Fusion Creative CEO David Gafford

By: Dezaray Barr

David Gafford

David Gafford graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2000 with a degree in church music and a degree in vocal performance. During his high school experience, Gafford said that he rarely looked into other colleges outside of IWU. “My mother worked at IWU, and even though we could have looked into the exchange program, we just knew IWU was going to be the college for me,” Gafford said.

Like other alum, Gafford said that his time at IWU was busy. He explained, “I traveled for the university in Masters Praise and the Chorale, so I was pretty much gone every weekend of my college career. I also lived on campus and attended classes for three majors. Apparently I was a bit ambitious.”

He also said, “In retrospect, my time at IWU was more about character development than anything. It wasn’t what I learned, but how I learned that has had the largest impact. I learned to be a lifetime learner during my time at IWU. It wasn’t just learning inside the classroom, it was taking all of the experiences of life and crafting all of life into a learning experience. That’s one of the biggest takeaways that I have from my time at IWU, in that I learned how to become intentionally curious. Instead of power chords and interactive response based worship architecture, today you’ll find me helping business owners with latent semantic indexing on Google or content marketing strategies to grow their business. What I learned at IWU was how to learn and apply that learning to life.”

During his time at IWU, most of Gafford’s spiritual transformation happened through chapels and the churches he was able to visit with the music groups he was in. “I was privileged to be able to hear some of the best speakers during this time,” Gafford said. “Chapels were wonderful as well, with a plethora of talent constantly joining us to invest into our spiritual lives.”

After graduating from IWU, Gafford spent 15 years in the local church, serving as a worship architect in the large churches across the country, spending a majority of his time working in communications and coaching team members.

David and Melissa Gafford at Fusion Creative

Today, Gafford owns a digital marketing agency, Fusion Creative. He said, “We help businesses grow their leads and sales by helping them create a website that ranks on Google and converts those visitors into leads they can follow up with.”

He began Fusion in 2014 with his wife, Melissa (Liddick, class of 2000). Their goal from the beginning has been to see small businesses in the community flourish. Gafford said, “As an agency owner, we get to determine our company culture, and our spiritual lives play a big part in that. We’re an agency based on Christian values and that plays out into every job we take and how we interact with each client. We’re happy to work with almost anyone, but our values are such that we simply won’t take the job unless we know that we can deliver incredible value to the client.”

Although school is out for the summer, Gafford wants to say this to IWU students, ” Understanding yourself is paramount to your future success. I love that IWU now does Strengths Finder assessments and Myers Briggs type indicators through the career development office. I wish they would have had that option while I was at IWU. Understanding what motivates you and how you are wired can help you immensely as you make plans for the future. Lean into your areas of strength and leverage how you are energized as an individual. If you can find the intersection of your strengths, interests and personality make up, you’ll not only love what you do, but you’ll be energized by it.”

Gafford and his wife Melissa said that they are both proud IWU alumni who love working with IWU students and alum, as both interns and staff members. They have two children, Addison (8) and Ethan (5).


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.

IWU Alumni Releases New Album

By: Dezaray Barr

Prahyekt Won: Morrell’s debut album

Ronald Morrell graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2017 with a degree in applied percussion. Morrell attended IWU because he wanted to study music with a faith based curriculum and faculty. He said, “I was a part of seven different musical ensembles that gave me the chance to travel the mid-west weekly… I developed a knowledge of what it means to serve God first above all else.”

Now, Morrell is the Worship Arts Director at Hanfield United Methodist Church in Marion, Indiana. He is also a jazz musician who travels and plays around the country. He just released his debut album, “Prahyekt Won.”

He said, “My time at IWU made me who I am today. I always knew I wanted to do music, but IWU prepared me for the ministry aspect of it. Being a great musician isn’t enough. I was encouraged to use my gift to reach souls and change the world.”

Morrell said that his spiritual life is a direct reflection of his career. “Being a worship leader, I am in front of people each week with the sole purpose to draw people to Jesus. If my spiritual life isn’t lined up, it will show,” he said. “Also, being a jazz musician, I’m not always in the best of places. So, I have to let my light shine regardless of where I am at or who I’m around.”

Some fun facts about Morrell include that he didn’t know anything about music until attending IWU. In November, he and his wife, Arianna, will be having their first child. Although jazz is his favorite kind of music to play, he enjoys listening to country music.

Morrell encourages current IWU students to “be versatile and learn from every situation,” he said. “I never planned on becoming a worship leader, but because I tried my best to learn from everyone around me, I was able to get things from those who were planning to go into that field. God opened a door and now that is what I do… When you graduate from IWU, you realize that the world is big, but it is important to remember that God is bigger.”

Curious as to why his new album is titled Prahyekt Won? Well the inside cover of the album holds the answer: God can turn a life changing mistake into a life changing testimony. Just like it was yesterday, I can remember turning in my first assignment for arranging class in the Master’s program. After handing it in, I was quickly made aware that I had made a mistake on the paper. My assignment was removed from the pile and posted on the projector for the class to see. In explicit choice words, the professor made it clear to me that I was unworthy to be a grad student. This would be the final straw for me in my decision to leave grad school. At the time, I felt that my life and dreams had been crushed because I thought I had my future all planned out. Later that night God spoke to me and said “You Won.” I immediately told my wife that I’m doing an album called, “Prahyekt Won.” Due to the professors accent the assignment titled, “Project One,” sounded like, “Prahyekt Won.” God turned one of the worst experiences of my life around for good (Genesis 50:20). This is a true testimony that all things work together for the good for those of us who love the Lord. Whenever you are experiencing a situation that seems unbearable and puts you down to your lowest I hope that you remember and listen to, “Prahyekt Won.”



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.

Pastor of the Week: Tim Becker

By: Dezaray Barr

Tim and his wife Jennifer. Photo obtained from Facebook

Tim Becker is the Pastor of Main Street Wesleyan Church located in Elwood, Indiana. Becker graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1994 as a double major in Christian Ministries and Vocal Music.

“I had the privilege to sing in University Chorale for five years and The Master’s Praise Quartet for three and a half years while I was at IWU,” Becker shared. “Dr. Todd Guy was a huge influence on my life. He taught me how to strive for excellence and to be disciplined, dedicated and determined.”

Becker was challenged, yet enjoyed the classes he took with Dr. Smith, Pastor Tom Kinnan and Dr. Bence.

Becker has several opportunities early in his ministry as a youth pastor to lead teenagers to the Lord. Some of these teens were not raised in the church or had never even attended church. “God used my love for basketball to build relationship with these kids and be a positive influence in their lives,” he explained. “While I was a youth pastor in Virginia, one of my teens was involved in a bad motorcycle accident with his father. His father passed away and the young man ended up losing his foot from the accident. I spent a lot of time disciplining this young man and built a strong relationship with him. He is now a youth pastor in the Wesleyan Church. I guess when God uses me to positively impact or influence others for His glory, that shows me that I am on the right path as a pastor.”

After Becker graduated from IWU, he was ready to jump right into ministry. “God had other plans,” Becker said. “All of the churches that I talked with about pastoral staff positions fell through or were not right. I ended up working construction for three months. God’s timing was not matching up with my timing.  In July of 1994, a pastor from Roanoke called. He was looking to hire a youth and music pastor. My wife, Jennifer, and I met with the pastor for dinner in Marion. We went to Roanoke and spent the weekend meeting people, preaching and singing. On the way home, Jennifer and I both knew that we were supposed to move to Virginia. God knew what was best.  He always knows what is best.”

Main Street Wesleyan Church (MSWC) is growing in numbers and is growing spiritually closer to both the Lord and each other in the body of Christ. This is the first church where Becker has served as the senior pastor. He served at Main Street Wesleyan Church during his fifth year of college at IWU as the part-time youth and music pastor. At the time, his father was the pastor. “I followed my father, Rev. Ron Becker, as the pastor of MSWC.  He moved out of the parsonage that I had Christmas in every year for 23 years.  Two weeks later, I moved into the same parsonage that my parents had just moved out of.  But it is a privilege and a blessing to be able to follow in my father’s legacy as pastor at MSWC.”

Becker and his family. Photo obtained from Facebook

1 Timothy 4:12 has been Becker’s life verse of mine since he was in high school. It reads, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Becker shared, “I truly do want to live my life in a way that I am setting an example for people in how to live a God-pleasing life. Worship for me is a lifestyle that I want to live out each day.”

Becker hopes to remind students at IWU that it is a good thing we have dreams, goals and aspirations. “But allow God to be the One who is in complete control,” Becker said. “Allow Him to move, guide and direct you through life in His way and His timing.  He knows what is best for you and has plans to give you hope and a future.”



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.

Michelle Curiel

By: Kendra Housel

Curiel (right) singing with the IWU Chorale

Michelle Curiel is a recent graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, graduating in the Spring of 2017 with a degree in Church Music. She came to IWU during her junior year, as a transfer student, after visiting some of her friends on campus.

Curiel said that she “fell in love with the community and hospitality of the student and professors.” She was especially encouraged by the fact that she knew professors who were praying for her even before she committed to coming to IWU. Curial said that her time as a student at IWU felt very fast, since she transferred later in her collegiate years. Regardless of the fact that she only got to spend two years on campus, she says those two years were fantastic.

A large part of what made her time at IWU so fruitful was the relationships she had with her professors. She was constantly given opportunities to use her gifts of music and leadership. Those many opportunities and the confidence her professors placed in her gave her the space to thrive in new ways.

She also grew in her faith while she was at IWU. Her friends were a large part of her spiritual growth, as they walked along side her in life and encouraged her.  Her classes were also a large part of her growth spiritually. She said, “It was extremely encouraging to be in classes with professors that [wanted] to uplift you and develop you to be a better person.” She went so far as to say that sometimes she would go to class on a given day and be one person, but leave the class so changed she felt like a new person.

Indiana Wesleyan as a whole has a culture that Curiel feels pushed her and her peers to have conversations with each other and with professors about things that truly matter, with the goal of growing spiritually. Many of those conversations that produced growth began in classes; she found she had a passion for deep conversation.

Her time at IWU helped Curiel develop and discover several other passions as well. One such passion is her love for serving the oppressed. She found a new desire to stand up for social justice, not only in America, but in the world as a whole. She said that she “grew to understand more of the bigger picture of what it means to follow Christ full-heartedly by listening and loving other people.”

Upon graduating, Curiel went to Montana for the entire summer to serve at the Crow, North Cheyenne and Blackfeet Native American reservations. Through a missions organization called Youthworks, Curiel lead a team at each site. She feels so privileged to have had the opportunity to serve and get to know the Native Americans at the reservations. This past summer was her third summer working with this organization, and she was so thankful to go back and continue to build friendships, as well as growing new relationships with members of those communities.

In August, Curiel returned home to Chicago and spent some time job searching and readjusting to life. She secured a job working for a before and after-school program with young children in her community. She directs two school sites, as well as serves as a teacher and tutor; her primary role is to help her students solidify the knowledge they are receiving at school through engaging them in memorable activities and games. She says that she has such “a passion for working with children and is so happy to have fun and laugh with them everyday.”

Curiel said that her time at IWU helped prepare her for where she is now by illuminating the passions she already had within her. Though she is not currently working in the field she got her degree in, she gets to work with kids and uses the compassion she grew in at school to help those children grow as people. She feels IWU did a great job helping her learn how to help people develop, and also helped her understand that it matters the most to find purpose and happiness in a vocation, not just a paycheck.

When asked what advice she had for current students, Curiel said that it is important that students “take a deep breath and understand that everything won’t be set out in a nice organized plan when you graduate.” She also wants to stress the importance of diving into a deeper understanding of your finances while still at school, where you have free resources to help learn to navigate things like loans. Having a plan for how to successfully pay off loans when you graduate will be a very freeing thing if you prioritize having those kinds of conversations with financial aid. She also encourages students to do something that makes them happy: traveling the world, working right after graduation, working in the field your degree is in, or doing something completely new. Everyone should be willing to take a leap of faith and follow God when they feel Him calling them in a particular direction.

Check out this video to learn more about Curiel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiOqbes4GF8&feature=youtu.be!


Written by Kendra Housel, a writer for the Alumni Center. Kendra is a sophomore 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. She is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.

Indiana Dreamer to Nashville Performer

His story goes from small-town Indiana to Nashville, from rock to country, and from dreamer to performer. Quinton Gibson is an Indiana Wesleyan University ’91 alum who turned his dream into a reality.Quinton Gibson

When Gibson was in third grade, his grandmother gave him a KISS album for his eighth birthday. Little did she know that this would be the spark to his beloved career. He became a solid fan of rock music, and co-created a Christian Rock band in high school named Seraiah. Now, he is the lead guitarist for the Grammy-winning country artist, Darius Rucker. “On the inside, I’m still that kid from the ‘80s that spent his days dreaming about walking on stage and performing in front of thousands of fans every night!” he said in a blog.

He graduated high school and continued his band throughout his years at IWU. “Cool thing is that when we first moved there, it was still Marion College and the whole rock thing was not really accepted. I came in with earrings and long hair. At that time, it was weird for Marion College to have that. We were wearing ripped up shirts and god-awful clothing,” he said.

Although he and his band stood out from the crowd at school, the music professors such as Dr. Kindley, Professor Bell, and Professor Guy were encouraging. “I was really close with them,” Gibson said. He and his band members would rehearse right above Professor Guy’s office. “We were a rock band rehearsing while Professor Guy was trying to teach,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times he came up and asked us to stop. But at the same time, I remember him telling us, ‘I don’t really get what you guys are doing, but I appreciate what you’re doing,’ and that meant a lot to me.”

The history professor, Dr. Martin, also largely influenced Gibson during his time at IWU. “Dr. Martin had people coming from all over the world to Indiana Wesleyan just so they could study under him… He helped me shape my world views,” Gibson said. He had voluntarily taken so many history classes from Dr. Martin as electives that he was only two classes short of completing the History major his senior year. He decided to take those classes and graduate with a double major in Music and History.

Quinton Gibson 2Studying Classical Guitar at IWU was not an easy task. The required classes were challenging and he often times wondered what he was doing. He wanted to be in a rock band, so why was he sitting in the library listening to classical records? Gibson now appreciates the discipline that it made him develop: “I really developed a strong work ethic and I took that with me to Nashville, which I had to have because Nashville is a very seriously competitive city.”

Going beyond music and classes, IWU served as a solid foundation for Gibson’s personal life. “Going to college really helped shape a lot of my world views from politics to religion to everything else in life. I learned a ton regarding music of course, and I think the whole experience of friendships and relationships I had with people and professors were big influences on me,” he said.

He continued friendships with two of his childhood best friends, and they are still friends to this day. Mike Belt was the bassist in Seraiah and Kyle Dietz was the drummer. Belt is now a pastor at a church in Dallas, Texas called Northcrest Community Church, and Dietz is an aspiring artist who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Dietz has appeared as an extra drummer in the ABC TV show Nashville.

Gibson lives in Nashville now as well, but spends most of his time touring. Darius Rucker just launched a new the Southern Style Tour in May. They will visit back to his home state to play in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Klipsch Music Center on June 27.

Quinton Gibson 3.jpgHe has toured the country with Rucker for six years, performing on nationally televised shows such as the Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, and many more.

His favorite part about his career is the performance. “I still get really pumped up and excited about doing the show every night. For me, this is like a combination of all my dreams I had when I was a kid growing up,” Gibson said. He always fantasized about being up on stage in front of thousands of people, and now that dream has become his profession. He is proud to say that the journey never gets old.

“There is nothing like the feeling of being in an arena and the lights going off and you’re getting ready to walk on stage. You’ve got 15,000 people screaming and it’s still an amazing feeling. I still feel like a kid when I get out there.” He found it difficult to describe the feeling: “If I could package it in a little pill and give it to everyone, I totally would. It’s an adrenaline rush that I can’t even describe.”

His future plans are to keep doing music until he cannot do it anymore. He has three kids and has loved watching them grow up. Gibson is a great father and has succeeded at balancing music and everything else. He has a few other dreams to pursue, recognizing that “there is more to life than music.” Outside of music, he is a personal trainer and loves working out. He would like to open up his own gym and help people get on track and live healthy lives. “If I could do music and have a gym that would be awesome,” he said.

Quinton Gibson 4Gibson considers himself very lucky and does not take his opportunities for granted. He enjoys working with the Rucker: “Darius is a great guy to work for,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to be a part of this. It’s not too often that you are able to work for someone who has had not only one successful career [Hootie in the Blowfish] but now a second very successful country music career. I’ve seen it grow from something small into something massively huge and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”


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.