John Wesley Honors College

Student Experiences


Learning is not limited to the classroom. Experience is a process of learning that happens outside—outside classrooms, outside universities, and even outside one’s native country. Each experience is unique and prepares students specifically as professionals of their field and generally as problem solvers of life. Several of our Honors College students have shared their experiences over the past year, describing joys and challenges that have shaped them.


Gaby Garver, an International Relations senior, spent a full academic year in Istanbul, Turkey. She describes Istanbul as “a vibrant city, whose streets are adorned with conversationalists drinking tea, nestled among historical buildings, aqueducts and mosques.” Her motivation for choosing Turkey, she says, was a desire “to learn about refugees, Islam, and the politics of the Middle East.” She was able to work with a refugee organization, 10518706_10152764520548909_2377270203376765384_ndevelop relationships with practicing Muslims, and gain political insight within the Middle East.

“And, while I did receive a transcript from a Turkish university,” she continues, “most of my education came from outside the classroom.” Practicing life within a culture not her own stretched and challenged her. She describes, “I lived in the heart of the city, learning daily about different rhythms of life, the happenings in the world around me, and the innate human desire to seek God.”


A junior studying Christian Ministries, Nathan York participated in a short-term summer trip to Queensland, Australia. While there, he was “able to preach in a local church and help lead two middle/high-school youth camps.” 11215152_10206371294274433_4287456251442979533_nExperiencing the Australian church first hand, Nathan explains, “There is a dire need for Christian leadership. The population there is much more spread out than it is here, and only about 3% of the population is considered evangelical Christian, so we went to help fill this leadership gap.”

Not only did Nathan impact lives, but he was also changed. He says, “Leading in the camps allowed God to touch my heart through the relationships I built with the students. God challenged me to take my relationship with Him more seriously, being more passionate and zealous for Him in how I live my everyday life.”


Lydia Flynn, a senior in the Honors College, served as a summer intern in Washington D.C. Describing the challenge of the environment, Lydia says, “The professional culture of D.C. that I experienced was different than anything I had encountered before…I was surprised at how quickly I unintentionally connected with people who were most like me, namely fellow Midwesterners.” Lydia encountered decisions of balance in developing relationships with people alike and different from herself.

She was also confronted by “the drive of personal advancement [which] has left its mark on this professional city, even among interns.”  With a desire to learn from active community members, she states, “I looked up to role models who lived and worked in the area but truly focused on advancing the greater good of a community over themselves.” If ever given the opportunity to live in Washington D.C., Lydia hopes to be involved in a church that welcomes all people with the love of Christ.


Experiences, like the ones above, reflect a commitment to personal growth. Dr. Lisa Toland, the Associate Director of the John Wesley Honors College, recently led a group of students on a travel course to London, England to study women’s history. A proponent of unique experiences, Dr. Toland explains, “Experiences like those described by the students above expand our worlds and often make us smaller in our own eyes. The ability to recognize someone else’s needs or perspective before our own has to be learned – it is rarely an innate quality. The variety of experiences these wonderful students have had in the last year makes concrete many of the emphases of the JWHC curriculum and community that centers around loving God and loving neighbor. The JWHC faculty hopes all of their students are able to have this sort of experience during their time at IWU. If you are interested in an internship, studying abroad, service trips, a travel course, or any other similar experience we would love to help make it happen!”


Here are a few other recent experiences of JWHC students:


  • Junior Ethan Gormong, junior Marin Young, and sophomore Hannah Van Dusen, each a student of the Natural Sciences, contributed to research with the Hodson Summer Research Institute©.
  • Noah Koch, a junior of Math and Applied Music, participated as a drum major in the Legends Drum and Bugle Corps©.
  • Ilana Shinkle, a senior of Music Education, worked as a camp counselor for Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp© in Twin Lake, Michigan.
  • McKinzie Horoho, a junior of Political Science, completed an internship with MatchBOX Coworking Studio© in Lafayette, Indiana.
  • Caleb Carr, a sophomore of Christian Ministries, travelled to Illinois, Iowa, New York, and Tennessee to help organize the summer camp Never the Same©.
  • Jaclyn Story, a junior of Psychology and Addictions Counseling, served as a counselor for young children with behavior disorders through the Florida International University Summer Treatment Program© in Miami, Florida.


  • Ariel Blocker-Smith, a senior of Illustration, and Sam Berg, a junior of Psychology, studied and researched women’s history in London, England.
  • Mary-Madison Weaver, a senior of Nursing, travelled to southern India to study transcultural nursing through rural clinics, local health education, a girls’ home, and an HIV home.
  • Olivia Thompson, a sophomore of Music Composition, travelled to Mexico to perform with the Indiana Wesleyan University Orchestra.
  • Allison Tinch, a junior of Intercultural Studies and TESOL Education, travelled to Austria and the Czech Republic where she worked with missionaries to serve refugees and teach an English camp.