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“The Guys” of Grant County honored

Thirteen years ago, journalist Anne Nelson, now teaching at Columbia University, sat down with a New York City fire captain to help him write the eulogies of eight firefighters who died in 9/11, according to an article on the Columbia News webpage.

After hearing their stories, Nelson was extremely moved. Just a few weeks later, on a chance meeting with Jim Simpson, artistic director of the Flea Theatre, Nelson proposed the idea of a play based on her experience with the fire captain.

Eight days later, she’d written her first play, and two days after that, Simpson had scheduled it to be performed. Simpson’s wife, actress Sigourney Weaver, expressed interest in performing it and asked her friend actor Bill Murray (yes, the Bill Murray) to play the other role. Within a week, meetings for rehearsal had begun, according to the Flea Theatre website.

On Sept. 25, the Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild will put on a free performance of Nelson’s play, “The Guys,” for the firemen of Grant County to honor and thank them for their work, some of whom actually went out to New York to help during 9/11.  

The following day, Sept. 26, the play will be open to the public.

Joan, played by Ashley Nossett (sr), interviews fire captain Nick, played by Seth Lawrence (sr), about the men he lost on 9/11. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Joan, played by Ashley Nossett (sr), interviews fire captain Nick, played by Seth Lawrence (sr), about the men he lost on 9/11. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Director Sharla Ball (sr) chose the play for her senior project as “a chance to share a story that I knew most of the audience had been a part of, … and I knew everybody would remember it.” She described it as less of a historical play and more of “a memory play.”

With an uncle who was a career firefighter and a grandpa who was a volunteer firefighter, Ball is most excited for the performances for the fire station. They will also be touring the play, getting another chance on Oct. 10 to perform for Hendricks County fire departments.

The show was cast in May, with Ashley Nossett (sr) portraying Joan, based off Nelson herself, and Seth Lawrence (sr), portraying Nick, the fire captain. They also met with Fire Chief Paul David and Captain Paul Thompson in May in order to start communicating about the performance for the fire station.

To begin their research for the play, Ball and Nossett got the chance to go to New York City during May term and tour a fire department that was just a block away from Ground Zero, right across the street from the towers, and hear one of the fireman’s stories. They saw the plaques on the wall of the station for the men that died in 9/11. They also saw the 9/11 Memorial. They also got to see a show at the Flea Theatre, where “The Guys” was originally performed.

To prepare for the role as fire captain, Lawrence shadowed the firemen of Grant County for a day. Getting up at six in the morning to be at the fire station for roll call, he got to hang out with the firemen, hear their stories, see how the fire truck worked and understand what their daily routine was like. 

“After time, things become diluted,” Ball said. She hopes that the play will be a good way “to remember what it was like back when it happened.” 

“Most of our generation has been living in a society where we’ve been in war since then,” Ball said. “People don’t realize that we’re still living in this era where we’re not at peace.”

Ball said the play is a chance to see what the world was like before 2001, before 9/11 changed everything.

Doing the Tango. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Nick teaches Joan how to dance. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Thirteen years after 9/11, “The Guys” has touched people in multiple ways.

Nelson referred to a Cambodian student who once spoke to her of the performance. The student said, “I just lost my best friend to cancer. This play is about me.”

“Some take it very literally,” Nelson said, “as a piece of history; some take it as a piece about mourning; some about finding friendship. I think where a person is at in life affects how they hear it.”

At the beginning of the play, Joan delivers a monologue about how different people have different degrees of distance from an event, like the ripples of being affected. 

“Everyone’s trying to find their own relationship to the event,” Nelson said.

The play will run Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4 at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays will also have a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $7 for students, $10 for IWU employees and $12 for adults, according to the IWU Theatre Guild website.

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Lilly grant funds 20 paid internships

The Center for Life Calling and Leadership has matched 20 students with paid internships at local business startups — and the startups don’t have to pay.

The internships are instead funded by a $3 million Lilly Endowment grant awarded to Indiana Wesleyan University this summer. It’s one of several projects the “Accelerate Indiana” grant will be funding, according to Carol Brown, director of career development.

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Angela Herrington (center), founder of ReEngage Consultants, meets with her two IWU interns at Abbey Coffee Co. // Photo by Hannah Whelchel

The internship program aims to “help the economy of Indiana,” Brown said, pairing students with businesses up to five years old in Indiana. It’s offered to sophomores, juniors and seniors, regardless of major.

“The students get exposure to … the whole process of starting a new business,” Brown said. “We want to encourage that entrepreneurial thinking. … It’s fast-paced. It requires creativity.”

At the same time, the entrepreneurial business is “casual in nature,” which appeals to students, she said.

Students apply for the internship program, Brown said, answering questions about their skills and why they want to be considered. At the same time, businesses apply, detailing what type of students they’re looking for (e.g. business students, marketing students).

Students work approximately 15 hours per week at $9.50 per hour. The grant also reimburses students for gas mileage if they are required to travel to and from their internship’s office.

One of the interns, Rachel Ozios (sr), is working for Cast a Bigger Net, a marketing firm in Indianapolis. This internship marks the first time Ozios, a marketing major, has worked in an area directly related to her field of study.

“It’s an area where I’m passionate,” Ozios said. “I’m very excited to have a little bit more experience under my belt.”

Students like Ozios aren’t the only ones to benefit from the internship program. Because of “Accelerate Indiana,” startups get free help to forward their business.

Marion resident Angela Herrington, who founded the women’s ministry Broken Beautiful BOLD with her husband in 2013, established a new organization, ReEngage Consultants, to help ministries use social media sites as a ministry tool.

Having the help of two IWU interns will progress Herrington’s business “two to three times faster” than without them, she said.

“I’m just blown away by the caliber of the interns,” Herrington said. “I think they’re going to bring a ton of things to the table.”

Brown addressed possible concerns in collaborating with startups, since there is no guarantee whether or not the business will survive.

Internship Coordinator Tiffany Snyder said the Career Development Office “processes” employer applications, looking for “meaningful projects for interns and high potential for full-time hire following the internship period.”

This evaluation process also ensures the legitimacy of the startup. Career Development also coaches interns on how they should and should not be treated as an employee.

Overall, Brown said this grant allows the Center to reach students “more than we might have in the past.” They’re learning earlier the importance of building a resume, networking and personal branding.

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Photo by Hannah Whelchel

By the end of the internship, Herrington hopes her students walk away with something more than new business skills.

“I really want them to know that they don’t have to chuck their faith out the door after they walk out of their commencement ceremony,” she said. “Everything is a ministry. … I hope that our students walk away and see that.”

The next internship application process begins Oct. 1 for students.

Other projects the “Accelerate Indiana” grant funds include:

-Three new staff members in the Center for Life Calling — graduate Tiffany Snyder, internship coordinator; Jordan Delks, employer relations coordinator; and an unfilled co-curricular coordinator.

-“Experience Indiana,” a four-day event in March celebrating different Indiana experiences. A job fair for students will be held on the final day, March 19.

-Classes for entrepreneurs

-$30,000 per year in field trip money, for which faculty members can apply. Nine faculty members have received it already.

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Unified chapel brings changes to scanning system

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Photo by Becka Roth

Monday morning, many students were pleasantly surprised by a quick exit from the first combined chapel in years, thanks to a new scanning system.

The new system consists of scanners on the inside of the inner chapel doors, similar to the ones placed outside dorm halls. In past years, student workers stood at the doors and used a handheld device to scan people in and out. Students can now scan themselves in and do not need to scan out when leaving.

Part of the reason for this change, according to Chapel Coordinator Jennifer Martin, was to expedite the mass exodus from the chapel, now that all students attend the same service.

“I definitely missed [the scanner] the first time,” said Kristen Hardman (so). “But I think it will be easier and faster.”

The change was not, however, based entirely on logistics.

“I hate the idea of these guns!” said Dean of the Chapel, Jim Lo, in reference to the scanners used in past years. “To me it kind of gave the wrong image, I want chapel to be friendlier to those that are a part of it.”

The new way of scanning in is not as closely monitored as in past years, making it easier for students to cheat the system — something the chapel administrators have discussed and are very aware of.

“I feel the majority of our students here are people of integrity, and they’ll stay for the whole service,” said Lo. “I think we can trust our students.”

Swiping both at the beginning and the end first began as a response to a few students who had a tendency to exit chapel early. According to Lo, this has now been changed because “why should we penalize everyone for just a handful?”

Lo said that chapel is ultimately a student’s personal relationship with God, and “if they lie about it, the Spirit will speak to their hearts.”

If the situation was to get out of hand, and “droves of students” were leaving early, the new system would have to be reevaluated, according to Martin and Lo.

So far, many students have expressed a positive reaction to the unified chapel service.

“Students love the sense and the energy of having so many people in there,” said Lo. “The students that have emailed me or stopped me are just so thrilled!”

In past years it wasn’t always easy making two chapel services the same, said Lo, explaining that “what the Spirit does cannot be replicated.” With a single service, this is not an issue.

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Photo by Becka Roth

Because of all the changes, there is no longer a need for students to serve as chapel scanners. Even so, the idea of having students greet and converse with those entering chapel stays strong. Chaplains will be out among the students asking how they are and building relationships before and after service, Martin said.

The only way any of it has been possible has been through the great effort of the entire team involved, according to Lo. “They don’t get the praise, but without them, we could not do what we’re doing,” said Lo, in reference to Wampner, Martin, and the tech team.

“I’m so thankful the school was willing to, in a sense, take a risk and allow it,” said Lo.

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IT working to fix problems with LearningStudio

The Student Orientation Tutorial for LearningStudio is located at the bottom of the "My Classes" tab on the MyIWU portal.

The Student Orientation Tutorial for LearningStudio is located at the bottom of the “My Classes” tab on the MyIWU portal.

Indiana Wesleyan University’s Information Technology department has heard complaints from students and professors about LearningStudio and is trying to address them as soon as possible.

Assistant Vice President of IT Gary Green said the main issue with the new learning management system is that some students are not enrolled in their classes online. The IT department, however, is working to ensure all students can access their classes. He says IT’s first priority is to work on classes that have the most students unable to access online material.

“We are fixing courses that have the biggest impact first and making sure those courses have the correct students enrolled in them,” Green said.

Green says he has heard other complaints about LearningStudio, but that most of them will disappear as students and professors get used to the new system.

“When we went to Blackboard [IWU’s old learning management system], people didn’t like it at first, but then they became familiar with it and were fine with it,” Green said.

To facilitate the transition, Green said the IT department focused on training faculty and new students prior to the beginning of the semester.

For returning students, a LearningStudio Student Orientation Tutorial is available under the “My Classes” tab on the left side of the MyIWU home page.

“Change is the biggest challenge,” Green said. “There’s going to be some learning curve with LearningStudio to start, but that’s natural.”

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