Driven by connection
Krista Baker is a junior marketing major who learned what she wanted to do at a young age.
Baker started with music promotion and management at age 14 to raise money for her youth group with the support of her youth pastor.
Within months, Baker had made a venue, affectionately called “The Basement,” in her church’s lower floor. The Basement became a stop for touring bands from across the country. All through high school, Baker booked shows at The Basement, but stepped back before moving to AU.
During Baker’s freshman year, a band that played at The Basement invited her to a release show in Indianapolis at the Hoosier Dome. At the show, the band introduced her to the venue manager and landed her a job that night.
“The music industry is a lot of networking, and it depends on who you know to get certain jobs,” Baker says. She admits she’s been fortunate to learn from other promoters, and to work with top agents and record labels.
“I think I have succeeded because I’m very relationship-oriented,” Baker says. “It’s different and people appreciate that.”
The events Baker plans on-campus are for classes and shows such as the upcoming Feb. 17 show LoveGroove, which is for the AU chapter of To Write Love On Her Arms. Baker is also president of the club, which seeks to raise awareness for mental health issues.
“I’m thankful for my time at AU because it has given me the relationships that I have with people who believe in me and have kept me going with my career,” Baker says.
“I was blessed to have that opportunity where someone didn’t look at me as a 14-year-old,” Baker says. “They looked at me as someone who has motivation and determination and an ability to get the job done.”
“I don’t think I’m special,” Baker says. “I just think I got lucky.”
A call to ministry
Jon Yaney is a junior from Noblesville, Indiana, who came to AU to study Bible and religion, but has since added three additional majors and started working in ministry.
“I came here wanting to be a pastor, and that seemed like a good start,” Yaney said of his major, which he soon realized was not going to take long to complete. “So I asked some pastors what other majors would be helpful and they told me psychology, and I picked that up.”
At the recommendation of his advisor, Dr. Priest, Yaney also added a Christian ministries major and a youth leadership development major.
“All of them bleed really well into ministry,” Yaney says.
In a surprise turn of events, the head pastor of the United Methodist Church in Galveston, Indiana, contacted Yaney in September about an interview for a position as their student ministry director. Yaney agreed, and after a few interviews was offered the job.
“I really felt like it was something I was being called to,” Yaney recalls, “and it was something that would be a good step for me and my career.”
Yaney’s first day on the job was Nov. 1, and the commitment has proven to be both a gift and a challenge. He says that the UMC has been great in allowing him to work remotely through the week and letting him do his on-site work on Sundays.
“I get there at 8:30 in the morning and I leave at 9 p.m.,” Yaney says. “It’s how I’m able to balance it with everything else going on.”
“It definitely adds new wrinkles,” Yaney laughs.
There has been a learning curve for Yaney over the past three months, with the church’s congregation being much older than he is used to. “There’s a lot of good wisdom there,” Yaney says, “though it feels weird sometimes, being on staff and teaching people who are my grandparents’ age.”
Although the job presents its fair share of challenges, Yaney has enjoyed the experience.
“What other job lets me go ice skating and get paid for it?” he says.
Passion for real talk
Connor Sorrell is a junior at AU who, through chance and circumstance, found his vocation.
Sorrell first declared an athletic training major, pursuing his desire to be a physician’s assistant. “I am really passionate about taking care of people,” Sorrell explains. “I thought by going that route I would make good money, like I’m set, it’s stable.”
During his sophomore year, Sorrell had to juggle the responsibilities of his major and being a resident assistant. Athletic training, he explains, is time consuming due to having to work clinical hours in addition to studies.
Then, while attending the Passion Conference in January 2017, an old friend introduced Sorrell to Dr. Andy Stephenson, the director of the International Youth Convention of the Church of God. From that meeting came an interview for an internship under Stephenson. To Sorrell’s surprise, he was offered the position.
If Sorrell hadn’t connected with Stephenson, the internship opportunity would not have even been an idea for him. “I had no intention of seeking that out at all,” Sorrell says.
The internship began as Sorrell changed his major to psychology. He notes that taking the class for interpersonal relationships has assisted him in his administrative internship, planning for IYC.
Psychology has taught Sorrell more about himself and understanding those around him, as well as having equipped him with communication skills that have proved extremely helpful in the office.
The internship has provided a unique professional experience in both business environments and church settings. “This will provide some good knowledge and prepare me for wherever I’m going to be over the next couple of years,” he says.
“My dream is to be a communicator,” Sorrell says, looking to his future. “I would love to be a speaker.”
He is passionate about sharing the story of his struggles with others, encouraging them that they are not alone.
Passion by design
Peyton Bennett is a senior visual communication design major from Cincinnati, Ohio, whose career has organically grown out of his studies.
In high school, Bennett was a trumpet player and made the All-State Jazz Band. He also held interests in filmmaking and videography that led him to fall in love with design.
“Ultimately, design was a way to meld my creativity and passion for art in a utilitarian way,” Bennett says.
Without much in the way of a portfolio, Bennett was initially limited in his college search, but a visit to AU set his destiny.
“I met the design professors and students and just fell in love with the program,” Bennett recalls.
In the fall semester of Bennett’s sophomore year, he took part in the $25 Business Challenge. Bennett and his classmates created a small advertising firm, marketing themselves toward other student businesses.
That year, they won the challenge on account of their concept. The business partners later spun their project into an LLC that would work with local Anderson businesses until dissolving in the spring of 2016.
With that experience now under his belt, Bennett started out on his own. His new freelance business, Peyton J. Bennett Design, found its first client in a Cincinnati golf course that Bennett himself frequents.
Following that job, Bennett landed work with two other companies in the Cincinnati area through word of mouth.
Bennett has continued to advance his studies and freelancing, and through an internship last summer he did work for companies such as SC Johnson and Macy’s. After applying for the Orr Fellowship, Bennett was hired by Formstack in Indianapolis.
While the experience of working in a design firm is invaluable, he hopes to continue freelancing and eventually to move into entrepreneurship full-time.
In the meantime, Bennett looks forward to continuing to invest back into the AU community that has given him so many opportunities and experiences. “It’s something I really cherish,” he says.