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Student Success Stories

Discover Our Student Successes

Journey is a great word for the path that 2017's 1,802 graduates walked to arrive at their degrees. Life threw all kinds of things at them along the way: challenges and opportunities, doubts and tragedies, millstones and milestones.

But despite it all, they made it through. With the help of friends, family, faculty, and staff, they reached their goal of a college degree. While most of them come from right here in Northeast Indiana, 50 are international students from 34 countries including Angola, Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, Gabon, Germany, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

Please join us in celebrating some of the amazing stories behind this year's graduates. May their stories inspire you to accomplish new things and persevere through rough times.

Doermer School of Business

Marcela Betancourt
B.S.B. in economics and public policy, B.S. in biology
She is a first-generation Hispanic student who is planning to attend medical school  and become a doctor to serve people in need. Betancourt worked as a teaching assistant and was a statistics tutor in CASA. She also volunteered in the peer mentoring program to help at-risk pre-business majors find success. She was a member of the Fed Challenge team at the regional competition and was in the economics class that spent two weeks in Korea. Betancourt volunteers at Matthew 25 Clinic, Hispanos Unidos, Junior Achievement, and The BIG Event.

Dan Butler
B.S.B. in marketing
He worked with Jamal Robinson to market the Desiar start-up company. He was an Ambassadon and also regularly participated in intramural programs. Butler volunteered for the BAALS Music Festival and is now the executive director. He will continue to be part of the music festival. He directed the 2016–17 New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Fort Wayne. Butler intends to take his talents to Los Angeles to work in entertainment and event planning.

Kathryn Franklin
B.S.B. in finance, certificate in bank management
She finished her degree in three years. She interned in Washington, D.C., with the United States Department of Defense in the Real Property and Asset Management Division. As a result, Franklin was offered a job, which she accepted. She has served as president of the Honors Student Organization and Chi Alpha. She served as a project manager for Enactus, helped plan a mission trip to Mexico, and worked on the Women’s Empowerment Symposiums at IPFW.

Yehwon Jang
B.S.B. in economics
Jang is an international transfer student from Namseoul University in Korea. She has worked as a Student Admissions Representative (STAR), research assistant in the economics department, peer tutor, and orientation assistant for the International Education office. Jang is also president of Club Seoul and secretary of the International Student Organization. She has volunteered for The BIG Event and is actively involved with the local Korean Church. Jang is planning to go to grad school for economics somewhere in the United States. Her dream career is to teach and share her knowledge as a professor.

College of Education and Public Policy

Megan Cripe
M.S.Ed. in educational leadership
She is co-authoring an article on teachers’ grading and homework practices with Laura Link, assistant professor of educational leadership at IPFW. Cripe also works as a junior researcher with Link and Thomas Guskey, professor of educational psychology at the University of Kentucky. Cripe also gave birth to her first child while earning a degree and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She accepted a job as dean of students in Northwest Allen County Schools almost a year before graduation.

Alexander Harvey
M.S.Ed. in school counseling
He has worked as a graduate student in intramural sports and is a volunteer for Big Brother Big Sisters and The BIG Event. He was on the 2016–17 homecoming court and was part of the inaugural Top 50 class. Harvey is an assistant baseball coach at North Side High School. He has job offers, and hopes to make an impact on student lives in Indiana by being a high school counselor.

Nicole Howard
M.S.Ed. in school counseling
She also earned an undergraduate degree in biology at IPFW. Howard has been recognized as one of the Top 50 two years in a row. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and also served as president of the Counseling Honor Society. Howard has presented at the Indiana School Counselor Association’s conference and has received numerous scholarships and awards, including the prestigious Womack Scholarship and Lutheran Foundation Scholarship. She was president of Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honors Society, and vice president of Circle K International. She was also an Ambassadon and a Homecoming Queen. Howard plans to get a job as an elementary school counselor.

Ariana Jehl
B.S.Ed. in elementary education 
She is an honors student and cheerleader at IPFW. She presented “The Effects of Attitude within the Foreign Language Process” at the Honors Showcase. After graduation, Jehl is headed to Ecuador for three months to teach written and conversational English and science. She has applied to teach English in Thailand after her time in Ecuador. Her goal is to travel, teach, and learn.

Allison Joy
M.S.Ed. in school counseling 
She has participated in the Counseling Honor Society as a member and as chair of the program newsletter. Joy has presented on the use of play therapy at the Indiana School Counselor Association’s annual conference and assisted one of her professors in training high school students to be peer mentors. Joy was awarded the prestigious Womack Scholarship for school counseling students in Indiana. She is looking for an elementary school counseling position.

Monica Ochola
M.S.Ed. in special education
She is conducting research on Faculty Perception of Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. Her research has received a lot of attention. Not only has she presented at the university’s annual Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium, but at a state level as well. Ochola was one of few graduate students to present at the Graduate Symposium at the University of Toledo. She won the 3rd place cash award for best poster at the SASI Research Madness Symposium. Ochola plans to work for a year in the field of disabilities while studying to earn a Ph.D.

Raija Ochola
M.S.Ed. in couple and family counseling
She is an international student from Kenya and earned an undergraduate degree in psychology at IPFW. She is a member of the Counseling Honor Society and has been involved with The BIG Event since she was an undergraduate. Ochola plans to use her specialized training in counseling to work with immigrants and refugees.

Kayla Paz
B.S.P.A. in health services
She received the William D. Perry, M.D., Memorial Scholarship for Academic Excellence for 2015–16. She volunteered at The BIG Event, attended the Anthropology Lecture Series, and took part in Psi Chi events. Paz created an enrichment program at the southeast YMCA for children in the neighborhoods and volunteers at Emmanuel Lutheran Church. She is working on an MBA through Western Governors University. She is employed at Parkview and hopes to work her way up to a family medicine practice manager.

Staci Rader
M.S.Ed. in couple and family counseling
She returned to school 18 years after earning a GED. Rader is a first-generation college student and graduated from IPFW at the top of her class in the human services program. She will be working as a therapist with Phoenix Associates in Fort Wayne.

Timothy Robinson
M.S.Ed. in school counseling
He is a first-generation college student. After earning a bachelor’s degree, he began working as a JAG specialist at Wayne High School in Fort Wayne. The JAG program is a school-to-work transition program designed to keep students in school through graduation and help them transition into the work place in quality jobs. Robinson decided to go back to school to grow his skills. After three years of hard work, he has completed a master’s degree in counseling with a specialization in school counseling.

Brian Shilts
M.S.Ed. in counseling
He worked for 10 years with at-risk youth before being accepted into the counseling master’s degree program. Although he says he did not excel in his undergraduate studies, the professors in the program recognized the value of his extensive experience and compassionately believed in his ability to be successful in a graduate program, even when he did not believe in himself. Shilts is graduating with a master’s degree with a specialization in couple and family counseling. His plans are to sit for the board exams of Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, continue to work with at-risk-youth who need to learn independent living skills, and accept a counseling position with Lifeline Youth and Family Services, working with sexually maladaptive youth.

Kara Wygant
M.S.Ed. in school counseling
She also earned an undergraduate degree in psychology at IPFW. She has been involved with the Counseling Honor Society, and was recently recognized for her work in the IPFW Community Counseling Clinic as clinic manager in the spring Issue of Distinguish, the university’s Graduate Studies magazine. Wygant is already working as a school counselor at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne.

College of Health and Human Services

Danielle Sarrazine
A.S. in dental laboratory technology
She was the dental education student worker for almost two years. She is a member of the Dancing Dons, president of the Dental Laboratory Technology Class of 2017, and club president of the Dental Technology Association. Sarrazine volunteered for The BIG Event and IPFW Day at Science Central. She is a 10-year member of DeKalb County 4-H and a cantor at St. Vincent DePaul and St. Joseph Catholic Churches. Sarrazine received a Tapestry Scholarship for 2016–17. Her passions are dental laboratory technology and dance. She has been offered a position as a dance teacher at a studio in Fort Wayne and is looking for a job in dental laboratory technology. She wants to stay in the Fort Wayne area. Sarrazine says her goal in life is to help the world smile more.

Andrew Working
B.S. in nursing
He is the vice president of the Student Nursing Organization. He was instrumental in getting a student lounge on the third floor of the Liberal Arts Building and has helped professors by being available for pre-nursing students to ask questions about the program and best practices. Every semester, Working has helped with new student orientation. He volunteers at the Huntington County Free Health Clinic for diabetics. After an admitted rough first semester, Working made changes and was able to achieve honors status in three terms. He says he doesn’t know his exact plans for the future, but helping and caring for patients will always be a part of it. He works at Lutheran in the CVICU, where he plans to stay for now.

Richard Zimmerman
M.S. in nursing
He has earned a certificate as a nurse practitioner.  He published a manuscript as part of his Capstone Project and is a nurse practitioner in hospice care. Zimmerman will be attending special training as a nurse practitioner to coordinate care in several emergency departments.

College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science

Carter Chase
B.S. in computer science pre-medicine
He was concerned that his dream of going to medical school by studying computers was an impossible dream, but IPFW faculty worked with Chase to make his dream come true. Chase took part in research opportunities, took teaching assistant positions, and submitted recommendation letters to medical schools. He was offered a seat at the Indiana University School of Medicine as an early decision candidate.

Matthew Mock
B.S.M.E. in mechanical engineering
Mock has served as a tutor in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science. He interned at Galbreath and Fort Wayne Metals. He is a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, and served most recently as president of the IPFW chapter. He helped create the Coalition for Christian Outreach of IPFW and served as treasurer of the student organization. Mock has volunteered for The BIG Event, as well as STARBASE Indiana and SHARP Advanced summer camps. After graduation, Mock will be working full time as a design engineer at Galbreath, located in Winamac, Ind.

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Kristopher Andorfer
B.Mus.Ed. in music eduation
He was an IPFW Concerto Aria Competition winner in 2013 and 2015. He was the winner of the NATS Indiana Competition in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Andorfer served as secretary and president of the Singing Dons, an ensemble that sings at several private events, including the Chancellor’s Christmas party. He was a part of the Christmas concerts with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Andorfer has been assisting and directing choral ensembles at Bishop Luers High School. He spent a summer in Ghana teaching English and math through the volunteer organization Teach on the Beach. Andorfer is getting married in summer 2017 and is planning to teach high school choral music in the Fort Wayne area. He also wants to pursue graduate school in music education.

Sean O'Leary
B.F.A. in visual communication and design
He authored a 92-page magazine about exploring Indiana parks, Trail Mix Indiana, which was published in November 2016. At the 2017 American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne advertising honors event, O’Leary took home Gold Ad Honor for Cross Media Campaign, Publication Design, Consumer Trade Publication, and Video Campaign. He earned Silver Ad Honor for Video Internet Commercial. He served as a student representative for IPFW on the American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne board. He worked as a social media specialist in the IPFW Marketing Department, and as a graphic designer at The Communicator student newspaper. O’Leary volunteered at the BAALS Music Festival in IPFW’s Mastodon Ice Lounge, which he helped construct before the festival. He earned the Anne Waterfield Endowed Scholarship and the Chancellor’s Scholarship. O’Leary works for Asher Agency.

College of Arts and Sciences.

Kenda Barnes
B.S. in math
She passed Exam P (Probability) and Exam FM (Financial Mathematics), two actuarial exams that few college students pass, while carrying a full course load and working at MedPro. Barnes is president of Pi Mu Epsilon, secretary of the PI Math Club, and is active in Actuarial Club. She also volunteered for The BIG Event, Fort 4 Fitness, the Tri-State Watershed Alliance, the Three Rivers Festival, and in the delivery unit at Dupont Hospital. She received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholarship for four years, but is graduating two semesters early. Barnes has accepted a job at MedPro and will start right after graduation.

Cicelle Beemon
B.G.S. in general studies
She works at the university as the 21st Century Scholars support specialist through AmeriCorps, where she works with students to provide personal and academic support. She is part of the Allen County College and Career Coalition and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She was a The BIG Event leader in 2014. She was the 2016 IPFW Homecoming Queen. Her mother graduated from IPFW in 2007 while raising three children and working two jobs. Beemon’s mom was diagnosed with cancer at the end of her freshman year at IPFW. Beemon lived to make her mother proud. During her sophomore year, Beemon got pregnant with her first child. Her mother died one month after she gave birth to a son. Beemon was just 20. She now had to take care of a newborn, her 15-year-old sister, and a house, all while going to college. Beemon has overcome all obstacles. She has two boys, her own home, two cars, and a good relationship. She made sure her sister graduated from high school and helped her brother graduate from IU. She will graduate after eight years at IPFW. She wants to pursue a career in higher education at IPFW in Student Outreach, Financial Aid, and Support.

Diana Bezuhlyy
B.S. in math
Originally from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, she came to Iowa as an international student. She transferred to IPFW to pursue a math degree with an actuarial science option. Bezuhlyy is a first-generation college student and received the Chancellor’s Merit Scholarship for two years. In her senior year, she received the Dr. Lowell W. Beineke Math Scholarship. She has been chosen for an Outstanding Senior Award. Bezuhlyy has been in the Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Society and was treasurer of the Actuarial Science Club. She has accepted a job at Buck Consultants and will start after graduation.

Kashay Bowens
B.A. in communication
She has been involved in the Lambda Phi Eta Honors Society and the National Leadership and Success Society. Bowens is the first person in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. She served as a student representative. Her goal is to change the world through communication.

Nathaniel Brophy
B.A. in political science
He was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship grant to Romania, where he will research political parties and civic engagement. He was accepted into and attended Middlebury Summer Arabic Immersion Program, which is the top language immersion program in the United States. He was an Arabic movie actor/script writer for 1st year Arabic–all Arabic soap opera movie, Forbidden Love, in 2015. He was a tutor for Arabic, a language lab assistant for Arabic and German, and was interviewed by the media about Donald Trump’s inauguration. He did all of this while managing a Dunkin’ Donuts. Brophy was co-president of Model UN team (Brazil) at the American National Model UN in Chicago. He also trained and led younger Model UN team members for their committee work. Brophy plans to pursue a Ph.D. in political science.

Benjamin Burris
B.A. in Spanish, B.S. in chemistry, certificate in chemistry research
He has conducted research with a professor in the chemistry department, co-authored two papers (with a third under review), and is the lead author on a fourth. Burris played saxophone in the university Pep Band and participated in the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society. He took part in an optional service learning project in Spanish, where he helped translate documents for Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity. He has earned several awards and a scholarship. Burris volunteers as a nurse’s aide at Lutheran. He is a seasonal saxophone instructor for Homestead High School’s marching band and also volunteers through the Lutheran Churches of Fort Wayne. Burris has been admitted to several prestigious graduate programs with excellent packages of support.

Heather Dewey
B.A. in history, certificate in international studies
She is an honors student. She was a book review assistant for Enterprise and Society, a top-tier business history journal published by Cambridge University Press. She worked as a tutor at the writing center and was a teaching assistant for an honors class. She worked in editing services and as a researcher in the computer science department. She received research grants from the Honors Program and was awarded history scholarships. Dewey presented papers at the Undergraduate History Conference and presented a poster at the Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium. She is submitting a co-authored scholarly article to the interamerican peer-reviewed academic journal FIAR. Dewey is planning to apply to graduate programs for World History and become a historian who studies historiography and public perceptions of history based on the standard narrative presented in textbooks and popular culture.

Cody Fuelling
B.A. in history, B.A. in political science, certificate in international studies
He was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship grant to Luxembourg. He will examine the current state of genocide education in the secondary schools. He is a two-time Top 50 student and has presented papers at the Undergraduate History Conference. Fuelling and his two sisters, Rachel Harman (Fuelling) and Nicole Howard (Fuelling), are the first in their family to attend college. Each earned the Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholarship at IPFW. Fuelling is a research assistant in the history department, a student assistant for the IPFW Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, an assistant book review editor for Enterprise and Society: The International Journal of Business History, and a member of the Honors Program. He is planning a career in the area of human rights.

Andrew Hakes
B.A. in history, certificate in international studies
He worked as a research assistant for an IU oral history project. He received research grants from the Honors Program and presented his research at the History Conference multiple times. Hakes also received the Judie and Ralph Violette History Scholarship. He studied abroad in Argentina. Hakes is planning to take a few years off to decide what he would like to do with his life. He wants to travel and increase his language skills.

Anthony Hartle
B.S. in math
He was vice president for Pi Mu Epsilon Honor Society and for Pi Math Club and  has been inducted into the Pi Mu Epsilon National Mathematics Honor Society. He served as president of the IPFW Actuarial Club, introducing two new events. Under his leadership, the club held its first social meeting. Hartle also arranged a group visit to his employer, Lincoln Financial Group (LFG). He serves as a mentor to other students. He is leading his clubs to take part in The BIG Event. He served as an intern at LFG, turned that into a part-time job, passed an actuarial exam, and secured a full-time position in the Actuarial Development Program at LFG. Hartle spends a lot of time offering advice and encouragement to students on the path to becoming an actuary. He has also worked with the math department to help fine-tune course offerings to be as beneficial as possible for students.

Wendy Oberlin
B.G.S. in general studies
She started back to school with nine credit hours in fall 2002. She has taken one class every semester and every summer since then. She completed an Associate of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision in 2010 and then started on the Bachelor of General Studies. She is a returning adult student who will graduate with honors. Oberlin initially worked in retail and is now the executive director of the DeKalb County Community Foundation. She’s very active in the community but has always placed importance on her education and encourages others to do the same.

Gabriela Romo
B.S. in biology
She has been chosen as an Exemplar in the Top 50 class of 2017 and was chosen as a Top 50 in 2016. Romo is a first-generation college student. Her parents migrated from Mexico to Goshen, Ind., to find a better life. Her parents are factory workers, neither of whom speaks English fluently. Because they were a poor family, Romo and her brothers were told that when they turned 16 they would have to quit school and find jobs in a factory to help the family financially. Romo dreamed of playing professional soccer to get out of poverty. She didn’t know anything about college. Through soccer, she was able to come to IPFW to get her degree. She had little support from her family. She is a Spanish translator for Fort Wayne Community Schools and other places in the area. She was a subcommittee chair for the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference, an officer for the Global Health Initiative, and an officer for Hispanos Unidos. She is a lobby assistant at Parkview Family Physicans Outpatient Clinic. She volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club, League for the Blind and Disabled, Downtown Improvement District, Voices of Unity Choir, and Matthew 25 Clinic. She has taken part in the IPSGA Student Senate, Pre-med Club, Mini Dons, Ambassadons, and The BIG Event. Romo has given numerous presentations and speeches, including talks to Indiana legislators and community philanthropists. She has taken mission trips to Ecuador and has been an extern for the Allen County Department of Health. Romo is also a Division I soccer player at IPFW. She has been named to the Summit League Academic Honor Roll, the Summit League Commissioners List of Academic Excellence, and the Academic All-Team League. She is coaching 18 young Latina girls at St. Joseph Middle School. With all of this, she has been able to maintain at 3.95 GPA in her pre-medical courses. Romo has been accepted into the Indiana University Medical School. Her plan for the future is to serve as a doctor for the underprivileged in Indiana.