Alumni World Changers - Francis Mustapha
2015 Alumni World Changer – Francis Mustapha

Francis Mustapha was born in Madina Village, Sierra Leone. Seven of his siblings, including his twin brother, died before age five. Francis was not expected to live, but his father heard of an educated woman who had training as a nurse. He took Francis to the clinic she had established in another village, 20 miles away, and said, “We have heard that you have been educated. Here, prove it.” Today, Francis says, “The only difference between me and my seven siblings is the intervention of this educated lady. For me, education is life.”

Although Madina children did not go to school, Francis attended a Christian elementary school 20 miles away and later a Christian secondary school 40 miles away. He graduated at the top of his class but was denied funding for college. “Because of corruption, it isn’t what you know. It’s who you know,” he explains.

When his biology teacher, Tom Davidson, heard about it, he bought Francis a plane ticket to America. Francis enrolled at IWU because Davidson had taught here. He worked on-campus and in factories to pay for school and lived with IWU professor Margaret Hodson during vacations. “She was a mother to me,” he says.

He graduated in 1972 with a B.S. in biology, a decision he credits to Davidson’s teaching skills and passion for science. However, it wasn’t until graduate school that Francis decided to become a teacher himself. In the late 1970s, Francis and his wife Bobbie (IWU ’76) taught at U.S. schools, but Francis wanted his wife to live in Africa. They moved to Liberia, where Francis taught at a university for three years while Bobbie taught at the international elementary school connected to the college. Later, the couple relocated to Sierra Leone.

(Sierra Leone is the size of South Carolina. Liberia is located to the southeast. Madina Village is 140 miles southeast of Freetown.)
Sierra Leone is the size of South Carolina. Liberia is located to the southeast. Madina Village is 140 miles southeast of Freetown.

As Sierra Leone’s economic and political spheres deteriorated, Francis feared for his family’s safety. “Right after we [returned to America], a ten-year war ensued,” Francis says. The war destroyed over 1,270 elementary schools, at least two major universities, hundreds of high schools, and most of the nation’s hospitals.

Francis and Bobbie continued teaching in America, but Francis’ heart remained in Sierra Leone. “I weep over the country,” he says. “If mission efforts were ever needed for Sierra Leone, it’s now.”


To save Sierra Leone, education is key: “In the current generation, corruption is all they know… They’re not going to hear. So what do you do? You focus on the future. The children.” Francis’s lifelong dream was to return to Madina and build a school. In the 1990s, he planned to turn that dream into reality.

Two attempts to build a school failed due to rebel warfare and a destructive fire. Tired of losing money and materials, Francis deferred his dream until he retired in 2011. Two weeks later, he flew to Sierra Leone with $50,000 of his retirement money to build the school himself.

(Francis talked a local mining company into using its bulldozer to clear the land for the school.)
Francis talked a local mining company into using its bulldozer to clear the land for the school.

With support from Francis’s home church, Good Shepherd, construction began. Project leaders built the school in phases, only progressing when they had the necessary resources. Francis was amazed to see how God provided funds; twice, Good Shepherd helped raise $60,000 in under three months. He compares his own contribution to the little boy whose lunch fed the five thousand: “My motivation was, ‘This is my two fishes and five loaves. Jesus, here it is.’”

In 2013, Bobbie came to Madina to pre-register eligible students and organize the classrooms. “That school is not going to go without her,” Francis says. Bobbie was involved throughout the school’s construction and opening. She is the one who suggested painting its exterior blue, white, and green – the colors of the national flag – and painting the classrooms bright colors, to compensate for the lack of electricity. Bobbie also made Madina Village School a sister school to Arlington Elementary, where she teaches in the U.S. Arlington students sent school supplies to Madina, and students wrote each other letters.

Registration day was difficult for Francis. “We had to turn away over 300 students,” he says. Typical classes in Sierra Leone are crowded with more than eighty students and lack supplies, making learning difficult. Madina Village School’s classes are capped at 30, with two teachers in each room, to more thoroughly educate students. “90% of the children going to that school have never been to school,” Francis explains.

(Students in one of the classrooms at Madina Village School.)
Students in one of the classrooms at Madina Village School. The classrooms have no electricity, but it’s hard to tell from the bright picture!

Madina Village School’s second academic year was postponed by the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which shut down all of Sierra Leone’s schools. According to Francis, the most important element for combating Ebola is education. Madina Village School’s teachers and nurse – the only certified, trained school nurse in the country – held Ebola education seminars for the community. People could opt for voluntary quarantine, and outside visitors underwent mandatory isolation. “To this date, we’ve never had a single case of Ebola in that community,” Francis says.

He is proud of the role the school had in avoiding Ebola: “The school being there for one year gave us credibility … but I didn’t know [its impact] was going to be this soon or this big.” Francis plans to return to Madina for the school’s March 30th reopening.

Future plans for Madina Village School include a new well and a health clinic. Francis says having a sustainable clean water source is the school’s number one priority, because the current well often dries up. Leaders will soon begin raising funds for the clinic as well, because the closest hospital is 30-40 miles away.

(Students in one of the classrooms at Madina Village School.)
Workers digging the school’s current well, which needs to be replaced with a deeper well.

In its first year, Madina Village School educated almost 300 pre-K through third grade students from at least five villages. The school will eventually expand to educate students from pre-K through high school. He hopes IWU will play a role in these expansions by permitting nursing and education students to complete intercultural requirements and practicums in Madina Village.


Francis is grateful for how God is working in Sierra Leone: “God is the one that has the solution, [and] the solution to most of the problems is education. That’s the only hope. I don’t expect to see extreme change in my lifetime. My hope is to plant the seed.” For more information about Madina Village School or to donate, please visit

(One of Madina Village School’s two academic buildings.)
One of Madina Village School’s two academic buildings.

 Written by Megan Emily. Megan is a senior English/Writing major and member of the John Wesley Honors College. She operates a blog ( about finding hope and security.


March 27 & 28, 2015
March 27 & 28, 2015

Currently, Marion’s billboards advertise a performance by Christian rapper, Lecrae. The concert is only one part of Fusion, an annual youth conference hosted by IWU to give high school students a taste of campus life.

IWU Director of Events, Roger Alcock, says Fusion 2015 promises to be one of the biggest. Over 1,000 youth and their sponsors are expected to attend, with 3,800 guests for the concert. Registration numbers have more than tripled from last year. Groups are coming from as far away as California and Ontario.

Roger has been working on Fusion for over twenty years. As an IWU student, the ’92 alum met Tom Sloan, who headed up the event at the time. Post-graduation, Roger returned to IWU and continued his involvement in Fusion.

Over the years, the event has changed. When it began in 1973, it was a generic high school youth conference of 200-400 students, lasting Thursday-Saturday. It was rebranded as Fusion in 2007 and now reaches over 1,000 students. The schedule has also changed: Fusion is now only on Friday night and Saturday. Fusion Poster

After rebranding Fusion, leaders focused on establishing relationships with youth pastors and featuring more big-name performers. Recently, the Brandon Grissom Band, Switchfoot, and David Crowder have performed in IWU’s chapel. Roger says the chapel is another change – previously, Marion High School hosted the concerts because IWU’s facilities were too small.

Despite all the changes, Fusion’s core remains the same. The rallies, worship, and Scripture-based sermons are still the primary components. Fusion’s tradition also includes youth staying overnight with IWU students, an arrangement facilitated by admissions workers such as Evelyn Waymire and student leaders.

“At its heart, Fusion is a student-led, student-focused event,” says Roger. The student leadership team includes three co-directors, twelve executive team members, and over 100 volunteers. Students plan seminars, prayer teams, altar counseling efforts, and more.

Roger, who assists with logistics and marketing, explains, “[I am] more of a support role for the students.” He loves seeing student leaders grow: “It’s a chance for them to put into practice the things they’re learning in the classroom. They put their heart and soul in it. To see all their hard work pay off is great.”

fusion(1) Fusion is a family affair for the Alcocks. Roger’s brother, ‘89 alum Charlie Alcock, is the Director of Student Ministries and works closely with Fusion’s student leaders and performing artists. Before working at IWU, Charlie served as a youth pastor and brought his students to Fusion.

The brothers and the rest of the team enjoy seeing their efforts pay off year after year. Roger says, “IWU has grown so much. A lot has changed … Fusion is an anchor point. It links us from one generation to the next.” He loves seeing high schoolers participate in one of IWU’s traditions: “The reason we’re here is to be focused on Christ … Fusion really reinforces that concept of who we are [for visitors].”

Roger hopes Fusion will remain a point of connection for high school youth, IWU students, and alumni. To see what’s in store for Fusion this year, check out the Fusion Vimeo.

Written by Megan Emily. Megan is a senior English and Writing major and a member of the John Wesley Honors College. She operates Earthworms Blog, which focuses on finding hope.


Admissions Feature – Evelyn Waymire and Admitted Student Weekend

Admitted Student Weekend is an exciting time on campus. Last year, IWU hosted its first Spring ASW, with over 400 students in attendance. Spring ASW is divided into two events: new student registration, where accepted students sign up for fall classes; and the Wildcat Bash, where admitted students can connect with future classmates.

Evelyn Waymire
Evelyn Waymire

As a psychology and social work double major, Waymire originally planned on becoming a child life counselor. However, she struggled to plan for graduate school: “I thrive off making four-year plans for students. I love it… But I couldn’t make a two-year plan for myself.”

Waymire deferred grad school for a year and says the time off shifted her career focus away from child life counseling. Instead, she applied for a job as an admissions counselor. “Just discovering the love that I have for this place and my belief in the students and what God’s doing in their lives, it seems like admissions was a good next step,” she explains.

Currently, Waymire recruits high school students in Northeast Indiana, Muncie, and Richmond. She visits up to 50 schools each semester to talk to prospective students about IWU. According to Waymire, admissions counselors communicate with individual students for anywhere from a few months to three years, depending on how soon the student started searching for colleges.

Although she enjoys traveling to meet prospective students, Waymire also loves working with admitted students. She says, “I love seeing [them] finally step on campus and take the next step toward joining the student body. I love being there to help those who are stressed and being excited with those who are excited.”

Working as an admissions counselor has also afforded Waymire with other unique opportunities, such as the chance to be the chaplain of the softball team. “I know nothing about softball,” she laughed. But after meeting her through an admissions event, Coach Steve Babinski approached her about becoming the team chaplain. “Now I get to walk through life with 23 amazing young ladies. It’s not just about growing athletes, but ladies of character,” says Waymire.

That combination of community and character is what Waymire has always loved about IWU, whether she’s talking about her time as a student in the John Wesley Honors College or about her co-workers in the admissions office.

“Being [part of IWU] means getting to be connected to a community and to be rooted to something. No matter where we go, we’re connected to each other’s stories. Or at least a chapter,” Waymire says.

She looks forward to this year’s ASW, which will take place March 14-15 on the residential Marion campus, because it affords her the opportunity to help accepted students connect to the community she loves.

Written by Megan Emily. Megan is a senior English/Writing major and member of the John Wesley Honors College. She operates a blog about finding hope and security.

Alumni Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Katie Karnehm

Katie Karnehm
Katie Karnehm, Assistant Professor

Dayton, Ohio native Katie Karnehm chose IWU for two major reasons: its writing major and its atmosphere, which was more relaxed than her ultraconservative high school. “I appreciated not having an attitude of legalism at IWU,” Dr. Karnehm explains.

After briefly considering triple majoring in writing, art, and psychology, she shifted her focus to a writing major, art minor, and membership in the John Wesley Honors College (JWHC). Most writing majors studied English as well, but Katie refused. She had no ambitions to become a teacher.

Following her graduation in 2002, Katie moved to Scotland to attend University of St. Andrews’ graduate program. Her time at IWU prepared her for living abroad: as a sophomore she visited Scotland and England, which motivated her to study at Oxford during her senior year.

Katie is also grateful for the Dr. Brown and the JWHC. “Just good wasn’t good enough,” she says. “That prepared me for being a good writer and being able to take criticism.”

Although she wanted to live in London after completing her graduate work, those plans fell through. She instead applied for a job as a composition professor at IWU. Her first year at IWU surprised Katie: she actually liked teaching.

She returned to St. Andrews in the fall and received her doctorate in 2008. A teaching position had just opened at IWU – ironically, the same job she left four years prior. Dr. Karnehm has been teaching English and writing courses here for the past seven years.

Of IWU, Dr. Karnehm now says, “I thought this community was worth coming back [to]. I love the people I work with.” She also enjoys her students. Over the last three years, Dr. Karnehm has seen an increase in the number of students who open up to her as a mentor. “I can see writing and being in a community of people as a healing process for those students,” she says.

Returning to IWU wasn’t struggle-free. In her liberal-minded community at St. Andrews, Dr. Karnehm was considered a conservative. When she came back to the U.S., people thought she was a liberal. “When I started in 2008, there was a two-week hubbub over [another professor] and me having our noses pierced,” Dr. Karnehm recalls.

It wasn’t just the piercings. She adds, “I didn’t know how to fit into my culture anymore. But [Dr. Brown] was my division chair … and she told me, ‘Sometimes being uncomfortable in a place can be a blessing.’ That stuck with me.” In the time since, Dr. Karnehm has tried to give similar encouragement to her students who struggle to fit into a particular culture. She has particularly done this through her work with the Global Engagement Office.

Dr. Karnehm loves watching her students transform and grow as well: “I’m really inspired by [them] because they show up as freshmen, and you don’t know where they’re going to go or what beliefs they’re going to stick with. Then by their junior or senior year they’ve started to figure things out.”

She is constantly amazed by what her students area capable of. “IWU, and especially our English program, has always attracted students who have a lot of ability and don’t necessarily know it yet,” she explains. Watching her students blossom is what inspires Dr. Karnehm to keep growing as a writer and a professor.

Written by Megan Emily. Megan is a senior English/Writing major and member of the John Wesley Honors College. She operates a blog about finding hope and security.

Jessica Thorne – Human Trafficking

When Jessica Thorne graduated from IWU in 2003 and began working in an Indianapolis elementary school, she never expected that God would eventually call her to quit teaching and become the founder of an anti-human trafficking organization. A mission trip to Nepal in 2007 changed Jessica’s plans. In Nepal, she was appalled by the damaging effects of the sex trade on its victims, most of whom were underage girls. But what broke her was her return to Indianapolis.

Large U.S. cities such as Indianapolis, Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. are home to a thriving sex trade. Worldwide, human trafficking is a $150 billion-a-year industry, and U.S. demand is one of the highest in the global sex trade market. Jessica says she didn’t know about trafficking in the U.S. until after her trip to Nepal. “There wasn’t a lot of buzz about the domestic issue. No one was addressing it,” she explained.

During her chapel presentation, Jessica showed this map of supply and demand for sex-trafficking.
During her chapel presentation, Jessica showed this map of supply and demand for sex-trafficking
Jessica also showed this map of calls made to the Polaris Project’s trafficking hotline.
Jessica also showed this map of calls made to the Polaris Project’s trafficking hotline.

Jessica felt God calling her to raise community awareness and provide relief for trafficking victims, so she worked with her church to host a benefit concert called Purchased. “Honestly, I thought that was the end of it,” Jessica said.

God had other plans. After hosting a few more events and networking with local anti-trafficking workers in Indianapolis, she left her teaching job and founded an anti-trafficking organization in 2011. The nonprofit, named Purchased in honor of the original concert, focuses on prevention and restoration. Workers from Purchased visit local schools and youth groups to talk to young people, especially those who may be at risk to become involved in human trafficking – as victims or as traffickers.

Purchased uses two curriculum to talk to teenagers. Empowering Youth is a preventative program that educates students on how to be part of the solution. My Life, My Choice is an intensive, ten-week program that helps rehabilitate girls aged 14-18 who have been victims of sex trafficking. According to Jessica, the Indianapolis Police Department and other anti-trafficking organizations other anti-trafficking organizations perform the initial rescues. The girls, most of whom come from high-poverty neighborhoods and juvenile detention facilities, are then referred to Purchased’s My Life, My Choice program.

Purchased is expanding in 2015 to include a mentorship program for the My Life, My Choice girls. “It’s hard to leave the girls after ten weeks,” Jessica said. She hopes the mentoring program will help former victims learn to manage life after being rescued by providing guidance and support as they plan their futures.

Jessica is also pleased with how far God has brought Purchased. During her time at IWU, she was involved in ministry teams and Chorale but even today doesn’t always think of herself as a leader. “I never in a million years though I’d be coming back to speak at chapel. It’s so surreal,” she said, “I’m not a leader, an entrepreneur, someone who would want to start something.”

Now that she has started something, Jessica looks forward to expanding the outreach Purchased has in Indianapolis. She encourages others to get involved by educating themselves, talking about the issue, and praying. When asked what advice she would give to fellow IWU alumni, Jessica said, “Pay attention to what God’s doing, and be open to saying yes, even if it sounds totally crazy.” For more information about human trafficking and IWU-affiliated organizations, you can visit: Bastian Center or Destiny Rescue.

Written by Megan Emily. Megan is a senior English and Writing major at IWU and a member of the John Wesley Honors College. She operates a blog about finding security and hope.