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

Mike Bruce: From College Search to Grammy Awards

By: Dezaray Barr

Mike Bruce

Mike Bruce began his college search in 2010, and he was confident he would pursue a radio career in California. He visited Anderson University with a friend, and while they were in the area they decided to visit IWU, as it happened to be a visit day.

“As soon as we pulled up in front of Bowman House and walked into the Student Center… whatever it was, I just knew that this was the place to be,” said Bruce. “It’s one of those feelings of confidence. That’s the best way to explain it. I immediately felt peace and knew, ‘Holy cow, this is the one.'”

While a student at IWU, Bruce was nominated for both Homecoming Court and to be his freshman class president, a tradition in Student Government that is no longer active. He played intramurals and participated in activities through Bowman House.

Late into his freshman year, Bruce was introduced to Public Relations, and it stuck in his mind throughout that summer. Beginning his sophomore year, Bruce decided that radio was not the career for him, and he switched his major to Public Relations. His sophomore year, Bruce was the president for his class again, as well as a Resident Assistant in Scripture Hall.

During his junior year, Bruce had the opportunity to work as an Event Coordinator for Student Activities Counsel (SAC) and become Vice President of IWU’s chapter of PRSSA.

Bruce had the opportunity to be a Student Ambassador while studying abroad in Australia during the spring semester of his junior year. He also interned in June of 2013 at the Wood Family Foundation in Chicago, Illinois.

“That summer [at Wood Family Foundation] was instrumental in building everything that I previously knew about PR, but also learning about the events planning,” said Bruce. While at the Wood Family Foundation, Bruce worked with Woody’s Wiffle Ball Classic at Wrigley Field, where he had the opportunity to meet many celebrities, including Bill Murray, and help raise over $400,000.

When Bruce returned to IWU for his senior year, he had the opportunity to write for The Sojourn and gain some journalism experience while working with Dr. Randall King. He also volunteered through Francis Locum, mentoring a child at a local elementary school, and Bruce used this as his Public Relations senior project for the Communication Department.

After graduation in April of 2014, Bruce returned to working for the Wood Family Foundation, helping with an event they were hosting in June, Woody’s Winter Warm Up.  Read more about the event here.

“I had the opportunity to grow and network,” said Bruce. “I always wanted to say, ‘You’ll be successful with what you know, but you’ll go so far with the people you know and meet.’ That was the case with me.”

Bruce suggests that students get real life experience during their college experience. “No matter what you do, you’ll always learn more on the job, during real life experiences,” Bruce said.

Since taking on this role at the Wood Family Foundation, Bruce has experienced real life networking. He’s had the opportunity to attend the Grammy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards and meet major celebrities, like Nick Jonas and Ellen DeGeneres.


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 runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at

Meet Young Alum – Rilee Catalano

Being offered a solid job right out of college is not a common occurrence, but our very young ’15 alum, Rilee Catalano proved that it is possible. Her hard work while at school paid off, and she is grateful for every opportunity.

Riley CatalanoCatalano officially graduated last spring Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Public Relations and Business Administration. She then moved to Columbus, Ohio to live with friends and has been preparing for her job through an internship. For over a year, she has been virtually interning with the Fortune 20 Health Care company called Cardinal Health. In June, she will begin a full-time position with them in the Managerial Training Program called EMERGE.

Leading up to her full-time position, Catalano has been getting familiar with the company’s internal communication through her Communication Internship. She has been working on a project with Cardinal Health’s corporate social media Internet, which is similar to a corporate Facebook. “Our corporate Facebook is called ‘Engage.’ It was created about two years ago by my supervisor, the Director of Internal Communication, as a way to first, connect the workplace, second, generate open two-way communication, and third, enable collaboration and idea sharing,” she said.

Her supervisor approached her and said that the Chief of HR and the Vice President of Communications were wondering if her project, Engage, was meeting its goals. Without any metrics or measurements in place, Catalano had a large task ahead of her. She was presented with the job as their intern to quantify how the social media was performing, so they could prove to the Chief and VP that it was working. This included researching to seek out measurements of collaboration, communication, and networking online.

“I’ve been able to go into the data system and create metrics and case studies, so I’m creating both quantitative and qualitative measures of various indicators of networking, two-way communication, and innovation,” Catalano said.

She sometimes cannot believe how far she has come, thinking back to being at Indiana Wesleyan just a year ago. “Being at IWU, I was able to be a big fish in a small pond,” she said. Catalano served on the leadership team for PRSSA [Public Relations Student Society of America], contributed writing for the school newspaper, The Sojourn, and broadcasted as a host for the WIWU TV station.

“I honestly learned so much at school that I never went into an interview where I didn’t have an experience to relate to. My experiences at IWU were amazing because of all the opportunities I was able to have just by taking the initiative and wanting it,” she said. “All of it was so valuable. IWU definitely helped make me the professional person I am today.”

Another opportunity she is grateful for is her senior internship with the Grant County Economic Growth Council. During her time with the Growth Council, she coordinated three professional networking events, one of which was new. This event was called Date to Innovate, and is now on it’s second year.

Riley 2When Catalano found out that the upcoming PRSSA team will be partnering with the Growth Council to continue Date to Innovate, she was thrilled and humbled. “That wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for me, and I can’t say that about very many things in this world. It’s awesome to know that somehow, I made a tangible impact that I can actually see. That’s so rewarding for me,” she said.

Catalano believes that the best experiences in life are those that make you grow, and you cannot grow without being challenged. Everything she did throughout college was challenging, especially her internship at the Growth Council: “In that role, they required me to take a lot of initiative, be a self-starter and a self-manager, and manage my own time… I know that all of my experiences while in college in Marketing and Communications definitely prepared me to be a big fish in a really big pond.”

Once she starts her full time Managerial role at Cardinal Health in June, she sure will be in a “big pond.” The program that she will enter is called EMERGE and it is focused on offering leadership development through experiencing different positions. Catalano will we placed in a different position every year within her function. Since she is in the Marketing role, she will be training to become a Marketing Manager with their business by doing a different Marketing role every year for the next three years.

“This year, I will be working in Pharmaceutical Consumer Health doing Marketing with independent Pharmacy owners. I’ll curate content, research, work with customer service, and plan events,” Catalano explained.

She has not even technically started her job yet, but is already booking flights and hotels for a retail business conference in Las Vegas this summer: “The team that I am with has a big hand in coordinating the function. I’ve already started on it and it’s really fun.”

It is encouraging to see our graduates succeeding in their career paths and enjoying every step. Catalano is one example of many who has an obvious passion for what she does. She thanks everyone who pushed her to become the woman she is today: “I’ve been empowered and given a lot of confidence. I can now look at a blank piece of paper and say, ‘I can make something of this on my own, because I’ve done it before.’”


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.