Dr. Keith Newman accepts new position at Southern Nazarene University

(Originally posted on The Sojourn’s website on March 27, 2017)

It was announced Friday, March 24, that Dr. Keith Newman, chancellor of IWU’s Marion campus, will start his new position as president of Southern Nazarene University on Aug. 1.

Dr. Newman started the Joy Council during his time here at IWU. He, along with Dr. Wright, held a picnic for the council in 2014. Photo provided by Lisa Poole.

Newman said he has many connections with SNU, as he received one of his graduate degrees from there, his daughter attended the school as an undergraduate student and he served on the board of trustees many years ago. When he was first nominated for this position, he didn’t pursue it. But as he and his wife began to pray about it, and after receiving encouragement from others, he decided he should submit himself to it.

The process was kept very confidential, but he kept in touch with IWU President Dr. David Wright and made sure he was aware of it. Newman said Wright has been very encouraging and supportive during this time.

“Personally, I am grateful for Dr. Newman’s close partnership in recent years and am proud of him as a friend and colleague,” Wright said in a statement to the university. “He and (Newman’s wife, Carolyn) will be sorely missed.”

Newman was involved in the Acts of Kindness with NSO students in 2014. Photo provided by Lisa Poole

Starting in June 2009, Newman was vice president of University Relations. In 2011, he took over Dr. Todd Voss’ position as executive vice president. When Wright became president of the university in 2013, Newman became the CEO of Residential Learning and executive vice president of the Marion campus. Last month, his title was changed to chancellor of IWU- Marion.

Newman said he is trying his best to follow God’s calling for him throughout this entire process.

“We talk a lot about life calling (at IWU) and I really believe that. And I don’t believe life calling is necessarily a career or a geographical spot on a map or a particular company or institution,” Newman said. “But I do think that God wires us up in a way and I think God has places that he sometimes will ask us to go and serve and so for the last eight years it’s been Indiana Wesleyan and looking forward to finishing well here, and then excited about what the possibilities might be in Oklahoma City.”

As Newman makes the transition to his new job this summer, he said he wants to thank everyone who has been a part of his time here at IWU.

“Thanks for investing in my life, and thanks for helping prepare me. I don’t think God wastes anything, whether it’s pain we have in our life or achievements that we have, relationships … but I think even in those challenging relationships, that can help prepare us for what’s next,” Newman said. “So as I go to a new assignment, there’s no doubt in my mind that they wouldn’t have offered me this job if I wouldn’t have had the experience of Indiana Wesleyan.”

While he will be an official employee of IWU until the end of June, Newman’s job will be completed next month with commencement. He plans to spend May and June making the transition to his new position in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Letter from the Editor: College Stress

(Originally from my magazine The Odyssey: A Magazine Presented by The Sojourn)

Going through the school day– walking down the hallways, participating in class, leading staff meetings– most people can find me with a smile on my face. I’ve always been someone who others tell me how much I make them laugh and how positive I am about everything.

But honestly, I’m not always like this. Most people would be surprised to know I have dealt with lots of stress and anxiety during my college years. I can recall several times the past few years lying in my bed, crying, thinking how I can’t handle all of my schoolwork and job duties. Many mornings I have woken up feeling sick to my stomach, immediately overwhelmed by everything on my schedule for that day.

I’ve never been too open about this area of my life because I don’t like to be vulnerable. I don’t want others to take pity on me, or to think of me as a weak person. So for two years, I’ve worked hiding how I truly feel and carried the burden on my own.

It wasn’t until this school year that I’ve been able to be more open about it and express my worries and fears to others. Since doing that, it has felt as though a very heavy has been lifted off of my shoulders. I know have a better sense that I will be able to get my work accomplished and know everything is going to be okay.

college-stress-infographicAfter researching studies on college stress, it has been a relief to know I’m not alone, but I am saddened by the results I found. According to a mtvU/AP poll in 2009, 85 percent of students reported they experience stress on a daily basis, with six in 10 reporting they have felt so stressed they couldn’t get their work done.

On top of that, the poll reported 53 percent said they have felt so stressed they didn’t want to hang out with friends one or more occasions. Also, one out of every ten students has reported signs of moderate to severe depression.

After reading these results, I wondered how there are probably many students on the IWU campus who are feeling this same way, and like me, don’t want to speak up about it to show weakness or vulnerability. My hope is that this magazine is able to help those needing help in this area of their life.

If you are worried about figuring out what your life calling is, make sure to read “Finding the Right Path” on (page #), a story about IWU graduates who changed their career to something completely different than what they majored in college. For those scared to make a bold move about their major or career choice, get some inspiration from Ryan Frank on (page #). If you are feeling worried about getting a job after college, get motivated from recent graduates’ testimonies on how cool their lives are post-college.

Having anxiety about college and life is never easy to deal with. I hope these stories can help you overcome your fears and motivate you to work hard so you can be successful in college and in the future.

Finding the Right Path

(Originally from my magazine The Odyssey: A Magazine Presented by The Sojourn)

A look into the struggles– and the rewards– of discovering your life calling later in life.

Growing up singing and playing seven different instruments, it only made sense for David Gafford to be a music major at Indiana Wesleyan University.


David worked as a church music director for 15 years. Photo provided by David.

But at the end of his sophomore year, David was still undeclared and wasn’t sure what to pick. He ended up talking with someone he respected who told him he should do music because of his musical abilities. David decided to be an applied voice and church music major with a choral conducting minor.

Right after graduation in 2000, he stayed in Marion to be the music director at Lakeview Wesleyan Church for three and a half years. The senior pastor resigned and, because of the Wesleyan Church bylaws, the entire staff resigned as well.

For the next 12 years, David held church music director positions at different churches in Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana.

Then decided to choose a different career path.

“Even though (I had) been doing church music and all of these things (for) my whole life up to this point, I went ‘you know what? It’s probably time for a change,’” Gafford said.

David spent time taking the Myers Briggs test and other strength finder tests to find out what he should do. He said the results kept showing him he is not the best suited to be in a position where someone tells him what to do every day.

Along with taking the strength finder tests, David also asked himself, “If I could do anything in the world, what would I do?” He said when answering this, he decided he wanted to help people be successful with their business.

So with that, he decided to open his own digital marketing company called Fusion Creative.

While it may seem that church music and digital marketing don’t exactly line up, David actually built digital experience over the 15 years as a church director.

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-1-50-12-pmAccording to David, 80 percent of his job actually had nothing to do with music. With being a church music director, the senior pastor gave him different tasks. This included being in charge of the church website, photography, videography, graphic design and more.

Digital marketing is “how you leverage the Internet to be able to gain new clients and prospects for your business,” according to David. He said he sits down with companies and asks what they are doing to gain clients and how that is working, and then helps them to improve.

With his graphic design and website skills, he said he knew he would be successful at starting a digital marketing company.

About eight years after graduation in 1994, Jeremy and Jennifer Hite found themselves in the same situation as David.

After changing majors three different times, Jeremy decided to finally declare his major as communication with an emphasis in speech and theatre, and minored in church music and Christian ministries. During his time at college, Jeremy said he never felt good about his choice and considered dropping out or transferring, but because of already being in debt, decided to finish it out.

Jennifer came to IWU after completing her bachelor’s degree in music and vocal performance with a minor in youth ministry and music at Bethany Bible College, now Kingswood University, in New Brunswick, Canada.

For five years after graduation, Jeremy and Jennifer stayed in the Marion area. Jennifer was a chaplain’s assistant and Beard Arts Center office manager at IWU while Jeremy worked as an admissions counselor at the university for two years until he became the worship pastor at Mt. Olive United Methodist Church.

In 1999, the couple moved to South Dakota where Jeremy was the male dorm parent and Jennifer a substitute teacher at a private boarding school. Jennifer was always interested in nursing but said she was scared to major in it during college.

“I was too chicken, I didn’t think I could do it,” Jennifer said. “I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t have any self-confidence in that.”

It wasn’t until living in the boys dorm with Jeremy at the boarding school and having children of her own that she gained enough confidence to go back to school to get a nursing degree.

“The boys would come, knock on the door (and say) ‘I don’t feel well,’ ‘Mrs. Hite, something is wrong,’ ‘I hurt my finger,’” Jennifer said. “Having kids, too, helped because then (I could say) ‘Oh he’s got a fever, he’s going to be okay. I can treat him, I can help him. So it wasn’t until those experiences did I feel confident going into nursing.”


Jennifer graduated in 2006 with a degree in nursing. Photo provided by Jeremy.

In 2002, Jeremy was offered a full-time job as the children’s pastor at Mt. Olive, so the couple moved back to Marion, and Jennifer began nursing school.

Jennifer has now been a nurse since 2006, and even went back to school again to become a nurse practitioner and is currently working at Central Indiana Orthopedics.

A few years ago, Jeremy made his own career switch. After working as the children’s pastor for about ten years, he got burned out. After quitting ministerial work, he started to work at the Tree of Life in Marion. He said he always had an interest in education back in college, but didn’t want to change his major again.

“I always felt like I was too old and I didn’t want to spend the money at this point, we have kids that are going to be in college in a few years, she was going to school, applying to get her Master’s, we don’t need that,” Jeremy said. “But (Jennifer) definitely gave me the nudge to say if you’re not happy, if this is what you want to do, you just need to do it.”

Jeremy finished his transition to teaching degree in December 2015, and is now a kindergarten teacher at Converse Elementary School, part of the Oak Hill United School Corporation.

“I love it, I can see myself doing that long-term and I wish I would have done it 20 years ago,” Jeremy said.

Even though David is doing what he thinks is the right career now, the transition was anything but easy.


David spent a year unemployed trying to find a job. It was a struggle because he knew he needed to find one to be able to put food on the table for his family. Photo provided by David.

David said it took him one year to find a job after he quit working in the church. He said when he applied for jobs, employers didn’t want him because he only had church experience and not industry experience. He described the transition as hellish.

“(My family and I) spent a good year just basically going I don’t know how I’m going to pay the mortgage and I don’t have any idea how to put food on the table,” David said. “So it was not easy.”

After the reality of not getting the jobs he had applied for, he said he decided to take his most marketable skills and put them to work. A friend of David’s, who is a graphic designer, asked for some help on a quote for a website he was working with, and paid David to fix it. After that, his friend told others.

“Next thing you know, I had a full blown company,” David said.

Jeremy and Jennifer’s transition was not very simple, either.

Jennifer described her transition as being scary because she said she dealt with thoughts like “I could kill somebody” and “I could be responsible for them not living right now.”

Jeremy said he was a wreck when he started transition to teaching because he didn’t know how it would all work out. But he said him and Jennifer were both very supportive of each other in their decisions to switch careers.

One reason the Hites decided to declare ministry majors was because of the pressure they received growing up. Jeremy said he grew up being told being in ministry was the highest calling.

The Hites shared that they have had conversations with their friends who were also ministry majors in college but have since changed careers because they have had the same struggle as them.

“Part of my growing up even after college was just understanding and figuring out and wrestling with that I’m in ministry no matter what I do as a believer,” Jeremy said. “There’s no higher calling as opposed to a pastor, a teacher, a nurse, a journalist if you’re doing what God has called you to do and you’re being true to yourself … as you serve Him.”

Jeremy and Jennifer both have said their previous careers have helped prepare them for their current ones. Jennifer said youth ministries was a good foundation to being a nurse now, and while Jeremy was told by his principal that usually administrators don’t like hiring transition-to-teaching teachers, they knew he was well-equipped for the job due to his time as children’s pastor.

For college students who are nervous about finding their life calling, David said he thinks they should not worry about it too much.

“It is something to worry about but at the same time it’s not so much,” David said. “You have to look at it rather than your major, look at it more in the “I’m developing myself as a person throughout my time at college, so I’m developing my personal skills, I’m developing my work skills.”

Because it can be challenging to decide a career or life calling right out of high school, Jeremy said to not be afraid to take some time off.


Jeremy loves what he is doing now, teaching kindergarten. Photo provided by Jeremy.

“I think we put a huge amount of pressure on kids to go to college right out of high school to know what you’re going to do,” Jeremy said. “Everyone’s journey is their own, so don’t compare yourself and feel like it has to be a certain way, and take the time to figure out what you want to do.”

Jennifer said in her previous career, when her family went on vacation, she loved it because she could escape reality. But now, her reality is so much better.

“If we’ve got to work full time, if I got to be away from my family … if I have to do something every day … do something you love. What a drudgery, I lived that where I dreaded going to work,” Jennifer said. “If there is contentment in what I’m doing and it brings me satisfaction and joy, I’m going to be more useful and I’m going to be better serving God.”