In celebration of the Class of 2017, we asked some of our seniors what they never expected to love about IWU, how they accomplished so much in four years, and why they feel so confident for what will come next. Learn how their professors and peers inspired them; how study abroad, travel opportunities, and extracurricular activities made a significant impact on them; and why the most unexpected experiences will be those they’ll remember forever. (Responses edited for length).
Majors: Hispanic Studies and Secondary Education
What's Next: Peace Corps, possibly in Ecuador
Major: Business Administration
What's Next: Solution Developer, Deloitte Consulting, Springfield
What's Next: Medical School at Loyola University Chicago
Major: Contemporary Musicianship
What's Next: Marketing Intern, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Major: Business Administration, Marketing concentration
What's Next: Freelance graphic design
What's Next: Child Psychiatry Nurse, Rush University Medical Center’s Rush Day School
What's Next: Credit Reporting Team Intern, Wintrust Financial
What's Next: Doctor of physical therapy program, Washington University in St. Louis
Major: Financial Services
What's Next: Credit Analyst, The PrivateBank
Majors: English-writing and French
What's Next: Master's program in Library and Information Science, University of Illinois
What's Next: Indiana University School of Dentistry
What's Next: Behavioral Therapist for Total Spectrum
Majors: Political Science and International Studies
What's Next: University of Illinois College of Law, on a full tuition scholarship
What's Next: Chemistry Ph.D. program, Washington University in St. Louis
What's Next: RN in medical oncology unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
What's Next: Ph.D. program in organic chemistry, Boston University
What's Next: Working as a nurse in Chicago
Majors: Philosophy and Political Science
What's Next: University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
What's Next: Medical school at Southern Illinois University
What's Next: Graduating a year early
Majors: Theatre Arts and Business Administration
What's Next: Center Director of Fellowship Program, Appalachia Service Project
Major: Computer Science
What's Next: Business Development Representative, Groupon
What's Next: Chemist in Research and Development Group, Beckers Group
Hispanic Studies and Secondary Education majors; Chicago
Phi Kappa Phi, Collegiate Choir, SALSA (Spanish and Latino Student Association), Sigma Alpha Iota, IWU Language School for Kids, Eckley Scholar
Up Next: Peace Corps, possibly serving in Ecuador starting January 2018. I want to combine my love for traveling, volunteer service, education and language, and the Peace Corps gives me that opportunity. I want to spend some time abroad before finding a permanent teaching position in Chicago.
Favorite Class: “Latin America” with Professor of History Mike Weis. He made class so much fun. I changed my major to Spanish because I wanted to learn more about Latin American culture and history.
I didn’t expect…that I would go abroad during college. I went to Chile the fall of my junior year and it was an experience that changed my life in so many ways. I met so many amazing people who deeply impacted my life. I am forever grateful for the experience.
Memorable Moments: Going on tour with Collegiate Choir. I am so lucky that for three years I sang with so many talented students for audiences all around the country!
Inspiring IWU: I love how well rounded the students are on this campus and how this university is preparing us to become future leaders in this country. I truly believe that many students here at IWU will go far in life and making a lasting impact in this world.
Business Administration major; Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria
Phi Kappa Phi, African Students Association, Alpha Kappa Psi, Habitat for Humanity.
Up Next: Solution Developer, Deloitte Consulting, Springfield. I saw the job posting on Titan CareerLink and applied. After two rounds of interviews I received an offer and accepted.
Favorite Professor: A tie between [Business] Professors Dave Marvin and Karen Bussone. Professor Marvin was my advisor, and his classes were very eye opening. He was always available to listen, support and offer advice. Professor Bussone’s classes were very challenging. She had high expectations which helped me to take on more challenges.
Inspired by….the smart, passionate people who attend IWU.
Dear First-Years: Make the most of opportunities that come from attending a small school. Visit the Career Center often, get involved with organizations you are passionate about, and do the best you can with your grades.
Biology major; Hampshire, Ill.
Illinois Wesleyan Symphonic Orchestra, Beta Beta Beta, Catholic Newman Center, IWU Freeman Asia intern
Up Next: Medical school at Loyola University Chicago
Choosing IWU: I wanted a school where I could pursue my goal of gaining acceptance into medical school as a biology major while also continuing my interest in music as a violinist. IWU has challenged me academically and has allowed me to participate in music activities.
Favorite class: “The Vietnam Wars” with Professor of History Tom Lutze. A lot of the atrocities that were committed during the war seemed to rely on the rationalization that another person was inferior or less than human. Constantly evaluating my own beliefs and attitudes toward others has become an important theme in my life after taking this course.
The Unexpected: I was not expecting to get involved with St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center. But after going to mass on Sunday and a retreat my first year, I was drawn to the selflessness of the people there. The community of religious sisters and students from ISU, IWU and Heartland Community College have constantly challenged me and inspired me to strive to live a life for others, not just for myself.
Most Important Takeaway: School is important, but it’s not everything. Coming in, I was very focused on academics and my goal of getting into medical school. From relationships, to relaxing, to growing as a human being, I’ve learned the importance of the other aspects of my life and how to better prioritize all those things.
Most-loved SAGA Meal: My staple food for the past 3.5 years – the breakfast sandwich. Shout out to Patty, Rima, and Chris for always being on top of my order for the last three years, and to Rose before that.
Contemporary Musicianship major; St. Charles, Ill.
Collegiate Choir, Phi Mu Alpha: Sinfonia, Wesleyan Consort, WESN
Up Next: Marketing Intern, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Choosing IWU: I wanted to be responsible for writing everything I perform. After sitting in on my composition review with Dr. David Vayo the day I auditioned, I knew I wanted to study writing with him.
Favorite Professors: A tie between [music faculty] William Hudson and Andrew Dahan. They both have given me so much insight into what it means to be a professional musician, regardless of the style I may end up singing. Dr. Hudson, especially, has always pushed me to be the best musician and student possible.
Memorable Moment: My senior concert, which was a showcase of my musical studies at IWU. I played classical music that I composed, sang a set of jazz standards, and my band and I performed original pop songs. I felt electric leaving the stage, like I could perform my heart out every night of my life.
Stress Can Be Good: I advise first-years to get involved as much as you can. Things may get busy, and sometimes it feels like the world may fall apart, but I wanted to get the most out of my experience here. I was often over my head, but I feel like I was able to do so much, and I leave this university now knowing that there is such a thing as good stress, especially when you love what you’re doing.
Business Administration, Marketing concentration; Flossmoor, Ill.
Up Next: Freelance graphic design while searching for full-time jobs in a media or advertising agency.
Choosing IWU: IWU had the best combination of academics and athletics of all the schools I was considering. I knew I was going to a place that could meet all of my needs in and out of the classroom.
Favorite Professor: [Associate Professor of Business Administration] Fred Hoyt. He has the most unique teaching style I have ever had in all my years of school. But his classes were extremely fun and he challenges all of his students to seek new information.
Inspiring IWU: Being surrounded by classmates who are so successful and driven pushes you to have that same mentality. So many people in our class are doing such amazing things – that makes me very proud.
Dear First-Years: There are many alumni, faculty and staff who would love to help you achieve your goals in life. Go out and seek help from them.
Nursing major; Flossmoor, Ill.
Black Student Union, former member of football team
Up Next: Child Psychiatry Nurse, Rush University Medical Center’s Rush Day School
Favorite Professor: [Nursing faculty] Wendy Kooken and Amanda Hopkins. These women are extremely passionate about eradicating disparities in health care. They push for diversity and have inspired me over the past three years to speak up for what I believe in.
Inspiring IWU: The importance of individuality. We are not just statistics, but instead we all have key attributes that contribute to the greatness of this school.
Dear First-Years: Do not get behind on your GPA. Finding a balance between work, social life, and academics is crucial. Try not to overdo things. Your mental and physical health matters.
Economics major; Norridge, Ill.
Senior Class President, Student Senate Vice President, Kappa Delta sorority, College Panhellenic, Residential Community Advisor, Alpha Phi Omega, Fraternity and Sorority Programming Board, Titan Leadership Program, Titan Orientation Leader
Up Next: Credit Reporting Team Intern, Wintrust Financial.
Choosing IWU: When I came for a visit I could literally feel the sense of community. I wanted to be a part of it.
Most Important Takeaway: Find what you love to do and just do it. There will be people who support you and others who don’t, but that’s OK. If you manage to please everybody, it probably means you aren’t making a difference.
Inspiring IWU: The opportunities not just to find yourself, but to really create yourself.
Leader of the Pack: I never expected to become the person who liked being a leader and actively sought ways to do so. I have changed dramatically for the better over the last four years and have gained so much more confidence in myself.
Psychology major; Bloomington, Ill.
Women’s track and field team
Up Next: Doctor of physical therapy program, Washington University in St. Louis
Choosing IWU: My dream since I first moved to Bloomington in sixth grade. It just gave me the ‘perfect fit’ kind of feel.
Making Memories: Between the end of the academic year and May Term, all the students go home except for those of us still competing in track. We get the whole school to ourselves. One year we played a giant game of sardines on the Quad.
Inspiring IWU: I like the liberal arts. I really do feel that knowledge in multiple disciplines makes an individual more well rounded. I also liked the service orientation of many of my classes and extracurriculars.
Favorite Class: “Spanish for Social Justice” with [Hispanic Studies] Professor Daynali Flores-Rodriguez. This class opened my eyes to all the help that is needed in our community. It also made me realize a person doesn’t necessarily have to be “qualified” to positively influence others.
La gente se sorprende: People are surprised to learn I am a second-generation American. My father came to the U.S. as a refugee to escape Fidel Castro’s regime.
Financial Services major; St. Charles, Ill.
Baseball team, Sigma Chi fraternity, Global Brigades, Habitat for Humanity
Up Next: Credit Analyst, The PrivateBank. I initially interviewed on campus through the Hart Career Center and was offered the job after a series of interviews off campus.
Choosing IWU: Going to a school with a reputable business program was important to me. The strong academic reputation and the opportunity to play baseball made IWU an easy choice.
Why Professor Kearney is the Bomb: My favorite class is [Business] Professor Rob Kearney’s “Seminar in Management/Trial” class. I’m an inherently competitive guy and being able to work with a team in litigating a real-world case against other teams in the class has been a cool experience. Professor Kearney is my favorite; he has a unique and relatable teaching style. However, it’s his arsenal of movie quotes and speed-walking ability that separates him from the pack.
The Unexpected: I never expected to travel to places like Honduras as part of the student organization Global Brigades. I couldn’t be happier to have had that opportunity.
Titan Connections: I’m inspired by the way the network of alumni will go out of their way to help you pursue anything, whether it be personal or professional. The way we take care of our own has been humbling.
Celebrity Sighting: Most people are surprised to know I met [actor and comedian] Bernie Mac…twice.
English-writing and French and Francophone Studies double major; Lake Forest, Ill.
Phi Beta Kappa, Feminism:Equality Matters (F:EM), Habitat for Humanity, IWU Language School for Kids
Up Next: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Master of Science in Library and Information Science graduate program
Favorite Professor: [Associate Professor of French] Jim Matthews. He has helped guide my academic career as a double major and started me on the path to become a librarian. He has also gone out of his way for all his students in his classes and is just a joy to talk to.
Most-loved SAGA Meal: Thanksgiving feast. (Editor’s Note: Many seniors picked the Thanksgiving feast as their SAGA favorite).
Love, Hate and Living Without Wheels: I never expected to present papers I had written in public or to love all of my classes and my professors so much. I never expected to hate not having a car to get around.
Biology major; Zion, Ill.
Alpha Phi Omega, Beta Beta Beta, Global Medical Brigades, National Society of Leadership and Success, general biology teaching assistant
Up Next: Indiana University School of Dentistry in hopes of becoming a pediatric dentist.
Choosing IWU: It was a small liberal arts school with a strong biology program and a high acceptance rate for dental students. It was raining on my campus tour, but I still found the campus beautiful. The selling point was the “Beauty and the Beast” room (real name: the Bates & Merwin Reading Room) in the library. It absolutely blew me away.
Favorite Professor: [Associate Professor of Biology] Loni Walker. She is definitely tough, but it is because of her that I really learned how to study. I loved her lectures and how she was always willing to answer my endless questions during office hours. She has been super helpful throughout my dental application process, plus her laugh always brightened my day.
I Didn’t Expect… When I came to IWU, my only interests were in science courses. Freshman year May Term I took “Women, Religion, and Spirituality” as a way to complete a gen ed and the rest is history. I fell in love with the course and continued taking religion courses every semester until I eventually minored in religion. It really challenged me to think in a different and more open-minded way.
Inspiring IWU: I really believe our students are true activists at heart and would do anything to help those in need. This really aligns with my own values. IWU provided me with the chance to go work with Global Medical Brigades in Honduras, which has inspired me to do dental care in third-world countries. IWU has further inspired me to pursue my passion of giving back to others.
Psychology major; Peoria, Ill.
SOCA (Students Organizing Campus Awareness), Kappa Delta sorority, cheerleading, Autism Social Group
Up Next: Behavioral Therapist providing in-home ABA therapy for autistic children, Total Spectrum; Head Swimming Coach at Washington High School. After a gap year, I will go to graduate school for a master’s in school psychology.
Choosing IWU: I was actually in the process of committing to Millikin when I visited campus for an overnight. The second I got here, I felt like I was home. My overnight host knew every person when we went places, which showed me the closeness of the IWU community. I cancelled my Millikin acceptance the next day.
Favorite Professor: I have developed so many close relationships with professors, but I have to say Assistant Professor of Psychology Ellen Furlong. She made such an impact on my life. I was figuring out how to get disability services and was struggling, especially with exams. After I finished each exam, she had me explain why I chose my answer to ensure I was picking the answer I knew was right, rather than letting my testing anxiety get the best of me.
The Unexpected: I never expected to love my gym classes. I took karate with a group of girls from my floor freshman year and we had a blast goofing around and learning some self-defense. I also took Social Dance, which was so much fun and allowed me to break out of my shyness a bit.
Biggest Takeaway: Stop focusing so much on things that mean so little.
Epic Ink: Most people are surprised to find out I have multiple tattoos.
Political Science and International Studies double major; Palatine, Ill.
Phi Beta Kappa, Amnesty International, Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), Peace Garden, College Democrats, The Argus
Up Next: pursing a law degree, University of Illinois College of Law, on a full tuition scholarship.
Favorite Class: [Associate Professor of Political Science] Kathleen Montgomery’s “Post-Communism Europe” allowed me to better understand my birthplace (Sofia, Bulgaria). Dr. Montgomery has an uncanny ability to combine candor and detail in simple, well-organized lectures.
Favorite Professor: Professor of Political Science Jim Simeone taught me how to argue effectively during freshman year Gateway. He really pushed me in senior seminar. Without his advice and encouragement, I would not have learned as much, or excelled in written work.
Bloomington-Normal Favorites: Constitution Trail, El Porton, Mugsy’s, and the area’s old-school architecture.
Chemistry major; Eureka, Mo.
Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, chemistry tutor, men’s lacrosse team
Up Next: Chemistry Ph.D. program, Washington University in St. Louis
Favorite Professor: [Wendell and Loretta Hess Professor of Chemistry] Ram Mohan. He made me into a chemist from a freshman general chemistry student.
Memorable Moments: Tutoring organic chemistry. The thanks received from various students for helping them has truly been memorable. Helping other students has also inspired me to understand the information I have learned to a greater extent and to explain it.
Creature of Habit: People might be surprised to know I only buy one type of shoe. When one pair wears out, I buy a new pair of the same kind.
Nursing major; Oak Lawn, Ill.
Phi Kappa Phi, Titan Orientation Leader, Sigma Theta Tau international nursing honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, Student Nurses Association, Student Affairs Committee, nursing representative, Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity
Up Next: RN in medical oncology unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. I used the resources of the Hart Career Center for my resume and essays in my application for a summer externship there in 2016. I accepted the job in August and have been anticipating my start date ever since.
Favorite Professor: From learning Shakespeare to biology, poetry to psychiatric nursing, exploring the hidden communities of Bloomington to public health nursing, I honestly cannot pick a favorite. The professors on this campus are amazing. Each class I have had the pleasure of being in has, for the most part, challenged me intellectually and helped form my views of why I see the world the way I do. Thank you to every professor who has taken the time to learn my name, challenge me in my education, and help form the confident, educated woman I am today.
Yo amo Barcelona: I could not have imagined all the wonderful opportunities this university has given me. I studied abroad in Barcelona as a sophomore and had the most amazing adventures. I learned how to deal with conflict, how to push through difficult situations, and how to live life in nursing school with manageable stress. I remember coming back and knowing I could conquer anything, any city, any challenge, and any academic pursuit.
Dear First-Years: Go to your professor’s office hours and ask questions even if you don’t think you have any.
Chemistry major; Orland Park, Ill.
Theta Chi fraternity, former member men’s lacrosse team
Up Next: Boston University for a Ph.D. in organic chemistry
Favorite Professor: [Wendell and Loretta Hess Professor of Chemistry] Ram Mohan has been my research advisor for 2.5 years, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance.
Four Years Should Be Enough: I never thought I would go to graduate school. I did not come to IWU with intentions of going on, but here I am.
Dear First-Years: Manage your time properly! Branch out and find something you love doing.
Nursing major; Schaumburg, Ill.
Multifaith Ambassador, IWU Interfaith, Muslim Student Association, Student Nurses Association, Summer Enrichment Program, MALANA Pre-Orientation Leader, Titan Orientation Leader, Alpha Lambda Delta first-year national honor society, IWU Freeman Asia intern
Up Next: Working as a nurse in Chicago. I’d prefer either neonatal intensive care or pediatrics.
Choosing IWU: I loved the comfort of not being a number and the ability to build relationships with faculty. The competitive nursing program gave me comfort I would be pushed as a student but supported as a person.
The Unexpected: I had no idea I would go to Hong Kong for only $600 thanks to the IWU Freeman Asia internship. I both loved and hated it. It was beyond challenging to find food to eat as a vegetarian in a meat-loving country, in addition to the language barrier. I loved having the opportunity to make amazing friends from Singapore who shared my religion and dietary practices. They welcomed me into their group to share meals and the bond grew into lifelong friendships.
Inspiring IWU: The ambition that runs through the veins of the people on this campus is always inspiring. The students have big dreams and they always find a way to make them happen. IWU students cannot settle for the answer “no.”
Philosophy and Political Science double major; Bridgeport, Conn.
Men’s lacrosse, Ethics Bowl, Philosophy Club, Phi Gamma Delta
Up Next: University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. I selected DU’s law school for its great environmental law program.
Favorite Professors: [Philosophy faculty] Andy Engen and Emily Kelahan. I found their classes to be challenging but also thought provoking. As advisors to the Ethics Bowl, they helped me develop vital skills I’ll need for law school and encouraged me to be the best student I can be.
Memorable Moment: Being called onstage during the BSU banquet to compete in a limbo contest.
Favorite Class: “Constitutional Law” with Professor of Political Science Jim Simeone. The subject matter is not only interesting but relevant to understanding society today.
Inspired by…the number of student athletes at IWU, who not only succeed on the field but also academically.
Biology major; Normal, Ill.
Up Next: Medical school at Southern Illinois University. SIU’s curriculum emphasizes problem-based learning, and I believe Wesleyan has prepared me to excel in that kind of program. I’m excited to see where this next step will take me.
Favorite Professor: I could never choose just one “favorite” professor. I am honored to have been taught by the faculty at IWU. Every professor I had was unique in contributing to my development, but the unifying characteristic among the faculty is a passion for teaching.
Your Car Needs a New Transmission: Most people are surprised to know I’m a former auto mechanic. I received my GED when I was 17 and went to Heartland Community College on and off. When I was 19 I enrolled at Nashville Auto Diesel College and then began working as a mechanic. After I became a mother, I knew I had to go back to school in order to provide a better future for my son. I wanted to give myself a chance to achieve my dream. In 2013 I transferred to IWU from community college and against all odds, managed to accomplish what I never thought possible — I am going to medical school.
Dear First-Years: Don’t ever believe you are not capable or worthy of achieving your dreams. You are!
Sociology major; Tai’an, China
Chinese Culture & Communications Club (founder), Action Research Center, internship at Great Plains LIFE Foundation
Up Next: I’m graduating a year early so I have the time to figure out what I want to study in graduate school. I’m currently applying for jobs and internships at higher education institutions and nonprofits.
The Unexpected: I never expected to conduct academic research and write a heavy research paper in my second language.
Favorite Professor: I love all of my sociology professors. They are all so passionate and supportive to guide me in the discipline.
We are Family: I am most inspired by what a supportive and inclusive community IWU has been for me. My [work study] supervisors Dean Karla, Dr. Thompson, Jenny, Pat and so many other people have helped me a lot.
Theatre Arts and Business Administration double major; La Grange, Ill.
Phoenix Theatre, publicity coordinator for SoTA
Up Next: Center Director of Fellowship Program, Appalachia Service Project (ASP), Jonesville, Va. I worked for ASP for the past three summers in three different locations and absolutely loved every minute of my service. I decided I needed to return to Appalachia to serve more people and ASP’s Fellowship Program is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Memorable Moments: Traveling to Louisville, Ky., with my “Issues in Contemporary Theatre” course to see the Humana Festival of New Plays. Also, traveling around Paris and Berlin with my best friend, Madi Vukich, while on the IWU London Program.
Favorite Professor: Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Dani Snyder-Young. She helped shape who I am as an artist and gave me the space, opportunity, and encouragement I needed to explore my strengths and learn how to make great theatre.
Lesson Learned: You’re never fully going to know what you’re doing, and that’s all right.
Computer science major; Oak Forest, Ill.
Founder and President of IWU Club Golf team; Founder and President of IWU Club Swimming and Diving team; Intramurals; Football team
Up Next: Business Development Representative, Groupon.
Choosing IWU: I wanted to continue the football dream as long as I could. IWU offering a small school, liberal arts education with a big school, college town experience is unmatched elsewhere.
Favorite Professor: [Associate Professor of Computer Science] Mark Liffiton is extremely intelligent, thorough and helpful. He cares about setting his students up for success and is an ideal department chair.
Favorite Class: “Introduction to Entrepreneurship.” I want to be one ASAP.
Chemistry major; Palatine, Ill.
Chemistry Club, Alpha Gamma Delta, First Year Leadership Institute, National Society of Leadership and Success, residence hall government
Up Next: Chemist in Research and Development Group, Beckers Group, a global industrial coatings company. I interned there the past two summers.
Embracing the Unexpected: I came into IWU ranked in the top 10 of 700 students in my senior class of high school and ended up failing “Organic Chemistry” [freshman year]. It rocked me to my core, but I am a better person and more prepared for the world because I had to carry on after what could’ve been the end.
Favorite Professor: Mrs. Dr. [Kathy] House (chemistry). She’s a ‘stick to her guns’ type of professor but it helps us all in the long run. She always brought delicious homemade snacks to class and sent fun emails about her travels with Dr. Jim House (chemistry) over breaks. Dr. and Dr. House are the Jay Z and Beyoncé of the chemistry world.
Favorite Class: “Humanities 104” with [Professor of French and Italian and Humanities Director] Scott Sheridan because he is one of the most passionate people I have ever met in my life. The class centered on art, which I hadn’t studied since probably sixth grade. I took it spring of my freshman year and that May went on a May Term travel course to Barcelona. I had a whole new appreciation for the city because I knew and understood the meanings behind the buildings and places we toured.