadian business major possibly have in common?

Ministry. At least, that’s what Darren and Nancy Campbell have found true in their lives. The two didn’t set out to do ministry, when Nancy started at Indiana Wesleyan she thought she needed to become a doctor. Darren planned to pursue a career in law. Never would they have imagined themselves in a bi-vocational life, working as pastor of a multi-site church, and owning the leading Christian bookstore franchise in Indiana. Also, they never imaged that God’s call on their lives would give them so much joy. As Nancy said, “If we had lined up the pros and cons of going into ministry, we wouldn’t have done it. It took steps of faith.”12207844_963516477027671_1789822677_n

Dedicating their lives to full-time ministry, Darren and Nancy Campbell have learned the value of prioritizing God’s will over their personal plans. Although ministry was not their original plan, God has reshaped their vision and directed them to a life of service that gives them joy.

When Nancy started college, she assumed that her strength as a student meant she should pursue a career in medicine. For the first few years of school, Nancy was a pre-med major because her high test scores suggested she had an aptitude for becoming a doctor. While she enjoyed her studies, Nancy admitted that her reason for being a pre-med major was out of a need she felt to pursue the “hardest thing” at which she could be successful.

“God impressed on me, however, that he gave me passions and desires for a reason,” Nancy recalls. “He wanted me to do something that would give me life.”

During the fall of her sophomore year of college, Darren, a friend from one of her classes, introduced Nancy to the idea of pursuing ministry. Although he was not a ministry major, Darren had volunteered to undertake the job of running IWU’s annual youth conference. Previously, the conference had been run by ministry majors; also it was typically organized by a team of men. When Nancy agreed to help in the fall of ’93, the two piloted the first youth conference sponsored at IWU by non-ministry majors. It was a huge success, and the two found they loved doing ministry together. Additionally, Nancy found that she was very passionate about event planning and being with people.

“I just couldn’t imagine spending the next several years in a lab doing research,” Nancy remembers, “I loved being with people too much. Changing my major to business administration gave me the chance to work with people.”

Nancy and Darren also continued working the youth camps together, becoming best friends. After two years working together closely, the friends started dating and got married a year later.

What did the Campbells passion for ministry look like following marriage? At first, the two decided to help with youth ministry. They had enjoyed it before, and it appeared a way to integrate serving others in a part-time capacity.

However, God had other plans.

Shortly after marriage, Darren and Nancy were at church, listening to a visiting missionary talk about his experiences serving in Zambia. There, Darren sensed God calling him to pursue ministry full-time. Nancy was shocked, the two were business people, not pastors. Perhaps more concerning for Nancy was that she did not personally share this calling for ministry. A young bride, Nancy found herself confused,

“I remember thinking, ‘I didn’t sign up for this!’” Campbell recalls, reacting to her husband’s decision. However, the subsequent week three separate churches contacted the Campbells about serving as a youth pastor; the two decided to take a position at College Church, where they worked for seven years with the youth. When the two felt the Lord calling them to step down from this position, they relocated to a church in Muncie. There they partnered with the church’s planting project, and Darren became the lead pastor for Exit 59 church.

Throughout their lives, Nancy mentions many times that they sense God calling them to deviate from their original plans. Acting as the lead pastor for Exit 59 was an example of their need for flexibility and trust.

Concurrently, the couple decided to take a risk and merge their faith, entrepreneurship skills, and social passions for a great business endeavor.

12064469_963515547027764_751553802_n“I love coffee, and there was no coffee shop anywhere close. Also, there was no Christian bookstore within the Marion community,” mentioned Nancy. For years, the couple had talked about starting their own business, and one day Nancy mentioned it would make sense to start a bookstore which combined their love for youth, coffee, and ministry. This was the birth of Tree of Life Bookstores, which first opened in 1997 in a little building next to Wal-Mart in Marion, Indiana.

“We took out the loan and I remember signing the paperwork and thinking, ‘if this doesn’t work, I’m going to lose my house,’” recalls Nancy. Anyone familiar with Tree of Life Bookstore knows that was not an issue, the bookstore exploded into a major business corporation, serving as the primary text supplier for Indiana Wesleyan as well as several other private colleges.

How does running a bookstore relate to ministry? Many might see the Campbell’s bi-vocational life as two separate endeavors, however, Nancy mentions that their role at the church and in the bookstore are based in serving others. For them, the two jobs are interrelated.

“We see everything as sacred. Everything that we do is for the Lord,” Nancy comments.

The two are still very closely affiliated with the school, Nancy is a member of the alumni board, and in October, the couple received an alumni award for their partnership with IWU. Nancy mentions that the two of them are deeply grateful for IWU’s influence in their life in so many areas.

“We wouldn’t be married if it wasn’t for IWU,” Nancy laughs.

Reflecting on her roles in ministry thus far, Nancy urges others to realize that, “God’s going to do what he wants to do, sometimes he asks you to sit in the stands watch him work.”

When this business major from Canada and a pre-med girl from Indiana met, they didn’t seem to have much in common. Originally, neither Nancy nor Darren saw themselves in ministry. God clearly had other plans. Through their work at Exit 59 and through Tree of Life Bookstores, the two have been able to merge their passions and skills to pursue something to which they feel called, they have been given a mission that gives them life.


In October 2015, Darren and Nancy were recognized as the Distinguished Alumni of the Year recipients. Lance Percy, Associate Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations reflected on this couple’s continued involvement with the school when he said,

“I have appreciated the passion that Darren and Nancy have for the students at IWU and their contribution and support for individual students through their employment opportunities at the Tree of Life.” Mr. Percy helped present the award to the Campbells and mentioned that,

“It was a pleasure to recognize Darren and Nancy with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Darren’s message to the students at Chapel was a great encouragement. He reminded students to recognize that God has a plan for each person, even if we do not know what it is.”


Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form. Katherine also operates a website called “Join the Ranch” at It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.



The Refinery: Innovative Business Comes to Marion

Our own town of Marion, Indiana has brought a new and innovative business to the community to support independent professionals.

Indiana Wesleyan University partnered with Launch Fishers to open The Refinery Business Center on Thursday, September 24. The Refinery is a dynamic, affordable work environment for entrepreneurs, non-profits, remote workers, small businesses, contractors, start-ups, students and more.

The Refinery will be a great addition to the thriving entrepreneurial culture in central Indiana. It will offer co-working desks, conference rooms, private offices, Wi-Fi, a café area, patio seating and other professional office amenities for members and guests. The business is called The Refinery because is a place where people can develop and refine their ideas.

Alexis Dierker
Alexis Dierker

Alexis Dierker, a 2015 alum, is the Director of Community Relations. She cannot wait to support and encourage the creative and empowering environment of The Refinery and the brilliant minds there. “It’s important to me because, as a very recent graduate, I have heard a lot of people who like the idea of staying around Marion but they feel like they don’t have any opportunities, so they go other places,” she said.

Dierker has a passion for the business because she herself is an entrepreneur. She graduated with a photography degree and has been developing her own brand. “I identify a lot with what The Refinery is doing. I see the vision,” she said. “There were probably so many people who were more qualified for this position than me, but my boss could tell we wanted to pursue the same needs in the community.”

IMG_8540The Refinery has already given people so many opportunities to meet new faces and connect with those around the area. “One reason I felt driven to stay around Marion was because I wanted to get to know more of the community that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet before… Through this, I have gotten to know so many incredible people,” Dierker said.

Dierker is not the only young professional excited to be making connections through The Refinery. Lauran Burchell, a senior at IWU, is currently working as one of two interns. She serves as the Marketing and Member Services Coordinator. Burchell is studying Business Administration and Management, and she is excited to be a part of the growth of The Refinery and to use the skills she has learned in her experiences to encourage innovative development right in her hometown.

“I have already networked and met so many people that I never thought I would meet while in college,” Burchell said. “Many professionals from Indianapolis have already discussed my future with me and connected with me.”

The Refinery ribbon cutting on September, 24, 2015.
The Refinery ribbon cutting on September, 24, 2015.

Like Dierker, Burchell knows that this experience is shaping a way for her future. She chose to work at The Refinery instead of Launch Fishers because she desired to be a part of something new. “Not very many people can say they were actually part of a start up. I’m getting so much experience, and even though I’m not an entrepreneur starting my own business, I was part of one and I learned from it,” she said.

The Refinery welcomes visitors and is located at 2301 S. Western Ave. You can learn more about The Refinery at


Written by Kelly Reed. Kelly is a senior Strategic Communications major with a focus in Public Relations. She is the President of IWU PRSSA and hopes to work as a communications director of a nonprofit organization after graduation.