Class of ’12: December grads

For seniors graduating this semester, the future may be uncertain, but it’s a feeling they have experienced before.

Jacob Eckles began his college career as a pre-med major but soon realized he was in for a difficult freshman year. Eckles said he felt unprepared for the pre-med program coming out of high school.

“Freshman year was a very difficult year,” Eckles said. “I learned a lot about my limits and my strengths.”

Eckles changed majors his sophomore year, entering political science and pre-law.

He is graduating a semester early with a degree in political science and pre-law. He plans to combine his interest in public health and science by pursuing a career in public health policy. Eckles said he would like to work for the World Health Organization, located in Switzerland.

Eckles said his experience doing missions work in Honduras and Jamaica has helped him identify a lack of basic health care in many nations. He plans to attend graduate school and has applied to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., as well as Yale University.

Keely King is graduating with a degree in psychology and Biblical literature. King said she plans to pursue a master’s degree and eventually become a marriage and family counselor. She chose a Biblical literature major because she wants her counseling to be grounded in Scripture.

King attended a small Christian high school and developed a good relationship with her guidance counselor. This encouraged her to want to become a counselor as well.

“I wanted to bless others the same way I was blessed [by my guidance counselor],” King said.

King said she has never doubted her decision to study psychology but has worried that her confidence is unnatural. Through a project in one of her classes, King said she received affirmation of her talents and encouraging support from friends. The assignment was to have her friends describe her strengths.

King said some of her main worries after graduating are losing touch with friends from school. She has applied to attend graduate school at Indiana Wesleyan University and, if accepted, will remain in Marion next semester. King is from Warsaw, Ind., and said she dislikes the Indiana climate changes. Family is more important to her, though, and she plans to remain close to them after graduation.

King’s advice to students is, “Seek to know people, and be known by people.”

Josh Campbell is a graduating senior from Fremont, Mich.,  Campbell is a media communication major. He is interested in working at an Apple Store in the Midwest after graduating but seems open to pursuing other opportunities.

“I don’t have a plan,” Campbell said.

Campbell’s interest in media technology began in seventh and eighth grades, when he began programming websites. He began his college career pre-declared but decided to pursue technical skills.

“[Media communication] was the closest degree I could get to playing with toys,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he is uncertain about the future because he is about to break the routine of schooling. He said he has become accustomed to a life of school semesters punctuated by traditional holiday breaks.

Campbell’s advice to students is to branch out and make connections with other students and professors.

Susanna Spencer is graduating with a degree in writing and leadership. She also will earn a minor in public relations.

Spencer said she struggled to find the right major. Her family encouraged her to pursue a writing major, but Spencer was hesitant.

“I’d always loved writing but figured I couldn’t make any money off of writing,” Spencer said.

Spencer said she received much help from Dr. Bill Millard and the Life Calling and Leadership Center. Millard encouraged her to pick up a leadership major and helped her identify her talents.

Spencer now wants to help struggling students in the same way. She has applied for positions as an academic adviser at several universities. While she has not committed to a position yet, she feels called to stay in Marion after graduating. Spencer said she would like to remain near IWU and her friends.

Spencer’s English and writing capstone project is a creative nonfiction piece. Spencer said the project explores her struggles at times to maintain faith and explores how God speaks in her life.

Spencer encourages students to enjoy their time in college and realize that God will guide them if they seek Him.

“Remember that God is still in control,” said Spencer. “He gives us freedom to make our own choices. If we’re seeking to glorify Him, he will provide for us. Don’t ever stop praying.”

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Please don’t walk on the grass

The next time the sound of a leaf blower meets your ear as you walk to class, look in that direction. You may see the driving force behind much of the beautiful landscape at Indiana Wesleyan University. What might surprise you is the sight of 67-year-old Sue Isaacs and 75-year-old Dr. Jeanne Argot hard at work.

Isaacs and Argot work for the Facilities Services Grounds Department. They may be seen blowing leaves from sidewalks and planting flowers around campus.

Isaacs and Argot both work part-time for IWU, each putting in around 20 hours a week. The pair spends most mornings working from 8 a.m. until noon.

“If it rains we stay home,” said Isaacs.

Isaacs began working for facilities in 1995. She was in charge of ordering flowers and plants as well as working alongside student workers.

Isaacs became a part-time Facilities employee after retiring in 2006. Isaacs seems eager to share her knowledge of plants with others, though she has not always worked in landscaping.

“I worked behind a desk [doing] loan and commercial mortgages,” Isaacs said. “I wanted to get outside.”

Being an Indiana Master Gardener, she enjoys planting flowers and watching them grow. Isaacs said she became interested in gardening through working on the family farm in her home state of Ohio.

“When we moved [to] the farm, there was a big pear tree and it was like 30 feet tall and I wanted to know how to cut that pear tree,” said Isaacs.

“That’s [why] I took the Master Gardener’s course.” Isaacs husband Joe is also retired, but he stays busy operating his                 own towing service.

Joe Isaacs frequently joins the ladies for their coffee break at a local gas station. He is pleased his wife is still able to work.

“[Sue is] being paid to do her hobby,” said Joe Isaacs. “She raises hybrid weeds.”

“I’ve always felt that if you retire and go home, sit down and watch TV, you’re not going to live very long,” said Joe Isaacs. “You need to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

The Isaacs are not the only retirees staying active.

Dr. Jeanne Argot has been working alongside Sue Isaacs for 10 years. Having the same work schedule, the two have learned that they complement each other with their areas of knowledge.

“I’ve learned a lot from [Argot]” said Isaacs. “She’s more into the bugs and stuff. I teach her the plants, she teaches me the bugs.”
Argot came to Marion College in 1979. Argot was working as a medical technologist in her home state of Pennsylvania when the dean of Marion College offered her a job.

Argot worked at the school for 21 years before retiring in 2000. Argot decided to remain active in other ways. She quit teaching that April and started working for facilities the next month.

“I just like being outdoors, and I like plants. I thought that would be a good thing to do in retirement,” said Argot. “Of course, we don’t work in the winter. When the snow comes, we quit.”

Argot often uses a backpack-mounted leaf blower to clear sidewalks and streets. The blower is nearly as large Argot, but she said it’s easier to carry than a hand-held model.

Argot and Isaacs admit that the work is difficult at times, but they enjoy it.

“This morning we were digging out [some] great big grasses,” said Argot. “It was a little hard, but it uses your muscles. It’s good.”

Argot never married, but both she and Isaacs feel a connection to the students. Isaacs said she enjoys watching students have a good time as they walk to class.

“Every now and then a student will come up and say, ‘Thanks for your work and for keeping my campus beautiful,’” says Argot. “They appreciate [our work] and we like that.”

Isaacs said Argot has several students who come back to visit her, especially around Homecoming.

Argot’s work is not finished once she leaves campus. She volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the hospital and volunteers as a hospice caretaker.

“[One patient] wanted to have somebody read to him…he got to the point where he couldn’t read anymore,” said Argot. “I went in and spent an hour or so reading with him.”

Lucas Binkerd, a Facilities Grounds Department manager, has come to appreciate both ladies’ work over the years.
Binkerd said he came to realize how witty and fun Argot can be while working alongside her.

“I want to be like [them] when I [reach] that age,” said Binkerd. “They both do stuff outside of Indiana Wesleyan that is really helpful to the community.”

Isaacs’ advice for students is to go for your dream.

Argot said, don’t walk on the grass…“[And] study hard,” she added warmly.

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Desert Neighbor records new EP

Desert Neighbor is an indie rock band from Marion, Ind. Lead guitarist Devin Hopwood (sr) and vocalist Tony Perez (sr) are both students at Indiana Wesleyan University. Drummer Jordan Overmyer attends IUPUI, but lives in Marion with bassist Logan White, a student at Indiana University.

Perez, Hopwood and Overmyer discussed the recording of their new EP due for release in early 2012.

You recently recorded music for a new EP.  Where and when did that happen?
Overmyer: We went to Ball State University in Muncie. That was [Oct.] 21 and 22. We recorded with two guys that go to school there, Steven Berghoff and Alex Dobbert, they are both students [at Ball State].
Perez: They are studying music technology.

How did you get paired up with them?
Hopwood: Steve and I have a mutual friend, and I guess Steve was talking to our mutual friend, Jacob Stansberry, about this project he has to do for his class. He has to present so many minutes of material he has recorded through the semester. He was asking Jacob if he knew any bands and Jacob thought of me and gave Steve my information.

How was recording this EP different than recording your first two EPs, “Nothing is Working” (2010) and “I Haven’t Always Been Like This” (2011)?
Perez: It was way better because we tracked everything live except for vocals.  So we were all in separate rooms, but still playing together when we tracked the songs. So it was shorter, it was faster, and it just felt more natural and real.
Overmyer: And it was at a university. It was a $1.1 million studio. They had good equipment.
Perez: Yeah, it was the best place we’ve been in.

Were the studios for your first EPs of poor quality?
Overmyer: No. [“I Haven’t Always Been Like This”] was done in Lafayette at Grey House. It was good considering it was in the bottom of a coffeehouse and it’s just run by a couple guys who are in a band together. But you can’t really compare that to a university’s music building.

Why have you done three EPs instead of one full-length album?
Hopwood: I feel like each EP is a different stage of the band.  Because the first EP is like, with any band, something to get out of the way.  We play two of the songs from it, but they are different versions of [the songs]. And our second EP is a little more refined, but I think this EP is where we want to go and where we want to be, if that makes sense.

And are you OK with saying that in another six months when you’re doing another EP?
Overmyer: (Laughs)
Hopwood: We’ll see. You never know, but I think that right now this EP that we’re about to put out is the sound that we’ve been searching for.
Overmyer: We’ve talked about full-lengths and when we do it, we want it to be good.  We haven’t been a band that long.  It’s only been a year-and-a-half so we’re still evolving and changing our sound.
Perez: Yeah, I was going to say full-lengths take a lot of time and a lot of money. That’s what we don’t have.
Hopwood: Mostly money.
Perez: Yeah. And we want our songs to be perfect when our full-length comes out.  So I think right now, EPs are good because we are putting out more music.
Overmyer: And releasing EPs, like two a year, helps to build a fan base and keep a fan base because they are sticking around and staying interested. If you wait two years to do another full-length, because we’re not that big of a band we can’t really wait that long, people would just forget about us.

What songs are going to be featured on the new EP?
Perez: There’s going to be four songs on the EP. If you’ve seen us live, we play a song called “Old Bones” and another song called “There is No Use.” Those songs will be on there and we have two new songs.  They’re called “Loud House” and “The River is Alive in Us.”

Is there a tentative title for the EP?
Perez: We’re still thinking about it, but I just thought about it last night. It will be something along the lines of, “This House is Yours.”

“Old Bones” and “There is No Use” focus more on varying dynamics and have more off-the-cuff song structures than your previous material.  Was that a conscious decision made in the songwriting process?
Perez: I don’t think so. When we were writing together, everything just kind of flowed into whatever was happening next, so it just kind of happened that way.
Tony, many of your lyrics seem to be self-reflective, but the lyrics of “Old Bones” are about a male role model. Are they about your father?
Perez: Yeah, I was writing about my dad at first.  I’m growing up and getting older and getting more mature, hopefully.  I’m beginning to realize a lot more things.  One of them a year ago was how much my dad has worked for me and my whole family so I wanted to show him appreciation by writing him a song.  That was what the song was mainly about when I first started writing it. As I kept going I started to realize it was more about when I was thinking about the band as a whole and how [the other members] could relate, it started to turn into how much God has been helping us in this band and how much God has been helping us work for our own things.  So it’s kind of about my dad and about our Dad.

What other inspirations do you draw from for your lyrics?
Perez: I guess for this EP, growing up or realizing that I need to grow up, God and realizing how awesome He is. It always starts out as a different idea and then comes in with God behind it.  One of the songs called “Loud House” is about house shows. I went to go see [Husband & Wife] at the beginning of the year and it was cool because all of these old friends and people I hadn’t seen in a long time were there. And it was cool that this band brought together all these people that I love to see and talk to. I was writing [the song] based on that, but after a while, I started thinking about how God does the same thing with church and how all these different people come into one building for one person.

So how soon will fans be able to hear the new EP?
Perez: I think we want to release it in January 2012.  We’re going to be posting little sneak-peeks of songs online, so fans that follow us online will be able to hear something.
Overmyer: We tried to take a lot of video and pictures of things when we were there so we have stuff to space-out and [put out] building up to the release.
Fans interested in seeing Desert Neighbor live or hearing previews of the band’s new EP can visit their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter (@desertneighbor) or visit their Bandcamp page at

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Students express hymn’s influence with art

Students at Indiana Wesleyan University have created artwork inspired by Horatio Spafford’s well-known hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” The 1920 Gallery’s latest exhibit will showcase select pieces focused on the theme.

Emily Rodemann (sr), curator of the 1920 Gallery, is responsible for choosing the themes for each of the exhibits the gallery holds. Rodemann said she wants to hold exhibits inspired by short lines from poems and songs.

According to a website providing historical information on hymns, Spafford had the authority to speak of sorrows billowing like the sea.

Spafford was a successful lawyer in Chicago when his only son died at age 4. Then the Great Chicago Fire destroyed all of Spafford’s real estate investments. The Spafford family decided to travel to England, but as they prepared to sail across the Atlantic, Horatio was called back to Chicago at the last minute. He told his wife and four daughters he would meet them in England.

The ship carrying his wife and daughters collided with another vessel. Only Spafford’s wife survived, sending him news of his daughters’ deaths by telegram. On his way to meet his wife, Horatio wrote the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” as he passed the spot of his daughters’ death.

Rodemann chose the hymn because of its expression of the peace one can have through a relationship with Christ even in the midst of tragedy. Rodemann said she had students submit art inspired by both joyful and horrible moments in their life.

“I have been through a couple significant events in my life where I needed the peace of the Lord more than anything,” Rodemann said. “It is normal to feel anger and contempt towards God in those instances. As I’ve grown, I have realized that He was always there to comfort me at my lowest, and even though it was not completely OK, it was well with my soul and I [could] praise His name.”

Stephanie Middaugh (sr) painted a piece for the exhibit. Middaugh, an art education major, said she is excited at the opportunity to display her work in the 1920 Gallery.

One of Middaugh’s paintings is titled “The Veil is Torn.” It is a mixed-medium fiber art painting using string to represent the temple curtain that was torn in two when Christ died. Middaugh said the string represents the way in which people can become “tangled” in life.

“[The tangled string represents] our insecurities, our failures and our idea that we need to always be in control,” Middaugh said. “Even if we think we are in the biggest mess. God always brings glory to Himself through those situations. Somehow He takes those tangled messes and makes something beautiful out of them.”

Rodemann said she is excited in particular by one student’s photo submissions. They were taken in China and show people with mental disabilities.

The photos show that it is not well with their bodies, but it’s well with their souls, Rodemann said.

Rodemann said she selected 12 pieces of art to display from roughly 20 submissions.

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